The promise of the new Pentax K-30: the toughest, fastest DSLR that won't break your bank. We just tried it out for the first time, and so far we're impressed. A $900 DSLR body shouldn't feel this good.
Lower-end DSLRs can take great photos, but the build quality's usually pretty cheap and their performance can be a little sluggish. If you drop them, they'll break, and don't expect them to respond to your every desire.
The K-30 is weather-sealed for "all weather conditions". Pentax told us it'd be good to go in a monsoon. We didn't get a chance to put the camera under water, but it does feel a lot sturdier than the Nikon D3200 we used to take pictures of the K-30. One detail we didn't notice before is that the cheaper 18-55mm kit lens isn't actually fully weather-sealed -- only the special 18-135mm lens is. Packaged together, the lens and camera will run you $1100 at full retail price. That's cheap considering DSLRs can get ridiculously expensive, but it's not $900 like the cheaper kit package.
What's really impressive is the camera's performance. It's the fastest we've ever used. The camera's autofocus locks on instantaneously, and in continuous mode the camera peels frames at 6fps, which is faster than the 5fps Canon EOS 650D.
And make no mistake, the 650D is this camera's main competitor. Its brand new Live View autofocus should make shooting video a breeze. Plus the 650D's touchscreen controls are the first of its kind on a DSLR. The K-30 and 650D come in at the exact same fully loaded $1100 price, so we'll see if the camera's ruggedness and speed are enough to counter Canon's innovations.
We haven't closely inspected the images from the camera, so we don't yet know what kinda of image quality the camera's 16-megapixel APS-C sensor is good for. We'll let you know soon.