DCRP

Pentax K-30 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: September 16, 2012

Last Updated: September 16, 2012

The Pentax K-30 (priced from $849) is a midrange digital SLR with features found on cameras costing hundreds more. Those features include a fully weather-sealed body (with both front and rear control dials), tons of manual controls, focus peaking, a large optical viewfinder, 6 frame/second continuous shooting, an HDR mode, and support for both AA and lithium-ion batteries. The K-30 captures photos and Full HD video with its 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor, and image blur is reduced via a sensor-shift image stabilization system.

There are plenty of entry-level D-SLRs out there. How does the Pentax K-30 compare? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The K-30 is available in five kits, with your choice of black, white, or blue bodies for most of them. You can buy just the body alone ($849), the body plus an 18 - 55 mm ($899) or 18 - 135 mm WR lens ($1199), or a dual lens kit with the 18-55 and either the 50-200 ($1050) or 55-300 ($1150) lenses. Here's what you'll find inside the box for all of those kits:

  • The 16.3 effective Megapixel Pentax K-30 camera body
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm Pentax DA lens [18-55 kit only]
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 135 mm Pentax DA WR lens [18 - 135 kit only]
  • F4.0-5.6, 50 - 200 mm Pentax DA lens [50-200 dual lens kit only]
  • F4.0-5.8, 55 - 300 mm Pentax DA lens [55-300 dual lens kit only]
  • D-LI109 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Body cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.0
  • 290 page Operating Manual (printed)

As you can see above, there are four lenses that can come with the K-30 (and I may have missed some). One of them is the standard Pentax 18-55 kit lens, which I've had a lot of trouble with in the past due to lackluster quality control. While I didn't use it much, the 18-55 that came with my K-30 was average. The lens I used for all of the sample photos is the F3.5-5.6, 18 - 135 mm WR (weather-resistant) model, which was generally good, though prone to vignetting and blurring near the edges of the frame. Whichever lens you end up with, you'll get shake reduction, courtesy of the K-30's sensor-shift IS system. There is a 1.5X crop factor to keep in mind, so the 18 - 55 mm kit lens has a field-of-view equivalent to 27 - 82.5 mm.

Digital SLRs (and their mirrorless counterparts) like the K-30 never come with memory cards. So, if you don't have one already, you'll need to pick one up. The K-30 supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC media, and I'd recommend picking up a 4GB if you'll be taking mostly still photos, and 8 - 16 GB if you'll be recording a lot of Full HD videos.

Something I really like about the K-30 is that it supports both proprietary lithium-ion and traditional AA batteries. You'll find the D-LI109 li-ion battery in the box with the camera, which contains 7.8 Wh of energy. If you want the convenience of AA batteries, you'll first need to pick up the D-BH109 adapter, which holds four NiMH, lithium, or alkaline cells. Here's what kind of battery life you can expect:

Camera Battery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon EOS Rebel T4i 440 shots LP-E8
Nikon D5100 660 shots EN-EL14
Olympus E-P3 * 330 shots BLS-1 / BLS-5
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 * 310 shots DMW-BLC12
Pentax K-30 410 shots D-LI109
Samsung NX20 * 360 shots BP1310
Sony Alpha SLT-A57 590 shots NP-FM500H

* Mirrorless ILC supports live view only

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

As you'd expect, the K-30 easily tops the live view only mirrorless cameras. Compared to other D-SLRs, however, it's at the bottom of the heap, though if you use disposable lithium AA batteries, you can take 1000 shots per charge. Pentax doesn't say how many photos you can take with NiMH rechargeables, but I imagine it's about the same as the D-LI109 (~500 shots).

When it's time to charge the D-LI109, just pop it into the included charger (which does not plug directly into the wall). Then go out to dinner, as it takes a whopping 240 minutes to fully charge the battery.

Being a D-SLR, you shouldn't be surprised to hear that the K-30 has a ton of accessories available. Some of the more interesting ones include:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
External flash

AF200FG
AF360FGZ
AF540FGZ

From $123
From $229
From $400
The AF200FG is a basic external flash with a guide number of 20 meters. The two higher-end models are much more powerful, can tilt/rotate, and support high speed x-sync.
GPS receiver O-GPS1 From $200 Tag your location and direction with this GPS, which can be controlled right from the camera menu. GPS is self-powered.
Wireless remote control Remote Ctrl F
Remote Ctrl WP
From $26
From $15
Remote Control F is a old model which simply releases the shutter. The Remote Control WP is waterproof and has a few additional buttons.
Wired remote control CS-205 From $43 A shutter release button on a 0.5 meter cable.
A/V cable I-AVC7 From $26 A composite A/V cable for connecting to older TVs.
AA battery holder D-BH109 From $30 Allows you to use AA batteries in the K-30.
AC adapter K-AC128 $99 Power the camera without using your battery. Pricey!
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

I'm sure there are plenty more, though Pentax doesn't actually list everything in the manual or on their website. As you can see above, though, they've got the basics covered.

Pentax includes SilkyPix Developer Studio for Pentax version 3.0 with the K-30. SilkyPix is included by many manufacturers (most notably Panasonic), so there's a good chance that you've used it before. SilkyPix is a capable editor for both JPEG and RAW images, though it's interface is clunky, with some poor Japanese to English translations. That said, it will edit all kinds of RAW (DNG) properties, including exposure, dynamic range, white balance, noise reduction, sharpness, and color. If you'd rather use Photoshop, just make sure that you have version 7.2 RC or newer of the Camera Raw plug-in.

Pentax doesn't provide anything for editing movies, though the software that comes with Mac OS or Windows should be fine for basic edits.

While other camera companies skimp on their documentation, usually providing them in PDF format, Pentax still spends the money on a full, printed manual. The manual is lengthy, detailed, and fairly user-friendly. Glad somebody still cares! Instructions for using the included software will be installed onto your Mac or PC.

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