Pentax K-3 versus Olympus E-M1
The Pentax K-3 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and September 2013. The K-3 is a DSLR, while the E-M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (K-3) and a Four Thirds (E-M1) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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 vs Olympus E-M1
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 and the Olympus E-M1. 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 – 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 Olympus E-M1 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Pentax K-3. Moreover, the E-M1 is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the K-3. 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 (⇒ rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||YES||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||YES||2013||1,199||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|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||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 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||YES||2010||1,099||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||YES||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||YES||2012||2,799||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 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the E-M1 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 vs Olympus E-M1
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 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax K-3 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 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 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24.1MP, the K-3 offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 (15.9MP), but the K-3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M1) 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
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"). Of the two cameras under review, the K-3 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-M1 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.7||13.4||1216||80|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83|
|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|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|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 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.7||14.1||1162||82|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.9||12.6||474||69|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the K-3 provides a higher frame rate than the E-M1. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/30p.
Feature comparison: Pentax K-3 vs Olympus E-M1
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-M1 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the K-3 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 and Olympus E-M1 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 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||13||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||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|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||610||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||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 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||YES|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||7.0||13||YES|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||3200||10.0||10.2||YES|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||6.0||no||YES|
Both the K-3 and the E-M1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-M1 was replaced by the Olympus E-M1 II, while the K-3 was followed by the Pentax K-3 II.
Review summary: Pentax K-3 vs Olympus E-M1
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Pentax K-3 better than the Olympus E-M1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 15.9MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- 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 (560 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- 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.
- 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.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 303g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-3 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 6 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the K-3 and the E-M1 in practical situations. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ rgt)||-||83/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||83/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||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|
|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|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||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 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Pentax K-5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||83/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,099||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon 7D II vs Nikon D5
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Canon 1300D
- Fujifilm X-E2 vs Fujifilm X-M1
- Fujifilm X-E3 vs Canon M3
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Fujifilm X20
- Nikon D750 vs Nikon D5200
- Olympus E-M1 vs Canon 6D
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Fujifilm X30
- Panasonic FZ2000 vs Panasonic G9
- Panasonic GX80 vs Olympus TG-5
- Pentax K-3 vs Olympus PEN-F