96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
Excellent DSLR...another winner from Pentax
, August 5, 2012
This review is from: Pentax K-30 Weather-Sealed 16 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-135mm Lens (Black) (Electronics)
DISCLAIMER: This review is from a still-shooter's perspective. I don't use video that often so look elsewhere if you want an in-depth review of the video functions on this camera.
The K-30 is an excellent DSLR for still shooting and offers a very robust feature set for the money. It has since been replaced by the K-50 in Pentax's lineup but the differences between the two are minute. So unless you want access to the new DAL WR lenses, you can save yourself some money by going with this model (I suggest getting the kit with the 18-135 WR).
Image quality from this camera is excellent. It has the same look as files from the K-5 (except for slightly inferior dynamic range)..bright, punchy, and sharp. The camera produces exceptionally clean files right through ISO1600 and even through ISO6400 it does a good job balancing noise, noise reduction, and detail capture. The 18-135 WR is a good starter lens due to its focal length. It's sharp at the wide angle but gets sort of soft at the telephoto end (not an uncommon problem with zoom lenses). But despite middle of the road optical performance...you aren't going to find a kit with an 18-135 weather sealed lens for under $1,000 from the other guys...so it's still a worthwhile purchase.
Speaking of RAW files... Pentax saves RAW files in the Adobe dng file format exclusively with this camera and does away with the .PEF format on their older cameras. This is a wonderful feature because this universal file format will open in most photo editing software (I use Apple's Aperture and I had no problem opening the files).
The only real downsides to this camera image quality-wise that I can think of is that the camera has a tendency to underexpose a little and the colors are somewhat inaccurate (and a tad oversaturated) in its default setting. However, these are only minor demerits and are easily adjustable in the camera settings. And on the exposure issue, I would rather the camera underexpose and retain detail than overexpose which makes it harder to recover lost detail in some instances.
In other areas of performance... the AF performance is a distinct improvement over the K-x and K-r and is about on par with the K-5. In most shooting situations, it performs quite well, but it can struggle in low-light situations sometimes. One good thing about the 18-135 WR lens is that it has a built-in focusing motor so that helps AF performance overall. Shot-to-shot times are good, and the camera's burst speed performs as advertised with a decent buffer.
The K-30, like its predecessors, offers a pretty good set of still shooting features for the enthusiast crowd. Things like Chromatic Aberration adjust as well as the highlight correction option which helps preserve detail. You can also convert JPEGS back to RAW in this camera which is something very unique. It also has a RAW button on the front of the camera like the K-5 did. The viewfinder is great, 100% coverage with a high degree of magnification.
The camera is comfortable hold and shoot with. It is not a light camera overall, but it feels very solid and well-made and of course its weather-sealed. I have yet to test its weather-sealing so I can't vouch for how good it is, but from the reviews I've seen, it works as advertised (just don't completely submerge it in water though). I especially like having dual dials which is something that isn't terribly common on a sub-$1,000 DSLR. Overall the menu system is similar to its predecessors although the main interface has been redesigned a little to make it look more modern. The LCD on back is generally nice but has issues in direct sunlight like a lot of them do. One thing the camera does have is pretty snappy AF performance in live-view, which sets it apart from most other DSLRs. It's not lightning-fast, but it is faster than any other DSLRs I have seen, and is only bested by Sony's DSLT models and most Micro 4/3rds cameras as well.
The battery port is the same as the K-r. It comes with the same Lithium Ion battery pack which delivers okay battery life. However, like the K-r, AA batteries can be used with the same adaptor that was used with the K-r. So that's one bonus if you're thinking about upgrading from the K-r.
As for the video... it's good from what I have seen and an improvement over its predecessors. But Pentax does not offer an external microphone jack... which is a puzzling omission at this price point. If you are equal parts stills and video enthusiast.... the Canon Rebel T5i/700D is a better choice in this class of camera.
Despite being a year old, the K-30 remains good value for money. And since its successor offers no real benefits over this model (only slight improvements), you can save yourself some money and buy this model instead while it's still around. For still shooting, it's one of the best APS-C cameras on the market.
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