Nikon D5100 vs Pentax K-5
The Nikon D5100 and the Pentax K-5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2011 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 16.1 megapixels.
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 D5100 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 D5100 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 dimensions 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 somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Nikon D5100. Moreover, the K-5 is substantially heavier (36 percent) than the D5100. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-5 is splash and dust-proof, while the D5100 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. 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 D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|2.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|3.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|4.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|5.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|6.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|7.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|8.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|10.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|12.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|13.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|15.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|16.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 D5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 32 percent) than the K-5, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. 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.
Even though the K-5 has a slightly larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 16.1 megapixels. This implies that the K-5 has a lower pixel density and marginally larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 4.80μm for the D5100), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the D5100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the K-5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Nikon D5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. 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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|15.||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. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D5100 provides a higher frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/25p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5100 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 viewfinder in the K-5 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D5100 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the K-5 has a higher magnification (0.61x vs 0.51x), 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 D5100, the Pentax K-5, and comparable cameras.
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|15.||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 D5100 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D5100 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The D5100 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the K-5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D5100 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D5100 and the K-5 write their files to SDXC cards. The D5100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the K-5 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 D5100 and Pentax K-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the D5100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D5100 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 D5100 was followed by the Nikon D5200. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D5100 or the Pentax K-5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5100:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/25p).
- 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.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 200g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (32 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the K-5).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-5:
- 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 (0.61x vs 0.51x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (740 versus 660) out of a single battery charge.
- 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.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-5 emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5100 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 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 D5100 and the K-5 in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. 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 D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|2.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|3.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|4.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|5.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|6.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|7.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|8.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|9.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|10.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|12.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|13.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|15.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|16.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D5100 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 D5100||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||April 2011||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax K-5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||23.7 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||372.09 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||4.32 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/25p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 2||PRIME II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.6||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1183||1162|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax K-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax K-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||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||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax K-5|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||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|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax K-5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||660 shots per charge||740 shots per charge|
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||560 g (19.8 oz)||760 g (26.8 oz)|
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