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Pentax K-3 II versus Olympus E-M1 II

The Pentax K-3 II and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2015 and September 2016. The K-3 II is a DSLR, while the E-M1 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (K-3 II) and a Four Thirds (E-M1 II) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 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 Olympus E-M1 II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 II and the Olympus E-M1 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 size 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 K-3 II – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Pentax K-3 II vs Olympus E-M1 II
Compare K-3 II versus E-M1 II top
Compare K-3 II and E-M1 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M1 II is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Pentax K-3 II. Moreover, the E-M1 II is markedly lighter (28 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.

Concerning battery life, the K-3 II gets 720 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the E-M1 II can take 440 images on a single charge of its BLH-1 power pack.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3 II» 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i i Pentax K-3 II
Olympus E-M1 II« 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Olympus E-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« » 5.4 in 3.8 in 3.6 in 23.2 oz 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Pentax KP« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.9 in 24.3 oz 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i i Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
Pentax K-5« » 5.2 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 26.8 oz 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099- i Pentax K-5
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A6500« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 Y Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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-3 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the E-M1 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Pentax K-3 II vs Olympus E-M1 II

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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax K-3 II features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M1 II a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 II is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the K-3 II has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 II offers a 4:3 aspect.

Pentax K-3 II and Olympus E-M1 II sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 II (20.2MP), but the K-3 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.34μm for the E-M1 II) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-M1 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the K-3 II, and its sensor might 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

Both cameras have the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting the sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

K-3 II versus E-M1 II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3 II» APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680Pentax K-3 II
Olympus E-M1 II« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579Canon 80D
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p----Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Pentax KP« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i----Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i----Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680Pentax K-3
Pentax K-5« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282Pentax K-5
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A6500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.012.653170Sony RX10 II

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 E-M1 II 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 Olympus E-M1 II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M1 II has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the K-3 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax K-3 II and Olympus E-M1 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3 II»optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 n Y Pentax K-3 II
Olympus E-M1 II«2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 80D
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »2360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »3680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 20.0 n Y Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Pentax KP« »optical n 3.0 921 tilting n 6000 7.0 Y Y Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 6000 6.0 Y Y Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3« »optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 Y Y Pentax K-3
Pentax K-5« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y Y Pentax K-5
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A6500« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 II

One feature that is present on the K-3 II, but is missing on the E-M1 II 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 and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the E-M1 II features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

Both the K-3 II and the E-M1 II write their imaging data to SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3 II»YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3 II
Olympus E-M1 II«YstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon 80D
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
Olympus E-M5 II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y-YPanasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-YPanasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
Pentax KP« »YstereomonoY--2.0Y--Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3
Pentax K-5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Pentax K-5
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300
Sony A6500« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 II

Both the K-3 II and the E-M1 II 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 E-M1 II followed on from the Olympus E-M1.

Review summary: Pentax K-3 II vs Olympus E-M1 II

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-3 II and the Olympus E-M1 II? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-3 II:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
  • 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.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (720 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
  • 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).

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Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 226g or 28 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 4 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-M1 II emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 8 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.

K-3 II 08:10 E-M1 II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the K-3 II and the E-M1 II in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3 II»--5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i i Pentax K-3 II
Olympus E-M1 II«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i Canon 80D
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i Olympus E-M5 II
Olympus E-M1« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399- i Olympus E-M1
Panasonic G9« »HiRec85/1005/5-5/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i i Panasonic G9
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i Panasonic GH5
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Pentax KP« »-82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« »-79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i i Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3« »-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
Pentax K-5« »-83/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099- i Pentax K-5
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A6500« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II

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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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