The auto-focus locks on quickly in good light but struggles in darkened conditions. To be fair, this is often the case with compact digital cameras, whoever makes them. When photographing in low light conditions, we found the default focus setting was more than adequate to take shots of plastered punters in a dimly lit drinking hole.
The flash proved to be quite effective, with a quick recharge time. Battery life is also quite respectable. The camera is powered by a small 740mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery that Pentax claims can take 230 shots on a full charge. If you also factor in other little things like powering up when transferring images from the cameras built-in memory to a personal computer for instance, this claim is actually quite realistic.
The inevitable progression from circular mode-switch dial found on earlier models of compact cameras - such as the Pentax Optio S30, for example - to the screen and select-button combination, is a welcome one and the menu is easy to navigate around.
The glare that results from the lack of non-reflective coating on the the LCD monitor means shooting in sunlight can become extremely annoying. Plus this 2.5in display is susceptible to scratches if not properly protected when in transit - but this is the case with many compact cameras. However, the Optio M30 is well-designed, well-made and comfortable to use with good overall performance and battery life. The 3x optical zoom, 7.1-megapixel sensor and maximum ISO of 3200 (in Digital SR mode) means that the M30 will carry its weight in this class of compact digital for some time to come.