The *ist DS is supplied with two photo applications, Pentax Photo Browser (image browsing and organization) and Pentax Photo Laboratory (RAW converter).

Pentax Photo Browser 2.11

Photo Browser is a simple image browsing application which supports JPEG, TIFF and Pentax's RAW .PEF format. The main Photo Browser window is divided into several panes: folder list, thumbnail view, image preview (not shown below) and EXIF exposure information. Photo Browser also has support for folder creation, drag-and-drop and cut-and-paste file organization and a single image view mode. The 'Image Data Pane' provides a wide range of information about the selected image from the EXIF header, including the lens name (something third party EXIF browsers won't be able to do).

Double click on an image thumbnail (or select 'View Image') to open it in its own single image viewer window. This window also provides Image Data for the displayed image as well as the ability to rotate (although the rotation is not recorded). The viewer window also provides for 'Auto Image Fix' which can be carried out as default, slight or strong. You can rotate images (which are saved as a new file) as well as browse, magnify and print.

Pentax Photo Laboratory 2.10

Photo Laboratory can be launched on its own (as a stand alone application) or from Photo Browser's toolbar with a RAW file selected in the browser window. It is made up of five separate windows; the main window (toolbar, menu options), Preview window, White Balance window, Tone window and Other Settings window. The last three are only available if you change to 'custom processing mode' otherwise the RAW converter uses default (or automatic) settings for conversion.

Each of the three adjustment windows is described below.

White Balance - select between the camera setting for white balance, a preset white balance, a gray point or color temperature (although only a few presets, not totally flexible) Tone - displays a histogram of the image as well as allowing you to apply a custom tone curve to the image
Other Settings - provides access to digital exposure compensation ('sensitivity') and the three standard image processing parameters (contrast, saturation and sharpness)  

All available adjustments / settings:

Main Menu
Processing Full Auto Processing, Custom Processing
Image Mode (Tone) Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Moving Object, Night Scene Portrait
Output size Large, Medium, Small
Output format TIFF 8-bit, TIFF 16-bit, JPEG (Highest compression, High compression, Medium Quality, High Quality, Highest Quality)
White Balance
White balance options Camera, Presets, Gray point (1, 3 or 5 points), Kelvin temp.
Kelvin temperatures 2500, 2630, 2780, 2940, 3130, 3330, 3570, 3850, 4170, 4550, 5000, 5560, 6250, 7140, 8330, 10000 K
Tone Default, Custom tone curve (up to 14 points)
Indicators Show under / over-exposed areas on image
Other Settings
Sensitivity +/- 3.0 EV in 1/6 EV steps
Contrast -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3
Saturation -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3
Sharpness -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3

Compared to previous versions of Photo Laboratory it's clear that Pentax has made some significant improvements (not least of which the adjustment of the Preview window size) as well as faster processing and more flexibility of options. You can even save adjustment 'sets' to apply to other images and process multiple images in a batch.