The Pentax K-30 is the latest addition in the company's DSLR range. With stiff competition in the mid-range DSLR market, does it do enough to stand out from the crowd? We find out in our Pentax K-30 review.
On the side of the body beneath the pop up flash button is a RAW/Fx button that’s designed to save you a few seconds searching through the menu system to switch the file format from RAW to JPEG and vice versa. Beneath this is a focus lever to control the focusing modes. Perfectly positioned at the lower front corner of the body, it’s easily operated with the thumb when your left hand is being used to support the lens. In the furthest up most position the focusing mode is set to AF.S and one click down from this is the K30’s continuous focusing mode that’s labeled C on the body.
Testing both the single and continuous focusing modes in bright daylight conditions between near and far subjects at the maximum focal length on the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR lens revealed a snappy AF performance. The camera manages to lock onto subjects with little fuss or hesitation but what is noticeable is a high frequency whir as the lens operates. This isn’t obvious when you’re focusing on subjects that lie at the same distance from one another, but if say for example you focus on something very close to you and then want to focus on a subject in the distance, the noise of the AF can clearly be heard.
If you’re wondering if this rather noisy AF operation will ruin audio when recording HD video, it won’t. The K30 relies on manual focus only when creating movies and the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL WR lens that we used for a majority of our testing purposes offered a pleasingly quiet and smooth motion throughout its range. Reviewing AF performance in fading lighting conditions is always a good solid test for any camera. The good news is that the K30 performs admirably in low light and just like in bright lighting conditions it locked on swiftly, offering a reassuring beep to confirm correct focus. For those hard of hearing there’s the option to increase AF beep volume from within the sound effects menu or you can switch it off altogether when you’d like to work as discreetly as possible. The only area in which the K30 lets itself down when it comes to focusing is in Live View mode. With the mirror swung out of the way to provide a constant feed to the screen, the K-30 relies on a contrast detect system that is fairly sluggish. It’s a long way from being as fast as compact system cameras such as Panasonic’s G5 which can focus within 0.09sec and is appropriately better known as Light Speed AF. On numerous occasions the K30 struggled to lock focus first time in Live View mode and the hunting of the lens back and forth did become somewhat frustrating over time, especially when we know the technology is out there.
Loaded with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 8GB SDHC card we performed a series of speed tests to find out just how quickly a 6 frame per second burst can be recorded. Set to RAW, the K30 is capable of shooting and recording 8 frames before it requires a brief respite for the buffer to clear. With the format switched over to RAW+JPEG it rattled out 7 frames. As for shooting JPEG’s, a total of 47 frames were taken at 6fps before the K30 showed signs of slowing down. In all, it’s a respectable performance by the K30 but as we found out in our testing, a faster Live View AF performance would be gratefully received in a future edition.