Nikon D810 vs Pentax K-5
The Nikon D810 and the Pentax K-5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2014 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D810) and an APS-C (K-5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 36.2 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.
|Nikon D810||Pentax K-5|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor||16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||1080/25p Video|
|ISO 64-12,800 (32 - 51,200)||ISO 100-12,800 (80 - 51,200)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2 LCD, 1229k dots||3.0 LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||7 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|1200 shots per battery charge||740 shots per battery charge|
|146 x 123 x 82 mm, 980 g||131 x 97 x 73 mm, 760 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D810 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 D810 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 successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 notably smaller (29 percent) than the Nikon D810. Moreover, the K-5 is markedly lighter (22 percent) than the D810. 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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
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.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 K-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 percent) than the D810, 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. 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 D810 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 36.2MP, the D810 offers a higher resolution than the K-5 (16.1MP), but the D810 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 4.81μm for the K-5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D810 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 9 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D810 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D810 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D810 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-5 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D810 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 64 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 32-51200. 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.
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 D810 provides substantially higher image quality than the K-5, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 2 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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.
|Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|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 D810 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.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D810 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 D810 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 D810, the Pentax K-5, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the K-5 and the D810 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D810 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The Nikon D810 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 D810 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the K-5 uses SDXC cards. The D810 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the K-5 only has one slot. The D810 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 D810 and Pentax K-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D810 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 D810 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 D810 was followed by the Nikon D850. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D810 or the Pentax K-5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D810:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 16.1MP) with a 50% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 921k dots).
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 740) on a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the K-5 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (131x97mm vs 146x123mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 220g or 22 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (67 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2010).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D810 is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 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 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 D810 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 D810 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 expert reviews are important. 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 D810||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|Pentax K-5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||+||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Nikon D850||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D750||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon Df||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D610||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D800||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|Nikon D800E||..||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|Nikon D700||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Pentax KP||..||82/100||5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|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|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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.
- Canon 1D Mark II N vs Nikon D810
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Pentax K-5
- Canon 1D vs Pentax K-5
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Pentax K-5
- Leica D-LUX Typ 109 vs Nikon D810
- Leica T vs Pentax K-5
- Nikon D810 vs Olympus E-PL3
- Nikon D810 vs Pentax 645D
- Panasonic TS7 vs Pentax K-5
- Panasonic ZS200 vs Pentax K-5
- Pentax K-5 vs Pentax MX-1
- Pentax K-5 vs Sony A6300
Specifications: Nikon D810 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 D810||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||June 2014||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 3,299||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D810||Pentax K-5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||23.7 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||372.09 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2||4.32 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/25p Video|
|ISO Setting||64 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||32 - 51,200 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||PRIME II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||97||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.7||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.8||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2853||1162|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D810||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||1229k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D810||Pentax K-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 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||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D810||Pentax K-5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||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||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D810||Pentax K-5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||740 shots per charge|
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||980 g (34.6 oz)||760 g (26.8 oz)|
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