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Pentax P30T

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20 88,094 Thu March 7, 2019
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
90% of reviewers $33.69 8.06
Pentax P30T

Pentax P30T
Pentax P30T
Pentax P30T

The Pentax P30T is technically identical to the P3N/P30N but has a different look. It represents an upgrade of the P3/P30. The only difference is the addition of Av auto exposure mode to the Program and Manual exposure modes of the P3/P30.

Year introduced
Meter range
1 - 18 EV
Meter pattern
ISO range
DX ISO range
25 - 1600
Exposure modes
P, Av, M, X, B
Exposure compensation
Exposure memory lock
Shutter speeds (auto)
1 - 1/1000s
Shutter speeds (manual)
1 - 1/1000s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical)
Self timer
Mirror lock-up
Auto bracketing
Multiple exposures
Built-in flash
TTL flash
P-TTL flash
Sync speed
Flash exposure comp
Autofocus sensitivity
Not applicable
Power zoom
0.82x, 92%
Viewfinder type
Diopter correction
Exchangeable screen
Depth of field preview
Image size
24 x 36 mm
Panorama format
2 x S76
Battery grip/pack
Size (W x H x D)
137 x 87.5 x 50.5 mm
500 g
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: March, 2019
Posts: 3
Review Date: March 7, 2019 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid performer, ease of use, accurate metering, light weight, good battery life
Cons: Electronic shutter

I bought this as a cheap body off ebay for £25 (UK£) to use whilst my MX was being serviced. Turned out that it had either never, or else very rarely been used as it was in mint condition.

I have very few auto lenses, and have pretty much used it as a straight manual camera in shutter speed priority (set the speed and twiddle the aperture) but equally easy to set the aperture and twiddle the shutter speed. Works perfectly well in manual mode and is enjoyable to use in this way. Only minor hitch is not being able to see the aperture in the viewfinder like my MX, but this is not a major issue for me.

Controls are well placedand smooth in operation. In fact, the ergonomics are excellent, with the shutter speed dial being easily turned with the right forefinger and having distinct click stops.The DOF preview lever is located on the right side of the lense mount and is also conveniently placed.I think that Pentax got the controls more or less spot on for the P30T.

I know that people have criticised the DX ISO setting, but it's easy to bypass this if you want to, and equally easy to just use the camera in manual (as I do). I haven't used the manual lock feature using manual mode so can't comment. I also find the shape of the body comfortable with the chunky right hand grip. One comment I will make is that you know when the shutter fires as it makes a solid kerr-chunk. Not a bad sound, but you know when it's fired!

I understand that some don't like the looks, but I really do like the look of the camera with the two-tone grey. I understand criticisms of the plastic build, but this is something that doesn't bother me. It seems robust enough, and whilst I wouldn't want to drop it down a flight of steps (I did with my A-1 and it survived!) it's certainly up to day to day use.

I'm currently carrying it round with an SMC 55mm f1.7, Tamron Adaptall 200mm and a Tamron 35-70mm. I'm overall very happy with the camera and the results. It makes a perfectly good carry about camera when I don't want to drag my venerable MX about.

Registered: March, 2012
Location: Joensuu (Finland)
Posts: 1,761
Review Date: October 15, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $5.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Good VF
Cons: Shutter feedback is not great

cheap, robust and reliable.
The shutter action is too short for my taste.
I have used DA lenses including the DA40 and DA10-17 which I enjoyed very much but there is no aperture control on the body.

Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2007
Location: North West UK
Posts: 380

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 9, 2017 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, nice looking, has Av! Quite reliable
Cons: A bit plasticky, The grey divides opinion. only 1/1000sec

This seems to be a body that split opinion, and I can see why.
The greyness divides everyone, you either love or hate it. and it is a big plasticky compared to the better built P30n, which is part metal build.
But it does have one major advantage over the P30n, and that is Av mode.

If this was in the P30n with its better build, then it would be knockout. As it is I have both cameras for different things, and I must admit I think they are very underrated bodies. At least they don't have the shutter cog issue of later ranges (MZ and SF series being a case in point)

Get one cheap, put a good roll of 100ISO film in it, and then put the K55mm F1.8 on the front and really have fun with it.

A little gem.
New Member

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 21
Review Date: November 26, 2016 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: best focusing screen I've used so far, enormous bang for the buck
Cons: all plastic

I got this one as a companion to my K2, replacing the SFX I used before. While the SFX is a solid performer, it has too much automation for my taste. For film, I prefer fully manual operation and the P30 delivers that pretty well.

The P30 series shares a lot of genetic material with the classic K-series metal bodies. Apart from the grip/thumb rest, the over-all design and dimensions of the body are almost identical to my K2 (and thus much larger than, say, an MX). The grip/thumb rest isn't all that big, but for me improves handling significantly. Most visible parts of the body are made of plastic, which helps to reduce weight. On the other hand, it doesn't feel as solid as a metal body, and some parts are actually a bit flimsy. On my body, one of the two – uhm – "teeth" on the rewinding shaft (the ones that go into the film cartridge) broke off. Rewinding still works, but unfortunately those teeth are also used for unlocking the film door when pulling up the rewind crank. With only one of them left, opening the film door becomes extremely fiddly (unless you have somehow marked the exact position the crank needs to be rotated to). Making that part out of plastic: Not a good idea.

Feature-wise, it is also pretty close to a classic manual body, including DOF-preview, mirror lock-up and a (mechanic) cable release port. It doesn't have any flash sync ports, but personally I don't care about this. Lack of exposure compensation/manual ASA setting is also no biggie for me.
I can't say anything about how good the automatic modes are, as I use it in full manual mode all the time. If I had to choose the one thing I like most on this camera, it's probably the focusing screen. The one on the K2 is great, but the P30t has a diagonal split-screen in addition to the microprism ring, which I enjoy very much.

If you want to dip your toe into all-manual film shooting for the first time, this is the perfect choice. These cameras are really not that old, so things like deteriorated mirror bumpers should be a non-issue and thus the chances of getting a ready-to-shoot one online are pretty good.

If you're looking for an inexpensive second body to accompany you classic Pentax SLR, you should definitely consider the P30 series as well. I used it as my main film body while my K2 was away for repair and it turned out to be an unexpectedly good surrogate.

The bottom line is: With the P30t you get about 90% of the shooting experience of a classic K-series SLR for a fraction of the price.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2015
Posts: 6,280

4 users found this helpful
Review Date: October 22, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small size, ergonomics, P, M and Av modes
Cons: No EV, no manual ISO setting, embarrassing failure mode

Despite the let-downs described in the "con" section, this camera should be regarded as Pentax's last good manual-focus SLR, and probably the best available to the mass market. It should have been the last, full-stop.

What it loses from the original P3/30 in the plastic body, it gains in far better ergonomics (especially when larger lenses are fitted) and in its aperture priority mode with pre- or non-A K mount lenses. At the same time it's a fully-manual camera for those who want it, and it does have exposure lock if you need to use the camera as a reflected-light spot meter for tricky shots. The depth of field preview is nice to have, as is the diagonal split screen, and the old familiar "match the blinking shutter speed" display is there, together with shutter speed info in P mode in case you're wary of camera shake and want to tripod-mount it or bring out a flash.

Mine arrived used and without a strap, so I bought a cross-body strap that screwed into the tripod mount, and it was astounding how out-of-the-way it then was with a compact prime lens. The light weight really helped here, and the rubberised plastic exterior is probably better for absorbing mild bumps in this context than a metal chassis would be. A great walk-around rig.

Compared to the Pentax ME, which is full-time aperture priority with exposure compensation and manual ISO setting, the manual mode is sometimes a boon, while the program mode is the default if an optically appropriate DA lens is mounted and at least allows these lenses to be used if nothing else is available. This is something the otherwise flexible ME can't do, and in size terms the P30T isn't really that much bigger. In addition, the loading system for this camera is ridiculously simple to the point of being foolproof, and it makes for an easier introduction to film than most of its predecessors, which require you to insert the film leader through the winding spindle.

The automatic DX coding with no override is a pain to some, but IMO wouldn't have been a disadvantage to the consumer or prosumer market at which it appears to have been aimed. It suffers from comparison with the other Pentax film bodies released at the same time, all of which were AF, motor driven, and with far more electronic sophistication.

The worst thing about this camera is a particularly nasty failure mode in which the film-advance lever shears off its spindle, making it impossible to wind on the film any further. If you're shooting and winding-on quickly, it's possible to get overenthusiastic - and if the end-of-the-roll "pause point" of the film advance is in the second half of the stroke where the thumb has maximum mechanical advantage, and the internal spindle is brought to rest by the film "end" while the advance lever is being driven over hard, that's where the shearing is going to happen. I think this is how I broke mine. (EDIT: after repair, this was found NOT to be the case. Although this failure mode has been described, there was in my case a skipping of the gears of some sort which was easily correctable.)

Plastic as the exterior chassis may be, it actually comes across as fairly rugged, and the light weight and rubberised finish mean that any casual knocks and bumps that don't actually break the camera open get absorbed pretty well. But this is the P30T's one weak link, and this is one part that really should have been built the old-fashioned way. As it is, I recommend slow and cautious winding as the end of the roll is neared with pausing and film-rewind at even the slightest resistance - this should at least delay the inevitable, if not put it off indefinitely.

There are only two things that would have made this camera perfect. The first is a no-batteries default to the flash sync speed (1/100 s, which is manually selectable on the shutter speed dial). The second is for a shutter priority capability, with program mode being selected only when both lens and shutter speed dial were set to A, and the displayed shutter speed to blink if something outside the bounds of the lens's aperture range were selected. This would have given at least some ability to guess which aperture the camera was working at in Tv mode, even if it were not displayed directly in the viewfinder. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and it's not at all bad.

In the day it was created I don't think there was any Pentax lens that didn't have an aperture ring, and APS-C wasn't even thought of. That this camera can still at least function with all of them, even the ones that leave ugly black circles around the image, should be recognised and commended. I thoroughly recommend this camera to anyone wanting to dabble with film, as well as to film enthusiasts who want to give an older child their first film camera. Despite the unpleasant malfunction mine suffered, and the cons which more demanding photographers have previously identified, I have given it a ten because of its all-round flexibility, compactness and ease of loading and general use.
New Member

Registered: March, 2012
Location: Berlin
Posts: 6
Review Date: October 5, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: No | Price: None indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: K-mount?
Cons: It's concept and design

It's as dumb as it looks. I guess if you have an A-series lens, don't care about photography and just want a manual focus point and shoot camera then it's okay.

The positives are that it has a DoF preview and an exposure lock. And while its ugly its not as bad as the cameras that came later...

Otherwise it's garbage. It doesn't tell you what ƒ-stop you're in. There no exposure compensation and you can't set the film speed (it reads the DX code on the film can and automates exposure...). Want to shoot expired stock and need to compensate +1 or +2 stops? Forget it, camera is boss. You're a passenger to the photography.

No mechanical shutter speed so its a paperweight when the batteries die. No reminder for when film is wound on, which is annoying. The gimmicky film loading system sucks. its sort of like the Quick Load system on the Canon Ftb, except that on the Ftb the rewind spool rotates as you advance the film - so you know that film is loaded correctly. On this thing you just shut the rear door and hope for the best. Which pretty much sums up what using this thing is like: press a button and hope for the best.

What can you do about it? Put it in a pillowslip and swing it against a concrete wall. Its made of plastic so it wont take long to finish it off.
New Member

Registered: October, 2011
Posts: 5

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: February 22, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Stop down metering, easy to use, easy to source, cheap, reliable, light, PKA, lit viewfinder display
Cons: DX coding only (Box speed only), Top shutter speed could be faster

After lugging around a K1000 for a couple of years, this camera is delightfully light, but still retains enough weight for usability. Grip is pleasing, and the size is just so. It's fantastic ergonomically.

This is obviously a camera for beginners who want to get out and shoot. DX coding and full auto aperture and exposure make it a no brainer for everyday use, effectively turning it into a manual focus P&S camera. Stick a roll of 400 in it and you're ready to go.

It isn't perfect though. Top speed of 1/1000 isn't adequate for a camera of the 1990's, to be able to see aperture in the display would be nice, and auto DX coding will become a drag if you want to rate your film speed manually...

Eventually traded up for an MZ-6 body, which is definitely a better camera, but still hanker for one of these bad boys every now and then. They're fun, and ideal starter cameras for anyone looking to get into film photography.
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Kyoto
Posts: 72

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 29, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: No | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: solid, reliable
Cons: limited feature set

I notice this camera is highly rated. That puts me in a minority position, but so be it.

I love how this camera looks, low-slung, receded dials, and gunmetal grey/black two-tone finish. The style ages quite well I think, far better than most cameras of its era.

It's plastic, but feels robust and has a good hold. Film advance is manual, so it just needs batteries for the electronics, a pair of cheap SR-44s or similar.

I have several gripes, however.

1. Unlike older models, there is no indicator to tell if you remembered to advance the film or not. Trust me that's more annoying than it sounds.

2. No EV adjustment. Program auto is press-and-pray. If you think you need to dial in compensation, you have to take both shutter speed and aperture dials out of "A" setting, and set both, manually.

3. The aperture setting is not displayed in the viewfinder, neither by periscope nor digital readout. This means you have no idea what aperture the camera is using when operated in P mode. That, in my book, is a level 10 oversight.

4. It looks like the camera should support shutter priority operation, you can configure the camera in the expected way, with the aperture to "A" and changing the shutter speed dial manually, but it doesn't work.

Okay, I could forgive some of these, but 2.+ 3. destroy any credibility this camera might have had for being a serious tool. For kicking around on a Sunday afternoon it's fine though I guess...
Junior Member

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 27

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 7, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $29.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Size, weight, easy viewfinder, ergonomics
Cons: No exposure comp, not much else

A very underrated camera, in any of the P30 versions. I originally had a P30, which I sold about 7 or 8 years ago.

I managed to come across the P30T for under $30, in new condition, and can't remember why I sold the first one!

The size is great, being somewhere between the older K bodies, and the M/A bodies in size. The 30T especially is a delight to hold, with soft rubberised coverings and rounded corners on the top plate, grip, and bottom. And yes, it's plastic, but the camera feels solid and well-weighted, and I can't fault the fit and finish. There is nothing whatsoever that suggests you are holding anything other than a quality camera.

It is a great, uncomplicated film body with it's Manual/Av/Program abilities. Any 'A' lens will give you virtually point & shoot convenience, otherwise it is very easy to use in either manual or Av. It has been mentioned before, but the viewfinder info IS very much like a match-needle affair, you just move the shutter speed dial until the blinking speed stops blinking... Simple, elegant, and intuitive.

I don't feel the 1/1000th top shutter speed is a detraction really, it's the same as a K1000, you just shoot the film that allows you to use the cameras specifications to their maximum. With exposure-lock, good old cable release socket, self-timer, and DOF, it is just a joy to hold and use.

Get yourself a P30, in any version, before EVERYBODY discovers what a wonderful little body it is. Think of it as your ME Super's younger second cousin.
New Member

Registered: March, 2012
Posts: 18

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: March 24, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Handling, reliability, depth of field preview, absurdly cheap second hand.
Cons: No exposure compensation.

I've owned 4 P30t bodies (and one P30n). One had to go years ago in part exchange for an upgade to autfocus, and three got stolen from my house last year. They're great cameras, a joy to use, and I had to buy another P30t as soon as I could. They are absurdly cheap for what they are.

Aside from one broken depth of field preview lever, I've never had any reliability or build problems with them.

They do lack exposure compensation, but as full manual exposure is so easy to use, that's a limited drawback. They are also excellent cameras to learn on.
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 635
Review Date: February 7, 2012 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, Program/Av modes, DOF preview, cable release socket
Cons: Only works with DX coded film

I bought this camera with a fairly decent 28-80 from a local camera shop. The camera works great, it's lightweight, and is reliable. It's mostly plastic, so well-used models will show a lot more finish wear than a comparable metal body like the K1000.

I love having a DOF preview, and this camera has a KA mount so it will work with most of the DA lenses (as long as they cover 35mm), as well as the DFA 100mm WR Macro. You'll only get Program mode with lenses without aperture rings, though.

The DOF Preview is actuated by a plastic lever. Mine broke off but was easily glued back.

My biggest beef with this camera is I can't set the ISO of film manually. It reads DX codes, and if the DX code is missing or isn't successfully read it will default to ISO 100. I bulk roll film, and none of my cartridges are DX coded. It's possible to make your own DX codes, so this problem is easily overcome (indeed by using metered manual mode in the camera and ensuring you're 2 stops underexposed, for example with 400 speed, or making your own DX code). But I don't see why it wasn't included. This also means you can't shoot Tri-X rated at 1600 (as many people do), unless you create a custom DX code or ensure your meter reading and actual exposure are 2 stops off.

Overall, the camera is very nice. I love its lightweight, design, grip, and cable release socket. That's a great addition.
Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2006
Location: Ames, Iowa
Posts: 730

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: September 22, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: good viewfinder, thoughtful control layout
Cons: several, but they don't seem to matter

A much-used camera, up there with the MX and KM among my practical favorites. It does everything right for the great majority of shooting situations, feels natural in the hand, is neither too bulky nor too light, draws no attention to itself, gets out of the way and lets you do your thing.

Yes, it lacks manual ISO control and exposure compensation. Although the ML lock is supposed to take the place of the compensation dial, its function times out too quickly for me, so I prefer to go to manual control in odd-light situations. The two speed indicators (one solid, one flashing) then act almost like a match-needle arrangement, fairly easy to get the knack of if you've shot a K1000 or similar.

Another odd limitation is the shutter speed range, 1 second to 1/1000 second except in bulb mode. Most of us won't much miss the 1/2000 second setting on the high end, but I was quite surprised to learn that the 1 second low end does not get extended in auto mode. If there's too little light for your aperture, the P30t won't keep the shutter open for 10-15 seconds as ME Super, Program Plus, LX, in fact most other auto-exposing Pentaxes will. Instead it will stop at 1 second and possibly underexpose. But rather tellingly, I used it for a long time before finding this out, and that was only experimentally; it never ruined a shot for me on that basis. Ultimately, if I'm going to push film, or do long automatic exposures from a tripod, I'll use something else, but I don't often have either of those needs.

The P series cameras (except P5/P50) tend to be in low demand, because they don't have the classic 70's SLR "look" and so lack nostalgia appeal. This translates to affordability.

Despite shortcomings, this is a camera with high build quality and pretty good gestalt; it's an easy choice for carrying to events and while traveling.

All of the above observations apply to the P30n as well. Between the two, I prefer the P30t slightly because of its diagonal focus aid.
New Member

Registered: December, 2010
Posts: 24

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 19, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light body, comfortable grip, the way it looks!, superb viewfinder
Cons: Automatic DNX coding

Great little camera for walking around. With a fixed prime or even a small 35-80 or so, it has the perfect size and weight for carrying around all day long. It's like having a K1000 that weights half as much, but don't let the plastic mislead you, build quality is great.

Battery life is amazing, you can just keep shooting almost forever without using a spare.

The exposure meter is great, but it takes a little time to get used to. Instead of showing you that you are (say) two steps down like any other camera does, it shows you the "correct" speed you should use.

DNX coding is automatic, so if you want to push or pull film you should always remember which film you're using and adjust the meter manually, instead of just trust the camera.

Despite those (very minor) flaws, the P30t is a really great camera.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Murfreesboro Tennessee
Posts: 3,457

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 6, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: light weight , can use all my lenses on it

I have had this camera for about 9 months now . I enjoy it so much that I shoot almost as much with it as I do my DSLR. The batteries last a long time. In fact I am still on the set that came with the camera. It takes the same batteries as my K1000 so another plus
I like the fact that it can handle all my lenses from m to DAL
New Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Malang (East-Java)
Posts: 4
Review Date: July 3, 2011 I can recommend the Pentax P30T: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Include Program Mode
Cons: Plastic body,DX code build in

Just setting camera for A (Auto) and setting lens for A (Auto) too....(only if you attach A-series lens),then camera use with support Av mode and Manual mode too....

I use this camera with SMC A - 50mm f/2
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