Pentax 645D versus Nikon D850
The Pentax 645D and the Nikon D850 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2010 and July 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (645D) and a full frame sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 39.5 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 MP.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax 645D and the Nikon D850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D850 is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Pentax 645D. Moreover, the D850 is markedly lighter (32 percent) than the 645D. Cameras that are aimed at professionals or semi-pros tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary environmental and shock resistance. 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Pentax 645D (⇒ rgt)||6.1 in||4.6 in||4.7 in||52.2 oz||..||YES||2010||9,995||discont.||check|
|Nikon D850 (⇒ lft)||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||YES||2017||3,299||latest||check|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||YES||2012||21,950||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.3 in||6.3 in||3.6 in||49.9 oz||3780||YES||2016||6,499||latest||check|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||YES||2014||3,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||YES||2013||2,749||latest||check|
|Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||..||YES||2012||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||..||YES||2012||3,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||YES||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||YES||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||YES||2016||1,799||latest||check|
|Pentax 645Z (⇒ lft | rgt)||6.1 in||4.6 in||4.8 in||54.7 oz||650||YES||2014||8,499||latest||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||YES||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 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.
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 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 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 D850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D850 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 D850 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D850 offers a higher resolution of 45.4 megapixel, compared with 39.5 MP of the 645D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 6.06μm for the 645D). However, it should be noted that the D850 is much more recent (by 7 years and 4 months) than the 645D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. 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.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D850 offers substantially better image quality than the 645D (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Pentax 645D (⇒ rgt)||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||no||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
|Nikon D850 (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||no||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||no||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|Pentax 645Z (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||51.1||8256||6192||1080/60i||26.0||14.7||4505||101|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||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 D850 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 645D does not. The highest resolution format that the D850 can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 645D and the D850 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 D850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Pentax 645D (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||1.1||no||no|
|Nikon D850 (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||no||no|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||4000||1.5||no||no|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||fixed||YES||8000||14.0||no||no|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||4000||5.5||no||no|
|Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||8000||4.0||12||no|
|Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||8000||4.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||full-flex||no||8000||4.4||no||YES|
|Pentax 645Z (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||tilting||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||4.0||no||no|
The D850 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.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax 645D or the Nikon D850 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Pentax 645D:
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2010).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 39.5MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 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).
- 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 a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 475g or 32 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (67 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 645D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D850 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 1 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.
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 D850 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Pentax 645D (⇒ rgt)||-||-||-||4.5/5||-||2010||9,995||discont.||check|
|Nikon D850 (⇒ lft)||..||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||..||5/5||2017||3,299||latest||check|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2012||21,950||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||6,499||latest||check|
|Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||86/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2014||3,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||2013||2,749||latest||check|
|Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2012||2,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2012||3,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,799||latest||check|
|Pentax 645Z (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||8,499||latest||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
- Canon 10D vs Canon T5i
- Canon G1 X vs Canon M3
- Canon G16 vs Canon G1 X Mark II
- Canon SL2 vs Sony A9
- Fujifilm X-E3 vs Fujifilm X-Pro2
- Nikon D300 vs Nikon D3
- Nikon D5600 vs Sony RX10 IV
- Panasonic FZ2000 vs Fujifilm X100F
- Panasonic G5 vs Panasonic GX1
- Panasonic G7 vs Panasonic G9
- Panasonic G9 vs Sony A7R III
- Sony A7R III vs Olympus E-M1 II