Nikon L840 vs Pentax K-1
The Nikon Coolpix L840 and the Pentax K-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2015 and February 2016. The L840 is a fixed lens compact, while the K-1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (L840) and a full frame (K-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 36.2 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 Coolpix L840 and the Pentax K-1? 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 L840 and the Pentax K-1 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The L840 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the K-1 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-1 is considerably larger (71 percent) than the Nikon L840. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-1 is splash and dust-proof, while the L840 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the L840 has a lens built in, whereas the K-1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon L840||4.4 in||3.1 in||3.8 in||19.0 oz||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|Pentax K-1||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon SX530||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|Canon SX520||4.7 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||15.6 oz||210||n||Jul 2014||399|
|Canon SX60||5.0 in||3.7 in||4.5 in||22.9 oz||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|Nikon B600||4.8 in||3.2 in||3.9 in||17.6 oz||280||n||Jan 2019||349|
|Nikon D500||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon B700||4.9 in||3.3 in||4.2 in||19.9 oz||350||n||Feb 2016||499|
|Nikon B500||4.5 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||19.1 oz||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|Nikon P900||5.5 in||4.1 in||5.4 in||31.7 oz||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|Olympus E-M1 II||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Pentax K-1 II||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony HX80||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.6 oz||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|Sony H400||5.1 in||3.7 in||4.8 in||22.2 oz||300||n||Feb 2014||319|
|Sony H200||4.8 in||3.3 in||3.4 in||18.7 oz||240||n||Jan 2013||249|
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 L840 was launched at a lower price than the K-1, despite having a lens built in. 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 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon L840 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Pentax K-1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 is 2979 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the L840 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 offers a higher resolution than the L840 (15.9MP), but the K-1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 1.33μm for the L840) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the K-1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the L840, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-1 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 Nikon L840 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the L840, the K-1 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).
The Nikon Coolpix L840 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (no boost).
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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the L840 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon L840 and Pentax K-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The L840 has one, while the K-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the L840 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Pentax K-1 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the L840 and the K-1 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the L840 only has one slot. The K-1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the L840 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 Coolpix L840 and Pentax K-1 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||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the K-1 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The L840 does not feature such a mic input.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-1 (unlike the L840) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the K-1 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the L840 and the K-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The L840 was replaced by the Nikon B500, while the K-1 was followed by the Pentax K-1 II. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon L840 or the Pentax K-1 – 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.
Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix L840:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 4.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the K-1 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (113x78mm vs 137x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the K-1).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2015).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 54%.
- 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.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- 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 921k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (760 versus 590) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- 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: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-1 is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 8 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 L840 and the Pentax K-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the L840 or the K-1. 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 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.
|Nikon L840||+ +||..||3.5/5||..||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|Pentax K-1||..||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon SX530||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|Canon SX520||+||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Jul 2014||399|
|Canon SX60||+ +||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|Nikon B600||+||..||3.5/5||..||3/5||Jan 2019||349|
|Nikon D500||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Nikon B700||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Feb 2016||499|
|Nikon B500||+||..||4/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|Nikon P900||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|Olympus E-M1 II||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Pentax K-1 II||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|Sony H400||o||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Feb 2014||319|
|Sony H200||..||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Jan 2013||249|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1200D vs Nikon L840
- Canon 800D vs Nikon L840
- Canon SX530 vs Nikon L840
- Leica TL vs Nikon L840
- Nikon 1 V2 vs Pentax K-1
- Nikon B500 vs Nikon L840
- Nikon D5000 vs Pentax K-1
- Nikon L840 vs Panasonic S1H
- Panasonic GH2 vs Pentax K-1
- Pentax K-1 vs Ricoh WG-60
- Pentax K-1 vs Sony RX0 II
- Pentax K-1 vs Sony RX100 IV
Specifications: Nikon L840 vs Pentax K-1
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 L840||Pentax K-1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||22.5-855mm f/3-6.5||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||February 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 299||USD 1,799|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon L840||Pentax K-1|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.9 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4608 x 3456 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.33 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||56.73 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3280|
|Screen Specs||Nikon L840||Pentax K-1|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon L840||Pentax K-1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7.4 shutter flaps/s||4.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon L840||Pentax K-1|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon L840||Pentax K-1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||590 shots per charge||760 shots per charge|
113 x 78 x 96 mm
(4.4 x 3.1 x 3.8 in)
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||538 g (19.0 oz)||1010 g (35.6 oz)|
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