Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Closed Thread
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
05-23-2009, 08:54 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,863
Pentax *istD

The Pentax *istD was the first DSLR from Pentax. It has for its time a very comprehensive set of features and most are accessibe from buttons and dials so that "menu diving" largely can be avoided. It is very compact but still sturdy. In addition to P-TTL flash automation the *istD also has TTL flash automation which is a big plus for flash photography with older lenses.
Pentax *istD
Year introduced
KAF2 (without coupling for aperture ring)
Meter range
1 to 21.5 EV
Meter pattern
m (16 segments) c s
ISO range (expanded)
200 - 3200
Expanded dynamic range
Exposure modes
Green, HyP, Av, Tv, HyM, B
Exposure modes with M and K lenses are restricted to Av (with aperture always wide open) and M
Program modes
Normal, Action, Depth of Field, MTF
Scene Modes
Exposure compensation
+/-3 EV
Exposure lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
30s - 1/4000s (stepless)
Shutter speeds (manual)
B, 30s - 1/4000s
Mirror lock-up
Self timer / Interval shooting
Yes / No
Continuous shooting
2.6 fps up to 5 frames
Shake reduction
Auto bracketing
Yes (3 or 5 frames)
HDR mode
Multiple exposures
Built-in flash
Yes, GN 15.6 (ISO 200)
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Extra external flash functions
Wireless, High-speed, Contrast control
Yes (SAFOX VIII, 11 focus points)
Autofocus sensitivity
0 to 19 EV
Autofocus with SDM
AF Assist
Yes, stroboscopic flash
Front/Back focus corr
Power zoom
Lens correction
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
Video/Movie Mode
Movie mode restrictions
Not applicable
Sound in Movie mode
Not applicable
Camera controls
2 control wheels. Many dedicated buttons
Custom Functions
6.1 MP CCD
Image size
15.8 x 23.6 mm
Color Depth
3 x 12 bit (RAW)
Dust removal / alert
No / No
Pixel mapping
File format
Memory card type
CF Type I/II
Back LCD
1.8 in. 118,000 pix
Weather resistant
4 x AA
Battery grip
D-BG1 with 4x AA
Size (W x H x D)
129 x 94.5 x 60 mm
550 g
Latest firmware
Version 1.12
TTL flash. The *istD and DS/DS2 are the only Pentax DSLR's with support for TTL flash. TTL flash works where P-TTL doesn't: With M and K lenses, bellows, manual extension tubes.

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo     

Last edited by Ole; 02-12-2011 at 01:57 PM.
05-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #2

My Pentax *istD review

Ratings (1 = Bad / 5 = Good)
Performance (i.e speed) rating: 3/5
Overall rating: 4/5
Value Rating: 5/5

The *ist D lacks many of the modern “gimmicky” features, such as live view, face detection, AF tracking, smile shutter, etc. But it retains all of the essential ones – like viewfinder, sensor, and image processor.

My overall experience with the *ist D is mixed. I came from shooting with a Panasonic FZ7K for a little over two years, and the *ist D is my second camera ever, which I received as a gift in November 2008.

Here are the three interchangeable lenses which I currently use, also a TC and an external flash:

• Takumar-A ZOOM f3.5-4.5 28-80mm lens.
• SMCP-A 50mm F1.7 lens.
• PENTAX SMC PENTAX-F f2.8 100mm MACRO lens.
• SMC PENTAX-A* f4 300mm lens.
• 2X MC7 TAMRON-F AF tele-converter.
• PENTAX AF-330FTZ flash.

First off, handling: Excellent! The grip is actually quite ergonomic, matching the natural curves of the hand and fingers. However, if you have large hands, then you will not be comfortable holding this camera for long, as the grip is somewhat “shallow”. For small/medium-handed persons, the grip will be just fine, and allows room for the “pinky finger” – unlike my FZ7K.

I only wish that there was more room between the grip side and the lens mount. I find myself at times "digging in" to try to get a better hold. The grip surface isn't exactly glamourous either – thin, crinkly, plasticy/rubbery material. No big deal, though.

Body finish is nice and durable-feeling. Another thing worth noting is that the *ist D has a fair amount of levers/dials/switches on the body's exterior. Film SLR users might like it, kind of an "old fashioned" feel.

Menus and ease-of-use are OK. There is only 1 main menu page, but several “custom pages”, where the user can configure camera settings and preferences to suit his/her style of photography. I am impressed with the number of custom features available – there are so many, more than everything the main menu contains. You can set prefences like EV compensation steps of 1/2 or 1/3. Even stuff like pixel dimensions of the smallest file are customizable, and shutter release enable/disable without CF card inserted. Great job on the custom functions number, PENTAX!

But… all these great menu items are browsed by means of a flat, four-way contoller on the camera’s back. The contoller isn’t very predictable in which way it will go when pressed, and can be frighteningly possible to accidentally format the CF card while trying to set a custom number. Not a good design.

Burst mode is respectable, though not hyper fast. More like a steady “slap-slap-slap-slap-slap”, you can actually count along. Faster shutter-speeds increase burst speed, but this still isn’t an ideal camera for action photography. Also when using burst mode, I find that the camera will often "choke up" after a few shots, squeeze off a few more, pause, let loose a rapid sequence, freeze up temporarily, resume shooting, etc.. Not an issue-free burst sequence.

Image quality is definetely a big step up from any compact-digital. Pictures are perfectly useable all the way up to IS0 1600. ISO 3200 shows a moderate amount of noise. You will not be disappointed with the *ist D’s image quality, so long as you use good lenses and hold steady, since there is no "shake-reduction" mechanism.

Battery life is reasonably long, when you use rechargeables. Alkaine batteries will die very fast.

Image write times are rather slow. Even with a Lexar 133x speed professional CF card. TIFFS and RAW files are even slower to transfer. Browsing photos in "playback mode" is also quite slow.

Overall, this might be a great camera for the beginner to advanced amateur, or someone who is upgrading from a P&S/compact digital. A great camera to learn on!!!

• Smallish, not too heavy either.
• Green in-focus indicator lights up when using MF. This means that all you have to do is tap the shutter-button (or press the AF button), turn the focus ring and the camera will tell you when it thinks the subject is sharpest. Of course, you can completely ignore this feature, and use eyesight to focus manually.
• Relatively easy-to-use.
• Comfortable hand-grip for small/medium-sized handed people.
• Great image quality when the body is matched with the right glass.
• Low “noise” all the way up to ISO 1600.
• Solid, sturdy build.
• Great feature set, including DOF preview.
• Huge number of custom functions. You can literally "build" your own personal version of the camera with them. (No kidding).
• Viewfinder is big, sharp, clear and bright. Better than an EVF or tiny P&S optical one.
• ON/OFF switch is conveniently located right around the shutter-button.

• No live histogram.
• Flat, joystick-style four-way controller isn’t very predictable in which direction it will go.
• CF card compartment is awkwardly placed, you need to dig in with your fingers in order to extract/insert a card. People with bigger fingers and hands will likely need tweezers.
• No SR image stabilization system. (Better hold steady or use a tripod).
• Lack of automatic sensor cleaning function.
• Minimum ISO sensitivity is only ISO 200.
• Burst speed isn’t enough for fast-action photographers, and isn't "issue-free".
• Slow buffer-clearing time.
• Trouble AF'ing in low light or on very cloudy days.
• Smallish, 1.7in LCD screen. (By today’s standards, not at camera release date).
• WB, ISO and image resolution only accesible through mode dial.
• No live view on LCD screen.

Similar Products Used:
• No other DSLRs.

• Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7K digital compact camera.
• Kodak C300 digital P&S camera.
• Kodak 835 Star AF 35mm-film P&S camera.

Customer Service:
• Emailed PENTAX Canada once with a few questions about my *ist D and they responded timely and politely.
05-24-2009, 02:15 PM   #3
Community Manager
Loyal Site Supporter
Ash's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 22,691
*ist D - Top first generation dSLR

This one came as Pentax's introduction to digital SLR camera bodies.
This is a feature-packed body with an outstanding sensor.
Being before the DA* lenses' time, it does not support SDM and AF is considerably slower than its successors, but it is a solid performer and includes the Pentax trademarks: hyperprogram and hypermanual modes.

Being top notch for its time, it retailed at US$1,700. This is a great camera.
I bought mine 3rd hand after clocking over 50,000 actuations and it has never missed a beat.
Very reliable, sturdy and solid in your hands without being too heavy or large.

The good for me:
- Sensor is excellent - 6Mp of beautiful colours and sharpness with good noise control
- Has all the important features at your fingertips - dedicated buttons for flash mode, timer/drive and WB, which become quite handy
- 2 e-dials with metering switch and focus point mode all on body - more versatility
- AA-battery powered - if that's your thing
- 5 image buffer
- TTL flash capability - useful if you have an external TTL flash
- 'sweet' sounding mirror up mechanism - quite subjective, I realise

The limitations (for me):
- front e-dial cannot be customised - would have been handy to be able to change ISO on Av/Tv modes
- slowish continuous shooting with very slow buffer dump to CF card - can be frustrating having to wait 5-6 seconds just to take another frame when buffer is full
- ISO feature seems 'out of place' on the mode dial - finnicky having to dial up ISO then dial back to Av mode all the time
- small screen - 1.5in is just about the lower limit of being able to see detail
- no instant review of histograms after frame captures - can only be viewed once images have been dumped to card and INFO button is pressed
- slow AF

Weighing all this up, this camera makes for an excellent backup body or very cheap entry to dSLR photography for a newbie wanting to experience Pentax!

Not disappointing at all for a first-generation dSLR given the caveats above.
05-25-2009, 10:25 AM   #4
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 3,863
Original Poster
One of the reasons I'm hanging on to my *istD is the TTL flash. Unlike P-TTL, TTL allows for fully automated flash photography with any lens, extension tubes and bellows. The *istD has therefor become my digital Spotmatic, reserved for use with my Takumar screw mount lenses.

BTW, the DS and DS2 share the TTL flash feature with the D.

Last edited by Adam; 03-05-2011 at 01:02 AM.
07-13-2009, 01:22 PM   #5
Site Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Bedfordshire, UK
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 62
I've been using my *istD for a couple of years now. During these years I followed the trends in digital photography and how Pentax tries to follow it as well. I have handled some of their newer DSLR cameras, but none of them convinced me to upgrade. In fact most of them (including K10D and K20D) are a disappointment to me.

It seems that Pentax is slowly leaving behind their long lasting philosophy of producing simple, capable cameras, instead of ultra-electronised, over-featured ones. The *istD, as their first DSLR, still has the feeling of a (by modern standard) simple camera. No added, eye catching, but most of the time unused and useless features (maybe some, but not many) as trends and consumers demand (although consumers demand what they are told they need )

Concluding all these I join Ole saying that *istD is my digital Spotmatic (or rather my digital MX, as I have no Spotmatic) and I hope it will remain for long. And when it "dies"? I hope by then Pentax becomes sober again in their policy of making cameras like they used to do: simpe, easy to operate and maintaining more backward compatibility (considering here the flash system P-TTL vs. TTL and I personally would like to see a DSLR with aperture ring coupler).
05-07-2010, 08:56 AM   #6
Lowell Goudge's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 15,399
Pentax *istD Camera Review

Cons Technology has moved on
Pros TTL flash, Excellent metering with K mount lenses, ISO 3200 performance
Rating 8
Price $2100 Cdn
Years Owned 6 1/2

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
This camera was expensive at the time, and follow on models were lower initial purchase price, however for someone looking for a second body on the used market today, these are great cameras for the value.

They provide all the necessary features, and the TTL flash cability and accurate metering with Manual aperture lenses make this a must have body for anyone shooting legacy glass.

Camera Review
This really should be labelled the little camera that could, because the *istD can do it all.

I bought this camera within 1 month of the release, as the cost of this camera with the FA-J 18-35 kit lens actually exceeded the combined cost of my later camera purchases, the K10D and K7.

It was expensive at the time, but coming from film, I neither found it slow, or the viewing screen too small, because it was infinitely faster than film.

I have used, and still use this camera specifically with older lenses and flash, and in low light situations, because I feel it offers images with a quality that newer cameras can't offer.

The camera does lack hot pixel compensation however, and has more than a few which have developed over time, and compared to newer models, yes it does now seem slow, and have a small screen, but that should not detract from it being used properly.

While not weather sealed, and susceptible to getting wet, my copy at least survuved being swamped in a kayak, and after drying out in the sun for 4 hours with all covers open, has worked now for 6 years without fail, never being sent to pentax for service.

The only reason I would not rate this camera higher is that technology has moved considerably since it came out.

It is a great little camera, an excellent performer, but there are faster, higher resolution, and overall better performers out ther today.
11-10-2010, 12:58 PM   #7
Site Supporter
Blue's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 17,211
Pentax *istD Camera Review

Pros small for dSLR
Cons use compact flash cards
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) $159
Years Owned n/a

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
The only dSLR smaller than it is the Oly 410/420 bodies and not by much.

Camera Review
The primary reason I acquired this body was to use if with my screw mount lenses and manual focus lenses. This body has the dual wheel feature and more manual switches than most newer bodies. Plus, it has the ttl flash capability which will work with m42, k and M series lenses. The sensor in this camera was excellent in its day and still isn't a slouch.
12-05-2010, 10:59 AM   #8
Inactive Account

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: texas
Posts: 1
Pentax *istD Camera Review

Pros Small, light, easy to use
Cons none
Rating 10
Price (U.S. Dollars) $400 (new)
Years Owned 5

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
- Pentaprism, two command wheels, top plate LCD

- Compatible to Pentax K mount lenses

- Uses AA batteries

Camera Review
I am not listing the specifications here, you can find them everywhere on the net. Instead I just tell you how my *istD is used:

AA batteries are everywhere, don't worry that you didn't charge the battery. However it's better to have some Hybrid rechargable batteries available. Remember to insert a CF card or you will shoot all blanks. That's it and you are ready to go

The WB and ISO setting are a little annoying because they interfere with my exposure mode setting. The solution is that I just shoot RAW, set Auto WB and ISO 200

Mostly I use the top LCD, set shutter speed and aperture (always in manual mode) and shoot just like shooting film with my Pentax KX except there is no need to advance film

Lenses are mainly the Pentax SMC primes like 28mm, 50mm, 100mm. Sometimes I try a Albinar (made by Chinon) lens and my favorite Asanuma 35-105mm F3.5

LCD in the back and menus are rarely used, for flash I have some 200S from the old time or the popular Vivitar 283

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
View Picture EXIF
Closed Thread

  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
*istd, camera, dslr, flash, lcd, lenses, mode, modes, pentax, photography, range, ttl, type
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
For Sale - Sold: Pentax *istD Converted for IR 720nm (US) skid2964 Sold Items 10 12-15-2010 08:03 PM
For Sale - Sold: Pentax *istD tsiklop Sold Items 3 12-14-2009 09:46 PM
Pentax *istD jlm2664 Pentax DSLR Discussion 10 10-18-2009 12:03 AM
Using the Flek 2.4/35 with Pentax *istD chubasco Post Your Photos! 2 10-06-2008 08:13 PM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:22 PM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]