There was no rain in sight for the Summer Solstice in New York City as temperatures soared to the upper 90's and a small group of journalists toured the city with the new, weather-sealed Pentax K-30 in hand. Although we didn't have the opportunity to test the 82 different seals that protected this 16 megapixel camera's electronics, it was nice to not worry about getting the camera wet when I splashed cold water on my face to try and beat the heat. (By the way, the K-30 functioned perfectly in the scorching temperatures.)
The K-30 isn't the first of Pentax's weather sealed DSLRs (the K-10, released about 5 years ago, holds that honor), the weather sealing, combined with the sub-$1,000 price point ($849.95 for body only, and $899.95 for the kit including the DA L 18-55mm zoom lens) is only one reason this camera is so appealing. Other kits will be available and if you plan to take advantage of the camera's weatherproofing, be sure to opt for a weather-sealed lens like the DA* (pronounced D A Star) 18-135mm lens, which is what I shot with during this one-day outing.
I left the camera on its default setting of Bright for our sample images. I think that some shots looked a little too vivid (at
least for my taste) but if you like punchy, vibrant colors, you have that option. I'll be looking at the other adjustable Custom Color options for my full review. And speaking of punchy colors, the camera's HDR mode did a good job of combining and processing three images even though some of the cabs in the scene moved during the shot.
The camera is packed with features including an automatic leveler that senses a tilt, adjusts the sensor accordingly and (in theory, at least) automatically corrects the skewed image to ensure level horizons. There are enough manual features and adjustments - even in video mode - to keep experienced DSLR shooters engaged while the camera's automatic options will appeal to newcomers (or relatively newcomers) to the DSLR world.
I really loved the image quality of the Pentax K-01 but wasn't crazy about the large camera body and design. Fortunately, the K-30 uses the same image processor (with maybe a few firmware tweaks since it's a newer camera) so image quality should be equally as impressive if not better. It's too early to draw any conclusions but, so far, the K-30 - which is comfortable to hold and lighter than expected, even with a zoom lens - holds a lot of promise. Keep an eye out for a full review soon.