Nikon D3500 vs Pentax K-S2
The Nikon D3500 and the Pentax K-S2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2018 and February 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3500 and the Pentax K-S2? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3500 and the Pentax K-S2 is provided 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-S2 can be obtained in six different colors (black, grey, pink, orange, green, white), while the D3500 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-S2 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Nikon D3500. However, the K-S2 is substantially heavier (86 percent) than the D3500. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-S2 is splash and dust-proof, while the D3500 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|2.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A7||119 mm||68 mm||41 mm||320 g||440||n||Sep 2019||499|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A5||117 mm||68 mm||40 mm||361 g||450||n||Jan 2018||399|
|7.||Fujifilm XF10||113 mm||64 mm||41 mm||279 g||330||n||Jul 2018||499|
|8.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899|
|9.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|10.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|11.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|13.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|16.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749|
|17.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D3500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 43 percent) than the K-S2, 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the D3500 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the K-S2. This megapixels advantage translates into a 10 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the D3500 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.28μm for the K-S2). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the D3500 is much more recent (by 3 years and 6 months) than the K-S2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-S2 are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-S2 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|15.||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. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D3500 provides a higher frame rate than the K-S2. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3500 and the K-S2 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 K-S2 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D3500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the K-S2 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3500 and Pentax K-S2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the K-S2 and the D3500 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-S2 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D3500 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The K-S2 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D3500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Pentax K-S2 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 D3500 and the K-S2 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 D3500 and Pentax K-S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the K-S2 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D3500 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the D3500 and the K-S2 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The K-S2 replaced the earlier Pentax K-S1, while the D3500 followed on from the Nikon D3400. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3500 and the Pentax K-S2? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 313g or 46 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1550 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (43 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 6 months of technical progress since the K-S2 launch.
Advantages of the Pentax K-S2:
- 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 0.57x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- 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.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2015).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-S2 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D3500 and the Pentax K-S2 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D3500 or the K-S2 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|2.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A7||3/5||..||81/100||4/5||3.5/5||Sep 2019||499|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A5||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2018||399|
|7.||Fujifilm XF10||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2018||499|
|8.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899|
|9.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|10.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|11.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|13.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|15.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|16.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749|
|17.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon D3500 vs Pentax K-S2
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 D3500||Pentax K-S2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2018||February 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 429||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3500||Pentax K-S2|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||4.28 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||5.45 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||PRIME MII|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3500||Pentax K-S2|
|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||921k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3500||Pentax K-S2|
|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||5 shutter flaps/s||5.4 shutter flaps/s|
|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||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3500||Pentax K-S2|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3500||Pentax K-S2|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1550 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
123 x 91 x 73 mm
(4.8 x 3.6 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||365 g (12.9 oz)||678 g (23.9 oz)|
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