Camera Test: Pentax K-30

A favorably priced starter DSLR with some advanced features

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Satoshi
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Pentax's new K-30 is one of the most interesting midl-level DSLRs around. We got a chance for some hands-on time with one of the very first production models off the line. Our full lab test will be coming soon, but for now, here's a selection of real-world sample images. All of them are unedited and exported from the RAW DNG format unless otherwise noted. Scaffolding creeps up the side of an NYC building. The specular highlight in the background was actually quite strong, but didn't throw off the K-30's metering. At this low ISO, the dynamic range seems very solid. Tech Specs ISO: ****200 Aperture: F/9 Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec. Lens: 18-135mm Kit Lens (at 36mm) Full resolution file
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The under-construction Freedom Tower in downtown NYC. Again, a tricky metering situation that the K-30 handled fairly well. It was mid-afternoon and the tower is covered in reflective glass. TECH SPECS ISO: 100 Aperture: F/7.1 Shutter Speed: 1/160 sec. Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 21mm) Full Resolution File
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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. TECH SPECS ISO: 1600 Aperture: F/8 Shutter Speed: 1/1600 sec. Lens: 16-50mm F/2.8 at 50mm Full Resolution File
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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. TECH SPECS ISO: 400 **Aperture: F/3.5 ** **Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec. ** Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 18mm) Full Resolution File
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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. TECH SPECS ISO: 6400 Aperture: F/8 **Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec. ** Lens: 16-50mm F/2.8 (at 28mm) Full Resolution File
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A helmet as part of the Intrepid Museum. No white balance correction has been added, so while the image is a bit dark, the camera does a very decent job dealing with the mixture of light colors. TECH SPECS ISO: 400 Aperture: F/4 Shutter Speed: 1/8 Lens: 16-55mm F/2.8 (at 16mm) Full Resolution File
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Another piece of nautical equipment at the Intrepid museum. This area had nice flat light and provided a neutral canvas to see that K-30 operate in a standard situation. TECH SPECS ISO: 400 Aperture: F/3.5 Shutter Speed: 1/40 sec. Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 18mm) Full Resolution File
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Another example shot at ISO 6400. This time with a variety of light intensities and colors. This time, the red area gets a little muddy, but the rest of the image still looks just fine. I was a big fan of how is it was to adjust the auto-ISO setting. I kept it on Auto 100-6400 for a time and it performed well. TECH SPECS ISO: 6400 Aperture: F/3.5 Shutter Speed: 1/25 sec. Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 18mm) Full Resolution File
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A shot of a jet on the deck of the Intrepid under very tricky mid-afternoon conditions. This is just a reference point image for the next two, which will demonstrate the in-camera HRD mode. TECH SPECS ISO: 100 **Aperture: F/8 ** Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec. Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 21mm) Full Resolution File
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On the HDR 3 setting, the effect goes way overboard. Full Resolution File
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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. TECH SPECS ISO: 200 **Aperture: F/5.6 ** **Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec. ** Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 18mm) Full Resolution File
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Jets on the deck of the Intrepid. At ISO 100, the K-30 handles that bright red piece well under bright sunlight. TECH SPECS ISO: 100 Aperture: F/6.3 Shutter Speed: 1/320 Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 135mm) Full Resolution File
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Another tricky high-contrast shot under direct afternoon sun. I had my camera set to the neutral color setting. The default was a more vibrant setting. TECH SPECS ISO: 100 **Aperture: F/7.1 ** **Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec. ** Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 135mm) Full Resolution File
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A lighting fixture in midtown Manhattan. Tech specs: ISO: 100 Aperture: F/6.3 Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec. Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 78mm) **Full Resolution File **
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Shot on a hazy afternoon, this image would normally get a bit of post-processing, but it's a good starting point file. That building is actually across a river from where I was standing, which helps contribute to the haziness of it. TECH SPECS ISO: 200 Aperture: F/11 **Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec. ** Lens: 18-135mm kit lens (at 135mm) Full Resolution File
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A detail shot of some NYC buildings. TECH SPECS ISO: 400 **Aperture: F/8 ** **Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec ** Lens: 16-50mm F/2.8 (at 50mm) Full Resolution File
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The United Nations building in mid-afternoon sun. TECH SPECS ISO: 400 **Aperture: F/8 ** **Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec. ** Lens: 16-50mm F/2.8 (at 16mm) Full Resolution File