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Pentax K-3 II versus Sony RX10 II

The Pentax K-3 II and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2015 and June 2015. The K-3 II is a DSLR, while the RX10 II is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (K-3 II) and an one-inch (RX10 II) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 20 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 RX10 II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 II and the Sony RX10 II. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side 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 side – the K-3 II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Pentax K-3 II vs Sony RX10 II
Compare K-3 II versus RX10 II top
Compare K-3 II and RX10 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX10 II is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Pentax 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 and possibly misleading, as the RX10 II has a lens build in, whereas the K-3 II is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

Concerning battery life, the K-3 II gets 720 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the RX10 II 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 RX10 II« 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 Y Jun 2015 1,299- i
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon G3 X« » 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 Y Jun 2015 999 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 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 III« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 Y Mar 2016 1,499- i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony RX10« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 Y Oct 2013 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. 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 RX10 II

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 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 Sony RX10 II an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 II is 68 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Pentax K-3 II and Sony RX10 II sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution than the RX10 II (20MP), but the K-3 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 2.41μm for the RX10 II) 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 RX10 II, 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 RX10 II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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-3 II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the RX10 II (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 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 RX10 II« 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.012.653170
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
Canon G3 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.412.352163
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 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.112.647270
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony RX10« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.912.647469

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the RX10 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 Sony RX10 II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the RX10 II has an electronic viewfinder (2359k 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax K-3 II, the Sony RX10 II, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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 RX10 II«2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 14.0 Y Y
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon G3 X« »- n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
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 III« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 14.0 Y Y
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony RX10« »1440 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 10.0 Y Y

The K-3 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the RX10 II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX10 II was succeeded by the Sony RX10 III.

Review summary: Pentax K-3 II vs Sony RX10 II

So how do things add up? Is the Pentax K-3 II better than the Sony RX10 II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3 II:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 20MP) with a 10% 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 (10 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 (1.1 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.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 3200/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (720 versus 400) on a single battery charge.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II:

  • 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 detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the K-3 II requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (129x88mm vs 131x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-3 II emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 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 11:09 RX10 II

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the K-3 II or the RX10 II. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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 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 RX10 II«HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2015 1,299- i
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon G3 X« »Rec-4.5/53.5/54/5 Jun 2015 999 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 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 III« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2016 1,499- i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony RX10« »Rec80/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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