Pentax K-3 II versus Nikon D500
The Pentax K-3 II and the Nikon D500 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2015 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 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 K-3 II vs Nikon D500
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 II and the Nikon D500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the K-3 II – represents the basis or 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 larger (29 percent) than the Pentax K-3 II. Moreover, the D500 is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the K-3 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 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 K-3 II (⇒ rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||YES||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||YES||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||YES||2013||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||YES||2009||1,799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||YES||2017||1,099||latest||check|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||YES||2016||649||latest||check|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||YES||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||YES||2010||1,099||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||YES||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
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 K-3 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the D500, 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 K-3 II 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. 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 an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D500 is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Pentax K-3 II offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 20.7 MP of the Nikon D500. 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 3.90μm versus 4.22μm for the D500). Moreover, it should be noted that the D500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the K-3 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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.
Unlike the D500, the K-3 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).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.2||1135||79|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||-||-||-||-|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||-||-||-||-|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.7||13.4||1216||80|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.7||14.1||1162||82|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
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 D500 provides a better video resolution than the K-3 II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Feature comparison: Pentax K-3 II vs Nikon D500
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-3 II 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-3 II and Nikon D500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||YES|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.2||2359||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||922||tilting||YES||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||4000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||tilting||no||6000||7.0||YES||YES|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||6000||6.0||YES||YES|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||13||YES|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||7.0||13||YES|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||3200||14.0||10.2||YES|
Both the K-3 II and the D500 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The K-3 II replaced the earlier Pentax K-3, while the D500 followed on from the Nikon D300S.
Review summary: Pentax K-3 II vs Nikon D500
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-3 II and the Nikon D500? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3 II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 20.7MP) with a 8% higher linear resolution.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- More compact: Is smaller (131x100mm vs 147x115mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (45 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2015).
Advantages of the Nikon D500:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1037k 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 burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1240 versus 720) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D500 comes out slightly ahead of the K-3 II (7 : 6 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 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 K-3 II or the D500 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ rgt)||-||-||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Nikon D500 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||91/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Canon 80D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||86/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||87/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||82/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Pentax KP (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||5/5||-||4.5/5||2017||1,099||latest||check|
|Pentax K-70 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2016||649||latest||check|
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||83/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||83/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,099||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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