Christopher J Osborne

Pentax *ist

The Pentax *ist, launched in 2003, was Pentax's last ever film camera. It was an extra-ordinarily compact and light weight entry-level SLR. The build quality is rather plasticky and it doesn't inspire confidence, but that does mean this camera has an almost unbelievable weight of just 335 grams. As befits its entry-level market position the specification in terms of things like continuous shooting speed and viewfinder size/coverage, it still has pretty much everything a creative photographer might wish for, including manual exposure mode, DOF preview, a 1/4000 sec top shutter speed, +/- 3 stops exposure compensation and exposure lock, not to mention a fair dash of style!

But what were the idiots in the Pentax marketing department thinking of with that model name! How exactly you you even say "*ist"?! Starist?! Asteriskist?!?!

But the genuinely pocket size dimensions make it a great companion to a digital camera. My first thought was to maximise it's tiny dimensions by pairing it with the SMC Pentax-DA 40mm f/2.8 XS lens developed for the short-lived Pentax K-01 compact system camera. Now this is a lens designed for digital cameras with APS-C sized sensors, but it actually worked very nicely on the full-frame *ist. Vignetting was minimal and the 40mm focal length is ideal for a single lens walk-around outfit. The combined wight is around 390 grams. I wonder when a full-frame digital SLR camera with weigh as little as that. All the sample photographs on this page ere taken with this lens.

Using this camera with K mount lenses without an 'A' setting on the aperture ring is not recommended! But because the aperture can be controlled entirely from the camera body it works fine with digital lenses with no aperture ring at all.

Technical specification
Lens Mount:KAF (with limitations)
AF System (sensitivity):SAFOX VIII, 11 sensors (-1 ~ 18 EV)
Self-Timer:12 sec
Custom Functions:17
Additional Features:DOF preview, mirror lock-up, exposure lock
Width x Height x Depth:111 x 84 x 63.5 mm
Weight:335 grams
Exposure Modes:Auto-Picture, P, Paction, Pclose-up, Plandscape, Pnight-scene, Pportrait, Av, Tv, M
Metering Modes:16-segment
Meter Material:SPD
Exposure Compensation (Step):+/-3 (1/2 EV steps)
Meter Range:0 ~ 21 EV
Manual ISO Range:6 ~ 6400 ASA
DX ISO Range:25 ~ 5000 ASA
Shutter Speeds:30 ~ 1/4000, B
Viewfinder Type:Pentamirror
Viewfinder Magnification:0.70x
Viewfinder Coverage:90%
Batteries:2 x CR2
Option battery grip:BG-20
Continuous Shooting:2.5 frames per second
Flash Command Protocol:analog
Flash Modes:W, HS, P-TTL, TTL, P, S
Flash Synchronization Speeds:1/125 ~ 30, B
Built-in Flash Guide Number:11
Built-in Flash Coverage:28mm
Built-in Features:Auto pop-up, red-eye reduction, AF assist

Photographs taken with the Pentax *ist

All photographs taken with the *ist with a SMC Pentax-DA 40mm f/2.8 XS lens.


Date created: 17 April 2018