A little early, too soon perhaps? Can we yet talk about a digital classic model? This one was a milestone as the first Pentax DSLR. At times 2003 seems a generation away too. The first Pentax DSLR, and at the time it was intended as one of a pair. At the time the *ist was the entry/intermediate level Pentax film SLR while their flagship was the MZS. There was a pre-production full frame digital version of the MZS which somehow never made it to fruition, leaving Pentax users a thirteen year wait for the K1 (although oddly enough there were medium format digital models). The *ist D went ahead, although it only really resembles its 35mm equivalent in being on the small side. I picked one of these up for next to nothing on eBay and took it for a wander round town over the Xmas and new year holiday. As previously mentioned it’s a small DSLR, with 6 megapixels on an APS-C sensor. Unusually for Pentax the images are written to a Compact Flash card rather than SD/SDHC. Also unusual, and the feature I was most curious to try out, is the option to shoot TIFF as well as the usual RAW or JPEG. The rear screen is tiny, as I guess most were in those days, but the menu is easy enough to navigate. In any case, what came as a surprise is how much can be done without digging into the menu: The one dial on the top plate sets not only the mode but also ISO, white balance and the file format. Other nice touches that set it apart from basic budget cameras of the time include a top plate LCD screen and in particular an AF button on the back. In use I found the viewfinder big and bright and the autofocus reasonably fast, although I wasn’t able to use my later Pentax lenses with quieter focusing. JPEGs were fine but I really missed the anti-shake of the later models. RAW files, I subsequently discovered, were again similar to those from other Pentax cameras I own. While I was out and about I shot a few TIFFs: it was when I attempted to check these on the rear screen that the *ist D began to show its age. Rather than displaying instantly, the TIFF images were each preceded by something I haven’t seen for a good few years: a spinning egg timer, no less. During the lengthy wait for each shot I found my mind drifting back to other IT bygones I thought I’d left in the 1990s rather than 2003: Windows 3.1, floppy disks, the flashing DOS prompt at the top of the screen, dialling up to the internet. Whatever. So a mixed bag of a performance. In truth the *ist D gives me little I can’t get from my K100D Super with its own 6 megapixels, and from which I can save RAW files as TIFFS with considerably less delay. Plus that has anti-shake. For the few quid I paid for it, it was fun to give the *ist D a spin, but since it subsequently developed a serious fault (the 4-way selector on the back is now a 3-way selector) I think its days are numbered and I won’t be looking for another.