Pentax *ist DS


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Nov 15, 2003
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North New Jersey, United States of America
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I'm starting to see these "oldish" *ist DSLRs going real cheap in part of their age and the K20D/K200D announcement ($100-$250). I'm considering getting one "just because"... I have an extensive collection of Pentax K-mounts, screwmounts, and 645 (with an adapter).

Anyone know just how well these *ist Pentax's DSLRs work with old manual lenses? Since I'm already significantly invested in other cameras, please keep in mind that i am not looking to get into AF Pentax lenses at all. This DSLR will be used purely for use with these manual lenses. If using my old manual lenses on this body requires me standing on my head singing cum-bi-yah, then I will pass.

How is the viewfinder? Bright enough for manual focus? Can I get a split focusing screen installed? I'm in no hurry.. just putting a couple of my brain cells into considering it.
I won't be much help, but here it is. I bought the DS and liked it so much I later upgraded to the k10d. It's now the back up for the k10 and I will sometimes use it instead if there's a chance of it getting beat up. The only manual lens I have for it was the pentax 50mm 1.7 and it worked very well. I used it for only a short time though before buying the 50mm AF 1.4 lens for it. In my experience it was bright enough to focus manually. I also have a cheap zoom lens, but never tried it with the DS. AFAIK, the only bodies that you can change the focusing screen with are the k10 and maybe the D and probably the new series.

For $100-150, I think it's a really nice camera. It's only 6mp, but it's image quality is quite nice.
Thanks for your input. I'm pretty much decided.... just gotta wait a little longer and wait for the K20Ds to actually hit the shelves. Once that happens, even better deals might be found.
Just an update to this short thread.

One of my late night ebay browsing found a Samsung GX-1L which is essentially a Pentax *ist DL2 rebranded. I put in a pretty low bid not expecting to win... and presto.. I won. Final bid... $200 bucks + shipping and that includes the Kit lens. Well... it arrived today and after playin around with it for a few minutes, I'm pretty sure this is the best found bargain to date. Yeh.. its not a collectible and doesn't look right in my display case... but who cares?

* All my old lenses work Both K and KA even though the camera sepecifically mentions only KA and KAF. There are few settings that got the manual k-mounts without the "A" setting on the aperture work. 1) "AE-L on M expr" needs to be set to 2 to allow the "AE-L" button function as the stop-down metering in aperture priority. 2) "Use Aperture ring" has to be set to 2 to allow you to use lenses even though they are not set in the "A" setting. 3) Move the switch from "AF" to "M" or else the camera will try to focus prior to letting you trip the shutter. 4) The camera has to be set to full "M" manual mode. Once you set 1 and 2, you can leave it that way even though you switching between AF lenses and Manual K-mounts. Once all set, you basically focus, set your aperture via the lens ring, hit AE-L (stops down and sets shutter), and then press the shutter. Works pretty seemlessly. I got a kick out of mounting my older screw mount M42 lenses too.
* AA batteries is pretty cool. Easy to find anywhere. Not sure about how long a single charge lasts.
* Darn "prism hump" from which the flash pops out of, sticks out enough to block the view of the aperture rings of manual lenses. A little annoying but you can still see it from the side.
* Write speed to the SD is slow.
* AF is slower BUT I think this has to do with my expectations. I've been shooting with a Canon 1D mark II+L lenses for years now. By comparison, my Canon is super speedy. In general, the operation of the camera reminded me of my old 10D.
* Prism is bright enough to manual focus but I do miss split prism. The AF light does come on when you are in focus which is a workable alternative.
* Build seems at par with the other lower line cameras from nikon and canon.
* Camera menus are pretty straight forward and easy to figure out. Font looks like it came out of the old DOS days...heheh lol.
* The Camera is VERY compact.. just like what Pentax was known for. Still bigger than the well known ME bodies.
* Screen is big and bright. Slightly bigger than my 1D-MarkII.
* No low-light "red" assist lamp. Camera's AF will chase in low light.

Overall... I think Pentax is headed towards the right path which is a big relief for this ol'Pentax user. If the K10D and K20D are a major improvement over this camera, which I hear they are, then Pentax just needs to re-establish itself in the professional community to stay on track.

In summary.. I'm so freakin amazed that I got this nice camera for this little. woohoo...

My only problem.... what to say when the rest of my friends and family see this camera and say "Another camera!!????"
Congrats on the purchase. Sounds like a pretty good deal. I have delegated my DS to back up since I got the k10d a year ago, and tend to forget about its slower AF. The k10d really beats the older ones in that arena. I was a little disappointed actually to see the k10d go away from the AA batteries. I generally used those CR V3 batteries and if I remember correctly, they would get about 700 exposures before dying. The write speed is a little slow on mine as well. All in all, I am still pretty happy with it. The image quality is still pretty nice for an 8x10 or even an 11x14. Good to see another pentaxer!
Houston we have a problem...

I made an assumption that since Capture One supported the Pentax identical that I would have no problems. WRONG! bummer. My guess is that the format is identical but the embedded identification probably says Samsung instead of Pentax which is being refused by Capture one. There goes my workflow.. oh well. I filed a support ticket with Phase one but I don't expect much to come of it.

Good news is that I found "Raw Photo Processor" for my MAC that works just fine... actually pretty darn well for a donate-ware. Just used it a few times but it supports a lot of formats.

I haven't had time to do anything with the new toy but I threw on one of my old-time-favorites to see how it renders on digital (versus film). The lens is an 80's vintage Tamron Adaptall 90mm macro / super portrait lens. Now thats the ultra smooth Bokeh I remember! For a $200 buck 6mp camera, I'm impressed so far.... except it is slow.


(btw.. notice the IR sensitivity from the purple black strap... heheh lol)

I'm digging through my storage for other old K-mount stuff of long ago. hehe lol

I need to a vacation.... so I can shoot "real" stuff.
Johnboy.. thanks for the pointer with the batteries. Didn't know about using the CR V3's as I don't have a manual either. I'll probably stick to rechargable AA's but for extended trips, I just might pick up a set of CR V3s for longevity.

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