Nikon Z5 vs Pentax K-3
The Nikon Z5 and the Pentax K-3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2020 and October 2013. The Z5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (Z5) and an APS-C (K-3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 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 Z5 and the Pentax K-3? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon Z5 and the Pentax K-3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the Z5 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-3 is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Nikon Z5. However, the K-3 is markedly heavier (19 percent) than the Z5. 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.
Concerning battery life, the Z5 gets 470 shots out of its EN-EL15c battery, while the K-3 can take 560 images on a single charge of its D-LI90 power pack. The power pack in the Z5 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon Z5||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||470||Y||Jul 2020||1,399|
|2.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T4||135 mm||93 mm||64 mm||607 g||500||Y||Feb 2020||1,699|
|5.||Nikon Z7 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|7.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|8.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|9.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|10.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|11.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|12.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|15.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|16.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|17.||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.|
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 K-3 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the Z5 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon Z5 features a full frame sensor and the Pentax K-3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-3 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.
With 24.2MP, the Z5 offers a slightly higher resolution than the K-3 (24.1MP), but the Z5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.95μm versus 3.90μm for the K-3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Z5 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 9 months) than the K-3, 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 K-3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Z5 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon Z5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon Z5||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|5.||Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|8.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|10.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|14.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|15.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|16.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
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, but the Z5 provides a higher video resolution than the K-3. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Z5 has an electronic viewfinder (3690k dots), while the K-3 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the Z5 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-3 (0.80x vs 0.63x), 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 Z5, the Pentax K-3, and comparable cameras.
|5.||Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|14.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Z5 has a touchscreen, while the K-3 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the Z5 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon Z5 and the Pentax K-3 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 Z5 and the K-3 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The Z5 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the K-3 can use UHS-I 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 Z5 and Pentax K-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the Z5 offers wifi support, while the K-3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-3 (unlike the Z5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The Z5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the K-3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-3 was succeeded by the Pentax K-3 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 how do things add up? Is the Nikon Z5 better than the Pentax K-3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Z5:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging 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 video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.63x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 125g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 9 months of technical progress since the K-3 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-3:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (560 versus 470) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z5 is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Z5 and the Pentax K-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the Z5 and the K-3 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
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 (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 Z5||4/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jul 2020||1,399|
|2.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T4||5/5||+ +||..||5/5||5/5||Feb 2020||1,699|
|5.||Nikon Z7 II||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|7.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|8.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|9.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|10.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|11.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|12.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|15.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|16.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|17.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||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 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 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon Z5 vs Pentax K-3
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 Z5||Pentax K-3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2020||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z5||Pentax K-3|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.2 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4016 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.95 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.82 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1216|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z5||Pentax K-3|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z5||Pentax K-3|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 shutter flaps/s||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z5||Pentax K-3|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z5||Pentax K-3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||470 shots per charge||560 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 101 x 67 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||675 g (23.8 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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