Hands-on: Pentax K-30 review

Pentax announced the Pentax K-30 DSLR back in May, but now, just ahead of the UK launch, we've managed to grab some hands-on time with the new weatherproof camera to see what all the fuss is about ahead of a full review of a final production sample in the next couple of weeks.

The main talking point, aside from the actually performance of the camera, is that the K-30 is weatherproof - as seen on the existing K-5 and K-7 models. Featuring 81 seals, the K-30 promises to be dust and cold proof, happy down to temperatures of -10C. 

That's handy, considering the great British summer we are having, and means that thanks to a series of seals and guards your new camera isn't going to get water it in.

The SD card slot is sealed, the battery case is sealed, and if you opt for the weatherproof lens kit when you buy the K-30 even that is sealed, making sure no moisture is going to get in.

But it's not just about a lot of rubber, the side affect to all this weatherproofing is that the camera features a tougher metal skeleton inside to make sure the camera does not flex enough to break that seal, and that means you'll end up with a camera that can take a bit of beating on your next adventure.

Aside from the tough shell, the K-30 features decent-sized indents on the chassis to give good purchase, and an easy to use button and dial configuration that shouldn't confuse. Live view is offered via the 3-inch 921k-dot display around the rear.

For those who don't want the burden of having to rely on an external flashgun the K-30 features one, but Pentax has put the in-built flash on a much higher setting than we've seen on Canon and Nikon and that means you should get a more even light when using it rather than the usual deer caught in headlights look.

Open up the battery and you'll reveal not only a rechargeable lithium battery that gives you around 500 shots per charge, but also- with the optional accessory - the K-30 can take four AA batteries that will give you around 150 shots. That's great if you are running low on power, or in the middle of nowhere and not able to recharge your battery. It's a really clever idea. We like it a lot. 

Inside and the camera sports a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor (23.7 x 15.7mm, so APS-C format) which features Pentax's sensor shift type Shake Reduction.

Not only does this give you assistance in lower light or at long zooms, but the SR mechanism also allows for features such as horizon correction and an Astrotracer mode to aid you when shooting stars with the accessory O-GPS1 unit.

Boosting the Pentax K-30's credentials are a glass prism finder, offering near 100 per cent FOV, 11-point (9 cross-type) autofocusing, as well as, Pentax claims, a new AF algorithm with a select-area function which will track a moving object as it moves out of a pre-selected focus area.

You'll be able to shoot JPEG images at up to six frames a second, with a max shutter speed of 1/6000 sec. The Prime M imaging engine will offer a normal ISO shooting range of ISO 100 to ISO 12800, expandable up to 25600, with Pentax claiming low noise imaging, something we'll have to test when we review this new camera.

Full-HD video capture is offered, at 30fps, along with a range of auto and scene modes to help you get the shot you want, as well as a range of digital filters for several quirky shooting options. You'll be able to up that to 60fps if you are happy to drop the resolution to 720p.

The Pentax K-30 will be available in three colours, Crystal White, Crystal Blue and the traditional Classic Black. We've got to say, the black model looks a little bland alongside the blue and white models. 

Full image from the Pentax K-30 reproduced at 555px

555px crop of image shot with the Pentax K-30

In the hand and the results are actually rather good, with the camera locking on focus quickly and being responsive in our very quick hands-on play.

As you can see from the test shots the skin tones are good, and the level of detail crisp.

While Pentax won't be the first choice for many when it comes to their next or first DSLR, the combination of a great sensor - it's the same sensor as the K-5, which is probably the best use of that 16MP sensor in any camera - and the weatherproofing means this is one to consider seriously, especially if you are an outward-bound type of person.

And hey, any camera that makes us look good, gets a gold star from us.

The body-only price is £599.99 (all colours) and there will be various kit deals available, the standard DA L 18-55mm kit at £649.99 with various options thereafter.



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