A second look at the Pentax K-30

As you may remember, I purchased my Pentax K-30 about halfway through last year.  So in August, 2012 I did a review of it here and now, after a year`s worth of experience with it I thought I would put my final thoughts here again.  My second and last review of of this fine camera.  What can I say about it after a year?  It is still a great camera, nothing has changed.  I am still extremely happy with it.

Pentax K-30

Even though the camera has been out for a while now (released in May 2012) and is a tremendously good camera, Canon and Nikon are still the kings when it comes to market share in this country, but they aren`t the prettiest.  I love walking around with my silky orange K-30 because I think it looks great and it does definitely get attention.  Recently though, I have noticed an increase in the number of K-30s on the streets and in a variety of colours.  But it would seem that white is the most numerous.

What`s good about the K-30?

My opinion about the camera hasn`t changed much.  Not a huge camera (only 130 x 97 x 71mm), it still feels great in the hand.  Nor is it very heavy, only 650g with the battery loaded.  I`m no camera expert, but it feels like all the buttons are in the right place, and they are very easy to reach and use while shooting.  You pick it up and start shooting with it, almost instantaneously feeling like a pro.  The ergonomics of this camera are awesome.  It really feels great to carry around.  And the design looks good too.  I`ve read in print and online media that some people don`t like its look, but this camera still appeals to me very much, the camera version of a Gundam Mobile Suit.  It means business.

I love the images the K-30 produces too, of course this depends a great deal on what lens you use.  The JPEG pictures are pretty good, but once you start with RAW in combination with something like Adobe Lightroom, you can get some truly amazing results.  I`ve taken this camera into museums, parks, on walking tours as well as bus tours, in sunshine as well as overcast days and it has never let me down.

How does the camera handle?  It is still just great.  These days I shoot mostly on manual.  But there are a few occasions when I just put it in automatic or an exposure mode and let the camera take control.  It has done so little for me to complain about it.  I can`t shoot manual from a high-speed bus on the highway, maybe others can, but I can`t.  I put it in shutter priority (Tv) and ended up with the results I wanted.  It consistently exceeds my expectations.

And of course with a viewfinder that gives you 100% field of view, means that what you see in it, is what you will get in your photo.  The viewfinder is so good that I never look at the rear screen anymore.

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The last thing I like about the K-30 is the battery.  Well, I think it is great, but others disagree with me.  You get two options.  One is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which is said to get about 410 shots (I get way over that though).  The other option is the 4 AA batteries in a battery holder (that`s right, optional, so you buy it separately).  I quite like the idea, as AA batteries are easy to get if your lithium-ion runs out of power.  I wish I had it when I was at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show when I had no spare battery and was left high and dry halfway through the day.  That won`t happen again.  I`ve always got a spare set of batteries with me and they are easy to buy almost anywhere.

The Pentax K-30 is still one of the toughest cameras around

This hasn`t changed at all.  As I mentioned already it looks like a Gundam Mobile Suit, and it has the toughness of one too.  It is all-weather proof and apparently it will work down to minus 10`c.  Not that many of us will be working in such conditions, but it`s nice to know the camera can work in such places.  There are YouTube videos of people washing these cameras, taking them rafting and dunking them a bit, US soldiers burying the things in Afghan sand without any apparent ill-effect on their K-30s.  If you do planning on roughing it with this camera, make sure to buy a sealed lens though!

Video – the K-30`s weak point

The one true weak point of this great camera.  Recently I decided to start putting up some videos for YouTube as well, so I started using the Pentax for this.  I`ve read a lot of reviews about its video capabilities, and they have all given it average ratings at best.  It has three main problems:

1)        To zoom in on your shots you have to manually zoom the lens while using it as a video camera.  So it is one hand on the camera and the other moving the lens.  Not a great idea.

2)        The autofocus button (for video) is just plain bad in my opinion.  Kind of hit and miss really.  Hit it when you need it and it might focus.  Hit it the second and it`ll probably be okay.  Maybe the one sore point of this camera.

3)  There is no microphone input jack.  This means only onboard sound.  Once again not that great, but it doesn`t sound all that bad either.  But if you are into video you won`t be impressed.

4)        And as the screen is fixed, this of course is very problematic for when you shoot video.

One thing I would say is about the video is that the picture quality is pretty good.  Actually I like it quite a lot.  It`s not amazingly awesome but it is pretty good.  As I mentioned in my last review of this camera, I`m not into video that much but for my Youtube needs, it is okay.  So I can accept what I get, delete the sound or overlay a soundtrack on the video.  Anyway, I get what I need in the end.

Is there anything I don`t like about the Pentax K-30?

Nothing has changed here.  The problems I encountered last year are still there.  The slot of the SD cards is a little tight, so getting a grip on that card can be a little troublesome.  Same for the optional battery holder, can also be a little hard to pull out.

My final verdict on the Penatx K-30

Simply speaking the K-30  is a great DSLR.  It offers great features and image quality at a price that I believe is very reasonable.  If only they could the video part of the camera right, they`d have a great chance of getting a bigger market share of the DSLR camera.  But then again if they did that they`d probably end up with the perfect camera  and need to push the price up.  As it is though, mine was about 109,000 yen and that included two lenses, which was a good buy for me.  But if you need something a little more, now you have other options from Pentax such as the K-5ii and K-5iis.  A lot of great products from that company.  So if you are in the market for a new camera at a very affordable price, give the K-30 a look.

You can see my original review here, and you can see the Penatx K-30 website here.

It`s a fantastic camera and I highly recommend it!

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