Nikon Z50 vs Pentax K-S1
The Nikon Z50 and the Pentax K-S1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2019 and August 2014. The Z50 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-S1 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 20 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 Z50 and the Pentax K-S1? 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 Z50 and the Pentax K-S1. 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-S1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, grey, orange, white), while the Z50 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-S1 is notably smaller (6 percent) than the Nikon Z50. However, the K-S1 is markedly heavier (24 percent) than the Z50. It is worth mentioning in this context that the Z50 is splash and dust resistant, while the K-S1 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 power pack in the Z50 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon Z50||127 mm||94 mm||60 mm||450 g||320||Y||Oct 2019||859|
|2.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749|
|3.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||118 mm||83 mm||47 mm||383 g||380||n||Feb 2019||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T3||133 mm||93 mm||59 mm||539 g||390||Y||Sep 2018||1,499|
|6.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|7.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|8.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|9.||Panasonic G95||130 mm||94 mm||77 mm||536 g||290||Y||Apr 2019||999|
|10.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|11.||Pentax K-500||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||646 g||710||n||Jun 2013||549|
|12.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|13.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|14.||Sony A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|15.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|16.||Sony A68||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||610 g||540||n||Nov 2015||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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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-S1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the Z50, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 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. 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-S1 is 1 percent smaller. 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.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 20.7MP, the Z50 offers a slightly higher resolution than the K-S1 (20MP), but the Z50 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.22μm versus 4.28μm for the K-S1). However, the Z50 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 1 month) than the K-S1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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 Z50 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon Z50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 100-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-S1 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.
| DXO |
|9.||Panasonic G95||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the Z50 provides a higher video resolution than the K-S1. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Z50 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the K-S1 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 Z50 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-S1 (0.68x 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 Z50, the Pentax K-S1, and comparable cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Z50 has a touchscreen, while the K-S1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The Z50 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-S1 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 Z50 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 Z50 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 Z50 and the K-S1 write their files to SDXC cards. The Z50 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the K-S1 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 Z50 and Pentax K-S1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the Z50 has a microphone port, which is missing on the K-S1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The Z50 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the K-S1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-S1 was succeeded by the Pentax K-S2. 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 Z50 or the Pentax K-S1 – 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.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z50:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.63x).
- 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 (1040k vs 921k dots).
- 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 108g or 19 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- 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 5 years and 1 month of technical progress since the K-S1 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-S1:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (410 versus 320) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z50 is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 6 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 Z50 and the Pentax K-S1 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Z50 or the K-S1. 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 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 Z50||5/5||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||859|
|2.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749|
|3.||Canon M50||..||+||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T3||5/5||+ +||88/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2018||1,499|
|6.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|7.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|8.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|9.||Panasonic G95||4.5/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2019||999|
|10.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|11.||Pentax K-500||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||549|
|12.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|13.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|14.||Sony A6100||..||..||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|15.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|16.||Sony A68||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Nov 2015||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon Z50 vs Pentax K-S1
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 Z50||Pentax K-S1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2019||August 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 859||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z50||Pentax K-S1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.7 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||368.95 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.22 μm||4.28 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.60 MP/cm2||5.45 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||PRIME MII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1061|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z50||Pentax K-S1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z50||Pentax K-S1|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||5.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/4000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|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-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z50||Pentax K-S1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z50||Pentax K-S1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||320 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 94 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
121 x 93 x 70 mm
(4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||450 g (15.9 oz)||558 g (19.7 oz)|
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