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Whatever the future may hold, the fact remains that the GX 1L is an outstanding camera for anyone looking for an introduction to digital SLR photography. One massive advantage that it shares with the DL2 is compatibility with every Pentax lens ever made, including older screw-mount fittings and even medium-format lenses via adapters. Pentax has been making SLR cameras for a very long time and its optics have a reputation that is second to none, so there are thousands of top-quality lenses and other accessories in circulation in the second-hand market. There are also many third-party manufacturers that make lenses to fit the Pentax mount, so building up a good semi-pro kit won’t cost an arm and a leg, certainly an important consideration for anyone just starting out.
I awarded the *ist DL2 very high marks in my original review, and I have no reason to change my mind just because of the change in the maker’s name. The GX 1L has excellent build quality, with a tough polycarbonate body on a strong but lightweight alloy chassis. It is smaller and lighter than many other digital SLRs, but due to its relative simplicity the control layout is clean and uncluttered. It has a chunky sculpted handgrip with a textured rubber insert, making it secure and comfortable to hold, and thanks to the weight of four AA batteries inside the handgrip it feels nicely balanced.
As I stated in my review of the DL2, the feature set of the GX 1L is definitely aimed at the consumer end of the market. It has more in common with a high-end consumer compact than a full-on professional SLR. The main mode dial on the left of the top panel has the same program modes you’d expect from a compact, including portrait, landscape, macro, action and night portrait modes, and there is also a Scene mode offering a further eight menu options, including night scene, surf & snow, text, sunset, kids, candlelight, museum and pets. Like the DL2, the GX has a strange option to change the icon for the pet mode from a picture of a cat to one of a dog. It doesn’t change the settings for that mode, just the icon image. I really have no idea why (that’s coz you don’t have cats Cliff, they take offence easily – ed.).