Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Closed Thread
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
05-23-2009, 08:06 PM   #1
Ole's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 4,179
Pentax *ist

Year introduced
KAF with limitations (exposure mode limitations with M and K series lenses)
Meter range
0 - 21 EV
Meter pattern
m c s
ISO range
6 - 6400
DX ISO range
25 - 5000
Exposure modes
AutoPict, P, Av, Tv, M, B
Exposure compensation
+/-3 EV
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
30 - 1/4000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
30 - 1/4000s
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in 2.5 fps
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Yes (11 points)
Autofocus sensitivity
-1 - 18 EV
Power zoom
0.7x, 90%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x CR2
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
122 x 84 x 63.5 mm
335 g
Program modes: Normal, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Action, Night-scene.
Extra flash functions: Wireless, High-speed, Contrast control.
Exposure modes with M and K lenses restricted to:
Av (with aperture always wide open);
M (no metering)

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 

Last edited by Ole; 05-06-2010 at 09:39 PM.
05-21-2010, 08:09 AM   #2
Veteran Member
fearview's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Jakarta
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,067
this is my first autofocus 35 SLR. i never knew this thing exist at the first time. until i did some research about which Pentax 35mm SLR has more than one selectable focusing point. Why? because at that moment i was thinking, maybe i can make a better picture if i dont have too focusing and recompose at shooting. silly right? but yes. that was thing which always bogging my mind when i have to shoot 35mm SLR.

i wonder i wish there is some 35 SLR which have 11 point AF that i can select.

and i hit google and pentaxforums. im surprised those feature i want exist in one of Pentax 35mm camera.

about camera, this is the last jewel from Pentax in Autofocus 35mm SLR. i have it second one with mint condition. From a good friend. who managed very good deal for me. very small if you dont have a grip on it. and it still small even with battery grip. pentax did some smart thing while removing top lcd into the back of camera. it chop the dimension drastically. and the 11 AF point is the most luxurious thing you can get here. the focusing is fast, well at least is as fast as my K10D. but because it only use pentamirror, you wont get very big and bright viewfinder. using crippled mount is minus thing too, using old lenses without A, is impossible. you have to stop downed it.

the size and 11 point AF is the plus. combine it wit DA 40 or FA 43, will be very good combination for street shooting.

its quite rare i think. people already looking into digital while this baby being released.

06-11-2010, 09:02 AM   #3
unixrevolution's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Waldorf, MD
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,859
Pentax *ist: Maybe IST means It's So Tiny?

However you choose to pronounce it (Eye Ess Tee? Star-Eye-ess-tee? Starist? Ist?) the Pentax *ist 35mm film camera is an astoundingly light and small AF 35mm SLR.

PRO: Size

Designed, I would surmise, as an entry-level 35mm film camera, the *ist is an amazingly small camera. Even with features like a built-in winder, 11-point AF, multiple metering modes and a built-in flash, it's barely larger than an M-series SLR. Without battery grip and a small lens, it weighs about a pound and could fit in a pocket (if you have large enough pockets.) Even with battery grip and a fairly big lens, it's still quite small, and very light.

PRO: Features

The *ist came at the end of the Film era, immediately preceeding the *ist D line of Pentax Digital SLRs. The *ist has features that can be found on many later Pentax cameras:

11-point Autofocus with Center/Select/Auto AF point

Matrix, Center-weighted or Spot metering

Tv, Av, M, and B modes, plus several scene modes and "Auto Picture" mode

Power-up/Power-down Pop-up flash

30s-1/4000 shutter speed range

DoF preview (this is invaluable)

Self-timer, continuous shooting, Multiple Exposures, and Exposure Bracketing drive modes

P-TTL flash metering and compatability with P-TTL flashes

These features, including P-TTL metering, are what compelled me to buy one. It was a film camera that mimicked my K10D in many ways. The feature-list is long, and for such a small camera, very impressive.

PRO: Ease

The *ist has relatively few controls, but they are all very easy to figure out and laid out in a way that makes them easy to understand. About the only hard thing to understand is how to set the aperture in M mode with only one dial on the camera, but the Av button does that, as it does on the single-dial DSLRs. All in all, it's well laid out and everything falls easily to hand. With the battery grip, it's even better, as you get a portrait-mode shutter button and AE-lock control, plus the ability to run AA batteries instead of expensive CR2s.

CON: Lens Compatability

The *ist has a fatal flaw with lenses. If you put a K or M lens, or any third party lens without an A setting on the aperture ring, it will not fire. At all. There is a workaround for this, where you put tape over the lens mount contacts, but it limits you to Av with wide-open aperture only, or stop-down manual mode only. This is annoying, and because of this camera pretty much exclusively, I don't buy lenses older than A-series or similar. Still, if you have an A on the ring, you're golden, and the later aperture-ring-less lenses (even including digital lenses) work just fine.

CON: No Program mode

The *ist has Manual, Tv, and Av, but has no provision for a basic Program mode. This would be very helpful, especially if it was a Hyper Program mode like the PZ-1 or the K10D has. As such, I have to shoot in Av and be careful to choose the right aperture. This is much preferable to the annoying auto-picture modes, which want to deploy the pop-up flash at times when I really don't want to use the flash. The Power-driven Pop-up flash doesn't require the user to put it up, and will even go up without your consent, so you have to be careful. Still, Av is good enough, and beats the silly full-auto modes.

CON: Pentamirror finder

The Pentamirror finder in the *ist is probably one of the big reasons they could make it so small and light. it's a .7x magnification 90% finder, and although it was bright enough I initially thought it was a prism, it's a little darker than my Prism finder cameras, and though I don't notice the crop factor, I must say it's noticeably harder on my eyes with its small size. Not only that, it has some of the worst eye relief of any Pentax camera I've ever seen. If you wear glasses, it's likely you won't be able to see the exposure information unless you take them off. Fortunately, it does at least have a Diopter, so if your glasses aren't too strong you can take them off and adjust.

CON: Construction

This is a minor issue, but I feel it deserves a mention: Though I see no structural flaws or build-quality/durability issues with the *ist, it feels light and plasticky. Light is good, but if you love cameras with a solid feel, this one doesn't offer it. Lightness comes at a cost of a solid feel.


All in all, I love my *ist. I paid $120 for it and it was money well spent. I have a feature-rich, easy-to use, VERY light camera, which when paired with an 18-35mm FA-J lens makes a very competent and light walk-around setup. Unless you absolutely need a faster winder, or the eye relief bothers you, or you just don't like light, plasticky things, or you have a bunch of K and M glass, I would definitely reccomend the *ist to anyone looking for an AF pentax camera.
08-05-2010, 09:51 AM   #4
Junior Member

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Cote D'Azur, France
Photos: Albums
Posts: 34
Pentax *ist Camera Review

Pros Small size, modern Autofocus
Cons Consumer features and build
Rating 7
Price 30
Years Owned 3

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Value- if you bide your time you can pick one up for a nominal sum. For the 30 I paid it's amazing value.

Features- Not bad- it has the wired remote socket, dedicated depth of field preview control, three position AF selector switch and viewfinder AF indicators all lacking from the Kx. On th other hand it only has one control wheel(like all pentax film cameras except the PZ-1. The killer feature is the last generation (for a film camera) Autofocus.

Performance. OK- see specs. Being a film camera, it's mostly a matter of film and processing.

Size. Exceptionally small for an AF camera. Significantly smaller than the *istD or Kx

Camera Review
The pentax *ist was largely overlooked at the time of its release since the world was then already moving towards Digital. Even now, this camera is not the most sought after Pentax film camera (the MZ-S and PZ-1p are generally considered the best K mount film cameras). Nevertheless, the *ist has a number of aces up it's sleeve. Firstly, as the last pentax film camera, it has the best Autofocus system of any pentax film camera, which it shares with pentax's first digital camera, the *istD. Indeed, even modern Pentax cameras offer only incremental improvements. Secondly, this camera is extremely small, having been billed at the time of its release as the smallest 35mm SLR.

The camera is not without drawbacks however. In terms of construction, reliability, features and finish this is a cheaper and inferior camera to its sister the *istD, as well as the MZ-S and PZ-1p, which were intended for more demanding professional users. Furthermore, this camera uses the "crippled" KAF2 lens mount (in common with all pentax DSLRs since), which lacks mechanical coupling for the lens aperture ring, depending instead on electronic control from the camera body. This means that older lenses lacking electronic coupling (M42, K, and M lens families) can only meter in the stop-down mode. "A" family lenses with the aperture ring in the "A" position and all more recent lenses (F, FA, DA, DFA) all work as originally intended.

One of the preceding reviews states that the *ist lacks a program mode. This is not entirely true. Although there is no "P" on the mode dial ther is a "standard picture mode" (smiley face) which as far as I can tell is the same thing.

For users looking for a cheap film body for occasional, casual use that works as far as possible like their pentax DSLR and can use all the same lenses, this is a good choice.

For users who require a true film workhorse, this camera is probably not sufficiently reliable or solid.

Lesson learned the hard way

I bought my first *ist after 4 years with my Pentax K10D had given me the confidence and desire to return to film, and develop my own exposures. The *ist uses CR2 lithium batteries (another difference to the *istD, which uses AA pen cells). On the strength of my DSLR habits, I ordered rechargeable lithiums on Ebay. All went well to start with, but after a while the AF went haywire. I bought a replacement *ist, which came with two sets of disposable CR2s, and on an impulse put one set in the old *ist. Lo and behold, the AF worked again, so now I have two *ist film cameras. This is actually quite convenient, since it means I can have two different film speeds loaded.

A note to Buyers
Prices on ebay fluctuate wildly, and "buy it now" prices are generally unrealistic. By biding my time, I have bought two copies of this camera for under 30

12-05-2010, 01:40 PM   #5
RubyT's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: TN
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 449
Pentax *ist Camera Review

Pros very small & light
Cons AF points too close together
Rating 8
Price (U.S. Dollars) $116
Years Owned 2 months

I can recommend this camera: Yes

Value, Features, Performance & Size
Highly customizable, great for people who have their own darkrooms, certainly offers any feature a shooter could desire.

Tiny size makes it a real gem if you will be carrying it long distances. Looks great with FA lenses in silver.

Camera Review
This camera does pretty much anything you could ask of a camera. I really expected to love it. It's so tiny and lightweight, and I bought it to be my carry-around camera that wouldn't weigh my purse down.

It takes lovely pictures, I ran a few rolls through it. I was a bit surprised the first time I opened it, because I'd never used a camera where the film loads from the right and spools to the left before. That was not a big deal, just something that got my attention.

It has lots of customizable features, like whether you want the film completely rewound or with the leader hanging out, so clearly it is meant for both the casual user and the person doing his/her own darkroom work. I was really impressed by all the ways to customize the camera operation, and it was fairly simple to do. (You can, for instance, turn off the focus beep if you are shooting wildlife.)

I did not care for the focal points. They are so close together I ended up just using centerpoint focus, even though I am used to toggling focal points on my K20. There hardly seemed to be a point to toggling with this camera, so I didn't bother, choosing instead to focus and recompose. It made me wonder why it had so many focal points. I also found the option to lock it to centerpoint just weird and redundant--using that means you can't recompose or it will refocus on whatever is now in the center.

I have tiny hands (I wear a size 4 ring) and this camera was a good size for me, but I actually missed having a larger camera. I don't know how a person with larger hands might feel. I liked it in some ways, but it did feel less substantial (but didn't make my purse cut into my shoulder, so that was a good feature overall).

Really, this camera offers everything a person could want in an SLR, and it's small size is a real plus if you will be walking around a lot or wish to carry it with you all the time. I ended up preferring the PZ-1 I also bought, but I can't pinpoint exactly why. I wanted to prefer this camera because it's so small, but we just didn't click.

Here are a couple of photos taken with the *ist 35 mm. The one with the skull is autofocus and the one with the car was my stab at manual focus.
on the farm | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Alas, poor Bessie, I knew her well... | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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!
exposure, limitations, modes, speeds
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What does it mean - *ist in the name of Pentax *ist D/DS/DL ogl Pentax News and Rumors 16 05-02-2008 06:05 AM
Can I use smc Pentax-A lenses on my *ist D/*ist DS? Ole Pentax DSLR and Camera Articles 3 05-18-2007 10:23 PM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:15 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]