Another selection of the K-30’s in-camera special effects as applied post-capture; 1. Toy Camera (with Shading level 1, Blur set to 2 and yellow Tone Break) Invert Colour and Miniature (with a vertical in-focus plane)
Adjustments to both colour saturation and hue are plotted within a RGBCMY colour hexagon which shows the variations in colour space terms. The Muted and Bleach Bypass presets replace the hue adjustment with colour toning options as does the Monochrome mode which also replaces the saturation adjustment with B&W filter effects – green, yellow, orange, red, magenta, blue, cyan and infrared. The Cross Processing mode shifts colours randomly so obviously there’s little point in having adjustable parameters. Instead, it’s possible to store up to three favourite effects to they can be repeated, although the K-30’s menu also provides three presets which, of course, are repeatable.
Like the K-01, the K-30 has both a multi-shot HDR capture mode and dynamic range expansion processing. The three HDR frames can be captured with the exposures adjusted between +/-1.0 to 3.0 EV with the option of ‘Auto Align’ correction (which relies on the image stabilisation). The processing options are ‘HDR Auto’ and ‘HDR 1 to 3’. Only the final merged image is saved so the individual frames in the HDR sequences aren’t available for post-camera processing.
The dynamic range expansion – or D-Range – processing provides separate adjustments for the highlights (Auto, On or Off) and the shadows (with Off, Auto, Low, Medium or High settings), but the two can be combined. The ‘D-Range’ corrections are performed via a combination of exposure adjustments for the highlights and tweaking of the tone curve for the shadows.
Noise reduction is provided for both high ISO and long exposure (or “Slow Shutter Speed” as Pentax prefers to call it) shooting with the range of former expanded to comprise Auto, Low, Medium, High and Custom settings. This last setting allows for adjustments to be applied to each ISO level individually (100 to 25,600); either levels one to three or switched off entirely.
The K-30 also has built-in lens correction for distortion and/or lateral chromatic aberrations which is performed with most Pentax lenses that relay the focal length and other data to the camera body (i.e. DA, DA L, D FA and some FA series models). It also inherits the ‘Composition Adjustment’ corrections originally reserved for the top-end Pentax D-SLRs. Based on the image stabiliser, this function generates a live view image and then the four-way navigation keys are used to apply left/right or up/down shifts, and the rear input wheel to apply rotation. The shifts are made in up to 16 steps which represent approximately plus/minus one millimetre (on the sensor) while the rotation is up to eight steps which represent approximately plus/minus one degree.
Everything can be quickly zeroed via the camera’s ‘Green’ button which is actually used for this purpose in any application. Alternatively, automatic horizon correction can be engaged and, to round things off, the image stabiliser also generates a dual-axis electronic level display which is shown in both the optical viewfinder and the live view screen using bar-scale type indicators. Additionally, the monitor screen can be set to display an artificial horizon to accompany the bar scales. Colour coding indicates the degree of displacement – red for extreme, yellow for moderate and green for when the camera is level. Usefully too, the K-30’s level displays work whether the camera is held horizontally or vertically. When the optional GPS receiver is connected, the main monitor can be set to function as an electronic compass display.
While on the subject of displays, the K-30 has a status screen which includes a replication of the main short-cut keys on its back panel, but doesn’t actually serve as a direct control panel. However, the four-way navigation keys provide short-cuts to the ISO, white balance, flash and drive settings (which includes the auto exposure bracketing set-up). As noted earlier, it’s on this screen that manual focus point selection can also be made via the navigator’s central ‘OK’ key.
However, the K-30 does have a separate control screen which provides direct access to a swag of functions and features, including the ‘Custom Image’ presets, the filter effects, the AF area and operation modes, the HDR and dynamic range expansion settings, the metering modes and the image quality settings. This eliminates many trips to the menu system which is unchanged in layout and navigation from previous Pentax D-SLRs. This means the curious system of checking and unchecking some items remains and, with it, the potential to trip up the uninitiated. This is because pressing the right navigation key checks an item while the left key unchecks it... rather than just leaving this to the ‘OK’ button (which still does the job anyway). Anybody accustomed to using the left/right menu keys solely for navigation purposes and the ‘OK’ button merely to enter settings could end up mis-setting something. However, once this idiosyncrasy is understood, the Pentax’s menus are pretty straightforward.
The live view image can also be configured to include a wide variety of information, including a real-time histogram, highlight and shadow warnings, the level indicators and an exposure compensation scale.
As on the earlier Pentax D-SLRs, there’s a digital preview function which operates outside live view and displays the image with the highlight and/or shadow warnings and luminance or RGB histograms. It can also be configured to show a magnified image to check focus and the option of either saving or cancelling the file. This ‘Digital Preview’ function is one of a number of functions that can be assigned to a button marked ‘RAW/Fx’ which is located at the top of the lens mount binnacle. Again curiously, this customisation is performed via the Record Mode menu and not the Custom menu. The other options for this button are one-touch format switching to RAW+JPEG capture, exposure bracketing, depth-of-field preview (via the optical viewfinder), ‘Composition Adjust’ and enabling/disabling manual AF point selection.
The image review/playback screens are selected via an ‘Info’ menu and the options include a luminance histogram superimposed over the image, a thumbnail with a full set of brightness and RGB histograms (with the choice of adding both highlight and shadow warnings), or a smaller thumbnail accompanied by an extensive set of capture details.
Pentax separates the playback and processing functions – so the former includes the slide show and thumbnails while the latter includes the digital filters plus cropping, resizing and an ‘Index’ function which allows a number of images – 12, 24 or 36 – to be combined into proof sheets in a variety of designs... including randomly!
‘Straight’ thumbnails can be displayed in groups of four, nine, 16, 36 or 81 images and, at the other end of the size scale, the zoom playback allows for a magnification of up to 16x. Copyright information can be added to the Exif data, namely the photographer’s name and details up to 63 characters in length.
Like most of its predecessors, the K-30 has in-camera processing of RAW files which are converted to JPEGs. A host of processing parameters can be adjusted including the ‘Custom Image’ preset, the white balance, sensitivity (or brightness), high ISO noise reduction, the lens aberration corrections, the shadow correction setting and the colour space. At times it’s necessary to stop and remember that this is essentially
an entry-level D-SLR and not a higher-end model.