Pentax K-30 Digital Camera Review
The Pentax K-30 made a splash—quite literally—when it was first introduced as a fully weather-resistant, budget DSLR earlier this year. While the marketing made it seem like some brave new innovation by Pentax, the truth is they've been making hardy, weather-resistant DSLRs for years.
Like the well-received Pentax K-5 last year, the K-30 combines great handling, solid design, and the ability to take on extreme environments, including common camera-killers like dust and moisture. The K-30 is the first Pentax camera under $1000 to feature that resistance, but this level of durability is hardly new territory for Pentax.
Look past the weather sealing for a moment, and you'll find the Pentax K-30 offers photography chops that rival midrange cameras like Nikon's D5100 and the Canon Rebel T3i. With shot-to-shot times of up to 6 frames per second, a solid all-around 16-megapixel image sensor, and heaps of control and features, the Pentax K-30 offers a little something for everyone at its base kit price of $899.99.
Shooting with the K-30, we found its grip to be slightly more awkward than the midrange Pentax K-5, as its body is slightly thinner and lighter. The camera is fairly responsive, with plenty of manual control and buttons that still have the same snap and feel of other DSLRs despite the rubber seals keeping out the elements. Photos weren't as crisp as we'd like with the 18-135mm WR lens, but the autofocus is better in low light, colors were vibrant, and overall image quality was still quite good.
One group that is going to be sorely disappointed with the K-30, however, is video shooters. The K-30 can capture full 1080/30p HD video, but it lacks anything resembling high-end video capability. With no mic port, no HDMI output, and only a monaural mic built into the camera, there's little to justify using the K-30 to capture video except in extreme circumstances.
We're also less than impressed with the company's choice of lens for the base $899.99 kit. All the kits we've seen online for the K-30 offer the standard, non-weatherproof 18-55mm kit lens. When you've got a weather proof camera that can possibly let dust and moisture in at the most crucial point in the camera—through the lens mount—then you don't really have a weather-proof camera at all. Even the standard 18-55mm lens won't let a great deal of dust in, but Pentax makes an 18-55mm weather-sealed lensand there's no reason for it to not be included here.
The K-30 offers a great deal of control, as well, though there's a steep learning curve associate with it. The camera comes loaded with more scene modes, filters, and editing effects than most other DSLRs, but there's little in the way of in-camera hand holding. A beginner can definitely pick up and shoot with the K-30, but it's not as simple to operate as the Canon Rebel cameras, for example.
We'd recommend the K-30 to anyone looking for a sub-$1000 model to take to an environment where dust or moisture are a constant concern. Even if that's not an issue, the K-30 still handles great and offers performance similar to its peers from Canon and Nikon at this price point. It's not for absolute beginners and it's certainly not for video shooters, but the K-30—when paired with an appropriate lens—can go places other DSLRs at this price simply cannot.