Pentax K-1 II vs Sony A7S
The Pentax K-1 II and the Sony Alpha A7S are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2018 and April 2014. The K-1 II is a DSLR, while the A7S is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 36.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 12 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 Pentax K-1 II and the Sony Alpha A7S? 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 Pentax K-1 II and the Sony A7S 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.
The K-1 II can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7S is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S is notably smaller (21 percent) than the Pentax K-1 II. Moreover, the A7S is substantially lighter (52 percent) than the K-1 II. 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 and compare 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 K-1 II gets 670 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the A7S can take 380 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7S can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.||Pentax K-1 II||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|2.||Sony A7S||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||489 g||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499|
|3.||Canon R||139 mm||98 mm||84 mm||660 g||370||Y||Sep 2018||2,299|
|4.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|5.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|6.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|7.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|8.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|9.||Pentax K-1||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799|
|10.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|11.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|12.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|13.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|14.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|15.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|16.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|17.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|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-1 II was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the A7S, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A7S is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 II offers a higher resolution than the A7S (12MP), but the K-1 II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 8.45μm for the A7S). However, the K-1 II is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 10 months) than the A7S, and its sensor will 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 K-1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-1 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-1 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S are 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the A7S, the K-1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images 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 Pentax K-1 II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 819200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7S are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
|3.||Canon R||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.5||13.5||2742||89|
|4.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|5.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|6.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|7.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|8.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|10.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|11.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|12.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|13.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|14.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|15.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|16.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|17.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||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 A7S provides a faster frame rate than the K-1 II. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7S has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the K-1 II 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 A7S has a higher magnification than the one of the K-1 II (0.71x vs 0.70x), 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 Pentax K-1 II, the Sony A7S, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the K-1 II, but is missing on the A7S 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 A7S 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 Pentax K-1 II has 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 K-1 II writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7S uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The K-1 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A7S only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 Pentax K-1 II and Sony Alpha A7S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-1 II (unlike the A7S) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the K-1 II has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The K-1 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the A7S has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7S was succeeded by the Sony A7S II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-1 II and the Sony A7S? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-1 II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (36.2 vs 12MP) with a 74% 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.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- 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 (1037k vs 921k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (670 versus 380) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 10 months of technical progress since the A7S launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7S:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.70x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 137x110mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 521g or 52 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in April 2014).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-1 II is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 12 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Pentax K-1 II and the Sony A7S place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the K-1 II or the A7S 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 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.||Pentax K-1 II||..||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|2.||Sony A7S||4/5||..||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499|
|3.||Canon R||4/5||o||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2018||2,299|
|4.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|5.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|6.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|7.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|8.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|9.||Pentax K-1||5/5||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799|
|10.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|11.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|12.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|13.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|14.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|15.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|16.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|17.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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: Pentax K-1 II vs Sony A7S
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||Pentax K-1 II||Sony A7S|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2018||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 2,499|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax K-1 II||Sony A7S|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm||8.45 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 819,200 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||PRIME IV||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||87|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3702|
|Screen Specs||Pentax K-1 II||Sony A7S|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax K-1 II||Sony A7S|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.4 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax K-1 II||Sony A7S|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Pentax K-1 II||Sony A7S|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||670 shots per charge||380 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||1010 g (35.6 oz)||489 g (17.2 oz)|
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