|Pentax *istD 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
|List Price: $1799.99
Our Price: $1488.00
You Save: $311.99 (17%)
Housed in one of the world's smallest, lightest digital SLR camera bodies, the *ist D comes equipped with an array of advanced functions and user-friendly features. The *ist D is compatible with existing PENTAX 35mm-format interchangeable lenses and accessories.
Pentax's *ist D is the world's smallest and lightest digital SLR (as of April 2003), measuring just 5.0 by 3.7 by 2.3 inches and weighing 18 ounces. It features a clarity of 6.1 effective megapixels, a 16 segment metering system, an-11 point AF sensor, and a continuous shooting rate of 2.7 frames per second. It's also compatible with K, KA, KAF, and KAF2 mount lenses and 645/67 lenses with an adapter.
Optics and Resolution
Employing a high-performance CCD with dimensions of 23.5mm by 15.7mm and embracing Pentax's unique image processing technology, the *ist D offers 6.1-megapixel resolution for the recording of precise, superior-quality images.
Storage and Transfer
The *ist D is compatible with CompactFlash Type I/II memory cards, and is also compatible with MicroDrives.
An optical pentaprism viewfinder was developed especially for the *ist D. This makes viewing easy with an ample 95% field of view and 0.95x magnification. There is also a superimposed display function that assists composition by illuminating the AF points in red.
Other features include:
- New 16-segment metering system achieves more accurate exposure
- New 11-point AF sensor (SAFOX VIII) for enhanced focusing
- Fast 1/4,000 second shutter speed and high-speed flash sync at 1/150 seconds
- Custom function allows functionality to be tuned to satisfy user preferences
- Noise reduction function activates for long exposures
- 1.8-inch, 118,000-pixel LCD monitor
- Choice of JPEG, TIFF, and RAW recording formats
- Convenient playback functions, such as nine-image and 12x magnification display
Power and Size
The camera is powered by 4 AA batteries; rechargeable NiMH batteries are recommended. It measures 5.0 by 3.7 by 2.3 inches and weighs 18 ounces.
The *ist D and the *ist DS Compared
| ||*ist D ||*ist DS |
|Effective Pixels ||6.1 Megapixels ||6.1 Megapixels |
|LCD Monitor |
|1.8-inch TFT Color LCD ||2.0-inch TFT Color LCD |
|Power Source ||4 AA, or 2 CR-V3 ||4 AA, or 2 CR-V3 |
|Storage Media ||Compact Flash (I & II), |
|SD Memory Card |
|File Formats ||8-bit (JPEG), 8-bit (TIFF), |
|8-bit (JPEG), |
|Exposure Modes ||Auto w/Hyper Program |
|Program AE |
|Interface ||USB 1.1 ||USB 2.0 |
|Flash Sync ||1/150 sec ||1/180 sec |
|X-Sync Socket ||YES ||NO |
|Continuous Frame Advance ||2.6 fps ||2.8 fps |
|Continuous Autofocus ||YES ||YES (in Action Picture Mode only) |
|Mirror Lock ||YES ||YES |
|Wireless Flash Sync ||YES ||NO |
|Optional Vertical Grip ||YES ||NO |
|Stainless-Steel Chassis ||YES ||YES |
|Remote Assistant from PC ||YES ||NO |
|Interchangeable Focusing Screens ||YES ||YES |
|PictBridge Compatibility ||NO ||YES |
|Weight (w/o Batteries) ||19.4 oz ||17.8 oz |
- Smallest and lightest digital SLR as of April, 2003
- 6.1 effective megapixels
- Compatible with K, KA, KAF and KAF2 mount lenses and 645 / 67 lenses with an adapter
- Compatible with CompactFlash Type I/II cards and MicroDrives
- Powered by 4 AA batteries
- A DSLR up to the High Pentax Standard
I've been shooting Pentax SLRs since the Honeywell Spotmatic of the '60s with many photographs published in newspapers and magazines. For a while, I had been jealous of my compatriots as they switched to DSLRs while I waited for one on a par with my latest Pentax - a Z-1 of 10 years outstanding service. When the *ist D came out, I wasn't ready. About a year later, Pentax introduced the *ist DS, and I compared the two with the same lenses.
The D works like my Z-1 with similar functions and a hyper-mode which I could immediately jump from to automatic mode. It takes all of my old Pentax lenses and takes wonderful pictures - still better than the photographer can.
It has a sturdy build (the stainless steel frame shows up in the feel) and is very small for ease of carrying and use. It balances best with the optional battery grip which adds better vertical holding capability combined with additional shutter and exposure control.
I have had NO problems with the compactflash facility. Maybe this varies from camera to camera, but I use 4 different cards from 3 manufacturers and added a hand/wrist grip to the camera.
The 4-way controller on the back is fiddly and takes some getting used to. I think the similar controller on the DS works much better.
All-in-all, Pentax has a winner here. There is an extensive world of pre-existing lenses (including the old screw mounts) that work on the D pretty much as they did on their original target cameras, and, to offset the 1.5 magnification ratio, Pentax has come out with some super-wide angle lenses (e.g., 14mm - equivalent to 21mm on 35mm film cameras) with similar outstanding Pentax quality....more info
- Great camera
I've lived with the *istD for 2,000 shots. It's a camera that's easily loved. Here's some points:
1. Body is small for a DSLR and seems rugged. It feels like a metal SLR from the 80's, which is to say "a real camera". I have large hands but have adapted to the camera very well.
2. The flash card is hard to access. Some brands of cards are worse than others, but you can remedy that by putting a small piece of tape on the card to act as a pull. Shouldn't have to do this on this level of camera, but it's a minor problem after you get to know the other advantages.
3. The photo editing program that comes with the Pentax isn't much, so be prepared to use something else. Unlike consumer point and shoot digitals, the Pentax and other DSLRs require post processing to get the best results for web display and enlargements. For 4x6 prints, they look just like film SLRs (other than the have more of an appearance of slide film than print film).
4. The Pentax will use most Pentax lenses, with some adjustments. If you have a lens with an "A" setting and autofocus, then you're good to go out of the box. The selection of true-digital lenses are limited right now- but they offer a savings in weight and sometimes money but not quality. The Sigma two-lens set gives the best option with two fairly good quality lenses for the price of one. The Pentax 16-45mm zoom is excellent, being much, much better than the "kit" lens.
5. Autofocus is very quick and accurate.
6. Camera has several auto settings and a manual setting. Noise reduction kicks in when doing a long exposure.
7. ASA200 is the minimum and has low noise. I've shot ASA800 shots at night and they looked great. If you change the ASA, there is no visual prompt in the viewfinder to remind you to set it back though.
8. I'm at frame number 2,000 and am on my third set of batteries. You can count on about 700 to 800 shots per set of batteries, with each set costing $15 to $20. You can use rechargeables, but really you don't need them. I've found the Pentax setup to be a lot better than trying to worry about recharging. The CRV3 batteries can be found in almost any town in the corner pharmacy chain, national mega-store, or local photo shop.
9. Has a mirror lock up feature that can be used for night shots, macro shots, etc.
10. Out-of-the-camera sharpness seems to be intentionally set low. You can move this up, but for 4x6 prints it isn't needed and if you post to the web, unsharp mask does a great job without increasing the noise.
11. The LCD screen doesn't have a protector on it. I haven't scratched it yet, but it is always on my mind.
12. The viewfinder is exceptionally bright. Much more so than the Canon.
13. You can shoot several shots in rapid succession. Maybe not on par with a higher level camera, but I have always been able to snap off 4 to 6 rapid shots without problems, even when using slow CF cards. It may do more, but I haven't had a reason to try it.
- Answers to the two big on-line Criticisms...
OK, if you're here, you probably have read all the online reviews. Here's my answers to some of the major criticisms I've seen about this supurbe camera on the web. (And my opinion is based on a 20 year career as a professional photographer...for what that's worth! :) )
1.)Criticism: Memory card is hard to remove. OK, maybe this could use a little work on Pentax's part. Not really a big deal if you're careful. Just be careful...it's not THAT hard!
2.)Criticism: Batteries are not proprietary and rechargeable!? WHAT? THANK GOD! This is in my opinion not a mistake but a MAJOR PLUS! Only Pentax would have the forsight and understanding to give the user TWO (more if you consider all the AA posibilities...)onboard options for battery power both available almost anywhere for Pete's sake! Batteries are the life blood of digital photography, more options can only be better! For my part I'm running 2300 milliamp hour rechargable AA's and am thrilled with the performance!
Well that addresses the two biggies I've read about. As for the rest of it, the price is now where it should be and the camera performs fantastically. Now that Pentax has a 14mm coming out, all is wonderful in the digital world. My advice, BUY IT and you won't ever look back! The 13x19 prints are superb, I shoot weddings and fine art landscapes, and this camera gets the job done!!!...more info
- A great camera with a one serious flaw
Over the years I have used a variety of systems ranging from Pentax to Nikormat to Canon to Olympus and eventually back to Pentax. Why back to Pentax? Size and ergonomics. All of the major brands are good and some offer truly best in class - at a price - in optics such as Nikon and Canon.
However, for overall good value Pentax holds its own. While I would be happy to use equipment from any of the major brands, I am quite satisfied with Pentax - but I had to wait until last autumn to get my hands on a decent Pentax digital camera. The *istD, weird name and all, is such a camera. Overall I'm a happy camper and I have been taking some of the best photographs in my 30 years experience with this camera.
Other reviews here will tell you the camera's virtues and those features are real and not over stated. This is a professional class camera - though most professionals use Nikons and Canons when it comes to digital work for a number of reasons - usually due to optics and employers' standards. The optics from Pentax are still well respected and 99% of the folks reading this will be more than satisfied.
While battery life with this camera is very, very good, I would recommend considering getting the optional additional battery attachment that screws into the bottom of the camera. It looks like an old fashion motor drive but it provides excellent ergonomics when shooting side-wise (portrait) complete with the thumb and fore finger controls replicated for ease of use. It adds peace of mind by providing redundant power plus if you often shoot protrait framing, you can really hold this camera much better than most other cameras.
So what is the single, significant flaw of this camera? It is undoubtedly the flash card interface that is accessed via a door that doesn't swing completely open, tempting the user to push the card in a slightly wrong angle. Of course there are internal guides within the flash card holder assembly but even with care, over time, it is possible to break one of the tiny pins of the camera's interface to the flash card. I know. I have done it. The cost and speed of repair was minor, but suddenly one day out in the field I had a camera that was suddenly inoperable.
So that is why I give this other wise great camera only 4 stars. If you have a good investment in 35 mm Pentax gear, you really have no choice but this camera. But the good news, particularly if you are shooting in RAW, the output is incredible. Now that PhotoshopCS has upgraded its RAW import program via a free download from Adobe, the results from this camera can be absolutely stellar. But user beware when swapping out those flash cards!...more info
- My early impression: Wow!
After nearly 3 years of playing with other digital cameras I finally took the leap back into SLR-land and purchased this great Pentax camera. Though I am just beginning to explore its capabilities, so far I am delighted: there are a lot of advantages to SLR camera use that I missed from the film days.
As with any of the current crop of digital SLR's, you get a ton of flexibility and shooting speed at a price that would have been unthinkable just two years ago. If you are used to using film SLR's, and have been frustrated by certain aspects of using a typical digital camera, you will be happy to be back in the land of no-shutter-lag shooting; the ability to use a ring on the lens barrel for zooming; tons of manual flexibility combined with idiot-proof program modes; and of course the flexibility of many lens choices. What has particularly driven me crazy about the current crop of high-end non-SLR digicams is the use of EVF viewfinders -- by contrast, the viewfinders on digital SLR's are great.
So why this Pentax vs the other competitive models? (The others worth considering in this price range at this time are the Canon EOS 10D; the Canon Digital Rebel; the Nikon D70; the Nikon D100; or even the Sigma models). This Pentax has the same sensor as the Nikon models, and the imaging capabilities of any of these cameras is doubtless well beyond my skills in any case. So to me it came down to ease of use, size and build quality. Size in particular is important to me: if you just look at the specs of this camera on a cubic-inch basis it's 38% smaller than the Nikon D70 and 26% smaller than the Digital Rebel. The Canon 10d is even bigger, and looks like a house sitting next to the Pentax.
After handling all of these cameras, I concluded that the Pentax is the one I would use most often. Too often my film SLR's sat at home when I was using film -- I would grab a point-and-shoot instead. I really wanted something I would use a lot.
On the other hand, some published complaints (and my conclusions) about the Pentax have been:
(1) Images are too "soft" (this is super-easy to adjust if you use something like Adobe Album, Elements or Photoshop, and in return the camera is not "sharpening" the image for you, which can introduce sharpening noise)
(2) Not as many lenses as available as in the Canon or Nikon lines (There seem to be plenty for my purposes, both new and used)
(3) Memory cards are hard to eject (Doesn't seem that hard to me; you need to be careful no matter what camera you use).
Another issue (price) with this camera has been fixed: when it was introduced it was more expensive than the others in its class. But the price has been reduced and now is typically available at a price that slots it in as a bit more expensive than the D70 and less than the 10D.
All of these current digital slr's are great, and it seems to me that if you already owned Canon or Nikon lenses you wouldn't go wrong with one of their models. On the other hand, if you are starting from scratch (or like me, you own brands you can't use on any of these), the Pentax is worthy of serious consideration....more info
- Wonderful Addition to the Pentax Line
The istD is Pentax's first serious entry into the digital market. Pentax are the people who came up with the K-1000, the no-frills manual camera which was so popular among students and artists. When one thinks of a name brand camera, Nikon and Canon are probably the first names to come to mind. Pentax is the underdog in 35mm, now a serious competitor in the digital world.
The CCD (digital film) is identical to that used in the Nikon D100. The istD accepts all manual focus and automatic focus Pentax lenses. Focal lengths are a bit different - so, if you have a 50mm "normal" Pentax lens, now you will have a 75mm lens when connected to this body.
I plugged in a CF card from my E-10 and all the photos I took showed up in the istD. No drivers or special software required for the USB cable - just plug the camera into a Windows OS and a harddrive appears with your photos on it.
If you are familiar with Pentax's Hyper-Program mode, you have it here again. Pentax is wonderful for tweak-ability. In "green" mode, you can set the program line to favor DOF or shutter speed. Hyper-Program mode allows you to tweak either the shutter or aperture. And, a totally manual mode is available.
There are three user-customizable banks of special tweaks, such as taking a picture before the flash full charges (option) or changing the action of a few of the buttons. In addition to a full bank of pre-set WB settings, there are three custom white balance settings which may be set using a greycard or piece of white paper. And, the viewfinder is loaded with indicators and a bar display light meter.
The best feature which made me say "wow" was the autofocus. Not only will the camera autofocus, but it flashes a red dot to show you what it is focusing on. You can manually select the focus point, or just override everything and put the focus dead center. If you don't like the red dot overlay, even that can be tweaked off.
It's fast. I took a few frames in rapid succession and was not left wanting for something faster. Of the most frustrating features of the Olympus E-10 was trying to fire off another frame - so many missed photos. Not the Pentax. When you need that little extra burst of speed, it's pretty quick.
The camera is also surprisingly light and small. The more common settings are off the program dial, such as ISO, image compression, and pixel depth. Other settings, such as sharpness, contrast, and color saturation are quickly accessed though the menu. The camera turns on fast and ready to fire. Matrix metering, center weighted metering, and spot metering all available. PC socket for external flash plus a hot shoe. Manual, automatic, and predictive continuous autofocus.
And, of course, the images are clear and crisp. It accepts up to a 1gig CF card or microdrive. A single connector provides USB and video out. If you want the LCD display on while the video output is used, well - that's a tweakable setting as well....more info
- Back to Pentax .... after many yaers.... :-)
Well for a long time I've been one from the domain of MF 645 and saved many good words for Pentax quality. Well this camera isn't disappointment.
I've been using this camera for two weeks and can say it is cool! The image quality is very good, camera is easy to use, light, handy and steady. The overall impression is very positive. The Pentax optics is cool! I have tried it also with Sigma's 24-70 2.8 zoom that is amazingly and surprisingly quality stuff....more info