on 7 September 2012
I have had the camera for over a month and have taken over 7000 photos with it, testing it extensively and this is my review based on my experiences. I am a hobby photographer, with about twenty five years' experience, coming from the old film SLRs, to a point and shoot and now I finally got the K30 as my first DSLR.
I did extensive research on this camera and the competitors before I got it, and there are many negatives and positives for each brand, which I will not go into here, but I will tell you why I chose the K30.
The main reasons were the proven sensor technology from the K-5, the cheapest weatherproof and most robust DSLR ever, and an improved AF system over the K-5.
The weatherproofing and excellent pictures are what drew me back to the K30 every time I considered the competitors.
Please note, the 18-135mm kit is resistant to dust and water, whereas the 18-55 WR kit lens is only resistant to water, and not dust. The AL lens pictured in the photo here at Amazon may be neither, and I would enquire before purchase to make sure. I purchased the kit in Germany with the 18-55 WR kit lens because I wanted to get a couple of other lenses as well and the budget did not allow the 18-135mm kit lens.
If I had to do it again, I would probably go for the 18-135mm off the bat, though the 18-55 kit, for the very cheap price does not disappoint.
For those who like it short and sweet, in no particular order:
+ photo quality is fantastic
+ AF is quick and usually quite precise
+ menu is super and it is very easy to change all the parameters, two wheels also make this very easy and from the INFO button, you can change any parameter pretty much on the fly.
+ Two wheels for settings, this makes manual changes to the settings very comfortable
+ Very good build quality, it just sits well in the hand, and it fells very solid and robust. You can hold it in your right hand all day without thinking it may drop.
+ 100% viewfinder!! I use this almost exclusively. It is really that great, this was a big plus point for me too coming from a SLR
+ the meter on this camera is very, very good, giving good shadow details even in harsh lighting situations
+ Weather-resistant!! I have had this camera out taking pictures twice while it was pissing rain and the camera was completely soaked...not a worry at all, it takes a licking!
+ Excellent dynamic range
+ good shots at high ISOs
+ Looks great, very sleek and arresting in its style.
+ Built-in flash is quite good surprisingly.
+ quick menu changes, almost no lag at startup, shut down or when flipping between menus
+ fine focus adjustment for lenses (usually only found on much more expensive models), this means, if your lens if focusing in front or behind your chosen focus point, you can adjust this with the camera to compensate. This is really good news, because it would require a trip back to the seller for cameras that do not do this.
+ built-in time-lapse photography...this is cool! You usually need an external gadget for this
+ Focus peaking for those who like to manually focus is really nice, though I do not use it much as I do not use LV as I mentioned above.
- My camera has front focus issues, and each lens I have needs compensation to make them focus properly, but this is pretty easily done, and with such a camera should be done for every lens you buy anyway, but I would have liked to just be able to plug n play as it were. Kit = -8, Tamron = -5 and 40mm limited = -5
- Video quality is good, but sound in MONO...in other words, you do not want this camera if video is your main thing. This is a super duper still camera, but will leave you wanting in the video sound department. Sure, you can do sound externally, but there are DSLRs out there that do not require that for the same price. Why Pentax did not include Stereo sound on this is really beyond me...
- No HDMI out, again hits the video guys, not so much the still guys like me. I do take the occasional video but always download it to PC anyway and have never played one directly to my TV even on my camera that could. For me no big deal, but make sure you know what you are getting when you get it!
- The auto flash is wacky, sometimes giving too slow of a shutter speed when not necessary, but the pictures still come out fine.
What you should know before you buy this camera:
It takes excellent pictures, but it does require basic knowledge of ISO/Shutter Speed, and Aperture settings if you want to take full advantage of this camera's potential. It is aimed at the hobby enthusiast market, i.e. those who know about the basics, or are willing to invest their time to learn them, to take the fullest advantage of this camera. It does take great auto shots, but that is like buying a Ferrari and driving it only in the city at 30 MPH.
This camera screams to be manually treated and the multitude of settings allows you to do this step by baby step, or full blown, it is your choice, but do invest a bit of time to learn it if you get this camera, it is a swiss-army knife waiting to be put through the ropes and will not disappoint those who take the time to use it properly.
You should invest in a photo software such as Lightroom 4, or Photoshop to really take your photos to the next level. While the pics are great from the camera, you will end up wanting more from them and a good software will make that possible.
To take full advantage of this camera's potential you need to invest in good glass. The kit lens will do you fine for most outings, but if you want to get a little more serious, you will need good lenses to make this camera shine. I have and can warmly recommend the Pentax 40mm 2.8 Limited lens and the Tamron 90mm 2.8 Macro lens as well. Both are SUPER and make every shot you take look like it belongs in a magazine. You can spend a lot more or a lot less, and I am not saying those lenses are the be all end all, but both are a good bang for the buck.
To conclude, you really cannot go wrong with this camera, it is just an excellent piece of kit that is solidly built an takes great pictures. I am extremely happy with my purchase and can only warmly recommend it!
p.s. if you want to see what kind of pictures I have taken with this camera, look up TJWest at flickr for my photostream.
I have surely forgotten things to this, and will be adding to it regularly as I go, until then, enjoy your camera!