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Pentax K-3 II versus Sony A6300

The Pentax K-3 II and the Sony Alpha A6300 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2015 and February 2016. The K-3 II is a DSLR, while the A6300 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 Sony A6300

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 II and the Sony A6300. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax K-3 II vs Sony A6300
Compare K-3 II versus A6300 top
Compare K-3 II and A6300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6300 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Pentax K-3 II. Moreover, the A6300 is substantially lighter (50 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 A6300 can take 400 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 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
Sony A6300« 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i
Nikon D5500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- 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 GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- 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
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A6000« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- 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 A6300 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the K-3 II 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 Sony A6300

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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Pentax K-3 II and Sony A6300 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the K-3 II offers a slightly higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the A6300. This megapixel advantage translates into a 0.3 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the K-3 II has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.91μm for the A6300). Moreover, it should be noted that the A6300 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 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 individual pixels. 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 A6300, 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 A6300 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A6300 has a markedly higher DXO score than the K-3 II (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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
Sony A6300« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
Nikon D5500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
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 GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
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
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782

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 A6300 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 Sony A6300

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6300 has an electronic viewfinder (2300k 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 Sony A6300 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.

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
Sony A6300«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Nikon D5500« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 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 GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n 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
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n

The K-3 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A6300 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A6300 was succeeded by the Sony A6500.

Review summary: Pentax K-3 II vs Sony A6300

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax K-3 II or the Sony A6300 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3 II:

  • 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: 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.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (720 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2015).

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6300:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 131x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 396g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (9 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6300 emerges as the winner of the match-up (12 : 10 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

K-3 II 10:12 A6300

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-3 II or the A6300 handle or perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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
Sony A6300«Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i
Nikon D5500« »Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- 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 GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- 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
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A6000« »Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i

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. 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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