Having both reviewed the Pentax K-x and Pentax K-r cameras for more than a year, makes us very familiar with Pentax’s ways of producing DSLRs. Enter the K-30, the highest megapixel DSLR in the trilogy with the biggest body, but also is waterproof, shockproof, and also considerably better looking. We took it out for a few jaunts around Manhattan and elsewhere, and after the break, shots in their full glory on the Pentax K-30 are in a gallery. And is this the low to mid-range camera you’d want for $1,200 to $900?
Let’s just say Pentax has something special going on here; it’s best to know how well (or badly) the Pentax K-30 performs by giving it a full review.
Price as Reviewed: $1,200 with 18-135mm lens, $900 with 18-55mm kit lens at Pentax Imaging
Specs: What It Can Do
The Pentax is a digital single lens reflex camera. That means it takes high quality photos, weighs a hefty1.3 pounds and has a 16.3-megapixel, APS-C sensor, also capable of taking 1080p HD video with autofocus. It is the kind of package for anyone interested in taking serious photographs better than an iPhone 4S’, but with a budget of at least $1,000 or anywhere below that (this particular kit with a 135mm lens costs $1,200, the 18-55mm lens kit costs $900).
The K-30 is backed up with an ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable digitally to 25600), which can be used to take dimly-lit shots when LEDs or the built-in pop-up flash aren’t necessarily welcomed. Shutter times include range from 1/6000 to 30 sec, with Bulb and HDR also being options.
Pentax K-30 Sample Photo Gallery
By the way, it is worth mentioning that the Pentax K-30′s only real flaw in anything is the way it shoots video: don’t be ready to make it your primary way of recording full HD video. Use something else, like a smartphone with a great video function, like the iPhone or the Galaxy S III.
There’s also a large range of Pentax K-mount lenses available for various prices, which is were the only flaw in the system resides: not all of them are weather-sealed like the body of the camera is. So, take close note when you’re buying new lenses: the 18-135mm mid-range premium lens I used with the K-30 is weather-sealed; the 18-55mm kit lens from the older K-r and K-x cameras I have, are not.
Lastly, some math for those really interested in the technicalities: the 16.3-megapixel sensor produces photos that are 4928 x 3264 in resolution and video that comes in 1920 x 1080 HD at 30/25/24 FPS or either in 1280 x 720 HD at 24/255/30/50 FPS. Alongside all of that, there is also a 6 frames per second continuous shooting option for photos. Thus, the K-30 can not only shoot beautiful shots easily, but can do them in a variety of ways.
Design: How It Feels & Looks
The K-30 is built of two primary materials: polycarbonate and rubber. Because of that (with additional support to the fragile internal parts), the K-30 can be used in the rain or survive many unpredictable (amateur?) falls. That’s supposed to be good news, which it is, but it also means that the K-30 is a bit heavier than other cameras in its class, and as a result of the materials it’s built with probably looks cheaper to some.
While using it, most important button placements are easily accessible when you’re using the viewfinder, including switching shooting modes, ISO, flash, exposure changes, changing the autofocus, etc. For example, you can change shutter speeds and the aperture via two different dials in full manual mode while shooing RAW images for maximum quality, albeit only if you realknow what you’re doing.
The software interface has also been slightly improved; text is more legible and overall the camera has become fantastically easier to use, especially with the lightning-quick autofocus times.
Battery Life: How Long It Lasts
Besides the fact that the Pentax K-30 can produce fantastic photographs, its battery lasts the few hundred shots and lengthy videos to make it a complete package. I’ve been using it everyday for at least 20 photos for a week and while it does display a low battery warning, it hasn’t powered off on me yet.
There are stronger performing cameras in the same price range as the Pentax K-30. Most of them shoot video better than it does, are lighter, have a larger lens selection, and namely come from Nikon or Canon — but would you really drop any of them? Let alone leave them to the peril that is water to (most) technology?
Probably not. And because of its ease-of-use, the Pentax K-30 fits the perfect selection for a first-time DSLR users, especially the one that could find themselves in rain or dropping their beloved camera.
- Is weather-proof, with rugged design.
- Fantastic image quality.
- Very fast 11-point autofocus system.
- Easy-to-use software interface.
- A complete weather-sealed kit costs a couple hundred more.
- HD video still needs work.
- On the slightly heavy side.