Pentax K-1 vs Sony A99 II
The Pentax K-1 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2016 and September 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 36.2 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Pentax K mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor||42.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-204800||ISO 100-25600|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|3.2" LCD, 1037k dots||3.0" LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)||Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|4.4 shutter flaps per second||12 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|760 shots per battery charge||490 shots per battery charge|
|137 x 110 x 86 mm, 1010 g||143 x 104 x 76 mm, 849 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-1 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-1 and the Sony A99 II. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A99 II 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 A99 II is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Pentax K-1. Moreover, the A99 II is markedly lighter (16 percent) than the K-1. 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.
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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Pentax K-1»||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A99 II«||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS R« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS R|
|Nikon D850« »||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D500« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||30.3 oz||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A99« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||Sony A99|
|Sony A850« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||Sony A850|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The K-1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 44 percent) than the A99 II, 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.
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the A99 II offers a higher resolution of 42.2 megapixels, compared with 36.2 MP of the K-1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the A99 II has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.88μm for the K-1). However, it should be noted that the A99 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the K-1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A99 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A99 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inch or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inch or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inch or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-1 are 36.8 x 24.6 inch or 93.5 x 62.4 cm for good quality, 29.4 x 19.6 inch or 74.8 x 49.9 cm for very good quality, and 24.5 x 16.4 inch or 62.3 x 41.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A99 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the A99 II, the K-1 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 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
For many 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 review, the K-1 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A99 II (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86||Canon 5DS R|
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D500||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89||Sony A99|
|Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79||Sony A850|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A99 II provides a better video resolution than the K-1. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A99 II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the K-1 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 A99 II has a higher magnification than the one of the K-1 (0.78x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-1 and Sony A99 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Pentax K-1||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Canon 5DS R|
|Nikon D850||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||n||n||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y||Sony A99|
|Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y||Sony A850|
The Pentax K-1 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 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A99 II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. 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 and Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Pentax K-1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 5DS R|
|Nikon D850||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D500|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1 II|
|Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A99||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A99|
|Sony A850||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A850|
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the K-1 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The A99 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the K-1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-1 was succeeded by the Pentax K-1 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 is the bottom line? Is the Pentax K-1 better than the Sony A99 II or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-1:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (760 versus 490) on a single battery charge.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (44 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2016).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 36.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.70x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 4.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 161g or 16 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (7 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A99 II comes out slightly ahead of the K-1 (12 : 11 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 and the Sony A99 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 or the A99 II 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1200D vs Sony A99 II
- Canon 1D C vs Pentax K-1
- Canon M5 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Canon T1i vs Pentax K-1
- Leica X1 vs Sony A99 II
- Nikon D100 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Nikon D7200 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Nikon W300 vs Sony A99 II
- Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony A99 II
- Samsung NX1 vs Sony A99 II
- Sony A99 II vs Sony HX350
- Sony A99 II vs Sony RX10 IV
Specifications: Pentax K-1 vs Sony A99 II
|Camera Model||Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2016||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1799||USD 3199|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||36.2 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7360 x 4912 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.88 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.20 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-204800 ISO||100-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50-25600 ISO|
|Image Processor||PRIME IV||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||96||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.4||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.6||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3280||2317|
|Screen Specs||Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/8000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.4 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||300 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|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|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Pentax K-1||Sony A99 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||760 shots per charge||490 shots per charge|
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
143 x 104 x 76 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1010 g (35.6 oz)||849 g (29.9 oz)|