The promise of the new Pentax K-30: The toughest, fastest DSLR that won't break your bank. We just tried it out for the first time, and so far we're impressed. An $850 DSLR body shouldn't feel this good.
Lower-end DSLRs can take great photos, but the build quality's usually pretty cheap, and their performance on can be a little sluggish. If you drop them they'll break, and don't expect respond to your every desire.
The Pentax K-30 is weather-sealed for "all weather conditions." The company told us it'd be good to go in a monsoon. We didn't get a chance to put the camera under water, but it does feel a lot sturdier than the Nikon D3200 we used to take pictures of it. One detail we didn't notice before is that the cheaper 18-55mm kit lens isn't actually fully weather-sealed—Only the special 18-135mm lens is. Packaged together the lens and camera will run you $1100. That's cheap considering DSLRs can get ridiculously expensive, but it's not $900 like the cheaper kit package.
What's really impressive is the camera's performance. It's the fastest we've used in its price range. The camera's autofocus locks on instantaneously, and in continuous mode the camera peels of shots at 6 fps, which is faster than the 5 fps Canon T4i.
And make no mistake, the T4i is the K-30 main competitor. Its brand new Live View autofocus should make shooting video a breeze. Plus the T4i's touchscreen controls are the first of their kind on a DSLR. The K-30 and T4i come in at the exact same fully loaded $1100 price, so we'll see if the camera's ruggedness and speed are enough to counter Canon's innovations.
We haven't closely inspected the images from the Pentax K-30, so we don't yet know what kinda of image quality the camera's 16-megapixel APS-C sensor is good for. We'll let you know when we've spent more time with the camera.