Like many Pentax compacts, performance is not exactly a highlight. It starts up in just over three seconds, which is a bit on the slow side, and shuts down again in just under two. In single-shot mode it can average one shot every 2.5 seconds, which is a little on the slow side even for a low-cost camera. In continuous shooting mode it can manage a burst of three shots in just over one and a half seconds before it has to pause for about seven seconds to write them to the memory card. Focusing speed isn’t bad though, and is one of the areas where it appears to be significantly quicker than the M30. It struggles a bit in low light though, and since it has no AF assist lamp it doesn’t focus at all once light levels fall below a certain point. The zoom control is a bit hit or miss as well, since it only has five steps from maximum to minimum focal length.
The E30 is a bit short on features even for a budget camera. It does have infinity and manual focus, and a two-speed self-timer (2 or 10 sec). It also has 15 modes, but these include the movie and sound recording modes. There only 12 actual scene modes, including all the usuals, such as portrait, landscape, sports, flowers, snow, sunset, food etcetera. It also has the unusual Pentax Pets mode, with separate settings for cats and dogs, and of course the much admired Frame Composite mode. Even the usual Pentax playback modes such as colour filters are absent from the E30. The movie mode is adequate, shooting in 640 x 480 pixel resolution at 28 frames a second with mono sound, although the audio quality is very poor.
The LCD monitor is quite low resolution by recent standards, with only 110,000 pixels. It is also very reflective and not very bright, which makes it difficult to see in sunlight. The angle of view is also much lower than in many cameras I’ve seen recently. Really, I thought we’d seen the last of problems like these five years ago.
In its promotional blurb Pentax claims around 200 shots on a set of alkaline AA batteries as though this was somehow remarkable, whereas in fact that’s a fairly average performance for a modern AA-powered compact. Unfortunately it may also not be true. Using the AA alkaline batteries supplied with the camera I was only able to take 65 shots before the battery ran out, although to be fair they were undated Chinese imports so there’s no way to know how long they’d been sitting on a shelf in some Beijing warehouse.