Digital Cameras 2013

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Pentax *ist D
Pentax *ist D

Hey! You should know that this product has been discontinued. Here are our current recommended cameras in the Professional dSLR category.

Pentax *ist D

We've given the *ist D a grade of D.

Editor's Review

The oddly-named Pentax *ist D offers excellent performance and a body that is smaller and lighter than other digital SLRs. The *ist D has received widespread acclaim from professional reviewers, who consistently praise its light weight and high-quality images. Current Pentax owners will no doubt be happy to hear that the *ist D is compatible with existing Pentax 35mm-format interchangeable lenses and accessories.


  • 6.1 megapixels (effective)
  • auto and manual focus
  • program and manual exposure
  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • and RAW file format
  • ISO range 200 - 3200
  • 4 AA batteries. Accepts interchangeable Pentax KAF lenses -- lens not included
  • Part Number: 18981
  • UPC: 00027075076600
  • Release Date: Oct 31, 2003

Shop for *ist D Accessories

Pentax *ist D Reviews

Pentax *ist D Reviews by Digital Camera-HQ Users

  • 1.0 out of 5
UN HAPPY (BETTIE — 10/02/2009)


  • 2.0 out of 5
Unreliable camera, bad support (Marshall Shapiro — 07/03/2008)

While shooting a news story using the *istD with a Pentax AF360 I head a sound like a gunshot from the flash. Obviously a condenser had blown. On return to Canada, Pentax refused to fix it. That's enough to stop me from buying any more of their products although I did replace the flash. The camera has stopped working with any NiMH batteries with less than 1.25 volts. Since most NiMH batteries are 1.2v, my older batteries are useless and only Campower batteries will work. The camera has also developed a new problem: It doesn't always fire when the shutter button is clicked. A glance at the battery level shows it empty. Flick the on/off lever and it shows half or full. Overall, this is a bad camera and Pentax should be ashamed. I have reported the problem to Pentax, taken the camera to them for servicing and there has been no improvement. They promised me some 1.3v batteries some six months ago and they never arrived.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Satisfied customer Pentax *ist DS (mshahriar — 10/26/2007)

I lam using an older pentax lens with this camera. I get clear, sharp images. I am happy with this camera.

  • 2.0 out of 5
movement (P. Gannon — 09/29/2006)

I love the idea of using my Pentax lenses with this camera. But I want clear, sharp images. The biggest problem is with studio lights. The images are not sharp and look to have movement, even with a shutter of 180.

  • 2.0 out of 5
Non Compatible external Flashes (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

They claim that their Flash's are compatible. Most of the flash's functions are not available. I have the AF500 and the AF360. The TTL functions are not compatible The 500 overexposes and the 360 fires the flash before the Shutter resulting in an underexposed image. The manual function of the 360 keeps reverting back to the P-TTL. I would not suggest this camera unless you want to spend your time trying to figure out how to work the flash.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Strong like bull! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have two DS's and have dropped them 3 times each from a height over 4 feet causing one to crack and displacing the focussing red indicator. Both cameras are still working with no ill effects from the falls. The cracked one has already shot 9000 pictures and the other has around 4700. Also used in sub zero condition of -15 Celsius or 5 degree F with no problem other that battery life is decrease. So if your looking for a robust camera this one will do the trick.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Stunning image quality (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

My only regret is not buying it sooner. With my FA* series lenses, the images quality is simply stunning, what I always wanted film to be, but wasn't.

There's a few minor quibbles with it, but all in all, well worth the price. If you haven't switched to digital yet, just do it. Zero grain, noise-free images up to 24x36 @ iso 800! Zero grain - none - silky smooth images. Dynamic range is a little narrow (not a Pentax phenomenon, but a digital one) but the advantages FAR outweigh the disadvantages.

Just get one.

  • 5.0 out of 5
istd very good (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

As a medium and large format user who only ever used 35mm to be used in AV shows I bought the istD as an introduction to digital capture. The camera has surpassed my expectations to the point that despite the introduction of the economy 8 megapixel cameras I am currently seeking to buy the istD as a back up for my original camera as the price drop makes this camera top value. I paid almost £1500 for the first camera and a year and half later still believe it was a great buy.

  • 3.0 out of 5
Bleached out Clouds (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

My major problem with the Pentax *ist D is the sky. If there are clouds or a light gray sky I always get an unusable result. The sky is completely washed about in the highlights and often a light cyan is evident around these burned out areas. Also, I find colours are somewhat washed out compared to other digital cameras or to film cameras.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Superior Image Quality! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

Initially purchased the Pentax *istD with the 18-35mm lens and was satisfied the images, but they were on the soft side. After Pentax released the 16-45 mm f4 ED lens, the images I've taken have been of superior quality. Definitely recommend the Pentax *istD or DS to anyone looking for great little DSLR that can take fantastic photos!

  • 5.0 out of 5
Everything I Wanted (anonymous — 07/18/2006)
I have been involved in photography since the 1950's and my latest film camera is a Pentax (P)Z-1. I found the Z-1 perfect for my needs (published photographer) and wanted to move to digital. I had a chance to compare the *ist D and the *ist DS using the same lenses and decided that the D was substantially more camera and comparable in use to my Z-1. I went with the D because it was inherently easier for me to use with maximal knowledge transfer. It felt comfortable enough so that, on my next assignment, the D was my camera of choice. It hasn't let me down since. I could use my old lenses (Pentax K, KA, FA, S) and techniques honed on the Z-1. I primarily use the Hyperprogram mode, controlling how the camera operates. In a pinch, I've used the "green button" to let automatic pilot take control. It feels well constructed and sturdy. The camera is smallish (a good thing) and feels even better with the battery grip (allowing for more pictures on one expanded set). There never is a question about the quality of Pentax lenses, and they all can fit this camera (with a 1.5 magnification ratio). Since my kit starts from 17mm and goes to 200mm, this is fine. The conversion brings the D to 25mm to 300mm equivalents. I rarely needed the super-wide and I'm not disappointed. The pentaprism viewfinder makes in camera cropping easy, with little to finish on the computer. Picture qualities are awesome.
  • 5.0 out of 5
Pentax got it right (anonymous — 07/18/2006)
I've been shooting with Pentax cameras and lenses since 1968, and, after a few years of using an Optio 430, decided to go for the *istD. 12 years ago I moved to a Z-1 and loved it. This is the ideal DSLR camera to migrate to. Everything operates intuitively just the way I expected. Go for the battery grip. It makes verticals a breeze. Is it perfect - nothing's perfect. I'd much rather have a full 35mm frame - but at the same price. It's nice to have an effective multiplier of 1.5 on telephoto lenses, but a problem trying to use wide angle lenses for the purposes they were bought. The four-way controller on the back is too easy to use erroneously. Composing is easy, pictures are great and Compact Flash is available in lots of sizes at good prices.