Customer Review

96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DSLR...another winner from Pentax, August 5, 2012
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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.

Updated 7/24/13

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 It has since been replaced by the K-50 in Pentax's lineup but the differences between the two are minute.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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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 7, 2012 10:38:13 PM PDT
G.M. says:
Thanks for the review...good stuff.

And yes, Pentax definitely sees video options in a DSLR camera as secondary, AS THEY SHOULD!!! It is a camera, not a camcorder used for movies, but for awesome stills. Frankly, I wish more attention was paid to this fact. The video features and push for video in a DSLR really gives me a stomach ache. Imagine where DSLR would be if it were not side tracked by the video sway!!!!

I'd say to Pentax, take things one step further, remove the video, put the cost savings of video into making an updated series of prime lenses, all water resistant, and a water resistant 55-300...give me better still shots....heck with the video!!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 7:04:13 PM PDT
Hi S. Vogt, thanks for the review. I have asked others this same question.
I believe the K5 was released at the beginning of 2011 and the K30 was released around May 2012. Does that not mean that K30 has more advanced electronics? Cameras are morphing into consumer electronics like phones and computers, so does the 1.5 year gap make a difference? Think iPhone!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 7:26:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2012 7:30:08 AM PDT
S. Vogt says:
Hi Shafqat - In some respects the K-30 does have more advanced electronics but on the whole is it more advanced than K-5? I would have to say no. The AF system has been revamped to allow much fast focusing in live view. And the 16MP Sony sensor in the camera is a somewhat re-worked version of the K-5's sensor. But you have to keep in mind that the K-30 is not a direct replacement for the K-5 but rather a replacement for the K-r and still slots below the K-5 in Pentax's lineup. The K-5's replacement, I believe, is due out this Fall.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 12, 2012 2:17:11 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 12, 2012 2:20:21 AM PDT]

Posted on Aug 28, 2012 5:21:49 AM PDT
Hi there, I agree about the video being a redundant feature. It would be easier to clear the air about this if most of the market were not looking for every possible feature in a camera including the kitchen sink (I prefer Italian espresso coffee making). The first reviews of the K30 owners confirm the conclusions of the most reputable web sites: the K30 is a truly great camera for the money but is not a replacement for the K5 for most professional users (I am a part-time pro). What the K30 has done for me is letting me upgrade from the K20D to the K5 for $879.00.

Posted on Aug 28, 2012 9:42:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2012 12:19:13 PM PDT
G.M. says:
S. Vogt and Company...

Your comments are true...The K5 successor INFO will be released this fall, but the camera itself supposedly will not be released until closer to spring. If you recall, the KR and K5 were released in Nov/Dec 2010 time frame. Supposedly, the K5 successor gets announced in September 2012.

What I read in the news and rumors section of the Pentax website is that Nikon and Sony are to release their replacements first, then Pentax, since ALL sensors are made by Sony for their own products and for Nikon and Pentax, as in the K5, KR, D5100, and D7000.

Concerning image quality of the K30, it is the same sensor as the K5, but different firmware/AA Filter. To give you an idea of the image quality of the K5/K30, I just talked with yet another Canon 5D Mark II/III owner that swears up and down the image quality of the K5 still has the edge due to its clean images and brilliant color. Keep in mind, image quality is always subject to what a camera is used for, but scenic photography, low light shooting, I'll take a K5/K30 over any other camera. And with Portrait mode turned down -75%, I love shooting Portraits of my wife with the 55-300 or 50mm-M f1.4 Prime.

FUTURE K30 BUYERS:
===============

The 18-55 Kit Lens lacks and I recommend any buyer BUY THE K30 BODY ONLY and choose from the following lenses:

DA 18-55 WR/ DA 18-55 AL II: these lenses have identical optics superior to the cheapo 18-55 being sold with the K30 kit. These lenses are only 160 bucks and 100 bucks respectively. Saving the few bucks with a cheapo 18-55 is NOT worth it.

DA 18-135 WR with the Kit: this kit IS good savings, as long as you know where this glass is sharp, you will be fine. This lens is HORRIBLE on the corners from 55mm onwards at any setting, but okay center from 55mm-100mm at f6-f8 stops. From about 21mm-50mm at f5.6, this lens has the best corners and center of any lens under 400 bucks and is superior to the 18-55 in that focal range. It is worth its money for it is water proof and has a DC motor (DC meaning Direct Current - the same as your battery), and it runs off your battery in the camera, so USE SONY ENELOOP AA BATTERIES in the K30. The stock battery is the worst on the market. Also, the DC motor is proven reliable. SDM motors are not. This lens would be a Gem at 400 bucks, but goes for almost 500 and the soft images occuring at 55-135 really don't justify higher prices. But, if you use 55-135 for close up subject shots, you will be fine...the lens has typical Pentax color and contrast, which helps.

DA 55-300: this is a slow focusing lens when you are way off your target for travel is so long due to zoom length. Alternatively, it is quick and dead accurate when near the subject. It is sharpest at f6 stops from 70-220mm. VERY appreciated lens by Pentaxians. DO NOT OPT ANY 50-200 made by Pentax; they have serious focus issues and the worst sharpness ratings and reportings from users alike. Why get a 50-200 for 200 bucks when you can have the 55-300 going for 250-375 bucks. The 375 dollar DA and 250 dollar DA-L are optically the same lenses, the DA has a metal mount and quick shift allowing you to manually focus instantly, the DA-L has a plastic mount and no quick shift. I use an old kit DA-L and it works just fine.

DA 16-45 lens for 350-400: This is the sharpest, and one of the best color renditioning lenses in the wide to normal zoom lengths for Pentax. It is also very bright, allowing faster shutter speeds. The reporting of this lens is very consistent, along with reporting it has RATED high CA in the corners from professional test sights, but it has REPORTED NO VISIBLE CA for the center 80% of images are completely free of CA and the Pentax firmware and PC software remove almost any visible CA that might show in corners. I can personally confirm these findings.

TO LET YOU KNOW, I currently own all lenses I just recommended, and rid of those I don't recommend with exception to the 18-135 which I have researched extensively...needless to say, the 18-135 is on my 'lens to buy' list.

YOU CANNOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT ON GLASS,,,, you can put a new windshield on your car, but if I threw a bucket of mud on it how well would you see??? Don't put crappy glass (mud) in front of your new camera sensor (new windshield). Your glass does not have to be the best, but some lenses are that bad. Learn what makes good glass good and you will know what to decide for yourselves.

Just my helping 2 cents.

Posted on Sep 1, 2012 10:24:23 AM PDT
What is the max. number of shutter actuations/count for a Pentax K-30?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2012 6:03:44 AM PDT
S. Vogt says:
I agree about your assessments of the 55-300 and the 16-45 lenses. Both are great glass that are reasonably priced. I am also a big fan of the DA 18-250 lens and think it just slays the 18-135 WR in overall image quality at comparible focal lengths. But Pentax (for reasons I don't understand) stopped making them, so that lens can be extremely hard to find these days.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2012 9:00:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 9, 2012 9:01:35 PM PDT
The K-30 is rated for 100,000 shutter actuations.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 12, 2012 4:54:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 12, 2012 4:54:49 AM PDT
Thank you. If I decide to keep this camera for, say, 20 more years will repair be a issue. My last Nikon lasted for over 30 years without ANY problems, and is still going strong.

Thanks for your input.
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