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Design

The *ist DS doesn't look that dissimilar to the *ist D, noticeable differences are more to do with the sculpting of the hand grip (front) and thumb grip (rear) and the modified control layout. Indeed the majority of changes are an improvement over the *ist D (which is to be expected given the additional development time but still a little annoying for *ist D owners). The *ist DS also has a larger 2.0" LCD monitor which occupies more of the rear of the camera. Overall is a clean, unfussy and easy to understand layout. Build quality is good, it's no pro camera but the materials used feel better than the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel).

In your hand

The small, lightweight *ist DS feels perfectly at home even in large hands, the sensibly shaped hand grip (soft rubber coating) and sculpted thumb grip (rear) provide plenty of support, the camera's low mass means it's never taxing even for long shoots.

Side by side

The *ist DS may be the smallest digital SLR on the market (being slightly smaller than the Canon EOS 350D) however it's not quite the lightest. The *ist DS really does look very small sandwiched between the other two 'affordable' six megapixel digital SLR's, Canon's EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) and Nikon's D70. With four AA's the *ist DS is the lightest by 44 g, switch to two CR-V3's and it's lightest by 64 g.

Left to right: Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel), Pentax *ist DS, Nikon D70

Camera Dimensions
(W x H x D)
Body weight
(inc. battery & card)
Canon EOS 350D 127 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) 540 g (1.2 lb)
Pentax *ist DS 125 x 93 x 66 mm (4.9 x 3.6 x 2.6 in) 605 g (1.3 lb)
Olympus E-300 147 x 85 x 64 mm (5.8 x 3.4 x 2.5 in) 624 g (1.4 lb)
Canon EOS 300D 142 x 99 x 72 mm (5.6 x 3.9 x 2.8 in) 649 g (1.4 lb)
Pentax *ist D 129 x 95 x 60 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.3 in) 650 g (1.4 lb)
Nikon D70 140 x 111 x 78 mm (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in) 679 g (1.5 lb)

LCD Monitor

The *ist DS has a new larger 2.0" LCD monitor with 210,000 pixel resolution. It's surprisingly good and side-by-side with the *ist D is noticeably brighter and more detailed. As with the *ist D the screen has a thick protective plastic window but no anti-reflective coating.

The camera's main menu provides fifteen levels (-7 to +7) of brightness control for the LCD monitor.

Control Panel LCD

The *ist DS has a new larger control panel LCD on the top of the camera. This panel provides a wide variety of information about the photographic and digital settings of the camera. One thing it doesn't show any more is white balance, which is a shame. Also missing on the *ist DS is a backlight for this display.

A detailed breakdown of displayed information can be found on the diagram below.

Viewfinder

The *ist DS has the same large eyepiece as the *ist D and the same magnified view, the focus screen taking up much more of the view through the viewfinder compared to other digital SLR's (the *ist DS viewfinder has a magnification of x0.95 compared to for example x0.88 for the EOS 300D or x0.8 for the EOS 350D). Kudos Pentax for the excellent viewfinder view.

Viewfinder view

The *ist DS viewfinder has AF frames and a Spot metering frame, the focus point in use glows red upon a half-press of the shutter release button. The information display is provided as a single status line below the focusing screen, a fairly good range of information is provided.

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