Panasonic S1 vs Pentax K-500
The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and the Pentax K-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2019 and June 2013. The S1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (S1) and an APS-C (K-500) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 24 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and the Pentax K-500? 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 Panasonic S1 and the Pentax K-500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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-500 is notably smaller (23 percent) than the Panasonic S1. Moreover, the K-500 is substantially lighter (36 percent) than the S1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S1 is splash and dust resistant, while the K-500 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 S1 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 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.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|2.||Pentax K-500||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||646 g||710||n||Jun 2013||549|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Leica SL2-S||146 mm||107 mm||83 mm||931 g||510||Y||Dec 2020||4,895|
|5.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|6.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|8.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|9.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|10.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749|
|11.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|12.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|13.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|15.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The K-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the S1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic S1 features a full frame sensor and the Pentax K-500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-500 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 24MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the K-500 (16.1MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.77μm for the K-500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S1 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 7 months) than the K-500, 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 S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic S1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-500 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.
Unlike the K-500, the S1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (96MP) 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-500 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 is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the S1 provides substantially higher image quality than the K-500, with an overall score that is 16 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.6 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|4.||Leica SL2-S||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.1||3504||95|
|5.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|6.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|7.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|9.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
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 S1 provides a higher video resolution than the K-500. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S1 has an electronic viewfinder (5760k dots), while the K-500 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 S1 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-500 (0.78x 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 Panasonic S1, the Pentax K-500, and comparable cameras.
|13.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the S1, but is missing on the K-500 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
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 S1 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 Panasonic S1 and the Pentax K-500 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 S1 writes its imaging data to SDHC or XQD cards, while the K-500 uses SDXC cards. The S1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the K-500 only has one slot. The S1 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the K-500 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and Pentax K-500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|13.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the S1 has a microphone port, which is missing on the K-500. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic S1 (unlike the K-500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The S1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the K-500 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the K-500 from Pentax. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Pentax websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic S1 or the Pentax K-500 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16.1MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
- 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: Scores substantially higher (16 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/30p).
- 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.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.61x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control 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 (2100k vs 921k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- 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.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- 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: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 7 months of technical progress since the K-500 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-500:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More compact: Is smaller (130x97mm vs 149x110mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 371g or 36 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (710 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (78 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S1 is the clear winner of the match-up (31 : 8 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. 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 Panasonic S1 and the Pentax K-500 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 S1 or the K-500. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|2.||Pentax K-500||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||549|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Leica SL2-S||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Dec 2020||4,895|
|5.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|6.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|8.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|9.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|10.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749|
|11.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|12.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|13.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|15.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|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. 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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Panasonic S1 vs Pentax K-500
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||Panasonic S1||Pentax K-500|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2019||June 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 2,499||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic S1||Pentax K-500|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||4.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||Venus||PRIME M|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.2||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.5||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3333||1087|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic S1||Pentax K-500|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic S1||Pentax K-500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|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||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic S1||Pentax K-500|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Panasonic S1||Pentax K-500|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||710 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
149 x 110 x 97 mm
(5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in)
130 x 97 x 71 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||1017 g (35.9 oz)||646 g (22.8 oz)|
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