Battery Compartment

In the base of the camera's hand grip is the battery compartment, the door is opened by sliding a lock lever across and then pulling the door towards the front of the camera. Inside you can see that the camera takes two CR-V3 batteries or four AA's.

Storage Compartment

The *ist DS becomes the first digital SLR to use only SD for storage, in reality this isn't much of a limitation as SD cards are now available in larger capacities and write performance is as good as (if not better than) Compact Flash. The only downside will be for those people who already have a collection of CF cards. We were very disappointed to discover that the *ist DS will cancel writing its buffered images if you open the SD card door, in our opinion this should be handled differently (perhaps with a warning beep until all images have been flushed).


This is certainly an improvement over the *ist D (and several other digital SLR's), all of the camera's connectors are neatly tucked away behind a proper hinged (and sprung) door on the left side of the camera (from the back). Top to bottom: remote connector, combined USB (2.0 Hi-Speed) and Video Out, DC-IN.

Note that the *ist DS does not have a PC Sync flash terminal.

USB 2.0 speed test

The *ist DS supports USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (maximum throughput of 480 Mbps) as well as offering backwards compatibility with USB 1.1 interfaces. To test the *ist DS transfer speed we used a mixture of JPEG and RAW images totaling 70 MB and transferred them from a SanDisk Extreme III 1 GB SD card via four different methods. As you can see from the results below the *ist DS 'PC-F' mode puts the camera in 'Full-speed' (USB 1.1) speed mode which results in USB 1.1 transfer speeds. In the normal 'PC' mode it manages a very respectable 5.2 MBytes/sec which is only marginally slower than a USB 2.0 SD card reader.

Method Transfer rate
Pentax *ist DS, USB mode 'PC-F' 7.2 Mbps (0.9 MBytes/sec)
Pentax *ist DS, USB mode 'PC' 42 Mbps (5.2 MBytes/sec)
USB 2.0 SD card reader 50 Mbps (6.3 MBytes/sec)
CardBus 32-bit SD adapter 99 Mbps (12.3 MBytes/sec)

Mbps = Megabits per second, MBytes/sec = Megabytes per second

Tripod Mount

On the bottom of the camera you'll find the metal tripod socket which is aligned exactly with the center line of the lens. The surrounding area is perfectly flat and ideal for use with a tripod mount plate

Pop-up Flash

The pop-up flash is released by button on the rear of the camera or popped up automatically depending on the camera mode. The flash also strobes to act as an AF assist lamp in low light when up. Flash shutter speed (X-sync) is up from the *ist D's 1/150 sec to 1/180 sec.

External Flash

The hot-shoe is normally protected by a removable plastic cover (not shown here). The *ist DS supports a range of Pentax flash units, although the AF360FGZ as the ideal partner that will provide the maximum amount of functionality and flash to camera communication.

Lens Mount

Below on the left you can see the *ist D's lens mount with the mirror down. Lenses are inserted twisted clockwise and lock in place with an anticlockwise turn. As you can see the electronic connections on the Pentax lens mount are on the face of the metal part of the mount. Note that because of the smaller size of the sensor it crops the field of view provided by a 35 mm lens. Thus a 17 mm lens on the *ist DS will provide approximately the same FOV as a 25.5 mm lens would on a 35 mm SLR (with 35 mm film).

Shutter Release Sound / Continuous drive

In all of our digital SLR reviews we now provide a sound recording of a continuous burst of shots. Below you can see waveforms of a recording made of the Fujifilm S3 Pro, Nikon D70 and Fujifilm S2 Pro shooting continuously for 30 seconds each. The cameras were set to manual focus, shutter speed 1/250 sec and aimed at our standard resolution chart. Image quality was set to six megapixels JPEG Fine on both cameras. The CF card used was a SanDisk Ultra II 1 GB (Type I), the SD card used was a SanDisk Ultra II 512 MB.

The *ist DS slightly outperforms the *ist D (by 0.1 fps and 2 frames at full speed) but more interestingly it process and writes images more quickly than its 'bigger brother' which allows it to maintain a respectable 1.2 fps continuously with a full buffer.

30 seconds, total 40 frames (JPEG)
30 seconds, total 69 frames (JPEG)
30 seconds, total 21 frames (JPEG)

Download the MP3 (*ist DS, D70 and *ist D) 1,760 KB

Box Contents

  • Pentax *ist DS Digital SLR body
  • Neck strap
  • Body cap
  • USB cable
  • Video cable
  • CD-ROM's
  • Manual, Quick Start Guide