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Nikon D50 vs Pentax Q

The Nikon D50 and the Pentax Q are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2005 and June 2011. The D50 is a DSLR, while the Pentax Q is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D50) and a 1/2.3-inch (Pentax Q) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 12 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D50 versus Pentax Q
Nikon D50 Pentax Q
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Pentax Q mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 125-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 130k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
400 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
133 x 102 x 76 mm, 620 g 98 x 57 x 31 mm, 180 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D50 and the Pentax Q? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D50 and the Pentax Q are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The Pentax Q can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D50 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D50 vs Pentax Q
Compare D50 versus Pentax Q top
Comparison D50 or Pentax Q rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax Q is considerably smaller (59 percent) than the Nikon D50. Moreover, the Pentax Q is substantially lighter (71 percent) than the D50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D50 nor the Pentax Q are weather-sealed.

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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
 
Pentax Q 98 mm 57 mm 31 mm 180 g 230 n Jun 2011 649i
 
Nikon D5200 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 n Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
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 obviously take relative prices into account. 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 Pentax Q was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the D50, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

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Sensor comparison

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D50 features an APS-C sensor and the Pentax Q a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the Pentax Q is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 5.6. The sensor in the D50 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the Pentax Q offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D50 and Pentax Q sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Pentax Q offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D50. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.53μm versus 7.85μm for the D50). However, it should be noted that the Pentax Q is much more recent (by 6 years and 2 months) than the D50, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Pentax Q implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Pentax Q for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D50 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax Q are ISO 125 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

D50 versus Pentax Q MP

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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D50 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the Pentax Q (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
 
Pentax Q 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.211.118947
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The Pentax Q indeed provides for movie recording, while the D50 does not. The highest resolution format that the Pentax Q can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D50 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Pentax Q relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the Pentax Q can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the O-VF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D50, the Pentax Q, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Pentax Qoptional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/2000s 1.5 Y Y
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y

One feature that differentiates the Pentax Q and the D50 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The Pentax Q reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D50 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The Pentax Q 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.

The D50 writes its imaging data to SD cards, while the Pentax Q uses SDXC cards.

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Connectivity comparison

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 D50 and Pentax Q and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
 
Pentax QYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---

Both the D50 and the Pentax Q have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D50 was replaced by the Nikon D40, while the Pentax Q was followed by the Pentax Q10. 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D50 and the Pentax Q? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D50:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2.5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax Q:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 130k dots).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (98x57mm vs 133x102mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 440g or 71 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Pentax Q is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 7 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 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.

D50 07:11 Pentax Q

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D50 and the Pentax Q place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D50 and the Pentax Q in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

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 (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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
 
Pentax Q....4/53.5/53.5/5 Jun 2011 649i
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
 
Olympus XZ-2+..4.5/54/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
 
Olympus E-PL283/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL3+ +72/1004.5/5..4/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL186/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-62088/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D50:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax Q:
Check Ebay offers

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D50 vs Pentax Q

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D50 Pentax Q
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Pentax Q mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2005 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 649
    Sensor Specs Nikon D50 Pentax Q
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 125 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 47
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.9 20.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 560 189
    Screen Specs Nikon D50 Pentax Q
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D50 Pentax Q
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SD cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D50 Pentax Q
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D50 Pentax Q
    Battery Type EN-EL3 D-LI68
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 102 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    98 x 57 x 31 mm
    (3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 180 g (6.3 oz)

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