At the moment, the K-30 is positioned a little awkwardly in the Pentax digital SLR lineup. If we were marketing guys, our line would be: "It's 90% of a K-5 for 50% of the price!" Which sounds great and all, but the reality is that the K-5 itself (indubitably on its way out after an illustrious career as the Pentax flagship) is now selling for nearly half of its original MSRP, and just $50 more than the K-30 (the K-5 launched at $1749 MSRP and now sells for around $899, while the K-30 launched at $849 MSRP). Obviously, the question on most interested parties' minds is: why not just pony up an extra $50 for the Pentax K-5?
The truth is, both cameras are very good values at their current prices. The K-5, while superior in some important ways to the K-30, is now nearly two years old. The ways in which it's better than the K-30 are primarily aesthetic and ergonomic rather than functional. The K-30, on the other hand, is as cutting-edge as cutting-edge gets in Pentaxland. It takes the best of the K-5 and updates the internals with a refined sensor, image processing chip, autofocus system, and more. It may lack a few of the K-5's software-related bells and whistles (extended bracketing, etc), but as we hinted above it's 90% of the way there. For the average user, 90% might be enough.
The K-30 has been described by some as entry-level and by others (including Pentax themselves) as mid-range. To us, it falls firmly in the latter camp. It's miles above the Pentax K-r and K-x in terms of features, both internal and external. As such, it's the perfect upgrade for users who have grown beyond those decidedly entry-level models. But it will also appeal to users coming from point & shoots, bridge cameras, and advanced compacts. While it has technical ability to spare, it's also exceedingly newbie-friendly—a joy to just pick up and use.
On the whole, we think the Pentax K-30 has hit a sweet spot that ideally combines technical sophistication with ease of use. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to users from across the spectrum of photographic experience.
Below is a list of the US Pentax K-30 kit offerings, as well as their launch prices. The links lead to B&H Photo, which sponsored the review K-30 unit we received. B&H is the largest authorized Pentax dealer in the US and is one of few US stores that carries the full range of Pentax products and accessories.