Nikon D4S vs Pentax K-5
The Nikon D4S and the Pentax K-5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2014 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D4S) and an APS-C (K-5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 16.1 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 D4S and the Pentax K-5? 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 D4S and the Pentax K-5 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-5 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Nikon D4S. Moreover, the K-5 is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the D4S. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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.
Concerning battery life, the D4S gets 3020 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the K-5 can take 740 images on a single charge of its D-LI90 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4S has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the K-5, Pentax provides the D-BG4 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
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 D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|2.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|3.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|7.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|8.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|10.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|11.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|12.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 K-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 83 percent) than the D4S, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D4S features a full frame sensor and the Pentax K-5 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-5 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 16.2MP, the D4S offers a slightly higher resolution than the K-5 (16.1MP), but the D4S nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 4.81μm for the K-5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D4S is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 5 months) than the K-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Nikon D4S has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-51200.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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. Of the two cameras under review, the D4S has a notably higher overall DXO score than the K-5 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|3.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|4.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|6.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|7.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|8.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|9.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|10.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|11.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|12.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D4S provides a higher frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/25p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D4S and the K-5 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D4S has a higher magnification than the one of the K-5 (0.70x vs 0.61x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D4S, the Pentax K-5, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the K-5 and the D4S is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D4S offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The Nikon D4S and the Pentax K-5 both have 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.
The D4S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the K-5 uses SDXC cards. The D4S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the K-5 only has one slot.
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 D4S and Pentax K-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D4S has a headphone jack, which is not present on the K-5 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D4S and the K-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-5 was replaced by the Pentax K-5 II, while the D4S was followed by the Nikon D5. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D4S better than the Pentax K-5 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D4S:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/25p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.61x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3020 versus 740) on a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the K-5 launch.
Advantages of the Pentax K-5:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- More compact: Is smaller (131x97mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 590g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (83 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4S is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 D4S and the Pentax K-5 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 D4S or the K-5 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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 D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|2.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|3.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|5.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|7.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|8.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|10.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|11.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|12.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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
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Specifications: Nikon D4S vs Pentax K-5
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 D4S||Pentax K-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2014||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D4S||Pentax K-5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||23.7 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||372.09 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.2 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3280 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.29 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.88 MP/cm2||4.32 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/25p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 409,600 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||PRIME II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||89||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.4||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.3||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3074||1162|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D4S||Pentax K-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D4S||Pentax K-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D4S||Pentax K-5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D4S||Pentax K-5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3020 shots per charge||740 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||1350 g (47.6 oz)||760 g (26.8 oz)|
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