Pentax K-30 Review: Tough Body, Sensitive Soul

Pentax K-30 Review: Tough Body, Sensitive Soul

We’ve been excited about the rugged Pentax K-30 since we first saw the weather-sealed body. It’s much better built than other DSLRs in the $US1000 range. But can its photos and videos hold up?

What Is It?

A tough, low-to-midrange DSLR with a 16.3-megapixel, APS-C sensor. It costs $US900 bundled with a 18-55mm lens or $US1200 with a superior 18-135mm lens.

Who’s it For?

Accident-prone beginner photographers looking for their first DSLR.


Made of thick polycarbonate and rubber, with a a deep grip and pop-up flash, the stocky K-30 is heavier than comparable DSLRs.

Using It

Handles beautifully. Plenty of buttons and switches on the camera body adjust ISO, white balance, focus mode, and exposure compensation. Two adjustment dials — one for aperture, the other for shutter speed — make it easy to shoot in full-manual mode.

The Best Part

Getting great photos out of this camera is easy.

Tragic Flaw

The HD video is a mess compared to the competition.

This Is Weird…

It’s easy to find the cheaper kit, which comes with a non-weather resistant lens. You’ll need to hunt a bit for this more expensive, better package.

Test Notes

  • Even with all processing turned off, the camera’s sensor records glorious photographs. We were particularly impressed with its handling of detail and its excellent dynamic range. Darkness is no problem for the image sensor, and the camera’s photos stay relatively noise free even at higher ISOs. (Click here to view full size samples on Flickr.)
  • For all the camera’s excellent image quality, its video leaves us wanting more. The camera’s image stabilisation causes noticeable distortion and without stabilisation, the video quality is unusable. The upside is that the camera can shoot video at higher ISOs with relatively low noise.

Should You Buy It?

Maybe, especially if you’re planning to wander into a hurricane or a blizzard. (That’s probably a bad idea, and even if you’re going to do it, you should bring something that shoots better video.)

This camera’s image quality is impressive. It shot still photos beautifully. To get the most of out of it, you need to spring for the pricier glass — the cheap kit package looks attractive, but it’s too limited.

There’s one other factor to consider — upcoming changes in the product category. If you’re planning a purchase in this class of camera, wait on the reviews of the new Canon 650D, and the anticipated update to Nikon’s two-year-old D7000, before buying anything. Once they arrive, it will be much clearer idea which entry-level DSLR is the best product — and which is the best deal.

Pentax K-30

• Price: $899 w/18-55mm or $US1200 with 18-135mm weather-resistent lens

• Sensor: 16.3 megapixel, APS-C 23.7 x 15.7mm, APS-C

• Max ISO: 12800

• Image: Up to 4928 x 3264

• Video: 1920 x 1080 30/25/24 and 1280 x 720 24/255/30/50/50

• Screen: 921,000 dot, 3″ LCD

• Weight: 652 grams without lens

• Gizrank: 3.5