Pentax K-30 Digital Camera Review
Kit Lens & Mount
If you opt for the cheapest K-30 kit you'll get the Pentax K-mount 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens for a price of $899.99. For our testing we used the 18-135mm WR lens, which is available with the camera for a kit price of $1199.99 through various retailers. The Pentax K-30 can mount any lens that uses the K-mount system, however, giving it access to an incredible amount of current and older lenses.
The 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 WR lens we tested with is well-constructed, with a metal mount and rubber ring on the back offering a secure, stable, and sealed connection to the camera. The lens barrel itself has a nice rubber texture around the zoom and focus rings—great in wetter climates. Both are very stable and feel very tight, allowing for delicate adjustments. They do make some noise when moved, however, so for video you may want to opt for a different combination if budget and space permit.
Important Note: Pentax makes two 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lenses that can be mounted to the Pentax K-30. One is weather resistant and the other is not. It's important to know which lens you are purchasing if you're getting the kit and plan to take it into inclement weather. All of Pentax's weather-resistant lenses have a blue "WR" printed on the front of the lens barrel. The standard $899.99 kit does not come with the weather-resistant version of the 18-55mm lens. The camera body is still weather sealed, but you are less protected from dust and moisture at the lens mount than you would be with the "WR" version.
If you're caught in a quick shower or something the non-WR version could still be fine, but you're simply less protected than you would be if opting for the 18-55mm WR version. Optically the two lenses are identical (from what we can tell), with the only difference being the presence of the orange rubber seal around the lens mount on the WR version of the lens. When purchased separately from the body the two lenses are identical in price at $199.99, making it truly puzzling as to why Pentax wouldn't opt to include the WR version of the kit lens with the K-30.
The lens mount on the K-30 itself is solidly built, with metal all the way around. The lenses slot securely into position, with the lens mount release located on the grip side of the lens. The Pentax K-30 is compatible with pretty much every lens Pentax has made since 1975, giving it a truly staggering amount of lens options. Many of those lenses will lack the features of modern lenses, but the K-30 can be used with any number of cheap, second-hand K-mount lenses that can be found.
The image sensor in the Pentax K-30 is reportedly the same APS-C sensor found in their K-01 mirrorless camera. It features a gross pixel count of 16.5 megapixels, with a recorded resolution of 16.3 megapixels. That's large enough to print to some pretty large sizes, or crop and still print to standard 8x10'' photos. The APS-C image sensor found in the Pentax K-30 is about as large as you'll find in most consumer-level DSLRs. Pretty much the only larger sensors you'll find in cameras on the market today are full frame (35mm) and medium format digital sensors.
Convergence areas of different sensor sizes compared
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.
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 built-in flash on the Pentax K-30 is a retractable unit with a guide number of 12 meters at ISO 100. That puts it among the more powerful flashes on cameras in this class, but that's a fairly low bar to beat. We found that it was useful mostly in select situations, rather than as a go-to part of your shooting repertoire. While there are some good quality built-in flashes on the market, your images will generally look better in either natural light or with an external flash where possible.
The Pentax K-30, for some reason, seems to have neglected to include what is generally an industry standard for video-capable DSLRs: the HDMI port. The K-30 only includes ports for the Pentax proprietary PC/AV cable and remote release slot, with out either a mic or HDMI port. This all but cripples the K-30 for any kind of higher-end video production, regardless of the camera's actual abilities.
The battery in the K-30 is a standard removable, rechargeable Lithium-ion pack. It's got a capacity of 1050 mAh at 7.4V. It's model number D-Li109, which is the same battery that was used on the K-r. They're available for dirt cheap on the secondary market, which is good because it offers a fairly limited CIPA rating of just 410 shots. According to Pentax that expands to 480 shots when used without the flash, however. (CIPA testing calls for 50% of the shots to use flash, which is a ridiculous number) We still found it to be limiting when taking the camera out for a weekend, even when shooting in just natural light.
If you're going to pick up a K-30, we suggest grabbing an extra battery with it. You can also opt for the company's AA-holder adapter, which fits into the battery slot and allows you to use four AA batteries to power the camera. Pentax rates four AA lithium batteries to supply enough power for around 1600 shots (1000 shots by CIPA standard with flash), so it's not a bad investment if you travel extensively.
The Pentax K-30 uses SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards that slot into their own dedicated compartment on the right side of the body. This is a pretty standard compartment, and you've probably got a few SD cards laying around already that will work just fine in the K-30.