Nikon D3100 vs Pentax KP
The Nikon D3100 and the Pentax KP are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2010 and January 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor||24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/24p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800)||ISO 100-819,200|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0 LCD, 230k dots||3.0 LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||7 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|550 shots per battery charge||390 shots per battery charge|
|124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g||132 x 101 x 76 mm, 703 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3100 and the Pentax KP? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D3100 and the Pentax KP are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the KP is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax KP is notably larger (12 percent) than the Nikon D3100. Moreover, the KP is substantially heavier (39 percent) than the D3100. It is noteworthy in this context that the KP is splash and dust-proof, while the D3100 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon D3100||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|Pentax KP||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Fujifilm X-H1||5.5 in||3.8 in||3.4 in||23.7 oz||310||Y||Feb 2018||1,899|
|Nikon D3200||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5100||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D7000||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3000||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D60||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D40||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|Pentax K-70||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.9 in||24.3 oz||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|Pentax K-3 II||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Pentax K-3||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Pentax K-5||5.2 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||26.8 oz||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||7.9 oz||400||n||Jun 2011||599|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D3100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the KP, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the KP is 3 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24.1MP, the KP offers a higher resolution than the D3100 (14.2MP), but the KP has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). Yet, the KP is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 5 months) than the D3100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the KP has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax KP implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the KP for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3100 are 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the D3100, the KP has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Nikon D3100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax KP are ISO 100 to ISO 819200 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the KP provides a faster frame rate than the D3100. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/24p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3100 and the KP are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the KP offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D3100 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the KP has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3100 and Pentax KP in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the KP and the D3100 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The KP reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D3100 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the KP is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Pentax KP has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D3100 and the KP write their files to SDXC cards. The KP supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3100 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3100 and Pentax KP and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the KP offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D3100 does not provide wifi capability.
The KP is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the D3100 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D3100 was succeeded by the Nikon D3200. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Pentax websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3100 and the Pentax KP? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D3100:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x96mm vs 132x101mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 198g or 28 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (550 versus 390) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (45 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax KP:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 14.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/24p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.53x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D3100 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the KP is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3100 and the Pentax KP place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3100 and the KP in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Nikon D3100||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|Pentax KP||..||82/100||5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Fujifilm X-H1||+||86/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,899|
|Nikon D3200||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|Nikon D5100||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|Nikon D7000||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D60||80/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D40||81/100||+ +||o||5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|Pentax K-70||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|Pentax K-3 II||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Pentax K-3||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Pentax K-5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-C3||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D X Mark III vs Pentax KP
- Canon 500D vs Nikon D3100
- Canon 850D vs Pentax KP
- Canon T3 vs Pentax KP
- Leica V-LUX 3 vs Nikon D3100
- Nikon D200 vs Nikon D3100
- Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D700
- Nikon D3100 vs Panasonic ZS70
- Panasonic GX9 vs Pentax KP
- Pentax KP vs Pentax Q
- Pentax KP vs Sony A7S II
- Pentax KP vs Sony A7S III
Specifications: Nikon D3100 vs Pentax KP
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2010||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.1 x 15.4 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||355.74 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.8 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||14.2 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3072 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.01 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.98 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/24p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 819,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 2||PRIME IV|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||67||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||919||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/24000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3100||Pentax KP|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||550 shots per charge||390 shots per charge|
124 x 96 x 75 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
132 x 101 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||505 g (17.8 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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