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Pentax *ist DS

Build Quality 
User Interface 
Image Quality 
Reviews Views Date of last review
21 64,850 Fri February 28, 2020
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $398.00 9.19
Pentax *ist DS

Pentax *ist DS
Pentax *ist DS
Pentax *ist DS


The Pentax * istDS was Pentax's second entry into the DSLR market, and was a less expensive model than the *istD. To reduce cost many of its features are accessible only via the menu system. In this way a number of buttons has been eliminated. In addition to P-TTL flash automation the *istDS also has TTL flash automation which is a big plus for flash photography with older lenses. Autofocus mode is locked to AF.S except in Moving Object program, where it is locked to AF.C.

Camera Manuals:

Pentax *ist DS
©, sharable with attribution
Year Introduced
In Production
No (Discontinued 2005)
Current US Price
In-Depth Review
Sensor Format
Sensor Type
2008 x 3008 pixels
AA Filter
Super Resolution
Bit Depth
Minimum ISO
Maximum ISO
ISO Range
200 - 3200
Exposure Modes
Auto Picture, P, Av, Tv, M, B
Program Modes
Normal, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Action, Night-scene Portrait, Flash Off
Maximum FPS
Continuous Shooting
2.8 fps up to 8 frames
Shutter Speeds (Auto)
30s - 1/4000s (stepless)
Shutter Speeds (Manual)
B, 30s - 1/4000s
Shutter Life
Exposure compensation
+/-2 EV
Auto bracketing
3 frames
Expanded dynamic range
Exposure lock
Self timer
2 s with mirror lock-up, 12 s
Metering Sensor
Meter range
1 to 21.5 EV
Meter pattern
Multi-Segment,Center Weighted,Spot
Mirror lock-up
Interval shooting
HDR mode
Multiple exposures
Pixel mapping
Scene Modes
Exposure modes with M and K lenses are restricted to Av (with aperture always wide open) and M (with stop-down metering)
Lens Mount
KAF (no aperture coupler)
Composition Adjustment
Power zoom
Not supported
Supported Lenses
All Pentax K-mount lenses except for lenses with the KAF4 mount variant and RE (retractable) lenses. Manual focus only with K-, M-, and A-series lenses and with KAF3 mount lenses. Stop down metering only with K- and M-series lenses. M42, Pentax 645 and Pentax 6x7 lenses with the appropriate adapters (stop down metering and manual focus only).
Lens correction
Autofocus (viewfinder)
Yes (SAFOX VIII, 11 focus points (9 cross type))
AF Points
Autofocus sensitivity
-1 EV
Front/back focus correction
Autofocus with SDM
Autofocus assist
0.95x, 95%
Viewfinder type
Diopter adjustment
-2.5 to +1.5
AF Points in viewfinder
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Digital preview
Live View
Focus Peaking
Back LCD
2 in. 210,000 pix
Weather resistant
Control wheels
Battery grip
Card slots
Dust removal
Dust alert
Memory card type
SD (SDHC with firmware upgrade)
Size (W x H x D)
125 x 92.5 x 66 mm
505 g
File format
Battery life
AA lithium: 750 images (650 images with 50% flash usage)
4 x AA
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 15.6 (ISO 200/m)
Sync speed
P-TTL flash
Flash functions
Auto discharge, On (leading curtain sync), Redeye reduction, Slow-speed sync, Trailing curtain sync*, High-speed sync*, Manual*, Wireless*, Contrast control* * Available when combined with external flash
TTL flash
Flash exposure comp
-2 to 1 EV
Resolution / Framerates
Exposure Modes
Movie mode restrictions
AF During Recording
Sound in Movie mode
Not Supported
USB 2.0/Video out, DC in, cable release
Latest Firmware
Version 2.02
User reviews
The *istD and DS/DS2 are the only Pentax DSLRs with support for TTL flash. TTL flash works where P-TTL doesnt: With M and K lenses, bellows, manual extension tubes.
Price History:

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Site Supporter

Registered: July, 2017
Location: Cinco de Mayo
Posts: 285
Review Date: February 28, 2020 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $45.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, Bright Viewfinder, Perfect for using manual focus lenses
Cons: Small Back LCD
Years Owned: 2    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 8    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 8    Features: 7    Value: 10    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 8    New or Used: Used   

I bought this camera online from Korea for only 30 usd + 15 usd for shipping. I have also the D and DS2.

What I like the most:
-As this camera has not SR there is no need for Focus Correction what make it perfect for using vintage manual focus lenses.
-Bright Viewfinder (very good for manual focus lenses)
-Compatible with all that great TTL flashes
-Top LCD
-Small files footprint
-There is something about the CCD sensor that makes charming right out the camera's photos.

-Small 2.0 inches Back LCD (Go for the DS2 if you find any: 2.5 inches makes a huge improvement)
-Low ISO range 200-3200
-Max speed 1/4000s

Some samples with manual focus lenses. As you can see, this is a good camera for closeups:

6MP sensor is No good for landscape or panos:

By the other side, 6MP is good for Brenizer Method:
Senior Member

Registered: March, 2018
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 274
Review Date: May 12, 2018 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: handling, size, quality, number of lenses that work, value
Cons: Can't think of a thing
Years Owned: Just Bought    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 9    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 8    Noise: 8    New or Used: Used   

I shot an SP1000 back in the 70s and 80s, then a Sony 1.2 mp that saved images on floppy disks, then a series of Panasonic point and shoots. When my last Panasonic gave signs of wearing out, I decided that I wanted a quality interchangeable lens camera and settled on a Fujifilm X-T20. So far it has been a lot of fun and I have made good use of my old Takumars on it.

A friend picked up a couple of Pentax K-mount lenses for me at a yard sale, and that got me thinking that I should look for a cheap Pentax digital body to have as a backup/loaner or giveaway. About this time my daughter mentioned that she was thinking of buying a new camera because her point-and-shoot was not making good pictures for her. So now I had a real motivation to find a
body to mate the yard-sale lenses to.

Old Pentax digital bodies just don't show up too often, but I did find an *ist-Ds on ebay with two lenses for $80. Since old Pentax lenses go for about $20 apiece, I decided $40 for the body and $40 for two lenses I didn't really need was reasonable. I bought the set and in just two days they were in my mailbox.

What can I say? I'm floored. What a nice camera! My sample is practically spotless. I love the relatively small size, even if it is in fact a bit larger than my Fuji. My daughter has small hands and it will fit them perfectly. There are not too many controls cluttering up the real estate, and they are all in sensible positions. The build quality is excellent, darned close to the Fuji and not too far behind the classic Spotmatics, Nikkormats and Mamiyas that I remember from the 1970s.

The diopter-corrected viewfinder is easy to focus and the shutter release provides a satisfying "clunk". The menus are clear and simple to navigate. The four AA batteries mean that it is no problem seeing that the camera has the power it needs. And the huge array of Pentax and third-party lenses make for good, cheap fun.

I'm going to say that this camera provides 75% of what the Fujifilm X-T20 does at less than 10% of the cost. I'm committed to giving this one to my daughter, with an FA 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 and an F 80-200 f/4.7-5.6. You can bet I will be watching for another body for my "backup/spare".

Not a drawback, but something to note. This sensor tends to underexpose, so an extra 1/2 stop is warranted especially if the subject is in the shade. "Push right." Other reviewers have noted this, and I concur.

For the cost, it's hard to rate this camera as anything but a 10. I'm not saying that there aren't many cameras with more capabilities available, just that if the feature set matches your needs, you won't go wrong here.

This iris is almost submerged in invasive mint. FA 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6, 1/125s, 80mm, f/8, ISO 200.

Dogwood out the back window, good for testing lenses. F 80-200 f/4.7-5.6, 1/350s, 200mm, f/8, ISO 200.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6,349
Review Date: January 1, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Size, full support for analogue TTL protocol
Cons: Poor high-ISO and AF performance compared to modern bodies,
Years Owned: 0.25    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 9    User Interface: 7    Autofocus: 7    Features: 7    Value: 10    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 6    New or Used: Used   

This review is written from the POV of a K-5 shooter who used to own an *istDL.

I bought this camera specifically because of its support for the analogue TTL flash protocol, which I found to be stunningly accurate under most conditions. To be sure, it is lacking in many of the bells and whistles of the K-5, and the higher-ISO performance is disappointing compared to that camera, but this is not important; it offers all the basics that a photographer needs, and gives more than adequate performance when given enough light.

So good was the TTL performance with an AF080C ring flash that I have even used this camera in the professional context of medical photography in preference to the K-5. 6MP are more than enough (and I was using the *istDL for the same job before it died). Performance with the AF280T is also stellar within the flash's performance range, but the flash lets the camera down here in view of the low guide number.

It would replace my K-5 completely if not for the lack of weather sealing, the lack of support for DC or SDM lenses that don't have screwdrive (which can't be counted against it, since it predates both), and the absence of an X-sync port (which can be mimicked by various hotshoe clip-ons if I really had to).

The real down-side now is that Pentax technical support and repair for this camera is at an end; many of the spares (especially circuit boards) are no longer available, and critical failure requires complete replacement. The would-be owner is taking a chance.

Despite the fact that I marked this camera down in many areas, because its specs simply aren't up to spec any more, it has done everything I bought it to do and more; my final rating is therefore a ten.
New Member

Registered: September, 2015
Posts: 2
Review Date: September 24, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: great colours, "old film camera" feeling, great pentaprism, AA batteries, small and rugged, K-mount vintage lens compatibility
Cons: none, apart 6.1Mpx (today is not enough...)
Years Owned: 11    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 8    New or Used: New   

My first digital camera, is still perfectly working!
In 2004 was the best digital entry level camera ( and the smallest one), and its better features are a great value also today:

- first of all, the Sony CCD chip (not CMOS !) has a colour rendition that is second to none (IMHO Pentax K7 included..) .
- viewfinder has the best pentaprism I've ever seen on a digital .
- AA batteries use capability is a plus in remote or no electricity country (e.g. Africa or Australia desert...), every little store has it.
- small, sturdy and lightweight, is perfect for a backpacker trip.
- no gadget or unuseful tinsels, just takes wonderful pictures (great to use with Pentax-M lens, old style stuff).

In conclusion, I've travelled the world with it, have shot my best photos with it, and still I love use it!

Absolutely recommended! (if you could find one today: it begins to be a sort of "modern classic" or "digital vintage" camera to collect...)

P.s: in 2009 I purchased (used) a second camera for my wife (she wanted the same colour rendition of my beloved Pentax *ist DS, but
this was impossible with her Canons, so we bought another *ist DS...).
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 31, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: size, TTL, great colours, simple to use
Cons: AF has some issues
Years Owned: .5    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 3    Features: 5    Value: 8    Image Quality: 8    Noise: 7    New or Used: Used   

I was amazed, after some years of K200D/K-x/K-7 use, to learn that my good ol' Pentax AF400T's flashguns plus 5meter synchro chords and the whole flash paraphernalia could still be used in this digital era!
This was for me, who -coming from the slide film universe- was very upset by the new DSLR's flash controls that turned my pro flash equipment obsolete, good news.
Since my first DSLR had been a K200D which I recall has very beautiful colour rendering, nicer than the latter K-x and K-7, I gave this *ist a try.

The biggest surprise: the viewfinder image is just P-E-R-F-E-C-T ! You may use older smc K/m/Takumar lenses and focus pin-sharp. A true delight.

Another surprise: the old sensor gives you a very natural (I'm tempted to write here "analogic") colour ambience. And, for most purposes, i.e. if you don't have commissions on supersize posterss, those tiny megapixels are enough.

This is no surprise: AA-rechargeables give you (cheap) fodder enough for a fortnight on a single charge.

The interface options are almost the same as in my pre-historic digibino: I set them once and will cling to them forever. No room for playful gadgets like the K-7 ("digital filters", and the like) offers. In fact, for the modern user, the tiny monitor does seem like an alibi. But since I ALWAYS believe my own eyes and eyesight, the monitor quality isn't an issue.

TTL flash: works perfect, I have the same reassuring feeling using this feature as with my Pentax LX. And THAT was, in my very humble and modest opinion, the lonesome peak of camera construction before the digital era (I never got my hands on a MX-S, though...), all Canon-Minolta-Nikon-Olympus-Leica cams included!

It seems back here in Germany, people do appreciate it more than in the US, hence the "high" price....that translates to a bargain because of all the hugely positive aspects of the tiny *ist.

Registered: March, 2010
Location: Frankfurt am Main
Posts: 1,229
Review Date: April 22, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $78.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Size, sturdyness, Pentaprism, AA batteries, can use TTL with my collection of older Metz flashes
Cons: Missing program shift, sensor cleaning
New or Used: Used   

I bought the *istDS just recently.
So far I like it a lot, but can't resonably contribute with detailed experience.

Just one point to mention, because this is about a question I asked in the *ist sub forum, and could not get an answer:

The camera supports both TTL and p-TTL, so what will happen if I use a flash which also offers both, but can't be set manually to one of these 2 possibilities?

I now tried it with the (miniature sized) budget Metz 24 AF-1. I should have known the result, as the manual tells "TTL with Pentax analog cameras". And it indeed does exactly as written.

With the *stDS this flash will use p-TTL, provided a Pentax lens with KA or newer mount is used (with a Cosina KAF mount lens it doesn't work).
With any lens not suitable for p-TTL the flash will NOT switch to TTL, but just won't fire.
However, with the same lenses on my Super-A and MZ5n it works correctly in TTL mode.

It may be different with original Pentax flashes, but this I don't know.
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Posts: 6
Review Date: February 8, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: excellent colors,sharpness and handling
Cons: none
Years Owned: 3    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 10    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 10    New or Used: Used   

It is a pleasure to work with it because the 6MP sensor is very sharp and its program very easy to handle.

This means; once the program fitted to your needs, no more change affordable.

This is the difference to k-x or k200
New Member

Registered: November, 2011
Posts: 6
Review Date: October 15, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Compact; good user interface; K-mount compatibility; excellent viewfinder
Cons: Limited ISO range; involved menus for many options
Years Owned: 6    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 6    Features: 8    Value: 10    Image Quality: 8    Noise: 7    New or Used: Used   

My first DSLR, and I still use it regularly. Usually 6MP is sufficient for my needs, and this camera is so handy and easy to use that I just can't put it away. The capability to use all my old K-mount and even screw-mount lenses is a superb advantage. The camera feels good in the hand and most regularly used functions are easily accessible. Occasionally certain options require diving into the involved menu system, but I have found this to be relatively rare. White balance needs to be manually adjusted for most interior lighting situations as the auto white balance tends to generate overly yellow results.

All in all, this is a superb camera for its generation, and still very usable today for shooting in less than the most technical situations that would require more modern features.
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 136

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 14, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ergonomics
Cons: none
Years Owned: 2    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 8    Features: 8    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 8    New or Used: Used   

I dropped my Ist DL and broke it. I was looking at replacing itwith a Pentax KR at the time but when I found the Ist DS I couldn't pass it up. If you budget is tight you can pickup a good Ist DS for $125. Sure you can get more than twice the megapixels in newer models but I don't make large prints so really don't need it. This camera really has a lot of features for the money. The Pentaprism viewfinder is better than some more upscale models. I will upgrade to a newer model but this camera will stay around as a backup body.
Junior Member

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Portugal
Posts: 26
Review Date: August 2, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: ligera, economica, baterias AA, simple, fácil...
Cons: rueda con el tiempo se ensucia y no funciona.
Years Owned: 1    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 8    User Interface: 10    Autofocus: 9    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: Used   

Llevo poco tiempo con esta cámara (1 año) y la uso mas que mi K5 para fotografías de estar en casa, el jardin, el perro, con los amigos... fotos que sabes que sólo publicarás en facebook o blogspot... me parece la cámara perfecta, sólo 6 mpx, puedo usar todos los objetivos de la K5 y me encantan los colores y lo sencilla que es de usar. Su peso ligero y su tamaño compacto me parece perfecta para llevar sin que moleste en la bolsa. Sobretodo con un objetivo fijo pequeño, un 28mm, 35mm o 50mm. Es la cámara perfecta para quien no desea gartar mucho dinero y empezar en fotografía reflex digital y como segundo cuerpo. Las imágenes que haces con esta cámara no sirven para realizar grandes recortes o impresiones (sólo 6 mpx), pero es perfecta para aprender composición y para imágenes en web. Las baterias AA son una ventaja siempre y el sonido (ruido) del obturador me agrada ¡Es muy facil de utilizar!

Revisión completa en mi web:


Forum Member

Registered: December, 2011
Posts: 52
Review Date: December 13, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, very well built, great viewfinder, tough, AA batteries
Cons: Nothing significant.
Years Owned: 5    Ergonomics: 8    Build Quality: 7    User Interface: 7    Autofocus: 5    Features: 7    Value: 10    Image Quality: 7    Noise: 6    New or Used: New   

I'm giving this a 10 because right now this is easily available for under 200 Euro second hand. Here it has just been replaced by a K5 - the first Pentax that really did all the DS did and more. The viewfinder of the DS is close to the K5 (not quite as bright) and lightyears ahead of the Canon/Nikons of it's age (looking at a postage stamp at the bottom of a well) - the single most critical part of a decent camera. Its light weight, compact size and AA batteries make it the perfect travel camera.

When I bought it it was to replace my 25 year-old MX - every other DSLR either felt like it was made from recycled plastic cups or was as big as my Mamiya 220.

For anyone wanting a first SLR this classic is perfect - with a budget of say 400 Euro you would have a kit of the 18-55mm, an M28 and M50 lens and maybe a 80-320 zoom for kicks , what more could a student photographer need?

My K5 just feels like a grown-up DS and that's huge praise to Pentax.

Registered: May, 2011
Location: Earth
Posts: 10
Review Date: October 2, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: bright penta prism viewfinder
Cons: No add-on batt grip available, I like them for stability By today’s standards small screen.
Years Owned: 6    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 8    Features: 9    Value: 10    Image Quality: 10    Noise: 9    New or Used: New   

Best Pentax camera since the k1000. A simple rugged camera you can be very creative with and produces spectacular images just like the k1000. Best camera of its time and price point. A camera that is still very useful. Newer higher dollar cameras have more and are better, thek5 for axample I have one but you will pay the $$$ for them. Against today’s cameras the DS still produces excellent photos especially with a fast fifty mounted. It's durable, no repairs & no signs of wear after six yearsof steady use. Non rechargeable lithium AA batteries last about 2000shots when shooting a manual lens with no flash.

Compared to today’s cameras:

The good….
Excellent view finder, this is a big part of the camera for me.
I think it has a metal frame (magnesium).
The Bad…. (did noy notice these until I purchased a K5)
Slow at three frames per sec today’s cameras are 7 to 10.
Autofocus a bit slow, k5 is significantly quicker.
Only one e-dial
Limited iso range


Registered: October, 2010
Posts: 4,419
Review Date: May 24, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Small size, good grip, durable, has most things you need.
Cons: Max usable ISO, Slow between shots, noisy shutter.
Years Owned: 5    Ergonomics: 9    Build Quality: 8    User Interface: 9    Autofocus: 7    Features: 7    Value: 9    Image Quality: 8    Noise: 6    New or Used: Used   

My first DSLR.

I must say that it has served me well. Still does.

What I have to say about this old camera is that it still delivers. I have also K-7, it is BETTER, but in many ways this still is with me. More or less as spare body.

Image quality with just 6 Mp is great, this camera has it's own color rendering engine. Now, when I have acquired some better lenses, this beast work's even better. In fact you can see some really good pictures (not by me) on PPG.

What puts me down with this camera is loud shutter(in theater or places, where you want to be silent) and slow buffer, compared to modern cameras, and also speed...but other than that, it still rocks. ISO is also quite usable at 1600, I prefer 400 or 800 max.

But thinking of how old this is it surely is worth of buying, if you need a solid performer, which can even take AA batteries, in case of sudden power loss.

Few pictures...

Senior Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Kennewick WA
Posts: 151

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: November 8, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: small size, beautiful color, for the price now days, killer camera
Cons: none

Pros small size, beautiful color, for the price now days, killer camera
Cons none
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) $800.00
Years Owned 5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Small size, rugged little camera, great starter DSLR

Camera Review
This was my first digital SLR, and what a wonderful little camera it is.
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 382

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 29, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS: Yes | Price: $1,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small, well made, TTL(not P-TTL) AA Batteries, pentaprism, top-plate LCD, grip
Cons: only 6mp(these days) no ability to have a grip, AA batteries,
Years Owned: 8    Ergonomics: 10    Build Quality: 10    User Interface: 8    Autofocus: 7    Features: 8    Value: 10    Image Quality: 9    Noise: 7    New or Used: New   

Pros Small, well made, TTL(not P-TTL) AA Batteries, pentaprism, top-plate LCD, grip
Cons only 6mp(these days) no ability to have a grip, AA batteries,
Rating 9
Price (U.S. Dollars) $1200
Years Owned 6 years

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Small, yet very solid DSLR
AA Batteries (a plus and minus)
pocketable (just)
Good IQ up to ISO800

Camera Review
This was my first DSLR, bought in December 2004 for a mighty £800!
It took me in a journey of digital photography when previously I thought it would never catch on, and that film still reigned supreme. How wrong I was!
I have since got a K10D and K20D, but the DS still comes into use from time to time due to its size and conveniance.

6MP is no longer cutting edge, yet you can still get great images at up to A3 size. Also, it is not fast (only 2.7fps) but hey, this is an early DSLR. Use it for street photography and you will be really impressed (even now) with its ability to produce great images.

It is a shame that Pentax have not upgraded this model with a "true" replacement. In otherwords, one that is as small, yet packs a pentaprism, SR, AF indicator, top body LCD etc (the K100D, K-m, K-x and K-r are pentamirrors, and the K-m and K-x don't even have AF indicators.....)

Still a good DSLR to have if you can find one.

Thought I would review this post correcting the purchase date - 2004 not 2008, and how it performs against newer models. Well, since my last review, I have since got a K-5. So now I have this, the K10D, K20D and K-5. Whilst the K20D is now beginning to struggle with the IQ (Samsung sensor issues?) both the K10D and *istDS both perform well. Yet again though, the *istDS STILL works best with my older K-mount lenses, more accurate than the K-5. Why? Well it is that original Pentaprism that they put in the DS. for some reason, it is still the best for me on MF lenses. The other reason is that the 6MP sensor is more forgiving with older lenses, whereas the K-5 demands the best (Ironically that includes M42 screw mount Takumars)
Would I ever get rid of it? No not at all. It is only 6MP, so does not provide the fine detail of the K-5, nor the high ISO performance. The shutter is slow now compared to newer models, and gives a "slap" when it moves, with a more of a spring feel when it moves, rather than a precise click, But then again, it's rendition is beautiful, and the noise up to ISO800 is fine.
Even now, with the K-5, my *istDS still gets a runout, and for those who want a cheap second-hand DSLR to learn on, or even upgrade from a compact, seriously consider getting one of these - but like I said before - IF you can find one.

Further Edit(March 2019)
Why do I keep coming back to this camera from time to time? I have the K-1, K-3II and K-70 for goodness sake!
It is maybe that it was my first digital Pentax, but then again, this camera is becoming a bit of legend.
Yes, the viewfinder is still amongst the best for manual focus lenses, only now exceeded by the K-1, and what is probably the true replacement of the *istDs, that being the K-70.
But there is something about the Ds. The build, the simplicity, the purity of a first generation DSLR. It is still a pleasure to use, having that "fun" factor. You know its limitations- that 6MP sensor, the springy sounding shutter (oh how Pentax have come on leaps on bound to make the quietest DSLR now), the sloooooow AF (Ditto with the leaps and bounds), limited ISO.
Put a small fast prime on the front, and relish the image quality. You will only get a great print at A3, but most of the time that is more than enough.

It really is the K1000 of the digital generation.

Wonderful camera.
Add Review of Pentax *ist DS

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