Movie mode

The K-30's movie specification is pretty similar to the K-5's but there are a few notable differences. 720p recording is now available at 60/50 fps and movies are now stored using the more efficient H.264 codec (with a MOV wrapper). On the other hand the K-30 does not offer a connector for an external microphone. This and the fact that the K-30 is the first DSLR we have seen in quite a long time that does not come with a dedicated movie button make it clear that ambitious movie makers are not really the K-30's target audience.

The camera offers full manual control in video mode but you cannot change the aperture while footage is being recorded. A range of digital filters can be applied to movies, and some basic in-camera video-editing is possible too: clips can be trimmed and you can select and save individual frames. The K-30 also offers a new interval movie mode which captures still frames at pre-defined intervals and creates a movie from them.

Video quality options

Sizes 1920x1080p: 30/25/24 fps
1280x720p: 60/50/30/25/24 fps
640x424: 30/25/24 fps
Audio Mono (Internal Mic)
Format MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV)
Max file size per clip 4GB or 25 min
Digital Filters Cross Processing (3 presets), Toy Camera, Retro, High Contrast, Extract Color, Color.

Using Movie Mode

Shooting a video on the K-30 is very similar to the K-5 and fairly straightforward. However, due to the lack of a dedicated movie button it is not quite as streamlined an experience as we would like. To initiate movie mode, you turn the mode dial to the movie mode position and press the shutter button to start recording; press again to stop. Once the camera is recording it has complete control, and does not react to a press of any button other than the shutter button. You can use AF during recording by pressing the AF button but, as usual, it is rather slow.

Using manual focus is the recommended and this also means that there are no AF motor sounds to be recorded by the internal microphone (but you might still occasionally hear the shake reduction at work).

You can select between P, Av and M shooting modes in the movie menu. In P-mode aperture, shutter speed and sensitivity are all set automatically. Av mode allows you to select the aperture before the start of recording and in M-mode you can select ISO (up to 3200) manually and change the shutter speed during recording. In P and Av modes you can apply exposure compensation during shooting.

You have control over sound recording volume in the quick menu but but no external mic-jack means you are limited to the monaural sound of the built-in unit. The in-body image stabilization is activated by default but can be switched off for shooting on a tripod. Unlike many of its competitors, the K-5 does not allow you to take any still images during video recording. You can't change the amount of on-screen information during video capture either.

Pressing the INFO-button while in movie mode brings a range of movie-options. Here you can change the shooting mode, change image parameters and apply digital filters. The Q-menu also gives you the quickest access to the sound-recording levels.

Movie mode displays

The amount of information shown during movie recording is fairly limited, but the important bases are covered - battery state, quality and time remaining, as well as shake reduction status and White Balance. In the movie menu you can change video resolution/quality as well as the shooting mode and the sound recording level.

Video quality comments

At its 1080p full HD video setting the Pentax K-30 captures screen-filling footage with smooth motion. That said, in low contrast areas there are more visible compression artifacts than we would expect. In low light, when the camera increases gain, the video output gets visibly noisier but on par with its peers in the enthusiast bracket of the market. Things get more difficult in extremely low light levels. The K-30 does not use its entire ISO range for video capture but limits itself to ISO3200 in video mode. This means that when illumination drops below a certain level and the camera can't reduce the shutter speed any further (1/30th sec for 30fps video for example) you end up with underexposed video footage.

Like all DSLRs with an APS-C sensor the K-30 gives you much more control over depth of field than you'll get from the vast majority of consumer video and digital compact cameras. While this allows you to use the focus creatively in an almost cinema-like fashion, on the downside it's very easy to record out-of-focus footage either by getting focus slightly wrong before video was initiated, or by your subject moving within the frame. For this reason, we consider the K-30 - like all DSLRS - to be generally better suited to creative videography than shooting a holiday or birthday video. For the latter you're typically much better off with a digital compact camera. Their smaller sensors provide a much greater depth of field and as a consequence the focus plane is much less of a worry.

Like pretty much all video-enabled DSLRs the K-30 can suffer from distortion caused by its rolling shutter. The readout of the sensor means horizontal lines of the image are scanned, one after another, rather than the whole scene being grabbed in one go. The upshot is that verticals can be skewed if the camera (or the subject) moves too fast - the top of the image has been recorded earlier than the bottom, so vertical lines can be rendered as diagonals. However, thanks to a fast processor and sensor read-out the effect is pretty minimal on the K-30 and almost certainly won't be an issue in normal shooting.

The K-30's shake reduction system does a very good job and keeping things steady when shooting hand-held but at least at longer focal length shooting from a tripod is always a preferable solution. It's also worth mentioning that the K-30's internal microphone is quite prone to wind-noise (there's no wind-cut setting) and operational sounds. Unfortunately there is no connector for an external microphone to solve this problem.

Sample video 1

This video was shot at 1080p and in good light. The motion is smooth and the vibration reduction system is doing a good job at keeping things steady. The K-30's internal microphones are doing an acceptable job at capturing the ambient sounds but for serious video users an external microphone would be preferable. There is also some audible wind noise towards the end of the clip.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 13 sec, 34.5 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 2

This 1080p video was captured in a very dark venue. The camera struggles to expose the scene correctly as in video mode only sensitivities up to ISO 3200 are usable. However, in this indoor-environment the sound-quality is decent.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 13 sec, 33.1 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 3

This is another video in relatively good light. Despite this video being captured hand-held and at a slightly longer focal length the camera's shake reduction is keeping the image very steady. With loud and clear sound sources like at this concert the recorded sound quality is usually good enough for family videos and the like but won't satisfy professional users.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 16 sec, 44.0 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 4

Another video in good light.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 16 sec, 41.4 MB Click here to download original .MOV file

Sample video 5

This is a 1080p video taken hand-held in sunny conditions. In these particular conditions and when watching at full size there are a lot of compression artifacts visible in the water. The built-in microphone is very prone to wind-noise.

1920 x 1080 30 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 22 sec, 57.5 MB Click here to download original .MOV file