Pentax K-30 Review

August 22, 2012 | Mark Goldstein |


It's refreshing to see Pentax deliver what they do best: an excellent DSLR camera that delivers a lot of features and performance without breaking the bank. We've always had a soft spot for Pentax DSLRs and the new K-30 is no different, clearly building on the strengths of the more expensive K-5 model. This is an appealingly well-specified, intuitive, weatherproof and customisable DSLR with few real drawbacks.

The aggressive styling of the K-30 seems to be appealing to a younger audience than your typical DSLR owner. Even if you don't like the camera's angular looks, the control layout is thankfully very logical, closely following previous Pentax cameras and not throwing up too many unwanted surprises.

The combination of near 100% viewfinder coverage and the large, high-res LCD screen make the K-30 a joy to use in terms of image composition, and the fast 6fps continuous shooting rate and responsive AF system make it quick to use. The only real negative point in terms of handling is the rather slow contrast AF system which detracts from using the Live View mode.

The K-30's image quality is excellent, producing noise-free images all the way from from ISO 100-1600. Noise starts to become apparent at ISO 3200, with a little more noise and smearing of fine detail at the higher settings of 6400 and 12800, while the fastest speed of 25600 is only really suitable for smaller prints. Exposures were generally 1/3rd EV stop under-exposed, perfect for retaining detail in the highlight areas without sacrificing the shadow areas too much, and colours were accurate using the default Bright setting.

The HDR mode makes it easy to create images with greatly expanded dynamic range, although you don't have too much control over the final effect and you really need to use a tripod to keep things sharp. The D-Range options help make the most out of both the shadows and highlights in a high-contrast scene, while the multi-exposure and creative processing modes and the range of digital effects are a nice creative addition.

The inclusion of full 1080p HD video is also very welcome, especially now that the K-30 can autofocus and change exposure during filming, something that was sorely lacking on the K-5. There's still no handy one-touch recording though, making the jump from stills to movies a rather laborious affair, and the lack of a socket for an external mic and an HDMI port for easy connection to your HDTV are puzzling omissions on a 2012 DSLR.

The Pentax K-30 is a great alternative to similar offerings from the likes of Nikon, Canon and Sony, proving that Pentax can continue to deliver the goods in their core business, despite recent misfires in the world of compact system cameras. If you're looking for an intuitive, fast DSLR that delivers great pictures, then the Pentax K-30 certainly fits the bill.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5