If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in finding out more about the PENTAX K-30 DSLR. This is PENTAX’s entry level DSLR, though don’t let the entry level status fool you. The K-30 includes features that most cameras do not have at this entry level price point. The main features is the inclusion of weather sealing. This is something no other entry level DSLR has. This means you can take it out in the rain or splash it with water without worrying about damaging the K-30. What you can’t do however is submerge it in water. The K-30 also features a uniquely designed body that is unlike any other DSLR on the market. Instead of having a rounded, smooth body, the K-30 is very angular with lots of hard edges. You may think that this would make the K-30 very uncomfortable to use, but this isn’t the case at all. In fact, it’s quite comfortable and feels good in your hands.
I’ve had the PENTAX K-30 for almost an entire month already and have been able to give it a thorough run through in the real world. I’m not talking about studio time here. I’ve been able to take it with me on a couple of outings already as well as day to day usage at me 9-to-5 job. Yes it’s heavy and not something I’d like to carry around with me all the time due to its weight, but I’ve actually grown used to it and tolerated the extra bulk because of how great of a shooter it is. It’s fast and takes fantastic photos.
Body & Design
If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my initial hands-on review first as I go in depth on the body and design. You can find that here. As usual for this section in the full review, I’ll talk more about the body and design and how it was in real world situations.
For starters, this camera is heavy, although I’m not really sure how the weight compares with other DSLR’s in its class. When referring to the PENTAX K-30 however, I can say that this isn’t a camera you just throw in your purse or a small bag, especially with the 18-135mm lens it came with. You either need a dedicated camera bag, a backpack you can throw this in, or use a strap with it and just keep it hanging around your neck on an outing. If you’re looking for a small camera, this isn’t it. If you are reading this review still, I’ll assume that a DSLR is exactly what you’re looking for and you really don’t are about the size and weight.
I’ve been using a lot of mirrorless cameras lately and switching to a DSLR had me concerned, mainly because of the weight and bulk. I can honestly say however that after a few hours with it, I really wasn’t bothered by it anymore. The one thing I can say about DSLR cameras are that they are very comfortable to use and the PENTAX K-30 is no different. The big, beefy handgrip made it easy to handle and I found that the size of it actually fit better in my hands than some mirrorless cameras which can be a bit small sometimes. Plus when using a large lens, having an equally large body makes it feel more balanced as well.
Now, one of the huge selling points of the PENTAX K-30 is that the camera is completely weather sealed. What that doesn’t mean is that the camera is waterproof and you should under no circumstances submerge this camera underwater. What you can do however is use the K-30 under conditions such as rain where you need not worry if the camera gets splashed a bit with water. I live in Miami so we’ve had several pretty severe storms lately and I actually did have a chance to use the K-30 out in a storm. I’ll say that the K-30 continued working flawlessly and showed no signs of being damaged by raindrops hitting it, Obviously you do not open any of the doors and take off the lens while out in sever weather.
I’ve been using the K-30 for about a month now and really love how it feels. All the buttons are very easy to reach and there are just enough physical buttons where you don’t have to go fumbling through the onscreen menus to get to a specific function or setting. Some other features that I find very important in a camera that the K-30 does marvelously is that the autofocus is so fast. When using the optical viewfinder, it only takes a split second to lock on to its target, which I can say is a tad bit faster than any of my mirrorless cameras. Continuous shooting speed is also another feature I look for and the PENTAX also passes this with flying colors. Very fast and very accurate.
For those who like a bit of style with your cameras, the K-30 does come in other colors besides basic black, such as blue and white, but I still think basic black is the best color for a DSLR.
Operations & Features
Here’s where I really enjoyed using the camera. Because I had already used the PENTAX K-01 before hand, the menu system on the K-30 was quite familiar to me as both share similar user interfaces. Unlike the K-01 though, the K-30 has more buttons on the body so you won’t need to go into the menu system as much. If you do, you’ll find that the menus are very easy to flip through and all settings are labeled clearly where you won’t have to guess what is what.
For those coming from point-and-shoot cameras, you’ll be happy to note that you can switch between the optical viewfinder and live-view with the touch of a button. Using the optical viewfinder allows for faster focusing and faster framing in my opinion but using the live-view has its advantages too. With live-view, you can use face detection mode to have the camera automatically focus on faces when in the frame. You can also set it to follow what it’s focused on with focus tracking mode.
There aren’t real surprises here though with its in-camera operations. Most of it is pretty standard for a DSLR with no real surprises or or standout features. What you get is a solid DSLR that does everything you want a DSLR to do. It has full manual modes, fully automatic modes, scene selection, custom user settings, and the ability to shoot full-HD movies. PENTAX even threw in some handy art filters for good measure.
Overall, an enjoyably easy camera to use for beginners, but with lots of advanced functions for the more serious photographer.
No surprises here. Because this is a DSLR with a large sensor and excellent optics, the image quality on all the photos I shot were excellent. That’s not to say that jsut because you buy a DSLR, you’ll have excellent photos, because that’s not the case at all. You need to remember that it’s not the camera that makes good photos, its the person behind the camera. With that said, the PENTAX K-30 is an excellent tool for taking excellent photos.
My favorite part of the K-30 shooting experience is how fast it is. Autofocusing is really fast and that’s a huge factor here because it allows you to get the shots you want when you want them. It’s very easy to miss that perfect shot if the autofocus struggles and with the K-30, there were none of those problems. Even in low light situations, the K-30 was very quick to focus. Color rendering too was quite excellent with very bright, vivid colors. As you can see, yes, I took this photo in the pool with her splashing water around. You can’t get these type of photos with just any old camera. The weather sealed K-30 meant I could shoot away and not worry about getting wet.
This also means I can take photos while its raining which is why the sky in these photos look so ominous.
I usually test out cameras by using my kids as test subjects. This is because it can be so hard to photograph children and in my case, I always test out cameras to see if it can keep up with my children’s very active lifestyle. This is one reason why I’ve moved to using mirrorless cameras and even a DSLR sometimes. Pocketable oint-and-shoot cameras just aren’t fast enough to capture what I want and often times, all my photos of my children come out blurry. That’s not the case with the higher end mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. These usually have super fast focusing speeds as well as really fast shutter speeds. This allows them to basically freeze an instant in time. That means I can capture whatever it is my kids are doing and not worry about whether or not they’ll look blurry in the photo.
With the PENTAX K-30, it did everything I want a DSLR to do – fast speeds, instant focusing, advanced features, and manual controls.
I know that when it comes to entry level DSLRs, PENTAX isn’t usually at the top of the list. Most people automatically think Canon or Nikon when looking for a camera. I’m here to tell you that there are other alternatives out there that are just as good. The PENTAX K-30 competes nicely with the likes of the Nikon D3200 and Canon T4i and though it doesn’t have a swivel screen out back, it makes up for it in other areas. For starters, the fact that it is weather sealed is a huge advantage when compared to entry level offerings from others. From the point of view of a parent, having a weather sealed camera is a huge bonus feature. You don’t know how many times I’ve been afraid to use my expensive NEX-5N due to something like rain or the possibility of it getting splashed by water at the pool or beach.
With the PENTAX K-30, I don’t have to worry about any of those things, except of course completely submerging it in water. Do not do that by the way. It is water resistant, not waterproof. I’m able to take the K-30 out in the rain during storms or at the pool and even if it gets splashed with water, it’s still good to go. The K-30 will continue shooting no matter what the weather conditions are like.
When it comes to usage, the K-30 was a joy to use and handle. It’s very comfortable to hold despite its weight and all the buttons are laid out in such a way that they are easily reachable without really having to look at any of them. The menu system again is very easy to use like the K-01. I really like the quick menu system where you press on the INFO button and get taken to a menu that has nothing but icons of settings you can change. Just scroll through them with the directional buttons and then change the setting using the control dial. It makes it fast and simple to change multiple settings that you might not be able to get to with the physical buttons.
In terms of looks, the PENTAX K-30 is very different looking from much of what’s out there. It’s angular body lines make it stand out from the crowd and even though it might not appeal visually to everyone, it’ll certainly draw some looks and attention your way. Either way, I really enjoyed the K-30 for its ease of use, super fast shooting speeds, and weather sealed, water resistant construction.