Pentax K-30 Digital Camera Review
If you're familiar with the DSLR game these days, you'll likely know that Pentax cameras are known for their exceptional handling. The K-5, their last midrange model, did nothing to injure that reputation, and the K-30 continues the solid trend for Pentax's DSLRs.
The grip is a little deeper than the K-5, but that also makes it one of the most accommodating that you'll find on a midrange DSLR. It fit our hands perfectly, with the shutter button and front control dial falling right in line with your index finger. The buttons themselves are all placed quite well, though we would like the INFO button to have found a home closer to our main hand, given its importance in making multiple changes quickly.
The K-30 lacks the top plate LCD of the K-5 and other prosumer-style DSLRs, which is a drawback for enthusiast shooters. The trade-off is that the K-30 is significantly lighter (22.9 oz fully loaded vs. 26.1 oz on the K-5) on longer shoots. Of course, this is also aided by the camera's switch from the K-5's magnesium alloy shell to one of polycarbonate. It does feel cheaper, but a combination of ridges, dimples, and rubber inlays around the grip areas make this barely noticeable while shooting. Altogether, we're extremely impressed with the K-30 and find that while it falls just short of the K-5's handling overall, the lower weight makes up for the difference.
Buttons & Dials
The K-30, despite its more angular body design, features a button layout that is very similar to past Pentax models. The K-30 features dual control dials—one on the grip and one on the back of the camera—along with a physical mode dial. The back of the camera has a four-way control pad with an OK button, with a customizable RAW/Fx button, Live View activation button, and info and menu buttons scattered around the body.
The buttons themselves are pretty easy to use, with a solid snap to the dials and an audible response indicating when a button has been pressed. The buttons don't have much more travel than you'd see on any other DSLR, and you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the K-30's buttons and those on non-weather resistant Pentax cameras. Compare that to the Olympus E-M5, which is weather-resistant but has rubber buttons with long travels and little response when they've been pressed.
It's not a perfect setup, but the K-30 offers the advantage of weather sealing without the drawback of poor haptic response.
The rear monitor of the Pentax K-30 is a 3-inch TFT LCD monitor with brightness adjustments. It's fixed to the body of the camera and features a resolution of 921,000 dots. It has a decent viewing angle, though it offers a wider range of viewing angles horizontally than vertically. We found it to be able to reproduce fine detail very well (great for manual focus adjustments with the camera's focus peaking feature), but it lacked the contrast and range that we'd like to see from a camera of this type.
The viewfinder in the K-30 is a big upgrade over previous consumer-level DSLRs, on par with the Pentax K-5 and some of the other finders we've seen recently. It's large and bright, with the right amount of information readout available just below the frame. The autofocus points light up as red boxes in the finder when activated, which is nice to see, but can be a little bit distracting at times.
Stabilization was quite good on the Pentax K-30, showing significant improvement with the feature activated as opposed to leaving it off. We tested stabilization with a repeated shake pattern at 1/30th of a second. With stabilization off the average image was not sharp at all, but that was relatively improved with the stabilization active. When shooting handheld in limited light at that shutter speed you should see similar results.