Pentax K-30

Testing Pentax K-30:

 

The 16-megapixel K-30 might probably be Pentax’s cheapest DSLR, but it’s far from the entry level DSLRs. The fully weather sealed camera comes with one of Pentax’s weather sealed 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 WR kit lens, a pair of command wheels, a 100% accurate pentaprism finder and a 6 frames per second bursts, all for a fair price of P25,990.

 

How does it perform? Let’s find out.

New York City street signs shot from the top of a double decker bus. In bright light, you can see the grain is still very fine at ISO 1600. 
IN THE LAB

With the Pentax K-30 having quality resolution, accurate colors and minimal noise, it received an excellent rating for its overall image quality at ISO 100.  As the sensitivity rises, the resolution declines just below the cut-off, receiving a rating of extremely high at ISO 200 and 400.

 

At default settings, RAW files converted to TIFFs can always be tested with the use of the software that comes with the camera. RAW+JPEG is the suggested shooting setting since the way the camera handles JPEG files often prove to be instructive. The image quality of JPEGs directly from the K-30 was rated extremely high from ISO 100 through ISO800.

Pentax approaches RAW and JPEG users differently. As a default for RAW conversion software, noise reduction is set low, allowing users to decide how much noise reduction to apply.

 

For users that plan on printing regular sized photographs, the Pentax K-30 RAW and JPEG files have enough resolution.  At ISO 100, the 16-bit TIFFs converted from RAW files yielded 2510 lines per picture height while the JPEG files yielded 2330 lines. At ISOs 800 and 12,800, the RAWs resolved 2370 and 2050 lines, respectively, while JPEGs yielded 2290 and 2030 lines at the same ISOs.


Color reproduction for the Pentax K-30 is outstanding. A test revealed its excellence for it scored a remarkable Delta E of 5.0. Most DSLRs, at any price are known to have a rating of 7.0.

The K-30’s autofocus is proven to be fast, most especially when lighting conditions are good. It took 0.33 seconds to focus and capture an image at its brightest exposure value level which is 12.

The United Nations building in mid-afternoon sun. 
IN THE FIELD 

With a deep grip, dual command wheels, and several possible customizations, the K-30 offers more control over settings and interface than any other entry-level camera on the market. Users have the option to choose what the command wheels control in various exposure modes—which one sets aperture or shutter speed in manual mode, or which one sets exposure compensation in aperture- or shutter-priority mode. Once the user has customized the controls, he can save his settings to one of two custom groupings accessed using the mode dial. This way, various users of a single camera can easily set the camera to their liking. Programming settings for certain scenarios and shooting locations are also made possible.

The controls of the Pentax K-30 are easy and fast to use. To select AF point, five navigation buttons that double as control buttons for settings such as ISO and white balance are used. Holding the OK button for about a second gives the option of toggling between selecting an AF point and changing the other settings. It takes some getting used to, but it becomes useful in the long run.

 

Exposure compensation allows for up to +/– 5 EV in steps of 1/2-and 1/3-stops. Auto bracketing allows for three frames in +/–2 EV steps.

 

To save on battery, the camera switches to sleep mode if no buttons are pressed within a minute. Another option would be overriding the default to set the camera to wait 10 minutes before sleeping.



The automatic HDR function does an adequate job of creating images with wide dynamic ranges. The auto-align function also functions well. With the intensity of the effect on low or medium settings, results were satisfactory.

In terms of burst speed, the camera can function as fast as 6 frames per second for up to 30 JPEGs or 8 RAW shots. The Continuous AF setting allows the camera to keep up with moving objects.  

The K-30 can capture quality videos with 1920x1080 pixels up to 30 frames per second. Footage is usually sharp, with solid color saturation. It also has a built in monophonic microphone to record sound. 
Jets on the deck of the Intrepid. At ISO 100, the K-30 handles that bright red piece well under bright sunlight. 
The Auto HDR  setting provides a much more natural effect (though, the guy in the right for the frame moved, so he has a ghost effect). The in-camera image stabilization did a good job keeping things steady for all of the exposures since tripods weren't allowed. 
ISO 6400 still preserves an impressive amount of detail, especially in the intricate workings behind the propeller where the light was directly shining. Even the shadow areas look pretty good, though. The noise pattern is pleasantly fine.
The nose of a jet inside the Intrepid museum in NYC. The original file was 1-stop underexposed, so it has been added in lightroom. There's a fair bit of vignetting, but that's an effect of the kit lens shot wide open and zoomed all the way out. 
BOTTOM LINE

Pentax’s DSLRs have always formed their own niche in the camera market. Pentax’s “entry-level” DSLRs have always tended to be more feature-laden than the most basic models.

Furthermore, the K-30’s sensor-shift image stabilization, works with any lens you mount on the camera. Even a 1950s-era screw-mount lens will ensure the image to be stabilized.

If you like the idea of having a cost-effective DSLR that is weather-sealed, has enough resolving power to satisfy nearly all photographic needs, and has a faster burst rate than most of its price range, then the K-30 is the camera just for you. 

SPECIFICATIONS:


IMAGING: 16.3MP effective, APS-C-format CMOS sensor captures images at 4928x3264 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode.


Storage: SD, SDHC, and SDXC. Stores JPEG, DNG RAW, or RAW + JPEG files.


VIDEO: Records up to 1920x1080p pixels at 30 or 24 fps in MPEG-4 H.264 format; built-in monaural microphone; no microphone input; continuous AF available; approx. 25-min maximum clip size at highest quality.


BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Best Quality), up to 30 shots at 6 fps; RAW, up to 8 shots at 6 fps.


AF SYSTEM: TTL phase-detection with 11 illuminated focus points (9 cross-type points in center); single-shot, continuous, auto (automatically chooses single or continuous); tested sensitivity down to EV –1 (at ISO 100, f/1.4).


LIVE VIEW: Full-time contrast detection, or single-shot phase-detection AF with mirror interrupting view momentarily.


SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/6000 to 30 sec, plus B (1/3-or 1/2-EV increments); shutter life not rated; flash sync to 1/180 second.


METERING: TTL metering using 77 -segment system; multi-segment (evaluative), center-weighted, and spot (approx. 5% of finder at center); range, 0–20 EV (at ISO 100).


ISO RANGE: ISO 100–12,800 (in 1- EV steps), expandable to ISO 100–25,600.


VIEWFINDER: Fixed eye-level pentaprism.


LCD: Fixed 3-in. TFT with 921,000-dot resolution, 15-step brightness adjustment.


OUTPUT: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, mini-HDMI video, and composite video.


BATTERY: Rechargeable D-LI109 Li-ion; CIPA rating, 480 shots with optical viewfinder.


SIZE/WEIGHT: 5.1x3.8x2.8 in., 1.4 lb with a card and battery.


STREET PRICE:  

K-30 (Body) : Php25,990 
K-30 +18-55mm kit lens: Php 29,990

K-30 + 18-55 WR Lens:Php32,990

K-30 + 18-135 WR Lens: Php47,990 

A lighting fixture in midtown Manhattan.