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The Pentax K-30 Review

In-depth Pentax K-30 DSLR review by · Posted on 07-17-2012 in Reviews

Last week, we announced that the Pentax K-30 mid-range DSLR has finally started shipping at major retailers in the US. Since then, we've been working hard on the Pentax K-30 review, and today we're happy to announce that it's finally up for you to enjoy!  We hate to have to ruin the surprise, but this camera really did impress us.  Do we like it more than the K-5?  Sure!  We'll even go as far as to say that this is the best Pentax DSLR to date, and certainly a step in the right direction for Pentax Ricoh.  We hope that this camera will give Pentax Ricoh the boost that the company needs!

The Pentax K-30 is a great performer overall, but does it have any shortcomings, in general as well as compared to the Pentax K-5?  Read our review to find out!

Read the Pentax K-30 Review

If you are unfamiliar with the Pentax K-30, you may also wish to read our Pentax K-30 preview or view its specifications in the Pentax camera database.

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romides [Delete] Nov 11th, 2012 7:43AM

i just bought the beauty... I own a KX for some time, was a good camera, but this one will be really a big upgrade. Reading of all the reviews, it is a winner.

karlito [Delete] Jul 25th, 2012 5:26PM

does any one have pentax k30 video samples, cause from what i have seen on youtube, the video seems to have , choppy frame rates, jello effect, and a few other artifacts.

theperception2008 [Delete] Jul 22nd, 2012 9:23AM

Oh man oh man, this sure fits the bill! I am really tempted to swap my K-r for the K30. WR, dual control dials, much improved video! now if only I can find some money... Wait I'll grow some money trees!

threeshoes [Delete] Jul 22nd, 2012 12:19AM

This looks like a great camera. I'm tempted, but I like my K-5.

Adam [Delete] Jul 21st, 2012 3:46AM

They usually start offering instant rebates 3-4 months after a product launches, if you look at the K-01.

karlito [Delete] Jul 21st, 2012 1:35AM

does any one know is pentax do cash back offers,and around what period they do it??

Adam [Delete] Jul 20th, 2012 9:02AM

@wax- read the review again! We never said that this was a K-5 replacement.

wax [Delete] Jul 19th, 2012 4:01PM

Wrong, wrong, wrong Pentaxforums. This is the K-r update, no K-5. You can only compare K-30/K-5 from todays prices perspective. Even intial K-r/K-30 prices were almost the same. I have the wonderful K-r, and I consider it replacement with the next K-30 future replacement, about in 2 years from now. In between I hope to get a Q or Q 2.0.

karlito [Delete] Jul 19th, 2012 1:11PM

thanks for the review, but i am kinda disappointed with the video capablities of the k30, it seems no better than the kr video capablities, apart from the avchd and extra framerate options... it was looking to be the perfect camera

Stringmike [Delete] Jul 19th, 2012 8:49AM

Unicorn vomit? Some of us like HDR effects!

dominikkolendo [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 11:20PM

ah, thanks ofer4.
also, i jsut bought my K5 recently and debated whether to hold out for this k30, but would never in a million years have considered a KR, i think it makes perfect sense to compare the k5 and k30, not based on pentax's lineup because who besides tehir marketing team gives a crap, but because to a consumer like me, 900ish dollars will get me either a nice retro-looking k5 or a slightly better image processing and movie mode of k30.

123jippo [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 11:18PM

After reading this review it was very clear that K5 is still better camera for taking photos that K30.

Class A [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 9:04PM

@kiwi_jono: PF member "deadwolfbones" wrote the review.

kiwi_jono [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 7:55PM

Firstly thanks for a great review - lots of effort go into these and I certainly appreciate the effort!

1. I could not see who wrote the review (might be just me?) - was it you Adam?
2. I think chiane's comment has a good point. The K-30 is not a K-5 replacement (and no I don't have a K-5) but sits between K-5 and K-r. Maybe that could have been highlighted more in conclusions / comparisons to avoid outraged K-5 ;-) I also think comparison with K-r would have been useful but thats not to say that there is not merit comparing to the K-5

chiane [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 7:00PM

If this is not Pentax's flagship dslr, why does the review only mention 'compared to the K5' and never mentions the K-r in comparisons? This isn't supposed to be a K5 replacement. I highly doubt many K5 owners will sell a k5 for this, but I can see a lot of k-r owners upgrading. It would be nice to at least see the words k-r somewhere in the review when comparing cameras. I know most Pentax forums act as if the K-r doesn't exist, but come on.

isb.deep [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 6:54PM

Thank you for putting in a sincere effort for the review. It is lucid, well written and highly informative. A job truly well done!

Owltown [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 6:48PM

Thank you for a useful and well-detailed review. One question about this camera remains unanswered; Does it have a PC socket for wired connection of a flash unit? The K20D and K5 both have PC sockets; I don't see one in the photos of the K30, nor do I see mention of one.

ofer4 [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 3:01PM

I think he means using the timer, followed by a burst (not a timer, followed by a timelapse). Personally, I've found this option to be useful in the past (on non-Pentax) for family group shots, for example. Among a burst of shots, one is bound to have everyone's eyes open. :)

dominikkolendo [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 2:25PM

what do you mean exactly about timer continuous shooting?
you can set the interval to shoot at and what time to start on the k5.
i am just curious now.

sam-joseph [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 4:42AM

I'm in the same boat as Chatchops, as in owning a K7, and wondering what the next move will be. In my case, while I like the sound of the K30 (but not the noisy shutter and lack of top LCD), I'd be more able to conceal the acquisition of a K5, as it looks almost identical to my K7, at least to the eyes of my financial-minded wife.

sbroadbentphoto [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 3:48AM

What i don't understand is, why they keep changing the directional button's other function. Can't they just leave the flash/drive mode/iso buttons in the same place......
Other than that, I think i am gonna get one mainly because i get asked to do live music video work and have to slow things down to about half speed quite a lot. The K5 got jumpy when i did that in editing.
Will also be an equal in image quality when shooting weddings and events. I hate worrying about my K7 at high ISO compared to the K5.
The two will compliment each other well.

lectrolink [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 2:30AM

Reviewer said he used a class 10 card. Wondering if, and to what extent, the K-30 can take advantage of UHS-I cards like the SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-I Card.

Mr. A.S. [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 1:29AM

I like my new K-30 more than my old K20D.

dtra [Delete] Jul 18th, 2012 12:57AM

@deanallan, well yeah (I do have one), except if I don't want it to be seen in the picture.

ofer4 [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:46PM

@dtra... I agree. This is a feature that I've wished for on multiple occasions.

deanallan [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 10:47PM


A remote trigger, would probably work better

dtra [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 7:23PM

Nice review, does anyone else wonder why Pentax won't add continuous shooting mode to timer mode? I didn't even know this was an option until my brother showed me on his Canon 450d! I think this is a useful function and certainly would love to see it in future models. I won't be getting a K30, and probably not even a K5 replacement (it still serves very well), but good to see Pentax is still churning out some strong and enticing cameras. Maybe I'll get the K5 grandchild in a couple more years.

yjcs [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 6:55PM

I am going to stick to my k-7 and wait for k-5 replacement.

Chatchops [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 5:47PM

OK now for the 64,000 question - from K7 do I go K5 or K30. I love my K7 but like so many other the high ISO bugs me, especially if I have to shot at faster shutter in low light. I have Sigma 10-20 f3.5, Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and DA18-135 WR. My worst shots are at basketball trying to shot my daughter where high ISO noise is biggest issue with K7 even with 70-200 on

rparmar [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 5:42PM

Half the battery life and a louder shutter? This camera was looking very good until those two points. I'll stick with my Olympus PEN for now -- it also has poor battery life but is more compact and quiet.

riveredger [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 5:14PM

Having bought and sold too many cameras in the last few years, I've concluded that when reviewers say things such as a feature is "miles better" or that image quality is greatly improved, these things are hardly noticeable in normal use...

miltona580 [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 4:26PM

The lack of a battery grip was what killed it for me. So I bought a K-5. I do miss the better autofocusing and autofocusing while in video mode, but I think ultimately me buying a K-5 recently was the correct decision.

GlennG [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 3:44PM

Good and thorough review, thanks! K-30 is certainly looking even stronger the more press and review it receives. Looks like another great unit by Pentax. Now, what next? K-30...K-5....K-30.....K-3....K-anythingelse?.......Hmmmmmmm.

DSims [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 2:32PM

@netrex - I'm happy with my DA*16-50 too, and I specifically chose it because I preferred it over the other options. It yields nice photos, as evidenced by over 3,300 examples on the PPG. But I think it could be just a little bit better, an opinion I've held both before and after I got my own copy. But it's still a great zoom, WR, and gives * quality whenever I can't use my primes, such as my trip to Niagara Falls earlier this month! I still strongly advocate it as the better choice, but it would be better to compromise on it than the DA*50-135, if necessary.

Regardless, the K-30 gives Pentax a really strong offering that (for most shooters) negates the need for a more expensive body and frees up cash for all-important lenses.

lukelbd [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 2:24PM

I've been feeling a bit iffy about whether I made the right choice buying the K-5 in March when the news about the k-30 came out. But this article reaffirms to me that I made the right choice. I rarely use live view and rarely use video. The faster AF and processor would have come in handy but I can manage just fine. Whereas, I can benefit from ability to use the battery grip, if I do get into video I'd like to do it right with a decent external mic, the magnesium alloy is more secure, I use the top LCD panel quite often, it has better RAW color depth, the optical preview switch on the on/off button is convenient, quieter shutter is great (I hated my k-r's loud CRUNCH), and I much much prefer the k-5's 980 shot battery life to AA compatibility. 3 D-LI90 batteries can be found on ebay for $20, therefore if I go on a trip without access to electricity I'm covered for 4,000 pictures -- I think that's enough.

netrex [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 1:49PM

DSims: I have the 16-50mm, and it's extremely happy with it for what I use it for. Landscapes and other kinds of scapes, it's amazing for color, sharpness and the most beautiful bright light sources.

DSims [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 1:04PM

Also, I don't think anyone can do better (with any brand) right now for roughly $2000-2500 than the K-30, DA*50-135/2.8, and DA*16-50/2.8(or 3rd party equivalent). The image quality will be outstanding, and it's an unmatched value for most types of shooting. Perhaps waiting for the follow-on to the DA*16-50 would be a good idea, however.

DSims [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 12:50PM

@Biro - I have the same two bodies - are you sure you won't miss the CCD of the K200D? I would. I'd probably rather replace the K-5, but I believe I'll wait and save for the (probably expensive) larger sensor model that now appears quite likely for next spring, considering most of my lenses would work with it.

In any case, the K-30 would be my obvious choice right now, but I'm not sure it would make sense when 2 better models (even if only slightly in the case of the APS-C model) should come out in the next 9 months.

haggard [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 12:32PM

Great review.

as a recently k-5 owner i feel strange about this new camera. i cannot understand if i have bought this camera or the k-5 (i'm really happy with my DSLR, i must say)... reading the titles seems that the k-30 is better than the k-5... i don't know if i have to be pissed off with my beloved pentax. ;)

Tamia [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:49AM

@DWB... Thanks for the information about the flash settings. And thanks for the excellent review of the K-30. Looks like the next camera for me.

Biro [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:43AM

As a K-5 owner who is not likely to upgrade to the K-3 anytime soon, I am considering the K-30 as a second camera body to replace my K200D. It looks like it might be worth doing, especially if the body-only price drops by $100 or so.

netrex [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:28AM

I find it strange that the videos gets those clicking sounds. Videos from my K-5 does not.

GerryL [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:24AM

Could the micro-usb jack be used to power up the K30 making it an external DC power jack?

GerryL [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:20AM

Shutter sound was poorly tested since the camera was set on the table and sound resonates on the table making the sound more bass-sy and louder.
Great review though. I just wished that it could also take a batt grip as an option so as all the complaint about the battery life would be addressed.

netrex [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:19AM

UdonUdon: That's not what it means. Here you can read about the PC-port:

Lance Tsai [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:19AM

You need to correct what's in the box.

Li-Ion Battery D-LI109
Battery Charger Kit K-BC109

civiletti [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 11:08AM

Based on this review, the K-30 is quite a bargain body.

luftfluss [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 10:46AM

Great job on the review, DWB!

UdonUdon [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 10:40AM

@maxfield_photo: I'm not entirely sure, but is the port for physically-wired remotes called the PC socket? If so, there is a PC socket just below the SD card slot.

coreyhkh [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 10:28AM

Good review, cant wait for the K3 to see what Pentax can do.

deadwolfbones [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 9:52AM

@ogl: thanks for those specs corrections, btw.

deadwolfbones [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 9:29AM

@Tamia: In all shooting modes (or all of them where it's adjustable) the default flash setting is Flash On. In this case, "Flash On" means that the flash will fire if you manually open the flash compartment and then take a shot. In the AUTO mode, there's an "Auto Flash Discharge" setting. The manual states that this mode: "Automatically measures the ambient light and determines whether to use the flash." However, even in a pitch black room we were unable to provoke it to open the flash compartment on its own. So we can only conclude that the camera will simply never fire the flash unless you manually open the flash compartment.

LaurenOE [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 9:22AM

Very nice review. Just one thing. The K5 does have manual controls when it comes to video, in that you can have auto-aperture or not, as well as change the exposure compensation. While not *totally* manual control, it does have control - which is lacking in so many comparisons I see when it comes to talking about the K5 video. In the chart posted during this review, once again those "manual" controls are left out.

Tamia [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 9:08AM

Great review! One thing I can't find an answer to though is this: Can the flash mode be set to Off like in the K200d?

deadwolfbones [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 9:08AM

Ogl: you forgot the greatly improved video mode, PRIME M processor, improved (software) user interface, etc...

Adam [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 8:50AM

Well, if you look at the average Pentax shooter, then price is an overwhelmingly big factor, is it not? I personally agree with the reviewer on this one.

Class A [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 8:41AM

"The BEST Pentax DSLR to Date"?
If you add "... for an introduction price of under $1000" then I agree.
Otherwise, the K-5 just has too many points in its favour, to make this a simple decision. The K-30 is hot, but for many shooters, the K-5 (and its successors) will no doubt still be the better camera.

maxfield_photo [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 8:39AM

The K-30 is also missing a PC socket as far as I can tell. Probably not an issue for 99% of shooters, but I use mine all the time.

ogl [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 7:48AM

And focus-peaking - 4th advantages.

ogl [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 7:43AM

I see only three advantages over K-5 - better AF in LV, no BF/FF and better accuracy of AF in artificial light.

netrex [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 7:40AM

A nice review :) But as ogl says, the buffer specs on the K-5 is worng, I get 33 frames in JPEG at 7 FPS and around 23-24 with raw.

Also, I'm curious how the camera works when you use live view to photograph, and use focus peaking and manual lenses, will the mirror go down and up etc., or will it only use maybe the shutter?

ogl [Delete] Jul 17th, 2012 7:18AM

K-5 has 22-25 RAW buffer with 7 fps mode, not 12 RAW as in this review. Check it.