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Pentax *ist DS2

Reviews Views Date of last review
3 25,960 Fri August 19, 2011
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $350.00 7.00
Pentax *ist DS2

Pentax *ist DS2
Pentax *ist DS2
Pentax *ist DS2


The Pentax * istDS2 is a minor upgrade of the *istDS: The LCD on the back grew from 2 inches to 2.5 inches. Like the *istD and *istDS, the *istDS2 has TTL flash automation (in addition to P-TTL) which is a big plus for flash photography with older lenses. With the DS2, autofocus can be set to single (AF.S) or continuous (AF.C) in all exposure modes and programs except Moving Object program, where it is locked to AF.C.

Camera Manuals:

Pentax *ist DS2
©, sharable with attribution
Year Introduced
In Production
No (Discontinued 2006)
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
2.5 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 67 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 1.02
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: April, 2011
Location: Copenhagen
Posts: 510

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: August 19, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS2: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: size, weight, ‘old‘ lens compatibility
Cons: no weather seals, limited MPs for wide angel, distant object photos

I bought my DS2 this spring (2011) in order to get started with dslr photography. I have been using my LX for many years and find good value in lens compatibility with the DS2, except when it comes to the 28mm. (CF=42.5) because 6.1MP. isn´t enough to get sharp photos with distant, small objects and wide angels (relatively). I find I get satisfactory result with 50mm´s and up and really nice results with both my 135mm. It´s quite good and sharp within 10-15m. With MF lenses the auto focus substitutes other sharpening aids very well and with the diopter correctly ajusted makes a handy confirmation tool.
KA lenses work very well, Ks and Ms on ‘M‘ take a little practice, it´s easy to forget to make that AEL check with every shot. Some times I prefer to just shoot wide open (or stopped down with EV) on Av or Tv. These ‘old‘ ones are so far better than the 18-55 kit lens and so much cheaper than the DA primes for me to consider these obstacles as being anything else than charming.
The light meter mostly measures a stop or even two under, especially considering the digital photo technic of shooting to the right (..of the histogram), which Im looking into. It´s easily corrected and is also part of the getting to know your camera routine, it´s fun. Anyway, I shoot RAW all the time, so no words on jpg. performance? And not on flash either, which I almost never use. The noise get´s really bad at ISO 3200. Night shots are tripod shots with this one.
I miss weather seals a lot and always carry a bag for the DS2. The build of the DS2 gives you confidence, but I used to have a digital Olympus range finder, that became (permanently) ‘weird‘ when I took it out shooting in misty weather one day. Digitals are a sensitive kind, I guess (generalizing) and so I don´t really dare to test the DS2 and only use it safely (dry). Since I love rain, water and mist this is one of my major turnoffs.
Over all Im a happy DS2 user and find it usable as an entry to dslr photography, but I am looking for alternatives (K20D perhaps)

See examples taken with the DS2 here at my flickr account:
Inactive Account

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Fairbanks
Posts: 3

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 14, 2010 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS2: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: yes
Cons: yes

Pros yes
Cons yes
Rating 7
Price (U.S. Dollars) 500
Years Owned 5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size

Camera Review
The Pentax *ist DS2 was built on 2003 technology and released in 2005, over five years ago. A DS2 purchased in early 2006 was my first DSLR. Nothing introduced earlier appealed to me. Either they were too large and heavy and expensive; or the viewfinders were unacceptable dark little tunnels. The DS2 has a pentaprism. Five years on, it is still among the brightest and largest APS-C viewfinders available. And five years on, it is still nearly the smallest and lightest DSLR available. It has a top-body LCD and a 2.5” rear LCD screen, a bit undersized by today’s standards, but not so much as to seem outdated and small (although the 210,000 dots is a bit shy).

Beyond the small and light is the shape; smoothly curved and nonprotuberey. It slides easily to and from the pocket and hangs comfortably one-handed.

Build quality has proven to be excellent, in this example. Five years of use and still going strong. Granted, the shutter count is still under 10,000.

I find the AA batteries to be an advantage. Sony 2800mah NiMH rechargables in the DS2 seem to last as long as the Li-ion batteries in my K7 or Canon 5D. Yet the AA’s are much less expensive and much more easily available than proprietary batteries.

Auto-focusing is slow compared to modern expectations, but is accurate. I find it usually usable in daylight, iffy in low light. I like to focus with my right thumb or my left hand and have the shutter release be just a shutter release. The DS2 allows the user to place the autofocus function on the “OK” button.

Having only a single control wheel is a drawback, but not a fatal one. The one wheel it does have is well-placed for the thumb. The camera has a total of only 5 shooting-control buttons on the right side of the body: shutter release, exposure compensation, exposure lock, an “OK” button in the center of the 4-way controller, and a “Function” button. All are well and widely placed.

Lack of a one-touch dedicated button for ISO or white balance is a drawback, fortunately it is still fairly easy and quick to access control using the “function” button which calls up a nicely functional short cut menu for ISO, shutter behavior, flash, and white balance.

The camera will collect RAW or JPEG files, but not both. This is doubly unfortunate, because one must use the MENU button and then repeatedly pushy-pushy through menus to get to the right place to change the file type. Perhaps it is triply unfortunate because jpegs straight from the camera, while not evil, can be considerably less nice than post-processed RAW files of the same scene. Writing RAW files to the SD card can be slow.

High ISO low light performance is middling; high ISO is 6200.

The advantages of this camera that have stood the test of (accelerated digital) time are: good viewfinder, solid build, good shape, small size and weight, very nicely laid out (albeit limited) controls, and the ability to use both legacy film lenses and the small modern Pentax primes. Although it is what it is - 6mp and ancient - the sensor is good enough to take advantage of the quality of the best lens I have; the 77mm limited.
Veteran Member

Registered: December, 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 744
Review Date: May 26, 2009 I can recommend the Pentax *ist DS2: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 


Just some thoughts regarding the DS2, which I no longer have:

1) The ergonomics were excellent. It was a small camera with a good heft.
2) The auto-focus was slow - especially AF-C. However, it was accurate....more so than the k10 in my experience. If the focus locked, I knew what I was getting - more so than with the k10.
3) I found it very quirky with batteries. Sometimes it wouldn't pick up that the batteries were there at all. I suspect this was just my camera though. However, it was a pain in the butt when trying to shoot birds that weren't very keen on holding still for long.
4) In spite of the short-comings, I loved this camera. It had the right feel to it, being small and portable.

Overall, I'd have to rate this camera 6/10 for my uses at the time, which involved a lot of bird photography. It was slow, and with exception to the battery quirks, it was a steady performer. Compared to the k10???? Tough call. I really loved that DS2.
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