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02-17-2013, 08:40 PM - 3 Likes   #1
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3 reasons to buy (and 1 reason not to buy) the K30

At some point in time this weekend I crossed the magical 10,000 shutter count mark for my K30. Not bad for 4.5 months I guess. I was planning on submitting an epic review of the K30 into the database after 6 months of usage, which would be updated after 1 year of usage, and then a final update at the end of my K30's life, so consider this post a sort of note gathering for the start of that.

So before I start, a quick background on me. I was (still am) a complete photography newb. Prior to owning this K30, I had never owned any photographic equipment other than point and shoot cameras and cellular phones, and I had only used a DSLR probably less than 5 times total in my life. To me, this K30 and the Pentax ecosystem are everything I know about photographic equipment. I do not have a basis for comparison to any other brands or camera types, and moving forward every other piece of equipment I own will be judged against the personal benchmarks set by my K30 and Pentax.
(I did own a K7 for a brief period of time because I bought it locally and flipped it here for some $$$. I only took about 300-500 shots with it though.)

So, that being said, as the title states, 3 reasons to own the K30, and 1 reason not to.

Reasons for:

#3

DYNAMIC RANGE

When I started taking pictures I was only shooting in JPEG and editing with Microsoft Photo Editor. I was still impressed with the amount of finessing I was able to do with the photos I took, but it wasn't really that much more than what I could do with the pictures I got out of my cellphone or point and shoots.

Then two things happened: Shooting RAW, and using Lightroom.

Now, shots that would have been rendered awful or flat out unusable because of brutal dark spots can be restored to great and even excellent levels. I'm always blown away by how many details I can suck back from total darkness in my RAW files using Lightroom. I'm confident that even pictures that look extremely dark on the LCD can be restored. It's now one of my most trusted techniques to help me get the shots I need.

#2

ERGONOMICS
Specifically, the grip.

I bought the K30 to accompany me in my outdoor adventures. This includes cycling, hiking, and snowshoeing. I need something that I could confidently bring with my on all of these occasions.

Enter the grip. It's deep. I can hold it with my hand comfortably and securely without needing kung-fu tightness to make sure it stays put. I don't use a hand strap. The only strap I have is a loose wrist strap from one of my old point and shoots, essentially just as insurance in case the camera slips out of my palm or some jerk tries to run and grab it from me.

What does this mean? It means I can have this in hand, ready to shoot, in any situation. When hiking/snowshoeing, I have this in one hand and my trekking pole in the other, and I am confident that even if I stumble, the camera won't fly away (landing on top of it and crushing it is another matter ).

Perhaps the most impressive display of the grip I've found was on a recent bicycle ride. My friend (a dirty Canon shooter ) introduced me to cycling one-handed with a DSLR in hand ready to go. At first I was wary, but after some hesitation, I found that the grip was both comfortable and secure, and I proceeded to take shots while riding (note: lens used was the 18-250). What's more impressive is that I had some regular cloth liner mittens on, and I still didn't need any sort of extra insurance other than my loose wrist strap (my Canon buddy has to use a tight hand strap with his camera). Now I would feel confident in taking my K30 in hand on a roller coaster, such is the security that the grip inspires in me.

Compared to the K7, it's no contest. I couldn't even wave the K7 above my head without having to check myself from swinging too fast, lest the camera launch into the sky.

So moving forward, this is an absolute deal breaker. Any camera I get now has to at least match the grip I can get with the K30.

#1

HIGH ISO CAPABILITY

So again, I had no idea what ISO and noise and grain were prior to owning the K30. My first thousand or so pictures were taken in AUTO mode, with the ISO in auto mode ranging between 100-12800. Even with these basic settings, I was happily shooting away and getting good pictures with only my kit lens, with a few excellent ones smattered in there.

As I've started reading more and more into about photography and cameras, I've come across discussions about ISO. People were complaining about ISO in the 6400, 3200, even as low as 800 and 400 settings. This puzzled me since I couldn't really tell the difference between those settings in the pictures I took, at least without some close inspection.

I finally saw what these people were mentioning when I had a chance to use the K7. That thing had awful ISO capabilities! Its max ISO setting was only 6400, and even then pictures were super grainy and only usable after some heavy post-processing. 3200 wasn't super either. On my K30, I regularly leave the ISO in auto mode with a range of 100-6400 and I can get shots that are great straight out of the camera in the upper end. I also feel confident that I can routinely bump it into 12800 and even 25600 as needed and get shots that can be okay with some post processing.

Having awesome ISO capabilities means I can get shots in the dark that I wouldn't be able to get with my other cameras. It also lets me get away without having to use big, heavy, fast, expensive glass. My current normie prime is the F 28 2.8, and it's plenty good enough for what I need in dimly lit restaurants, apartment interiors, and street scenes.

I never really knew what I had when in terms of ISO capability, but now that I do know, I don't think I can live without it. It would simply be too limiting.

Honorable mention: FOCUS PEAKING

It's always on when I'm in live view. I resort to it in tough situations. It always impresses those who do not have focus peaking on their cameras, and I can sometimes beat the accuracy of the already impressive autofocus on the K30. It's now a deal break for me, even though I did not know about it when I got my K30.



Now, the one reason I would give for not recommending the K30

THE SONIC BOOM MIRROR SLAP

It's loud. REALLY loud. It can sound like a machine gun when you're rapid-firing photos. Easily heard above chatter in a restaurant, or while on the street in close proximity of your intended target. When you're taking pictures, people will turn and look. Don't even think about using it in a situation that calls for quiet such as live theater or some sort of classical concert.

This is one area where the K7 handily wipes the floor with the K30. The mirror slap on the K7 is whisper quiet. Why couldn't they just use the same mechanics in the K30? It's like the designers said "it's going to be an outdoorsy camera" and the engineers took that as a cue to just make the camera as if it was ONLY going to be used outdoors.

So if someone came up to me and said "I need a camera for stealth/discrete shooting situations" such as behind the scenes at a theater play, despite the exceptional low-light capabilities of the K30, there's no way I can recommend it to them on the basis of the super loud mirror slap.


There you have it. Despite that last point, overall I'm extremely happy with my K30. It has set the bar extremely high for what I expect from a camera in the future.

Sometime near the end of March/early April I hope to have an epic review of the K30 up in the database which will expand on thse points and more.

02-17-2013, 09:34 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by EarlVonTapia Quote
The mirror slap on the K7 is whisper quiet. Why couldn't they just use the same mechanics in the K30?
It's a not-the-flagship thing (or maybe a cost thing). The K-x and K-r are even louder (and I've used other people's Nikons that were about the same as them). My old K100D is about the same, but the K-30 is lower in tone. That's why I first bought a K-01 - for its "inside voice".
02-17-2013, 09:34 PM   #3
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Nice summary. Glad you are having fun with your K-30. I've listened to the K-30, K-x, K-r, K-5 and K-01 and the K-30 is not as loud as the K-x. Still, it is WAY louder than the K-5/7.
02-17-2013, 10:05 PM   #4
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It may be louder than the K-5 but it's no way louder than the most of the pro-level cameras from Canikon that are used for everything from weddings and candids to press and sports. The K-5 is simply exceptional in this subject.

02-17-2013, 10:13 PM   #5
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Nice write-up, but my K30 is a lot quieter than my K100.

Last edited by brent-b; 02-18-2013 at 08:30 AM.
02-18-2013, 02:16 AM   #6
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Your views are exactly same as mine. After using it for 2 months and on a trip. Its the best camera I used
for a long time. THe high ISO is exceptional coming from micro 4/3.
02-18-2013, 11:47 AM   #7
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My K100D is a louder version of the K-30 sound.

I don't think the K-30 has any faults worthy of the name as such. Loads of strong points as mentioned. My only wish would be for the really low light AF to be snappier and more definite but I didn't expect to find it at the price anyway, although that could be a lens thing and Pentax really ought to have a lot of MkII versions of current production optics but with the DC AF motor to speed things up - I think this would help their sales more than anything.
02-18-2013, 12:09 PM   #8
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That mirror is absolutely quiet compared to my K-x. I think the weather sealing muffles things a bit.

02-18-2013, 03:37 PM   #9
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I too think the mirror is quieter than the K-x and quieter/comparible to Canikonies I have tried.
02-18-2013, 05:35 PM   #10
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I agree that the mirror does seem to be very loud. It is especially noticeable when you capture an image from the live view mode because it has to make two movements instead of one and its a bit jarring. I'm surprised that the force of the mirror doesn't cause more blurred images due to camera shake but I guess that's another good reason to have in camera shake reduction.
02-19-2013, 01:45 AM   #11
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Nice write up, i agree with all your points. The loud shutter is the only thing i dislike on the K30. I came from a Kx and its quieter than that camera, but still, it bothers me when indoors. Outside, i dont notice it. My friend has a Nikon and i really like the way its shutter sounds.

I too am a massive fan of the K30 grip. When i first bought it, i preferred the K5 grip, but i recently picked up a K5II in a store and was immediately aware of how different it feels; it didnt fit my hand like a glove like the K30 does. One handed shooting is easy with the K30. I rarely feel like i could drop it.

The weather sealing is a major selling point, as is the fast 6fps. Just watch me capture birds in flight with ease!

I <3 my K30!
02-19-2013, 02:12 PM   #12
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Original Poster
Thanks for the replies all!

I have hardly any experience with DSLR's other than my K30, and the K7 I had for a couple of weeks. It seems that the K30 shutter volume is par for the course, and the K7/K5 shutter volume is just really really good. I won't be so hard on it I guess, but it still kind of bugs me.

But ew, there are cameras with louder shutters?
02-19-2013, 02:37 PM   #13
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Another feature that i use a lot is the electronic level inside the viewfinder. Combined with Horizon Correction enabled, i rarely have a crooked horizon (which is a pet peeve of mine).
02-19-2013, 08:38 PM   #14
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what lenses are you using? I know when I had my k5, it was very quiet with a WR lens, but it was a little louder with a regular lens.
02-20-2013, 03:08 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by curlednoodles Quote
Another feature that i use a lot is the electronic level inside the viewfinder. Combined with Horizon Correction enabled, i rarely have a crooked horizon (which is a pet peeve of mine).
Ditto, I cannot stand a crooked horizon, whether it's in my photos or those of others.

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