CAMERAS Pentax K-30 Review

Pentax K-30 Review

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Pentax K-30 Review

Home CAMERAS Pentax K-30 Review

Pentax K-30 Review: Pentax with new DSLR K-30 and lens DA 50mm F1.8 – Waterproof DSLR at a fair price

Pentax has already had a splash-proof DSLR in its product range with the K200D for well under $ 1,000. Now, after a long time, a new model follows with the K-30, which is supposed to cost less than $ 800. The K-30 offers a CMOS image sensor with 16 megapixel resolution, which is movably mounted for image stabilisation. The image stabilizer can even straighten the horizon. In addition, the K-30 is supposed to offer a significantly improved autofocus.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Good image quality up to ISO 1,600
  • Splash-proof, modern designed housing
  • Flexible power supply
  • Very good ergonomics with, among other things, two control wheels

Cons

  • In standard setting bright colours
  • Only moderately fast autofocus
  • Neither microphone nor HDMI connection
  • Set lens in wide angle with low edge resolution

With modern design, splash water protection, a lot of features and high image quality, Pentax wants to score with the model K-30 in the upper SLR beginner class. The last time Pentax had a comparable model in its range was many years ago, the K200D. The K-30 thus promises to have a very good price-performance ratio. We have put the DSLR through under examination in practice and as usual, with the utilization of the test software.

The new autofocus module of the Pentax K-30 is called SAFOX IXi+ and still offers eleven measuring fields with nine cross sensors. A special diffraction lens is used to compensate for the harmful influence of the different chromatic aberrations of lenses. The light source at the time of the shot is also included in the focus calculations, which compensates for focus shifts caused by different light wavelengths. If the light is not sufficient for automatic focusing, an autofocus auxiliary light will illuminate. The autofocus speed has also been improved for static and moving objects, which the camera can now follow more easily.

Pentax also implements the technical possibilities in the image stabilizer: The sensor is moved magnetically and can therefore not only be moved horizontally and vertically but also rotated. Thus a sloping horizon can be avoided. Also unintentional turning, tilting or swivelling movements during release can be compensated. When using the optional O-GPS1 GPS module, the image stabilizer can eliminate the effects of the Earth’s rotation in astrophotography by capturing stars as dots instead of lines on the image sensor.

The housing of the K-30 is made of plastic-coated stainless steel, 81 seals keep water and dust out. Pentax offers waterproof lenses to match, all with WR name affix and all DA* lenses. The camera underlines its ambitious claim with the two control wheels. Furthermore, the viewfinder with its 0.92x magnification and a field coverage of almost 100 percent as well as the glass prism construction offers good technical key data. A live image can be displayed on the rear screen with its diagonal of 7.6 centimetres and 921,000 pixels resolution. This offers optional insertion of auxiliary lines for the golden section or aids for manual focusing. Travellers also remain flexible, because although the K-30 is powered by a lithium-ion battery as standard, which is sufficient for 410 shots according to CIPA standard measurement procedures, a cage is optionally available that holds four standard AA batteries that are available worldwide.

The K-30 takes photos either with 19 scene modes, automatic or classic with program, aperture, aperture priority or manual exposure. The images can be provided with eleven different colour effects and 19 different digital filters. An HDR mode is also on board. The ISO sensitivity range goes from ISO 100 to 12,800, but can also be extended to 25,600. The K-30 records movies in FullHD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at 30 frames per second. When it comes to photos in rapid succession, the K-30 tracks at six frames per second at full resolution – and holds up in JPEG mode for 176 consecutive frames. The minimum shutter speed is 1/6,000 second. Since July 2012, the Pentax K-30 is offered as a set with the waterproof 18-55mm for 850 EUR. It is available in blue and white in addition to the standard color black. Without lens the K-30 costs about 750 EUR.

A DSLR system also includes a wide range of lenses, which Pentax extends with the smc DA 1:1.8 50mm. The lens has a small-frame equivalent focal length of 77 millimetres, making it ideal for everyday photography as a light telephoto lens and also ideal for portraits. With a maximum aperture of F1.8, it is quite bright, and the individual aperture blades are rounded to always guarantee a circular aperture for a soft bokeh. The DA 50mm weighs only 122 grams, is less than four centimeters short and measures only 63 millimetres in diameter. Perfect to have it with you at all times. With a close-up limit of 45 centimetres, the maximum magnification is 1:6.7. The equipment is rounded off by the SP coating, which repels dust, grease and water from the front lens, making it easier to clean. The lens are availablesince 2012 at a price of just under EUR 270.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

The housing of the Pentax K-30 is made of well processed plastic. The camera combines a spacey with a classic design and offers good ergonomics at the same time. The handle is well shaped and between the handle and the lens there is enough space for the fingers despite the rather compact housing. The handle is narrow but long, so that medium sized hands fit well. It has a rubber coating as well as a holding recess for the middle finger, so that you can easily hold the camera securely with your right hand with a light lens without having to support the left one. The thumb recess on the back must be without rubber coating, but has a small nose, so that the thumb finds good counter support. The camera is also provided with a rubber application on the right side of the housing.

On the handle side there is a mighty rubber cover, behind which the cable remote release connection is hidden. In return, the rubber flap on the left side of the case is a bit flimsier, hiding the combined USB and video port. The K-30 doesn’t have an HDMI socket, though, and has probably been sacrificed to the red pen. In times of flat screen TVs with FullHD this is a great pity. The plastic memory card flap on the right side of the case, behind which an SDHC and SDXC compatible SD card slot is concealed, is also covered with rubber on the inside. There’s a background to all this: The K-30 is splash-proof, so you don’t have to worry about your camera in the rain, in a snow or sandstorm or in the spray at the sea – provided you’ve chosen a splash-proof lens, which is the case with Pentax for all DA* lenses and all with WR-addition. Even the 18-55 millimetre set lens is available with splash water protection, with a small surcharge that should be allowed.

 

On the underside of the case, the metal tripod thread is exemplary in the optical axis, the battery compartment is also provided with a rubber seal. This is another special feature that is only available from Pentax: As an alternative to the supplied lithium-ion battery, four AA cells can also be used. Whether with NiMH rechargeable batteries or alkaline batteries: It should always be possible to find an energy source for the K-30, should the Li-Ion battery ever run out. Also unique in a camera costing less than 700 euros is the 100 percent viewfinder with 0.92x magnification. A high quality glass prism is used instead of the cheap pentascope construction normally found in this price range. The viewfinder image is correspondingly bright and high in contrast. All necessary shooting information is displayed in a status bar at the bottom, and the eleven focus points, nine of which are designed as high-quality cross sensors, light up red in the viewfinder.

In addition, the K-30 has a Live View function on the high-contrast and bright three-inch screen (around 7.5 centimetres diagonal). With 921,000 pixels, the display also has a very fine resolution. The robustness of the camera is underlined by the display protection glass with scratch protection, only very cautious natures reach for the display protection film. The operating concept of the K-30 is also pleasing: it is equipped with enough buttons, some of which can be assigned by the user. A quick menu also saves trips to the main menu, which is also clearly arranged. Pentax has even given the K-30 two control wheels, so that one can always set two functions, for example aperture and exposure time or ISO and exposure correction independently. These functions can also be assigned individually, even for each recording program. The K-30’s customizability is rounded off by an extensive custom menu and two user memories that can be called up directly via the program selector wheel.

Equipment And Features

The K-30 has both fully automatic and subject scene mode programs, so that even beginners who do not want to set image acquisition parameters themselves can handle it. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the K-30 was designed as a camera that is adjusted by the photographer himself to the respective scene situation. And here it offers everything a photographer’s heart desires. In addition to the classic P/A/S/M exposure programs, this even includes special programs such as one where exposure time and aperture are set by the photographer while the camera automatically controls the sensitivity, and vice versa, a program where the photographer only sets the ISO while the camera automatically controls exposure time and aperture. In manual mode, the green button ensures that a suitable aperture/exposure time combination is always set at the touch of a button. However, the K-30 exposes very carefully, especially compared to other DSLRs, the pictures seem 1/3 to 1 f-stop underexposed. With this, the K-30 wants to protect the lights especially well, which is especially advantageous in image editing, where one can better work out details from the apparently drowned shadows than from eroded lights. Nevertheless, it is recommended to keep an eye on the histogram and to counteract it with an exposure correction if necessary, if one wants correctly exposed images that can be used directly without further processing.

The K-30 also has a modern HDR function on board. She takes three differently exposed images and combines them into one with traced lights and shadows. The HDR-effect can be set in the digital calculation strength including automatic as well as in the spread of the three pictures, +/- 1, 2 or 3 EV are possible. Even automatic image alignment can be activated for hands-free shooting and deactivated for tripod shooting. Another special feature is the movably mounted image sensor, which is moved by a magnetic field. Unusually, when the sensor is turned off, it rattles around in the camera body, which explains the rattling when shaken – it is neither a defect nor harmful. In any case, the movable sensor ensures image stabilization with any attached lens. With manual lenses without electronic focal length transmission, the focal length can be preset so that the sensor operates at the appropriate amplitude. Due to the magnetic field bearing the sensor is not only movable but also rotatable. Pentax uses this for clever automatic image alignment. Even a calibration function has been thought of, with which the “zero position” of the sensor can be corrected by the user if, for example, it should not be completely congruent with the 100 percent viewfinder image.

The K-30 offers numerous other special functions, the enumeration of which at this point would degenerate into an almost endless text marathon. An ISO automatic in the upper and lower limit controllable in the range of ISO 100 to 25,600, lens correction, multiple exposure, interval shooting, continuous shooting function, exposure bracketing, digital processing possibilities including RAW development etc. are included. In short, the K-30 offers such an extensive range of equipment and so many setting options that the photographer can always discover and try something new. The video function, which has become a matter of course for a DSLR, should not go unmentioned. Although the K-30 offers FullHD resolution at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second, modern H.264 compressed video in MOV format, manually controllable exposure parameters and even a video interval function, it lacks an external microphone connection, the integrated mono microphone seems to be more of an emergency than a professional sound solution, even though the recording volume can be adjusted. Somewhere Pentax had to start with a red pencil in the long list of equipment. There is also no focus tracking, unlike a digital image stabilizer.

Image Quality

With 16 megapixels, the Pentax K-30 meanwhile rather belongs to the moderately resolving DSLRs, because the 24 megapixels are spreading more and more, even in the lower classes as you can see on the Nikon D3200. The proven resolution promises a good picture quality, after all the Pentax K-5 was already equipped with this sensor and belongs to the best in the APS-C class. In the test, we were able to test the K-30 not only with the 18-55 WR set lens, on which the evaluation of the image quality is based, but also with the DA 55-300 mm 4.0-5.8 ED and the DA 50 mm 1.8.

The signal-to-noise ratio of the K-30 is over 40 dB up to and including ISO 800, a very good value. After that, however, it drops rapidly and already falls below the critical limit of 35 dB at ISO 6.400. From this point on, the luminous noise also rises sharply, while the colour noise is hardly noticeable up to the highest ISO level of 25.600. Up to ISO 6,400, the input dynamic range is also a high level of 10 to 11 f-stops (EV), especially in the ISO 200 to 1,600 range it is very good. Fine textures are sharp up to ISO 1.600, the K-30 records most details at ISO 100 and 200.

The tonal value curve is steep and crisp from ISO 200 to 25,600, but at ISO 100 it is more subdued. The output tonal range is excellent up to ISO 400, very good up to ISO 1.600 and good at ISO 3.200, so the K-30 is able to reproduce fine brightness gradations very well. In terms of colours, however, the Pentax is extremely colorful in the factory setting, but if you want a neutral color reproduction, you should set it accordingly, for which the K-30 offers extensive options. The manual white balance, on the other hand, works very well enough and the Pentax is also able to reproduce fine color gradations very well, even up to high ISO 3.200. Even at ISO 6.400, the colour depth is still good with over 2 million color tones.

The Achilles verse in the tested camera-lens combination is clearly the 18-55mm WR set lens. Although the sharpness from the center to the edge of the image is sufficient for a 20 x 30 centimeter print, the resolution measurement shows a strong drop to the edge of the image, especially in the wide angle: it drops from 38 to 21 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm). In contrast, the resolution is very well balanced at 50 millimeters, corresponding to a 35 mm image, but in the telescopic position, there is almost as much edge fall-off as in the wide angle. The maximum resolution is reached at f-stop 8 with more than 61 lp/mm in the center of the image at wide angle, but the image border is just below 30 lp/mm. At 50 millimeters (KB), the resolution is also a high 55 lp/mm, and at the edge of the image only slightly less at 51 lp/mm. In the telephoto position, however, the maximum is at aperture 11 with 60 lp/mm in the center and 35 lp/mm at the edge of the image. The strongly barrel-shaped distortion is unpleasantly noticeable in the wide angle, but at medium focal length the 18-55 is distortion-free and in telephoto position it registers slightly cushion-shaped. A darkening of the edges is easily visible in the wide angle, one has to fade down strongly in order to make it disappear. The other focal lengths are more inconspicuous here. The chromatic aberrations are problematic, again the wide angle is top riding in a negative sense. Even on average, the color fringes are clearly visible; in extreme cases, they extend to more than three pixels. At medium and long focal lengths, the color fringes are less noticeable on average, but here, too, the extreme values stand out clearly and become more pronounced the further one moves away from the image center.

The DA 50 mm 1.8, which was also tested, shows that it works better. It scratches at the 66 lp/mm both in the middle and at the edge of the image. Distortion, vignetting (at least from F2.8) and color fringes are foreign to this lens. Once again, the fixed focal length offers a visibly better image quality. The DA 55-300 mm 4.0-5.8 ED, which was also tested, again has to contend with a sharp drop in resolution to the edge of the image and severe distortion. The autofocus of the 18-55 shows itself to be of rather mediocre speed in the test lab, the K-30 allows itself 0.4 to 0.5 seconds for focusing and shutter release, whereby the pure release delay of a good 0.12 seconds plays a not inconsiderable role in this. The contrast autofocus in Live View works much slower at around one second, but is surprisingly fast for contrast autofocus in a DSLR. Unfortunately, the pure release delay increases to 0.25 seconds, so that you should not use the Live View for fast scenes, but rather the excellent viewfinder.

Conclusion

The Pentax K-30 offers an excellent price-performance ratio. Its plastic housing is protected against environmental influences by seals and the list of features is almost endless, with very few gaps. In particular, the K-30 has a number of special features such as the glass pentaprism viewfinder with 100 percent field coverage or the two control wheels and the innovative battery compartment, which can be fed with standard AA cells as an alternative to the lithium-ion battery. The image quality is also impressive – especially up to ISO 1.600. The set lens, on the other hand, struggles with a somewhat weak edge resolution in wide-angle, strong distortion and colour fringing. The fact that it works better is shown by the DA 50 mm 1.8, which was also measured and delivers excellent results. Nevertheless, the K-30 is a real recommendation for beginners and amateur photographers.

Profile

Profile
Manufacturer Pentax (Ricoh)
Model K-30
Price approx. EUR 800 at market launch
Sensor Resolution 16.3 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.928 x 3.264
(aspect ratio) (3:2)
Lens Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm 3.5-5.6 AL WR
Filter thread 52 mm
Viewfinder Pentaprism
Dioptre compensation -2.5 to +1.5 dpt.
Resolution
Enlargement 0.92-fold
Image field coverage 100 %
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 921.000
rotatable
swiveling
as Viewfinder yes
Video output AV (PAL/NTSC)
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure yes
Scene mode programs
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 13 additional scene modes available
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection System hot shoe
Remote release Cable and infrared
Interval recording yes
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Format MOV
Codec H.264
Resolution 1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate 30 frames/s
Sensitivity
automatically ISO 100-25.600 (limits adjustable)
extended
manually ISO 10-25,600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes

This test of the Pentax K-30 with Pentax smc DA 18-55 mm 3.5-5.6 AL WR was made with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Good image quality up to ISO 1,600
  • Splash-proof, modern designed housing
  • Flexible power supply
  • Very good ergonomics with, among other things, two control wheels

Cons

  • In standard setting bright colours
  • Only moderately fast autofocus
  • Neither microphone nor HDMI connection
  • Set lens in wide angle with low edge resolution

Firmware update 1.03 for the Pentax K-30 and K-01: Video autofocus improved

Pentax has released new firmware version 1.03 for the K-30 and K-01. With this, the Japanese camera manufacturer is correcting a bug in version 1.02, which was released a few weeks ago and which caused problems with the contrast autofocus during video recording with some lenses. The update can be found on the website of Ricoh United States, including an English language manual. The download link for the firmware update file is located in the instruction PDF. If you are not confident in the update, you should ask your dealer or Pentax Service for assistance.

Pentax K-30 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)16.5 megapixels (physical) and 16.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 4.8 µm
Photo resolution
4.928 x 3.264 pixels (3:2)
3.936 x 2.624 pixels (3:2)
3.072 x 2.048 pixels (3:2)
1.728 x 1.152 pixels (3:2)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.21 and dcf 2.0), DCF standard (version exif 2.21 and 2.0)
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
640 x 416 (3:2) 25 p
Maximum recording time 25 min
Video format
MPG4 [codec MPEG-4]

Lens

Lens mount
Pentax K

Focus

Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 11 sensors
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Sharpness control Dimmer button, Live View

Viewfinder and monitor

SLR viewfinder Mirror reflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (100 % image coverage), dioptre compensation (-2.5 to +1.5 dpt), replaceable focusing screens, grids can be inserted
Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 921,000 pixels, transreflective

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 77 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/6,000 to 30 s (Automatic
) Bulb function
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, 1/3 to 2 EV increments, HDR function
Exposure Compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 12,800 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 (manual)
Remote access Remote triggering
Scene modes Automatic, various scene modes, landscape, macro, night scene, night portrait, portrait, sports/action, 1 additional scene mode
Picture effects Fish eye, HDR effects, miniature effect, toy camera, soft focus, 16, various colors, color extraction, high contrast, monochrome, pastel, retro, black and white, slim, star effect, watercolors
White balance Automatic, Clouds, Sun, Fine Tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent, Tungsten, Manual
Continuous shooting 6.0 frames/s at highest resolution
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 or 12 s interval
Recording functions Live histogram

Flashgun

Flash built-in flash (flip up
)Flash shoe: Pentax, standard center contact
Flash code Guide number 13 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction

Equipment And Features

Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
Memory
SD
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Pentax D-LI109 (Lithium ion (Li-Ion))
Playback functions Highlight / Shadow warning, playback histogram, image index
Face recognition Face recognition
Image parameters Contrast
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Live View
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
AV Connections AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Housing Splash water protection
Special features and miscellaneous 11-point AF (SAFOX IX ) with automatic or manual AF area selection and switching between single AF and focus trackingAF operating range
from 0 to 21 EVRemovable memoryAEmergency metering Multiplebracketing modes (for exposure, white balance and image parameters)
Multiple exposure function 2-9 framesPixel mappingHDR functioncapturing 3 images at 2 different exposure distances with camera-internal alignment and compensationPlayback zoom
(max. 32x)
Shooting information displaySample image functionSR Shake Reduction System

(image stabilisation by moving CMOS sensor) with maximum
25-4 EV compensationSensor Dust Removal System
DR II (antistatic low-pass filter coating Ultrasonic cleaning)
Dust alarm dust
and splash-proof magnesium housing (81 seals)
Working range up to -10°
CS splash-proof

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 128 x 97 x 72 mm
Weight 650 g (ready for operation)

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Pentax D-BC109 Special Battery ChargerPentax
D-LI109 Special BatteryPentax
FK (Hot Shoe Cover)
Pentax FR (Eye Shield)
Pentax I-USB7 USB CableUSB CableUSB CableAV CableBayonet CapStandardViewfinder Matte ScreenEyepiece Cover
ME Shoulder StrapUtilitySoftware Pentax Photo Laboratory for Windows (2000/XP/or later) and for Macintosh (System X/or later)
Utility Software Pentax Photo Browser for Windows (2000/XP/or later) and for Macintosh (System X/or later)
additional accessories Pentax D-BH109 Battery/battery handle accessoriesPentax
D-LI109 Special batteryPentax
IR remote control F (infrared remote control)
Power supply unitRemovable memory cardPentaxK-AF interchangeable lensesSystem flash unitsSensor-Cleaning kitFinder magnifier
O-ME53Remote cable release
CS 205Flat screen
Grid ML60Flat screen
Scale MI60Flat screen
without markings ME60Samsung/Pentax
system accessoriesCamera bag

 

Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.

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