Pentax *ist DS
Review Date: June 23rd 2005
The Pentax *ist DS has a 6.31 megapixel , 23.5mm x 15.7mm interline interlace CCD with a primary colour filter that delivers 6.1 effective megapixels. There are 3 image size settings (3008 x 2008, 2400 x 1600 and 1536 x 1024 pixels) and three levels of compression (***: Best , **: Better, *: Good), which are recorded as JPEGs (8 bit). RAW (12 bit) format is also available, giving an image size of 3008 x 2008 pixels. A Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL lens is supplied as part of the standard kit. The camera supports SD memory cards. The Pentax *ist DS uses the PENTAX KAF bayonet mount (by using AF adapter) and compatible lenses include PENTAX KAF2-, KAF-, and KA-mount lenses. K-mount lenses are usable with restrictions, S-mount lenses are usable with an adapter and 67/645 lenses are usable with adapter and with restrictions.
The Pentax *ist DS offers four advanced exposure modes - Programme AE, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual - and 7 different scene modes (Flash Off, Night, Moving Object, Macro, Landscape, Portrait and Normal), plus a fully automatic Auto Picture Program mode. Exposure compensation can be set up to +/- 2 EV in 0.3 EV steps and exposure bracketing is available for 3 frames within range of +/-0.5EV, +/-1.0EV, +/-1.5EV (0.5EV steps) or +/-0.3EV, +/-0.7EV, +/-1.0EV (0.3EV steps). There is also a dedicated auto-exposure lock button. The maximum aperture of the supplied lens is f3.5 at wide-angle and f5.6 at telephoto and the shutter speed range is 1/4000 - 30 sec with a Bulb option also available. The Pentax *ist DS has an electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter. There are 5 ISO speeds ranging from 200 to 3200.
For focusing the Pentax *ist DS uses a Type TTL Phase-matching 11-point autofocus system. There are 3 different focusing modes available - Single AF, continuous AF and manual focus - and 3 metering modes - Multi-segment metering, Centre-weighted metering and Spot metering. The camera has 11 autofocus points which can be selected automatically or manually. An AF assist lamp is offered via the built-in flash or optional Pentax dedicated flashguns. There are 9 different White Balance presets to choose from (Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten Light, Fluorescent Light (W, D, N), Manual setting).
The Pentax *ist DS offers single and continuous shooting modes with a maximum shooting speed of approx. 2.8 fps. for up to 8 frames. The camera has a 12 or 2 second self-timer mode. There are 2 colour space choices, sRGB and Adobe RGB, and Various image parameters can be set - Saturation (-2 to +2), Sharpness (-2 to +2) and Contrast (-2 to +2). 18 custom-programmable functions and depth of field preview are also available.
The built-in flash offers a range of different modes; Auto, Flash on, Auto & Red-eye reduction and Flash on & Red-eye reduction. It has a guide number of 15.6 and a Sync speed of 1/180 sec. The Pentax *ist DS has a hotshoe that accepts Pentax dedicated flashguns, either auto or manual.
To compose your images you use the optical viewfinder monitor. The Pentax *ist DS offers 95% scene coverage and 0.95X magnification. The viewfinder has built-in diopter adjustment of -2.5 - +1.5m-1 diopters. To playback your images, the camera has a 2 inch LCD screen with 210,000 pixels. PictBridge support allows direct printing with compatible printers, and the DPOF and PRINT Image Matching III features allow you to configure options for printing your images. Supported languages include English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Korean, Chinese (Traditional/Simplified) and Japanese.
The camera's dimensions are 125(W) x 92.5(H) x 66(D)mm, and it weighs 505g without the battery and storage card fitted. The camera is powered by either four AA (lithium, alkaline, and rechargeable Ni-MH) batteries or two CR-V3 lithium batteries. An optional AC adapter is also available which can be connected via the DC in jack. The camera can be connected to a television via either the NTSC or PAL video signal outputs. USB 2.0 (HI-SPEED) allows for fast connection to a computer. There is a metal tripod mount in the bottom-centre of the camera in line with the lens mount.
Finally, the box kit that I reviewed contains a Pentax *ist DS body, Pentax DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL lens, USB cable, video cable, 2 Lithium batteries (CR-V3) (non-rechargeable), shoulder strap, finder cap, Pentax Photo Browser 2.0 and Pentax Photo Laboratory 2.0 software and instruction manuals. You will need to budget for a few SD memory cards (at least 512Mb in size), as there is no card supplied or internal memory, which is typical of most DSLR cameras. You will also need to budget for some rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger.
PhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Pentax *ist DS have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.