Body & Design

The K-30 is nothing if not distinctive in its styling. We suspect it will polarize opinion - with some people embracing its angular looks just as firmly as others reject them. And the looks aren't all about function or necessity - the angled top-right shoulder surface doesn't appear to serve an ergonomic purpose and the forward-angled name plate and over-hanging flash lip also appear to have been choices (flip the flash up and you discover it could have been shorter and squared-off if Pentax had wanted).

However these flourishes don't come at the expense of Pentax's tradition of good ergonomic design - the grip is initially very comfortable and the buttons are pretty well placed. The movement of the ISO button from the top plate to the back of the camera is a bit of a step backwards compared to the K-5, but the distinct buttons of the four-way controller are still pretty easy to hit with the camera to your eye, so it's not a big problem.

Top of camera controls

From the top you can see the K-30's flash, shown here in its closed (stowed) position and the hotshoe which can accept any of Pentax's current range of flashes and third-party models. The left-hand side of the top plate is bare, but on the right of the viewfinder 'hump' you can see a cluster of control points, which are explained below.

On the top-plate of the K-30 you can find a couple of characteristic Pentax features, such as the Green button (which resets the camera to its exposure program line) and the TAv and Sv exposure modes on the mode dial. The Sv ('Sensitivity Value') mode allows you to specify an ISO setting, with the camera choosing shutter speed and aperture (essentially P mode, but with ISO accessible on a control dial).

Meanwhile, TAv mode allows you to specify both shutter speed and aperture, leaving the camera to adjust ISO to keep the correct exposure. We've seen this start to appear on other cameras (effectively this is what you get if you can engage Auto ISO in manual exposure mode), but because it's an intentional exposure mode here, you are guaranteed control of Exposure Compensation.

Other than that the layout of the camera's top-controls is fairly standard, with an exposure compensation button behind the shutter button, and both front and rear control dials.

Front of camera controls

On the left flank of the camera is the RAW button we've come to expect from Pentax. It's now called RAW/Fx and is customizable. There's also the button to pop-up the flash, and further down you find the AF-mode switch which let's you choose between single, continuous and manual AF.

Back of camera controls

On its back the K-30 still offers a fairly comprehensive set of controls, although not quite as many as the K-5 (the K-30 doesn't have an AF-area switch or separate AF and AE-L buttons). Nevertheless it has retained a lot, given how much less expensive it is than the Pentax flagship model.

The combined live view/delete button is the only control on the left to the viewfinder and screen. The right side is dominated by the four-way controller that also gives you access to flash, ISO, drive mode and white balance settings. Pressing the OK button in its center opens a little 'pop-up window' in which you can select the AF-point you want to use, if you are in AF Active Area Select mode.