Pentax *ist

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The *ist is a 35mm autofocus SLR camera from Pentax introduced in 2003. This is the last film SLR camera by Pentax and an almost identical camera *ist D heralded the beginning of the Pentax DSLRs. A small camera, with lightweight (335g) and had many interesting features. This camera had a lukewarm reception, mostly because the public was moving towards digital.

This is a consumer camera, made of plastic, which uses the venerable K mount and is compatible with KA, KAF and KAF2 mount lenses. Support for lenses of the M and K series is only possible in Av mode. It uses an electronic vertical travelling metal focal plane shutter with speeds from 30 to 1/4000 of a second plus a B mode. Exposure modes include auto, picture with (action, landscape, close-up, portrait and night scenes), Av, Tv, and M modes. The finder has a 90% field of view with a 0.7x magnification. A built-in diopter can also be used with a range of -2 to +1.0. Autofocus was good for the time, but it seems now slow and noisy. The TTL meter is based on 16 segment design with a range of 0 to 21 EV at (ASA 100), an allows for matrix, center-weighed and spot modes. It is powered by two CR2 battery or with AA batteries if the battery pack BG-20 is used.

Film speed can be set for DX-coded film speeds from 25 to 5000 ISO and manually between 6 to 6400. Exposure compensation can be adjusted ± 3 EV at ½ steps. The built in flash has a GN of 11. Flash sync is at 1/125th of a sec. The motorized film transport is able to travel at up to 2.5 fps and allows for multiple exposures; timed exposures and the use of a remote trigger.

Date models can imprint Year / Mon /Day, Day / Hour / Min, OFF, Mon / Day / Year, and Day / Mon / Year.


  • Focusing and viewing:
    • Nine cross sensors sensitive to both horizontal- and vertical-line subjects with single-line sensors at right and left.
    • Full AF area, spot AF, or single AF sensors selected automatically or manually; single-shot mode with focus priority; continuous AF with release priority;
    • AF sensitivity EV -1 to EV 18 at ISO 100 with 50mm f/1.4 lens; AF aid-light in flash head; manual focusing option.
  • Noninterchangeable mirror prism finder with fixed screen showing spotmetering circle;
    • AF sensor areas shown in black except operational one lit by red LED;
    • depth-of-field preview;
    • built-in -2 to +1 diopter correction.
  • Shutter: Electronically controlled, vertical-travel, multiblade focal-plane shutter with speeds from 30-1/4000 sec plus B,
  • Exposure modes: nonshiftable program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority auto modes with auto picture; program and five subject modes lit on mode dial; metered manual exposure mode; correct exposure shiftable to focusing point; AE lock;
    • exposure compensation ±3 EV in 1¼2-EV steps;
    • three exposure bracketing ±3 EV in 1¼2- or 1-EV increments;
    • unlimited multiple exposures;
    • 12- or two-sec self-timer, the latter with mirror lockup; audible ST and AF signal;
  • Date and time: built-in time and date printing; 17 custom functions.
  • Metering: 16-segment evaluative metering, centerweighted or spot from EV 0 to EV 21 at ISO 100 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens;
  • provision for remote infrared and electronic cable shutter release;
  • lighted rear LCD screen.
  • Loading and winding: Autoloading, winding, and rewinding with auto DX film-speed settings; manual ISO 6-6400; single-frame or continuous advance to 2.5 fps.
  • Flash: Pop-up flash covers angle of 28mm lens, retracts automatically when power is turned off; X-sync at 1/125 sec; ISO range 25-500; fill flash; slow shutter-speed sync; redeye reduction; high-speed and wireless sync possible with proper Pentax accessory flash units.
  • Batteries: Two CR2 lithium batteries.