Digital Cameras 2013

Sort by:

All Cameras
Pentax *ist DL
Pentax *ist DL

Pentax *ist DL

We've given the *ist DL a grade of D.

Editor's Review

The Pentax *ist DL expertly walks the fine line between high quality photographs and convenient portability. The Pentax *ist DL ups the ante from previous Pentax SLRs, sporting a 2.5" LCD screen for detailed viewing. The camera's relatively small size makes it effortless to carry, while the steel body ensures high durability for more rugged photographers. Taking either 4 AA or 2 CR-V3 lithium batteries, the *ist DL gives you a range and flexibility that allows you to focus on your subjects and not your power meter.


  • 6.1 megapixels (effective)
  • auto and manual focus
  • program and manual exposure
  • Exif 2.21
  • RAW
  • DCF
  • DPOF
  • PRINT Image Matching III file format
  • ISO range 200 - 3200
  • 4 AA batteries or 2 CR-V3 lithium batteries. Accepts interchangeable Pentax KAF lenses
  • comes with the PENTAX DA 18-55mm 3x optical zoom lens
  • Part Number: IST-DL
  • UPC: 0027075115736
  • Release Date: Jun 29, 2005

Shop for *ist DL Accessories

Pentax *ist DL Reviews

Pentax *ist DL Reviews by Digital Camera-HQ Users

  • 4.0 out of 5
black bars (Raymond Noel — 04/06/2009)

i've had this camera for 3 years now ,it works good ,my only complaint is those black bars i get on my monitor when i view my pictures.
I tried other lcd monitors...17 in. and a 22 in. wide angle screen same results.
I even tried on other computers same results.
I could not get a straight answer from pentax.
If someone outhere has an answer to my would be greatly appreciated.
p.s........won't be buying another pentax camera soon!!!!
Raymon Noel

  • 5.0 out of 5
better than the K100D (clif — 02/04/2009)

I have had several point and shoot digital camera's over the past six years, then decided it was time for a DSLR. I bought a K100D when they first came out and was never very happy with the exposure system, always underexposed a little and the pictures were not very sharp. As time went by it only got worse so I sold the camera. I saw the 1st DL advertised new on the internet so thought I would try one. Bought one and love it, wins hands down between the two camera's. I've also noticed no difference at all not having anti shake, I think that feature is a little overplayed. This is a smaller lighter camera with all of the feature's you could ever want for the money, I paid $265 for this with the kit lens new in the box, so if you can still find a new one you won't go wrong.

  • 5.0 out of 5
The camera has worked great from the first day. (Chambers — 11/11/2008)

I have taken over 3500 photos with it. Tried all types of SD cards with no problems. I use 2700 rechargeable batteries.
All my 12 lens work great with it. Some are 10 years old.
A very easy camera to user.

  • 2.0 out of 5
UNreliable!! (Lyn — 07/09/2008)

The camera itself works fine for the most part. My camera was purchased new, but after a brief period, the auto-focus stopped working and now I have to adjust the lens manually. The USB cable does not connect well to the camera and it has to be jiggled to make it work. It's only a matter of time before THIS fails. Like today, for example. Now it won't work at all and I get a "power surge" warning from my computer. I'm glad this camera was a gift. I will NEVER lay money out for a Pentax digital again.

  • 5.0 out of 5
User frienly (Dan Nelson — 08/12/2007)

This is truely the most user friendly digital SLR i have ever owned. Makes perfect shots over and over. Some of the most difficult shots are at sea, and this babe does the job with a smile. Happy shooting everybody !!

  • 5.0 out of 5
All I can say is excellent. (David Dement — 01/20/2007)

This ia a great camera. I bought mine last January and have carried it everywhere I go ever since it came in. I have shot church weddings. Outdoor glammer,and action shots Indoor and outdoor quality is great. I like the DL so well I ordered another one today.

  • 5.0 out of 5
i hd a book published with photos from the dl (scott t — 01/17/2007)

this camera for its value is 5 star hands down and im now up grading to a pentax k10d only for the pixelation and anti shake but im going to be greedy and keep them both.(the book is "blue mountains best bushwalks")pentax is by far the better band for your money than any other..
get a hassleblad (if you can afford it...)word of advise.. work on your photography not on buying the best camera in the world to compensate

  • 5.0 out of 5
Best Camera I've Ever Owned (Jane E Aussicker — 12/16/2006)

That just about says it all. It's a great camera. I also have the 70-300 telephoto lens. One day on a whim I grabbed the camera with the telephoto lens and shot it at some contrails in the sky, estimated at about 5 to 6,000 feet. With the naked eye, the plane was a speck. After downloading the photos, I nearly fell out of my chair. It was clearly a 757 in all its glory. I was tickled pink. It also does fabulous night-time shots and close-up stills. I only regret that I didn't buy it years earlier. Go for it!

  • 5.0 out of 5
Very pleased (Matt — 11/08/2006)

I am very pleased with this camera. I upgraded from a point and shoot and this *ist DL was easy to use right out of the box, its features and user interface were initiative and its flexibility was easy to explore. The image quality is excellent. For the money, this was a great SLR starter camera and aside from more megapixels, there's nothing I find myself wanting from a more expensive camera. the *sit DL does it all for me.

Advantages: Great image quality ease of use, excellent ergonomics, battery life, battery flexibility(can use alkaline AA's or rechargeables) and compatibility with good yet relatively inexpensive Pentax lenses.

Cons: Dirt specks can fall on the CCD way too easily (a problem with almost all D-SLR's as I am now seeing) and its very dangerous to the CCD to try and clean yourself.

I would highly recommend this camera.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Even Better than Film (William Whicker — 10/27/2006)

I've used several different film cameras for the past 12 years, starting with the Pentax K1000 then going to Nikon, Minolta, etc. When digital cameras first came out, I was very skeptical about the quality of the pictures they produced. That was then. Since then the quality of digital photography has greatly improved in leaps and bounds. I bought my first digital camera earlier this year, a Fuji shirt pocket camera, and I got very good results.
A couple of other cameras later, I decided to venture into the expensive realm of DSLR cameras, only to find that the Pentax *ist DL was much cheaper than I expected in DSLRs, so I bought it. I am very glad I did. The pictures I've taken in less than a month with this camera are outstanding. The color, contrast, sharpness, overall tone, and white balance on this camera all contribute towards making digital photography even better than film. Of course I have an extensive catalog of film pictures, most of which are very good, but the pictures I've taken so far with the Pentax *ist DL blow the film pictures out of the water—and that's even with the basic zoom lens included with the camera.
The Pentax *ist DL is an excellent camera for the price. Buy one. You'll be so glad you did.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Great camera for the price (Nate — 10/20/2006)

Disagree with the previous reviewer. you should never expect so much from a built-in flash on a DSLR camera, after all it is a DSLR. That why they built those External Flash Modules. and also with the stock lens, you can't really do that much.
This is a Great camera for the money, size, and functionality. if you know how to use it and what to expect from this camera. for outdoors the stock lens is ok, but for indoor and/or low light ccondition, you should be using a wider aperture lens and an external flash module. also twick the settings a little bit, don't expect the camera to do everything for you. It's a great Camera to learn on. it's awsome....

  • 4.0 out of 5
Finally happy with this camera (Jim — 08/29/2006)

If I wrote this review 2 months ago I would have rated this camera very poorly, but I have learned many things about digital photography now and continue to learn making this a more pleasant experience now.

I am not new to photography. I have a collection of old cameras and have been active for 30 years using a Minolta SRT101 for many of them. I also have an Olympus Camedia point/shoot that I love for its clear usually flawless photos..great for vacation candids.

But I wanted more control over my pictures, so when DLSLRs became reasonable in price I reasearched them and elected the Pentax istDL...why? Because of its size and weight, it felt VERY comfortable in my hand. Also using AA batteries was a big plus for me. I hate propriority battery packs that after 5-10 years disappear...(I have camera that are 60 years old that I can still get film...I hate the marketing of the disposable generation)

Having a lot of photography experience does not translate necessarily into understanding all of the controls of a DLSLR. I lived with the MFG defaults for many months and tried the various automatic settings...most of which are useless. I use manual and aperature priority now. This is considered an entry level DLSLR but the manual is typical of most...they describe the adjustments/settings in dictionary terms but not HOW TO USE THEM! I strongly recommend reading "Digital SLR Photograpy Solutions" published by PC Magazine. Since reading this book I now understand how to set up my camera properly and my decent photos went from 20% to 90% since reading this book.

I am a birder. I purchased a Tamron 70-300mm zoom with 1:2macro. It works very well and is very light to use. Believe it or not, I can focus better on a flying bird than one sitting on a fence. This is the only thing that I struggle with. Auto focus is ok on a still subject with no branches in the way. But otherwise there is no good visual indication of a sharp focus. Yes there is a graphic in the viewfinder and a beep when the camera says focus is correct...but you don't know what it has focused on!! especially if looking through branches at a bird in a tree. You end up adjusting the focus ring back and forth trying to hit the best focus before the subject flies away. How I can get a good focus on a flying bird remains a mystery to me.

Overall I am now satified with the camera...except for the visual focus.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Agree with first reviewer, but consider another big "but." :-) (Nicol Paxton — 08/19/2006)

To quote the first reviewer: "It's only glaring deficiency is that the on-board flash, it works very poorly, takes all kinds of fooling around to get a decent shot, and its all guesswork, you really have no idea what its going to do..."

It's true. At reasonably expected party/event conditions (e.g. medium to low lighting), the on-board flash will give you about four feet of generally adequate coverage; however, whether or not the background will be darkly washed out is another story. Beyond this distance, your photos will be dark, including the subject.

As a side note, nothing kills a party faster than canvassing the room and interrupting discussion with, "excuse me, but can I wedge in here for a moment? I need to make sure my flash works. Thanks, now, carry on..."

"...just maybe its a terrible flaw in the camera."

I don't think of it as a design flaw. Rather, I believe it's the price we pay (the trade off, if you will) for this camera at this price point. In hindsight, I may have purchased the Canon Rebel instead, but I can't say with certainty because I haven't yet experienced the *ist DL with a proper, satisfactory flash.

The nutshell: Assuming you value and desire high-quality indoor photos, be prepared to upgrade the flash shortly after purchasing this camera. It is likely that after two experiences shooting indoor events, you will grow quite weary from having to modify _most or all_ of the indoor photos you took with Photoshop. Plus, this process often distorts image/color quality.


The caveat: Don't expect to put just one toe into this pool. That is, don't purchase this camera believing you won't need to upgrade the base. Odds are, if you do, you will be disappointed.

And, lastly, the final "but" — for all the worthy features (and potential) this camera model does indeed provide (outdoor shots and those taken under high-lighting conditions are positively gorgeous!), one would be hard pressed to find a very similar base camera at the same price point. Hence, the 'excellent' rating. While not perfect, given the price, it is an excellent camera.

Good luck!

  • 5.0 out of 5
Solidly Built, Good performer, Unbelievable Price,. (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I swore off Pentax years ago for reasons i can no longer remember. I also swore off digital SLRs following my mediocre experience with Canon D300. An OK camera but not worth the price.

Now along comes Pentax with the K100D, Sony, and Panasonic and my mouth started watering. The Panasonic was not even close when it came to pricing and I am not a fan of Sony so what to do. The K100D would not be available for several months but then the ads and impressions of people who owned the *1st DL started appearing and except for a couple of things, one major, one minor it was temptation heaven. I could buy the DL and even lots of lenses and other goodies and trade up to the K100D without much of a penalty. I might even decide having both cameras was a good idea.

The DL is so reminiscent of all the good things about film photography. A sturdy nice feeling camera body, a zoom lens you turn for zooming, a readout on both the top of the camera and in the viewfinder, superb response to all commands, a pretty good menu system although it might be improved a little by moving flash options to a button, and did I say, a price that is well under $500, even under $400 (when you consider the free 1Gb card, printer, full size real tripod, and a camera bag, plus 300 digital pictures) and that is with the Pentax 18-55 lens.

The image quality is great but I must admit that I have yet to try RAW. It can only get better when i go that route.

The construction and build quality is great as are the little tings like a lock on the memory card door, a variety of scene modes that seem to do what they say, You can normally overlook a lot of problems when the price is right, but here there is nothing to overlook.

And oh yes, one more thing, I buy about 3 or 4 digital cameras a year for the class i teach to senior citizens at the local college in Santa monica, CA. I have tried and used a lot of cameras during the last 3 years. As a rule, they all are getting better, more responsive, less shutter lag. The only thing I have also noticed is a decrease in quality on some of these cameras, but NOT on the Pentax *1st DL.

  • 5.0 out of 5
What a steal of a deal (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I have shot 35mm for 30+ years and own Minoltas, Canons, Yashicas, and Nikons. I never thought I could give up my 35mm's but now that I own this baby, I think I can (at least some of them.) I love the easy to learn functionality as well as the quality. Lenses are great and the on-board flash, for the most part, does the trick. I almost went Nikon or Canon, and would have been happy, but got the quality and saved the money too. I highly recommend this DSLR.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Wow. (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

My son is currently very interested in photography and he wanted an SLR for his birthday, I got him this camera and let me tell you this camera works miracles. Both he and I are very happy with the camera as it is very easy to use, has incredibly high color and sharpness.

Defiantly a camera for someone who is interested in photography and does not want to spend a pretty penny.

  • 5.0 out of 5
You get more for your Money (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

My film slr camera was a PENTAX K1000 it was a great camera and served our needs until we drove over it a few years ago. I have been waiting for a better price to get a digital slr camera and boy I am I glad I did. It takes great has all kinds of EASY to manipulate menu functions. You can see your image in b & w, sepia etc. It is light weight and FUN to use! The kit lens is really nice, but I also want to add another lens for close-ups too. You can't go wrong with the purchase of this camera. It is the best camera I have ever owned!!!

  • 4.0 out of 5
great value (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

well built little machine, fits beautifully in my hands and feels good too. picture quality is most impressive far superior to any slr 35mm i evewr had especially in manual mode, and oh so easy to use. large lcd is terrific and i think its styling is up with the best. love the practicality of AA batteries, high powered rechagables go for ever. could do with slightly larger view finder if anything, but its certainly no deterant. i dont need to spend twice or triple on a nikon or canond20 would be a waste of extra money for the same final result.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Perfect Camera for me (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I am very pleased! The size is just right, sturdy and not too heavy. This is my first SLR as I have taken my Cyber-Shot as far as I was able and am ready to learn more.
I like the AA battery and versatility there, I have been burned once on a battery, all was good for about 3 years, then try and find a new one, had to order on line and it was expensive so I vowed never again.

Took the camera to the local shop and found several good used lenses that all work well. CHEAP! I was told that I had made a good choice, it is as versatile or more so in some regards than any camera so far as lenses go. What fun!

Oh, did I mention that the picutes are stunning! And I have only begun to play in RAW, the JPEG are fantastic.

Someone mentioned that they did not like the flash? I find the flash to be fine, again it has some very flexable features. You might try a different lens. For me, it is all about comfort and flexibility and no limits!

I feel as if I have just won the lottery!

  • 5.0 out of 5
Excellent Quality - Excellent Value (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I've used 35mm film cameras for almost 40 years and have owned many SLRs, including Nikon, Canon and Leica cameras. I bought my first digital camera when Casio introduced it's first digital camera with no flash and 320 by 200 resolution. I presently own several digital cameras, including Canon G6, Panasonic FZ10, and Pentax 750Z. I've resisted buying a digital SLR primarily because of higher cost, but also because most SLRs are bulky.
When Pentax lowered the price on the *ist DL, I decided to give one a try. I'm very glad I did.
The DL is a very solidly built camera that feels "right" in my hands. It's smaller than most digital SLRs and weighs less. I bought the camera kit, which includes an 18mm x 55mm lense - and I'd rate this standard lense very highly. It's extremely sharp, edge to edge, and the color and contrast are exceptional.
The controls on the DL are well-placed and logical to operate. The settings are menu-driven and can be operated by anyone with basic knowledge of digital cameras, almost without reference to the instruction manual. Those needing to refer to the manual will find it very well written and comprehensive.
I especially like that the DL has an ISO rating from 200 to 3200, which makes low-light pictures practical without using the built-in flash. The noise level of the DL, even at high ISO settings, is equal to or better than many higher priced digital SLRs.
The flash is also very effective. In macro mode, it throttles down better than any flash I've used. The close-up pictures are perfectly exposed. Most other digital cameras I've used have "washed out" macro pictures.
The DL has a mirror instead of a prism, but the matte screen makes manual focusing a breeze - even in low-light situations. And the flash will briefly discharge to allow auto focusing even in near-dark situations.
The DL allows saving files in jpeg (several quality levels) and in RAW. The highest-quality jpeg files are between 1 and 2 meg, so several hundred pictures can be stored on a single 1G SD card.
In summary, I believe the DL is the single best value in digital SLR phorography at this time. It's price, build quality, and performance (camera and lense) are much better than I'd expect from an entry-level digital SLR. Of course the proof is in the pictures - and I'd be willing to bet that even experts couldn't tell the difference between pictures taken with the Pentax DL and those taken with more expensive cameras with greater name recognition.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Best SLR I have had (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I am very happy with this camera. Takes wonderful pictures and the detail on a 8x10 is fantastic. The auto focus is fast and accurate. Not much to say but "LOVE IT". I would highly suggest getting this camera for your entry level SLR. Perfect.

  • 4.0 out of 5
impressed (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I've had no problems with flash, in fact I'm really rather impressed with the flash performance - but I'm a daylight man. Hope you get it sorted soon.

  • 5.0 out of 5
Fantastic Camera (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

I also have the 70-300 telephoto lens. I have won several contests with this camera. It is very easy to used on manual or automatic. Use it to take professional pictures and have many satisfied customers

  • 1.0 out of 5
Great little camera, But!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (anonymous — 07/18/2006)

This is a great little camera, compact, generally takes wonderful photos, lenses included is quite good, more than up to Pentax usual quality, high, in low lighting will focus, its small menus are pretty good, except where the expiation's of a language I call Pentaxese.
Its only glaring deficiency is that the on-board flash, it works very poorly, takes all kinds of fooling around to get a decent shot, and its all guesswork, you really have no idea what its going to do, erratic, unreliable, I cannot believe Pentax has put something like this on the market, a camera that is next to useless in the flash mode.
I have had this back to Pentax 3 times now, they give me all kinds of excuses, and, do nothing about it, maybe they can,t , just maybe its a terrible flaw in the camera.
When I bought the camera I intended to us it indoors and outdoors, outdoors it is superb, indoors, its awful. Pentax really blew this one, they refuse to admit or do something about it, I used to love Pentax cameras, great product, great service, now, service is non existent, while I thing its a great camera, its really half a great camera. Be smart, stay away, go elsewhere.