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Pentax *ist D *istD Test Review
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Pentax *ist D Digital Camera

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WARNING: I've gotten a lot of hate mail about this page from people who really love this camera for its tiny size and lens compatibility. I offer my thoughts below because many people want to know my opinions. If you're more comfortable reading glossy commercial magazines that say everything is perfect then you may want to avoid reading further. On the other hand, you may wish to express your hatred and


This is a real 6MP DSLR that competes directly with the Canon 10D and Nikon D100. It sells for $1,400 without lens, a little less expensive, which makes sense since Pentax is less well known among amateurs.

In case you're not familiar with Pentax, just remember that Ansel Adams used their exposure meters just as I do for my most serious work. Pentax are very well known in professional circles for their huge line of medium format cameras. On the other hand, Nikon and Canon make no professional format cameras nor any lightmeters at all. Enough said.


Standard sized 16 x 24mm CCD. This is the standard for digital SLRs; it is 1.5x smaller than the old 35mm film size.

Standard (for 2004 anyway) 3008 x 2008 pixel images (Also 2400 x 1600 and 1536 x 1024)

Standard JPG file formats in various compression levels, also RAW and TIF. Pentax RAW is now supported by Photoshop CS. In addition, Pentax offers a RAW-Plugin that works with Photoshop 6, 7 and CS, Corel Photopaint and Paintshop Pro 8.

ISO 200 - 1600, pushable to 3200

2.6 FPS, 6 frame buffer

Built in flash

Batteries: four AA (lithium, alkaline, Ni-MH) or two CR-V3. Pentax claims 1,000 shots with CR-3V, 900 with lithium AA, 450 with Ni-MH AA and 110 with alkaline AA, all without flash.

19 oz and also apparently the world's smallest DSLR.

Works with all autofocus FA J, FA and F Pentax lenses as well as manual focus KA and older K (no A on aperture ring) lenses, and as of firmware version 1.10 everything works. This is better than Canon, whose manual focus lenses all became paperweights in the 1980s when Canon abandoned the mount, and better than Nikon with whose cameras manual focus lenses loose almost all functions. You can see a PDF of the details of the 1.10 firmware upgrade here.

And yes, you can use Pentax 645 and 67 medium format lenses with some fooling around with adaptors. Check this yourself if this is important to you.

RARE MULTIPLE EXPOSURE MODE, unique to all digital cameras as far as I know.

30 - 1/4000 and B shutter, 1/150 flash sync, which is the fastest speed when using flash.

It takes standard CF cards and microdrives.


I have only used it a little. It's a perfectly swell camera. I will presume image quality is the same as the other real DSLRs like the Nikon D100 and Canon 10D, and far superior to compact non-SLRs like the Sony DSC-F828 and other point-and shoots.


By all means consider this. It should be much better than any non-SLR like the Nikon 8700, and competes directly against Canon and Nikon DSLRs. Since Pentax is not as popular that can spell a discount for you! If you already own Pentax lenses then you ought to get this instead of buying new ones for a Canon or Nikon.

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