Pentax 645D versus Nikon D500
The Pentax 645D and the Nikon D500 are two digital cameras that were announced, 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax 645D and the Nikon D500. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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).
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.
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|
|Pentax 645D»||6.1 in||4.6 in||4.7 in||52.2 oz||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995||-|
|Nikon D500«||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||-|
|Leica S Typ 006« »||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950||-|
|Nikon D850« »||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D7500« »||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D7200« »||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199||-|
|Nikon D810« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||-|
|Nikon D7100« »||5.4 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199||-|
|Nikon D610« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D800« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||-|
|Nikon D3S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||-|
|Nikon D300S« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||-|
|Pentax K-1« »||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799||-|
|Pentax 645Z« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||4.8 in||54.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2014||8,499|
|Sony A7R« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
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. 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 D500
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.
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.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Pentax 645D»||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||-||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
|Canon 1D X« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Leica S Typ 006« »||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||-||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|Nikon D850« »||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Nikon D7500« »||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86|
|Nikon D7200« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87|
|Nikon D810« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon D7100« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D800« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Nikon D3S« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Nikon D300S« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70|
|Pentax K-1« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|Pentax 645Z« »||Medium Format||51.1||8256||6192||1080/60i||26.0||14.7||4505||101|
|Sony A7R« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax 645D, the Nikon D500, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|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 D7200« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||8000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D810« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||4000||5.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D7100« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||8000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D610« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||6.0||Y||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 D300S« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||7.0||Y||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 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 what is the bottom line? Is the Pentax 645D better than the Nikon D500 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of 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).
Reasons to prefer 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.
- 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 (12 : 2 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 645D or the D500 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Pentax 645D»||-||-||-||4.5/5||-||Mar 2010||9,995||-|
|Nikon D500«||HiRec||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Canon 1D X« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||-||89/100||-||5/5||-||Oct 2009||4,999||-|
|Leica S Typ 006« »||-||-||-||-||-||Sep 2012||21,950||-|
|Nikon D850« »||HiRec||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Nikon D7500« »||HiRec||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D7200« »||HiRec||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199||-|
|Nikon D810« »||-||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||-|
|Nikon D7100« »||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199||-|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D800« »||HiRec||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999||-|
|Nikon D3S« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||-|
|Nikon D300S« »||HiRec||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||-|
|Pentax K-1« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799||-|
|Pentax 645Z« »||-||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||8,499|
|Sony A7R« »||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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