Its seems to me that the alignment of your flash setting in its cubicle has been disturbed, possibly by the camera being pressed in your bag. if you cant get it to operate normally, I suggest that you get it done professionally by Pentax.
The reason I am saying this, is cause firstly Pentax is good and branded camera. The settings and all teh mechanism's of this camera are very delicate and you will only damage something within it by forcing your flash out everytime you want to use it.
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There is a button on the side of the mirror box with the flash symbol. Pushing that should cause the flash to go up except if it is set on the 'green rectangle' on the mode dial, in which case the camera will cause the flash to go up in low light situations automatically
pentax istDL does not support TTL flash metering unlike most of the other pentax DSLRs. You need a flash that is P-TTL. How annoying hey? I was pretty bummed, but it made me learn to shoot fully manual...
i think that there is only one P-TTL flash on the market at present. (AF540 or something)
Looks like its true... Another major disadvantage. Removing TTL means removing one more hardware piece - TTL sensor. Pentax removed almost every nice feature, which needs some aditional or more expensive hardware: no TTL flash, less AF points, pentamirror... Seems like I bought Ds right in time.
According to the manual (page 153), the DL DOES support P-TTL flash, with the built-in or external flash, but only supports high-speed flash with an external flash.
What I'm wondering is, what is high-speed sync flash useful for? The only thing I can think of is fill-flash outdoors.