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03-17-2013, 02:44 AM - 7 Likes   #1

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Pentax K30 -Out and About -A user review

I wrote this for the local forum.
Mainly targeted at non-Pentax users who have never considered Pentax or maybe never heard of it.

Hope this will be helpful for those considering a K30.

Still a work in progress.
I'll update here too whenever I update the local forum page.

The Pentax K30 has been released for some time now (announced in May and available in about Jun'2012)
So why such a late review?
Its a personal camera that I got recently in December so I'd just like to share my impression on using this camera after a few months of usage.
(ie. yes, bought on my own money and not passed over by some distro to review)

With weather sealing, per lens AF fine tuning, 100% coverage viewfinder and 2 control wheels, so far (as of writing) features reserved for much higher end cameras, the K30 (on paper) promises to offer features never before seen in a 'entry' camera at its price point.
So does it deliver? (read on)

K30 -A veritable travel kit with small primes in a small bag.
Lenses :
UWA - DA15mm f4 ltd
Normal - FA31mm f1.8 ltd
Short Tele - FA77mm f1.8 ltd

Just for reference and as a base for the review :
Pentax K-30 specification highlights
1. 16.1MP CMOS sensor
2. In-body image stabilization
3. Weather-sealed polycarbonate body
4. ISO 100-12800 (expandable to 25,600, with user-defined Auto ISO range)
5. 1080p HD movie recording at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second
6. Per-lens AF fine adjustment
7. Focus peaking
8. 2 scroll wheels for an 'entry' level/priced camera
9. 100% coverage viewfinder

For those interested in datasheets (and existing reviews):
Official site : PENTAX - K-30 Black
DPReview : Pentax K-30 Review: Digital Photography Review
ImagingResource : Pentax K-30 Camera - Review

Rather than bore anyone with spec sheets which are a google search away anyway.
I'd just cut to the chase.
Talk about the end results (photos) and user experience.

What better way than to go on a tour.....

Last edited by pinholecam; 03-17-2013 at 02:52 AM.
03-17-2013, 02:44 AM - 1 Like   #2

Join Date: Oct 2009
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View of the 101 from higher ground -a relief to be carry a less encumbering setup like the K30 and small primes
No joke as it was 10mins continuous fast pace up the flight of stairs up to the vantage point. (a decent pace as most guides say it needs to be 15-30mins)


In the hand, the camera feels pretty solid.
Plastic casing of the body is smooth, hard, sort of like perhaps a fridge or kitchen appliance.
A good thing, as its not some 'knocky', light feeling plastic that can sometimes be found on low end bodies.
The grip is deep and reassuring.
I find the weight to be good, not being overly heavy.

Top view - Quite a wealth of buttons for fast access
2 custom modes that can be configured by the user marked U1/U2 (again often a higher end camera feature)

Back view - Plenty of buttons arrayed to the right, so its easily accessed with the camera holding hand (with one hand)

Side view (left) - the RAW switch and AF mode switch

Theres plenty of buttons for fast access on the K30.
Some like the 2 dials, RAW/AF buttons are customizable too.
There are also 2 custom modes that can be saved by the user on the top dial.

For even more options, there is also the quick menu, which can be accessed at the push of the 'INFO' button.

Quick Menu -offering more often used settings not on the hard buttons

Last edited by pinholecam; 03-17-2013 at 02:51 AM.
03-17-2013, 02:45 AM   #3

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TaiZhong center.
Showing off good dynamic range on the K30 from 1 exposure making sure that shadows and highlights were not clipped.
Made easy with the super-imposed histogram mode available on the K30

The K30 offers a wealth of review modes.
Something that I find makes shooting and review easier.

One of my favorite review modes.
Histogram / camera settings / shadow+highlight clipping all showed within 1 review.
No need to move over multiple screens just to check histogram info

Showing off all the selectable review modes that the user can use

Another feature that I like is the user selectable 1 click zoom in review.
With one click of the scroll wheel, the user can easily check if the shot is accurate/sharp enough.
No need for multiple button presses on a 'magnify' button.
Fast zoom is selectable as 2x, 4x, 8x, x12, x16

From the above review, to x8 magnification with one click of the scroll wheel

Street vendor selling Taiwan sausages; Pingxi old town
03-17-2013, 02:46 AM   #4

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CingJing Grassland -
The Sun was rising to the front and the nice golden light was rapidly fading with each increment of its position.
I wanted to retain the golden look that had caught my attention to stop at this spot.
The ability to preview result of white balance selection, made selecting a warmer w/b easy.
And I got the warm look I wanted.
Shot thru a Tianya polariser filter, which wasn't very flare resistant

Pentax cameras allow the user to preview the effect of white balance selection on the last taken photo.
The K30 retains this nice little touch, that makes w/b selection less of a try and try again procedure.
Very useful for the JPG shooter.
Useful to me too, even though I tend to shoot RAW as it means I need to tweak less later in post process.

small stream -Beitou geothermal park
Custom W/B in camera to take care of the funny color cast on my Tianya ND filter

Showing off how w/b can be previewed from the last taken photo.

03-17-2013, 02:47 AM   #5

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Its a nice feeling knowing that it can take AA batteries.
Here's why :

K30 - battery and optional AA battery adapter

The K30 runs on its Li-on battery, for about 450 shots.
There are some who complain that its too little.
However, in use during the tour, it lasted a good full day with active shooting, often with about 1/4 battery life left for the next day.
To me, thats quite enough in practical use.
Anyway, as Li-on spares go nowadays, they are like $10 each off ebay. (I have 3 batteries)
There is also the optional AA battery adapter, which makes truly flat on battery juice quite unlikely.

PingXi old town
After about a week travelling, with night priorities given to take care of my 2 active children, I actually found myself left with about half battery power and 2 spare batts that I forgot to recharge.
Proceeded into a shop to grab 4 AA's 'just in case'.
I never did end up using the AA's (the 1/2 battery lasted for the half day I was in the town), but at least I did not have to over worry.

Some other shots from Pingxi

Pingxi is an old town that used to be part of the mining industry in the area.
Serviced by rail, but now certainly past its heyday.
Characterful little place.

The town is actually famous during CNY period for its sky lanterns.
Too bad was traveling with family which made going in the night to witness the event impossible.
This does not stop day visitors from releasing lanterns in the day just for luck and fun.
03-17-2013, 02:48 AM - 1 Like   #6

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Travelling with a small DSLR and small primes

Perhaps I'd take the chance to touch on travelling with a small DSLR and some small primes.

I'm not only official family scribe, but also pack mule and man friday on a trip.
Yes, that means that other than having to try and get the best photos/memories for the family, I also need to lug around the pram, water (kids and adults), baby food/powder/diaper/etc, as well as change the diaper (or at least help out the Mrs with it).

The K30 with 3 small primes is a godsend to me.
No compromise in photo quality, handling and not too encumbering.
I never felt burdened down by the system throughout the whole trip.
Nor did I have to make any sacrifice in terms of focal length coverage which covered from 15mm (UWA - for wide views); 31mm (for most stuff); 77mm (for reach/portraits/isolation).

Here are some examples.

15mm (UWA) for most wide views

When even wider is needed - 3 frames stitched in Photoshop Elements taken with the same 15mm.
Also the Dynamic Range from the K30 is very good, the shaded areas within the station to the bright sunlit buildings outside all recovered from 1 RAW exposure.

31mm 'normal' - for most general uses

31mm or 77mm for the small things that catch our interest in a trip

77mm short tele for reach, isolation, portraits
03-17-2013, 02:49 AM - 1 Like   #7

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One minor niggle...

If there is a niggle of compliant up to this point.
It is this.
We don't know what we've missed until we miss it.
Certainly so in this case.
My previous camera before the K30 was its older and higher end sibling the K5.
It came with the capability to do exposure bracketing with shutter release via IR remote or self timer.
On the K30, these 2 options absent.
There is exposure bracketing on the camera, but it releases on shutter button press, obviously not the most ideal for long exposures.

Thats not as bad as it sounds though.
The work around :
1. Shoot old school and set each exposure bracket manually and then release shutter via timer or IR remote. (The sturdy tripod will hold the camera steady so that no camera shake/shift occurs)
2. Use a wired remote with the exposure bracket function.

I did not read the manual that the wired remote option was available before the trip (there I admitted it )
So used option #1 throughout the trip.
Anyway, I'm getting a wired remote off ebay (again just a ~$10 item shipped off ebay, so no big a deal to me)
As can be seen from the 2 photos on this page, old school works pretty fine too.

03-17-2013, 05:17 AM   #8
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Great shots. Superb illustrations.

Thank you for sharing.

I like your prime selection. Well done.
03-17-2013, 06:31 AM   #9
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Great review

Beautiful photos, everything about them is pleasing to my eye.

Very nice write up.
03-17-2013, 07:25 AM   #10
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A most excellent review showing what can be done by an expert photographer, great lenses, and a very good, relatively inexpensive camera body. I am super impressed!!!
03-17-2013, 09:48 AM   #11
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An excellent review and series of images. Reinforces my choice of the K-30.

03-17-2013, 10:03 AM   #12
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Excellent review, and thanks for sharing your experience of the k-30 which I am sure many owners enjoy. BTW, the photos are very nicely done.
03-17-2013, 11:35 PM   #13
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Great review! Great pictures!
03-18-2013, 12:15 AM   #14
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you have a knack for these reviews - thorough, personable, and well thought out. thanks! Nice photos too!
03-18-2013, 01:22 AM   #15
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Hmm....this review made me realize that I utterly wasted the time I had when in Taiwan on business recently. Wow, those are some nice photos, kudos!

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