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Pentax 645D versus Nikon D5

The Pentax 645D and the Nikon D5 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2010 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (645D) and a full frame (D5) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 39.5 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 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: Pentax 645D vs Nikon D5

The physical size and weight of the Pentax 645D and the Nikon D5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 645D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax 645D vs Nikon D5
Compare 645D versus D5 top
Compare 645D and D5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5 is notably larger (39 percent) than the Pentax 645D. However, the D5 is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the 645D. 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 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 645D gets 800 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the D5 can take 3780 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Pentax 645D» 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i
Nikon D5« 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i
Leica S Typ 006« » 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2012 21,950- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D3X« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999- i
Pentax K-1« » 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 760 Y Feb 2016 1,799- i
Pentax 645Z« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.8 in 54.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

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 D5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the 645D, 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: Pentax 645D vs Nikon D5

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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax 645D features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D5 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D5 is 41 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.79 and 1.0. The sensor in the 645D has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D5 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Pentax 645D and Nikon D5 sensor measures

With 39.5MP, the 645D offers a higher resolution than the D5 (20.7MP), but the 645D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.06μm versus 6.44μm for the D5). Moreover, the D5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 years and 9 months) than the 645D, and its sensor might 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 the 645D has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

645D versus D5 MP

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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 645D (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Pentax 645D» Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282
Nikon D5« Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
Leica S Typ 006« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-23.912.282476
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288
Pentax K-1« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i25.414.6328096
Pentax 645Z« » Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 645D does not. The highest resolution format that the D5 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Pentax 645D vs Nikon D5

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 645D and the D5 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax 645D and Nikon D5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Pentax 645D»optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n
Nikon D5«optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Leica S Typ 006« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Pentax K-1« »optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Pentax 645Z« »optical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 4000 3.0 n n
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

The D5 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 645D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 645D was succeeded by the Pentax 645Z.

Review summary: Pentax 645D vs Nikon D5

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax 645D or the Nikon D5 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Pentax 645D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (39.5 vs 20.7MP) with a 35% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More compact: Is smaller (156x117mm vs 160x159mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2010).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • 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 (2359k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3780 versus 800) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 9 months of technical progress since the 645D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 4 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.

645D 04:12 D5

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 645D or the D5 handle or perform in practice. 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Pentax 645D»---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i
Nikon D5«-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Leica S Typ 006« »----- Sep 2012 21,950- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i
Pentax K-1« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2016 1,799- i
Pentax 645Z« »--4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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