I had good luck recommending the 2010 Pentax K-r entry-level DSLR to people. A number of people I recommended them to actually bought one, which is a good thing right there, and all those who did buy them seemed to really like them—and, more importantly, do nice work with them.
But the K-r has been out of the catalog for some time now, and I'd been wondering what Pentax was up to.
The answer is the K-30—an entry-/mid-level DSLR with lots and lots of trickle-down technology. Add the legacy of the K-7's particuarly pleasing shape, and you've got a promising prospect for the $850 body-only retail asking price.
Here are a few of the basics: 16-MP, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor; 6 fps; 1/6000th top shutter speed; "state of the art" AF; weather-, dust-, and cold-resistant body for use with Pentax's WR (water-resistant) lenses; glass prism with 100% coverage; HD video recording; SR, for "shake reduction," Pentax's name for its IBIS (in-body image stabilization); and a soft rubber casing for a good grip.
Plus, I just like the way Pentaxes look.
It's interesting that, five or six years ago, entry-level DSLRs were more or less interchangeable—once you decided on that level, you could more or less choose your favorite brand name and get a reasonable example of the breed. Lately, there seems to be a lot more individuality in the various ranges. Some makers have split the categories into several models, others haven't. Sony gives you "SLT" pellicle mirrors, EVFs, and articulated viewing screens on cameras like its new A57; Nikon has lately gone with a whopping 24 MP with its new D3200; and Pentax has now gone with a relatively more upscale and sophisticated alternative, sort of mid-way between other brands' base and middle levels, that features IBIS and weatherproofing. Even the colors are different—Nikon's D3200 is available in red, where Pentax has chosen a sparkly metallic blue. (Also the customary Stormtrooper version in white.) (And Canon doesn't mess around with colors.)
Great care was taken with the weatherproofing on the K-30. John Carlson of Pentax Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation (that's a mouthful) says, "No detail was overlooked when designing the dynamic new K-30 to be weather resistant. Every seam, every button, every hinge has been weather sealed for adventure-proof creative photography... photographers can stop worrying about weather conditions." It has 81 separate seals, and will work down to –10°F (–23°C).
Pentax might be Mazda to Canon and Nikon's Toyota and Honda, but with the K-30 it seems to be going its own way and providing an alternative that's both distinctively and usefully different.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.