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Pentax 645D versus Nikon D500

The Pentax 645D and the Nikon D500 are two digital 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 an APS-C (D500) 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 D500

The physical size and weight of the Pentax 645D and the Nikon D500 are illustrated 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 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).

Compare Pentax 645D vs Nikon D500
Compare 645D versus D500 top
Compare 645D and D500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D500 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Pentax 645D. Moreover, the D500 is substantially lighter (42 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 D500 can take 1240 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 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)
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D» 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Nikon D500« 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
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 Mark II
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Leica S Typ 006« » 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2012 21,950- i Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Nikon D7100« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199- i Nikon D7100
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Pentax 645Z« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.8 in 54.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R

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 D500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Pentax 645D vs Nikon D500

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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 D500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D500 is 75 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.79 and 1.5. The sensor in the 645D has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Pentax 645D and Nikon D500 sensor measures

With 39.5MP, the 645D offers a higher resolution than the D500 (20.7MP), but the 645D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.06μm versus 4.22μm for the D500) due to its larger sensor. However, the D500 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 further 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.

645D versus D500 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D» Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282Pentax 645D
Nikon D500« APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Leica S Typ 006« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-23.912.282476Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386Nikon D7500
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100Nikon D850
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397Nikon D810
Nikon D7100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683Nikon D7100
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Nikon D300S« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
Pentax 645Z« » Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101Pentax 645Z
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D500 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 645D does not. The highest resolution format that the D500 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Pentax 645D vs Nikon D500

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 645D and the D500 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax 645D and Nikon D500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D»optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n Pentax 645D
Nikon D500«optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 14.0 n n Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Leica S Typ 006« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D7500
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n Nikon D850
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D810
Nikon D7100« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7100
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
Pentax 645Z« »optical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 4000 3.0 n n Pentax 645Z
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D500 has a touchscreen, while the 645D has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The 645D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D500 uses SDHC or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D»Ystereo----2.0---Pentax 645D
Nikon D500«YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon 1D Mark IV
Leica S Typ 006« »Y----mini2.0---Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D7500« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-YNikon D7500
Nikon D850« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D850
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
Nikon D810« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Nikon D810
Nikon D7100« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D7100
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Nikon D3S« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Nikon D3S
Nikon D300S« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
Pentax 645Z« »YstereomonoY-mini3.0---Pentax 645Z
Sony A7R« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R

The D500 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 D500

So how do things add up? Is the Pentax 645D better than the Nikon D500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Pentax 645D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (39.5 vs 20.7MP) with a 36% higher linear resolution.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2010).

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Advantages of the Nikon D500:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • 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).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • 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 (10 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 620g or 42 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1240 versus 800) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 9 months of technical progress since the 645D launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 2 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.

645D 02:16 D500

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 645D or the D500. 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Pentax 645D»---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Nikon D500«HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Leica S Typ 006« »----- Sep 2012 21,950- i Leica S Typ 006
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Nikon D7100« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199- i Nikon D7100
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Nikon D300S« »HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Pentax 645Z« »--4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R

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. 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. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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