Pentax K-30 Review

 
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Pentax K-30 Flash

The Pentax K-30 features a built-in, pop-up flash, which operates in either Auto, Flash On (forced flash), Auto + Red-eye reduction, Flash On + Red-eye reduction, or Wireless mode. First and Second Curtain sync modes are available, as well as Slow-sync. The flash modes available depends on the current exposure mode. The flash is not auto pop-up. To release the flash from its compartment, press the Flash button on pentaprism housing. Close it again by pushing the flash head back down. The flash tube extends quite high when deployed, and even the longer-than-average 18-135mm kit lens didn't cast a shadow during our flash testing.

The Pentax K-30's built-in flash has a guide number rating of 12 meters (39.4 feet) at ISO 100, translating to a range of about 14 feet at ISO 100 with an f/2.8 lens. Flash coverage is rated by Pentax at 28mm equivalent. A Flash Exposure Compensation feature controls the flash exposure -2.0 to +1.0 stops in 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments. Maximum sync speed is 1/180 second, though if an external flash that supports high-speed sync is used, such as the Pentax AF540FGZ or AF360FGZ, maximum shutter speed with flash is 1/6,000 second.

In Wireless mode, the built-in flash can be used as a controller to multiple wireless slave flashes (including the Pentax AF540FGZ and/or AF360FGZ flash units). The built-in flash can be set to contribute to the exposure, or to act only as a controller. The Pentax wireless flash system offers four control channels, so up to four camera/flash setups can be used in the same area without interfering with each other. The K-30 can connect on any of the four control channels: You program it by setting a flash unit to the desired channel, attaching that flash to the camera and then half-pressing the shutter button. This sets the camera to the channel the flash was set up for. After this, the flash may be removed and used as a remote unit, controlled by the camera.

Normally, all flashes used (whether on-camera or remote) contribute equally to the exposure, however each external flash can be set to one of the following ratios: 1/1, 2/3, 1/2 or 1/3. Additionally, each flash can be adjusted to under- or overexpose in 0.5 stop increments from -3.0 stops to +1.0 stop. All of this is relative to the overall flash exposure that can be adjusted on the camera by from -2.0 stops to +1.0 stop. Alternately, the Pentax flash units offer a Contrast-Control-Sync mode (CCS for short), which drops a flash's power. Units set to CCS mode can thus be used to provide "fill" illumination. When used with the K-30, and when the K-30's internal flash is also contributing to the exposure, the external flash in CCS mode will cut its output to two-thirds, while the K-30's built-in flash will cut its exposure contribution to one-third.

The Pentax K-30 also has a top-mounted hot shoe for attaching an external flash unit. Unlike the K-5, though, a dedicated PC-sync terminal not provided.

 

Flash Test Results

Coverage and Range
A somewhat weak, inconsistent flash, with very uneven coverage at wide-angle. About average exposure compensation required.

18mm, ISO 100 135mm, ISO 800
Normal Flash
+0.7 EV
Slow-Sync Flash
Default

Coverage and Exposure. Flash coverage was rather uneven at wide-angle (18mm) with the 18-135mm kit lens, though coverage was more uniform at telephoto (135mm). In our Indoor test, the Pentax K-30's flash required +0.7 EV flash exposure compensation to get bright results, which is about average for this scene. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced brighter and more even results with no exposure compensation, though with a yellow-orange cast from the room lighting.

Flash Range: Wide Angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see K30FL06W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL07W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL08W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL09W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL10W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL11W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see K30FL12W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL13W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL14W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL15W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL16W.JPG
1/15 sec
f3.5
ISO 200

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see K30FL06T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL07T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL08T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL09T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL10T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL11T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see K30FL12T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL13T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL14T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL15T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL16T.JPG
1/80 sec
f5.6
ISO 200

ISO 200 Range. At 18mm, f/3.5 and ISO 200, flash shots started out a little dim at 6 feet, peaked in brightness at about 8 feet, and remained reasonably bright out to about 11 feet, though brightness sometimes fluctuated unexpectedly (for example, the target at 15 feet was brighter than 14 feet). At 135mm and f/5.6, flash exposure started out slightly dim at 6 feet and also fluctuated with distance, but fell off consistently from 11 feet on.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide Angle Telephoto
Click to see K30FL_MFR159WM0200.JPG
15.9 feet
ISO 200
Click to see K30FL_MFR100TM0200.JPG
10.0 feet
ISO 200

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. The Pentax K-30's flash is rated with a GN of 12 meters at ISO 100. At ISO 200, that translates to 15.9 feet at f/3.5 and about 10 feet at f/5.6, the maximum aperture of the 18-135mm kit lens at wide-angle and telephoto respectively. In the shots above, the K-30's flash under-performed compared to Pentax's specifications, producing somewhat dim exposures at the rated distances despite using spot metering at wide-angle. In the above test shots, the flash target is almost one f-stop underexposed at wide-angle, and about 2/3 f-stop underexposed at telephoto. Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 200, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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