Pentax K-30 Review
By now, our feelings about this camera should be crystal clear. While we harbor a few disappointments here and there about what might have been, we feel that the K-30 is simply the best dSLR that Pentax has ever made. (And we say that as loving owners of the last Pentax dSLR to hold that title, may it R.I.P.)
You might say, "Well, it's been two years since the last new dSLR came out of the Pentax design studios, so by this point the K-30 damn well better be the best ever." And you'd have a point. Still, we have to admire the job Pentax (and Ricoh) have done here. The K-30 draws together many of the company's strongest points—weather sealing, compactness and light weight, reasonable price, sturdy build quality, and ease of use—and represents a pure expression of what they're all about.
The camera is an able, agile performer. The 16-megapixel Sony sensor is an APS-C monster that's been refined over the past couple years into a nigh-unbeatable powerhouse. Ergonomically it's a little marvel, losing out by just a hair's breadth to the Pentax K-5 for our all-time favorite honors. It's also inherited a great deal from the quirky Pentax K-01, including the PRIME M processor, improved video mode, and some very welcome UI enhancements. The brilliant INFO menu, subtly tweaked from its implementation on the K-5, kept us from missing the top LCD in all but a few circumstances.
Autofocus performance was extremely impressive to us. While it fares little better than the K-5 in extreme lighting conditions, in everyday use the new SAFOX IXi+ system is a knockout. The focusing action has a real confidence and decisiveness in use that inspires a similar feeling in the user, and the real-world results can't be argued with.
Image quality is right up there with the best in the APS-C class, certainly directly comparable with the K-5 and K-01. Out-of-camera JPEGs are very nicely rendered, and the .DNG RAW files are just as wonderfully malleable as those from the other 16-megapixel Pentax bodies. Dynamic range runs in lockstep with the K-5, as does high-ISO performance. Some may complain about the lack of an increase in resolution compared to the other two bodies, but we believe that the other features that the K-30 boasts certainly make up for this.
In the end, the only real question left in our mind about the K-30 is: do we dutifully send our review copy back when the loan period is over, or do we abduct it and run away to Mexico to live happily ever after?
Are you already a Pentax K-30 owner? If so, we'd love to see you post your thoughts about it in the user camera reviews section! If not, then the K-30 is waiting for you at B&H Photo for $849 or less!
- Excellent build quality
- Small and lightweight
- Weather sealing at an unusually-low price point
- Generally wonderful ergonomics
- The best Pentax UI thus far
- Class-leading image quality
- Remarkably sure-footed autofocus in most situations
- Drastically improved contrast-detect autofocus speed and accuracy
- Fluid operation thanks to the new PRIME M processor
- Improved and expanded video mode
- No evidence of tungsten-related focusing issues
- No option for an add-on grip
- Wasted space in battery compartment; AA adapter not included
- Relatively short battery life
- Continuous shooting buffer could be larger
- Still no real predictive autofocus
- Non-ultrasonic dust removal (DR I)
- Video autofocus slow, noisy, and unreliable
- Mono on-board microphone; no external mic jack
- No HDMI out
- Focus peaking unavailable when shooting video
All in all, the Pentax K-30 ended up scoring higher than any other Pentax DSLR that we reviewed to date, which is certainly a triumph for Pentax! We hope that this camera ends up being the big success that it deserves to be. It has been a while since we've seen such a well-rounded camera at such an attractive price tag!