Body & Design

As you can see the *ist D has a fairly traditional SLR design, obviously the shape, size and control layout are pretty much defined by the *ist film SLR on which it is based. The body material is a tough plastic (reminds me of that used on the EOS-D60), beneath this is a strong metal subframe (the body feels very solid). The camera has a functional design with many external control buttons allowing you to make settings changes without diving into the menu system. The rear of the camera has a moulded area for thumb grip which helps with the grip and balance of the camera.

Side by side

The *ist D is physically smaller than any other lens interchangeable digital SLR currently available. Interestingly it's the same height and weight as Canon's new EOS-300D but is not as wide nor as deep. Comparatively you can see how much bigger the Nikon D100 is than the *ist D.

Left to right: Nikon D100, Canon EOS-300D, Pentax *ist D

Camera Dimensions Body weight
(inc. battery & CF)
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 D100 144 x 116 x 81 mm (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in) 775 g (1.7 lb)
Fujifilm S2 Pro 142 x 131 x 80 mm (5.6 x 5.2 x 3.1 in) 870 g (1.9 lb)
Canon EOS 10D 150 x 107 x 75 mm (5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in) 879 g (1.9 lb)

In your hand

The *ist D is nicely balanced and comfortable to hold thanks to its light weight and thoughtful ergonomic design. That said the front hand grip is not as deep as some other digital SLR's. Weight balance is equalized by the batteries being located in the hand grip.

LCD Monitor

The *ist D has a fairly standard 1.8" 118,000 pixel LCD monitor with a thick protective plastic window but no anti-reflective coating. In use the screen was bright and relatively easy to see.

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

Control Panel LCD

The top control panel LCD display provides a wide variety of information about both photographic and digital settings of the camera. Once nice touch is the indication of front or rear command dial control of shutter speed or aperture (both in the example below which was taken in manual exposure mode). Also note the white balance indicator (the arrow pointing down to a WB setting). The panel has a green backlight (not very bright and only from the right) which can be activated by flicking the power switch to the DOF preview position.

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


The viewfinder eyepiece appears to be slightly larger than that found on the EOS-10D or Nikon D100 and also seems to have higher magnification, that is that the actual frame view appears larger. The viewfinder does have a dioptre adjustment and removable eyepiece, there is no eyepiece shutter.

The diagram below is exactly to scale (traced from an actual shot through the eyepiece). The status line along the bottom of the viewfinder shows: Flash status, AF area, AF lock, Shutter speed, Aperture, AE Lock. Down the right side is shown an exposure meter with either the current exposure compensation or meter difference as well as the number of frames remaining.

Normal viewfinder view, here all AF points are highlighted, normally only active points will illuminate Viewfinder view with 16-segment metering pattern overlaid (for reference only - not normally visible)

A detailed description of information shown by the two viewfinder LCD status bars can be found on the diagram below.