Pentax K-3 versus Sony A6500
The Pentax K-3 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2013 and October 2016. The K-3 is a DSLR, while the A6500 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.
The physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 and the Sony A6500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 – the K-3 – represents 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 Sony A6500 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Pentax K-3. Moreover, the A6500 is substantially lighter (43 percent) than the K-3. Cameras intended for semi-professional or professional use tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary ruggedness. 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||YES||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||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 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||..||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||YES||2015||1,199||latest||check|
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||YES||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||YES||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||YES||2016||1,499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||YES||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||YES||2014||1,999||latest||check|
|Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||YES||2014||1,199||latest||check|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||YES||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
The listed 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 A6500 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 tend to be more expensive and 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the K-3 offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the A6500. This megapixel advantage translates into a 0 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the K-3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.92μm for the A6500). However, it should be noted that the A6500 is much more recent (by 3 years) than the K-3, and its sensor will 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 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 consideration, the A6500 has a markedly higher DXO score than the K-3 (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 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|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|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 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|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 K-3 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.9||12.6||474||69|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A6500 provides a better video resolution than the K-3. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6500 has an electronic viewfinder (2300k 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 Sony A6500 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.
|Pentax K-3 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||13||YES|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||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 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||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 K-3 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||fixed||no||8000||8.3||no||YES|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||20.0||no||YES|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||no||4000||11.0||6||no|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||14.0||10.8||no|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||3200||14.0||10.2||no|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||12.0||12||YES|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||3200||10.0||10.2||no|
The A6500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the K-3 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-3 was succeeded by the Pentax K-3 II.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-3 and the Pentax K-3? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-3:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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 a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (560 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2013).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6500:
- 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 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.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- 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 347g or 43 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the K-3 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 8 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.
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 A6500 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. 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. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of 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|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||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 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||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||latest||check|
|Pentax K-3 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||..||89/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,999||latest||check|
|Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||2014||1,199||latest||check|
|Sony RX10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,299||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. 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, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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