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Pentax K-3 II versus Panasonic GX8

The Pentax K-3 II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2015 and July 2015. The K-3 II is a DSLR, while the GX8 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (K-3 II) and a Four Thirds (GX8) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic 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 Panasonic GX8

The physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 II and the Panasonic GX8 are illustrated 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. 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 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax K-3 II vs Panasonic GX8
Compare K-3 II versus GX8 top
Compare K-3 II and GX8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX8 is notably smaller (21 percent) than the Pentax K-3 II. Moreover, the GX8 is substantially lighter (39 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 GX8 can take 330 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLC12 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)
Pentax K-3 II» 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i i
Panasonic GX8« 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i
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-M5 II« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 16.5 oz 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099 i i
Panasonic GX9« » 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.9 in 14.4 oz 260 n Feb 2018 849 i i
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Panasonic GX7« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 14.2 oz 350 n Aug 2013 999- i
Pentax KP« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i i
Pentax K-70« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.9 in 24.3 oz 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i i
Pentax K-3« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i
Pentax K-5« » 5.2 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 26.8 oz 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099- i
Sony RX10 II« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 Y Jun 2015 1,299- i

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 somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the GX8 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 Panasonic GX8

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. 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax K-3 II features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GX8 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GX8 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 GX8 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Pentax K-3 II and Panasonic GX8 sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution than the GX8 (20.2MP), but the K-3 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.34μm for the GX8) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-3 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the GX8, 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).

K-3 II versus GX8 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the K-3 II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the GX8 (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.1 bits higher color depth, 1 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Pentax K-3 II» APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680
Panasonic GX8« Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Olympus E-M5 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
Panasonic GX9« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p----
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
Panasonic GX7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.612.271870
Pentax KP« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i----
Pentax K-70« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i----
Pentax K-3« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
Pentax K-5« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282
Sony RX10 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.012.653170

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the GX8 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 Panasonic GX8

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GX8 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-3 II and Panasonic GX8 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Pentax K-3 II»optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 n Y
Panasonic GX8«2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Olympus E-M5 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Panasonic GX9« »2760 n 3.0 1240 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y Y
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y
Panasonic GX7« »2760 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 8000 5.0 Y Y
Pentax KP« »optical n 3.0 921 tilting n 6000 7.0 Y Y
Pentax K-70« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 6000 6.0 Y Y
Pentax K-3« »optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 Y Y
Pentax K-5« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y Y
Sony RX10 II« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 14.0 Y Y

The K-3 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the GX8 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GX8 was succeeded by the Panasonic GX9.

Review summary: Pentax K-3 II vs Panasonic GX8

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax K-3 II or the Panasonic GX8 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3 II:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% 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.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 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.
  • Easier setting verification: Has 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 330) on a single battery charge.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • 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 (10 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (133x78mm vs 131x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 313g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-3 II comes out slightly ahead of the GX8 (10 : 9 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 10:09 GX8

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the K-3 II or the GX8 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Pentax K-3 II»--5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i i
Panasonic GX8«Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-M5 II« »HiRec81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099 i i
Panasonic GX9« »Rec-4.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2018 849 i i
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Panasonic GX7« »Rec79/1005/54.5/55/5 Aug 2013 999- i
Pentax KP« »-82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i i
Pentax K-70« »-79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i i
Pentax K-3« »-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i
Pentax K-5« »-83/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099- i
Sony RX10 II« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2015 1,299- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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