Working The Light
For live view and video recording, the K-30 employs the same contrast-detection autofocusing functionality as the K-01. Based on the imaging sensor, there are 100 focusing points arranged in a 10x10 pattern with the option of employing more selective groupings of four, 16 or 36 points... which can then be moved around the frame. Auto tracking, face detection and spot modes are available.

Manual focusing in live view is assisted by a magnified image in the monitor screen (2x, 4x or 6x) – except in the tracking mode – and this is also available for checking the sharpness with autofocusing. Manual focus is also assisted by a ‘Focus Peaking’ display which indicates the plane of sharpest focus by highlighting the areas of maximum contrast (and this is also available for video recording).

Exposure control is based on the 77-segment metering sensor Pentax has been using in its D-SLRs for a while now, with the option of centre-weighted and spot measurements. Like the K-5, the K-30 supplements the standard set of ‘PASM’ exposure control modes with a sensitivity-priority auto mode and it returns to the shutter-and-aperture-priority auto mode which hasn’t been seen since the earlier K-7. In the sensitivity-priority mode – marked as ‘Sv’ on the main mode dial (the initials stand for ‘sensitivity value’) – the ISO setting can be changed on-the-fly via the rear input wheel and the aperture/speed combination is changed accordingly. The shutter-and-aperture priority mode – marked ‘TAv’ on the mode dial – does the opposite, so the ISO setting is automatically changed in order to maintain an aperture/speed combination regardless of changes in the light level.

The various exposure control overrides include program shift (either shutter or aperture priority), an AE lock, up to +/-5.0 EV of compensation – set in either ½- or 1/3-stop increments – and auto bracketing. Exposure bracketing is over three frames with variable sequencing and adjustments of up to +/-3.0 EV. The AEB can be combined with the exposure compensation facility so the bracketing point can shifted, but there’s no bracketing extension beyond the compensation range (unlike on Canon’s D-SLRs). The K-30 also lacks any other bracketing functions so, white balance in particular, is a notable omission.

The shutter speed range is 30-1/6000 second with flash sync up to 1/180 second. The K-30’s built-in flash has metric guide number of 12 (at ISO 100) and coverage equivalent to the 28mm focal length’s angle-of-view. The ‘onboard’ modes include red-eye reduction, slow speed sync and second curtain sync plus, commendably, wireless control for compatible off-camera flash units. Flash compensation is available over a range of -2.0 to +1.0 EV. Auxiliary flash units sync via an ISO-standard hotshoe and Pentax’s P-TTL flash metering enables advanced control functions such as balanced fill-in flash.

Although bracketing is missing, the K-30’s white balance control options are still pretty extensive and include nine presets (four for different types of fluorescent lighting types), provisions for storing three custom settings, manual colour temperature setting and

The K-30 also has Pentax’s ‘Colour Temperature Enhancement’ (CTE) which boosts whatever the prevailing colour cast may be in order to exaggerate that colouration in the image. The obvious application is with sunsets where the prevailing warmth will be boosted, but it will work in any situation where there’s a predominant colour in the lighting. Variations of this feature are now appearing on the D-SLRs of other  brands.

Taking Effect
Like all its recent predecessors, the K-30 continues Pentax’s policy of providing a huge choice of picture effects and digital filters, applicable either at the point of capture or post-capture as an editing function (which retains the original image file).

The K-30 inherits the K-01’s massive selection – seven effects available at capture (each with a huge variety of adjustments) and 18 for post-capture processing (again with seemingly endless adjustment possibilities). Additionally, up to 20 filter effects can be combined in the same image and, to enhance the look of a particular filter, there’s a ‘Base Parameter Adjust’ function which enables the image’s base brightness, saturation, hue, contrast and sharpness to be additionally fine-tuned. Plus there’s a ‘Recreating Filter Effects’ function so a combination of filters and settings can be retrieved from a captured image and applied to others. The now ‘standard’ creative effects such as Toy Camera, Miniature, Retro and Fish-Eye are all here along with more extreme manipulations such as Water Colour, Sketch, Pastel, Posterisation and Invert Colour. The ‘mix and match’ variations are virtually endless. It’s also worth noting that the post-capture filter effects can be applied to RAW files, but not the at-capture effects.

But wait, there’s more. Pentax has also provided some creative effects in the K-30’s ‘Custom Image’ menu of picture presets. There are 11 ‘Custom Image’ presets in all which includes the more familiar ones – Bright, Natural, Portrait, Landscape and Vibrant – plus more exotic ones called Radiant, Muted, Bleach Bypass, Reversal Film, Monochrome and Cross Processing. Each has what Pentax calls ‘Image Finishing Tone’ which is essentially a fancy term for the picture processing parameters except, of course, there’s a wider choice than in the case on most entry-level, or even mid-level, D-SLRs. Each of the main colour presets have adjustments for saturation, hue, sharpness or fine sharpness, contrast and high/low key which varies the image brightness over a range of plus/minus four steps.

 A selection of the K-30’s in-camera special effects as applied post-capture; Posterisation (set to level three)Water Colour (Intensity set to level three and Saturation set to three), Tone Expansion (set to maximum effect),