Nikon D90 versus Pentax K-1 II
The Nikon D90 and the Pentax K-1 II are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and February 2018. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D90) and a full frame (K-1 II) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the Pentax provides 36.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Nikon D90 vs Pentax K-1 II
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D90 and the Pentax K-1 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D90 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-1 II is notably larger (11 percent) than the Nikon D90. Moreover, the K-1 II is substantially heavier (44 percent) than the D90. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-1 II is splash and dust-proof, while the D90 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 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.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||no||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-1 II (⇒ lft)||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||670||YES||2018||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||no||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||YES||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1110||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||950||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||YES||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||no||2009||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||no||2009||749||discont.||check|
|Nikon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||500||no||2008||629||discont.||check|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||no||2007||729||discont.||check|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||no||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||30.8 oz||750||YES||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||YES||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||YES||2016||1,799||latest||check|
|Sony RX10 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||3.7 in||5.7 in||38.6 oz||400||YES||2017||1,699||latest||check|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||YES||2016||3,199||latest||check|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D90 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the K-1 II, 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.
Sensor comparison: Nikon D90 vs Pentax K-1 II
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D90 features an APS-C sensor and the Pentax K-1 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 II is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 II offers a higher resolution than the D90 (12.2MP), but the K-1 II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 5.53μm for the D90). Yet, the K-1 II is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 5 months) than the D90, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Unlike the D90, the K-1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73|
|Pentax K-1 II (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.1||11.3||703||64|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.3||11.1||563||62|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72|
|Nikon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.5||11.4||562||65|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.4||11.4||516||63|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.1||11.2||524||61|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|Sony RX10 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
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 K-1 II provides a better video resolution than the D90. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.
Feature comparison: Nikon D90 vs Pentax K-1 II
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D90 and the K-1 II 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D90 and Pentax K-1 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||4.5||17||no|
|Pentax K-1 II (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||full-flex||no||8000||4.4||no||YES|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||6.5||12||no|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||922||tilting||YES||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||full-flex||no||4000||4.0||17||no|
|Nikon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||no|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||17||no|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||swivel||no||8000||5.0||13||YES|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.2||1620||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||no||YES|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||full-flex||no||8000||4.4||no||YES|
|Sony RX10 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||2000||24.0||10.8||YES|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||12.0||no||YES|
The K-1 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the D90 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D90 was succeeded by the Nikon D7000.
Review summary: Nikon D90 vs Pentax K-1 II
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D90 better than the Pentax K-1 II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D90:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 307g or 30 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (850 versus 670) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2008).
Advantages of the Pentax K-1 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 72%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/24p).
- 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 (1037k vs 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D90 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-1 II is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 6 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.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D90 or the K-1 II. 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. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||89/100 HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-1 II (⇒ lft)||-||79/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||2018||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||86/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||80/100 Rec||72/100 HiRec||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||2009||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||75/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||749||discont.||check|
|Nikon D60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||80/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2008||629||discont.||check|
|Nikon D40X (⇒ lft | rgt)||79/100||HiRec||4/5||reviewed||4/5||2007||729||discont.||check|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100 Rec||HiRec||reviewed||4.5/5||4.5/5||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||2010||1,699||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,799||latest||check|
|Sony RX10 IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||..||5/5||2017||1,699||latest||check|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||3,199||latest||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
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