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Pentax K-3 versus Sony RX10

The Pentax K-3 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced in October 2013. The K-3 is a DSLR, while the RX10 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (K-3) and an one-inch (RX10) 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 vs Sony RX10

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-3 and the Sony RX10. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size 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).

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

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX10 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Pentax 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 and possibly misleading, as the RX10 has a lens build in, whereas the K-3 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 gets 560 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the RX10 can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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)
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3» 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
Sony RX10« 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10
Canon G3 X« » 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 Y Jun 2015 999 i i Canon G3 X
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D7100« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199- i Nikon D7100
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Pentax KP« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.9 in 24.3 oz 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i i Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3 II« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i i Pentax K-3 II
Pentax K-5« » 5.2 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 26.8 oz 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099- i Pentax K-5
Sony A6500« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 Y Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II
Sony A99« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 Sony RX10

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and 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 Sony RX10 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 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 and Sony RX10 sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the K-3 offers a higher resolution than the RX10 (20MP), but the K-3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 2.41μm for the RX10) 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 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

K-3 versus RX10 MP

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 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX10, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3» APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680Pentax K-3
Sony RX10« 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.912.647469Sony RX10
Canon G3 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.412.352163Canon G3 X
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387Nikon D7200
Nikon D7100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683Nikon D7100
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
Pentax KP« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i----Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i----Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3 II« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680Pentax K-3 II
Pentax K-5« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282Pentax K-5
Sony A6500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.012.653170Sony RX10 II
Sony A99« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589Sony A99

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 provides a faster frame rate than the K-3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Pentax K-3 vs Sony RX10

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the RX10 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax K-3 and Sony RX10 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3»optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 Y Y Pentax K-3
Sony RX10«1440 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 10.0 Y Y Sony RX10
Canon G3 X« »- n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G3 X
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7200
Nikon D7100« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7100
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
Pentax KP« »optical n 3.0 921 tilting n 6000 7.0 Y Y Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 6000 6.0 Y Y Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3 II« »optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 n Y Pentax K-3 II
Pentax K-5« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y Y Pentax K-5
Sony A6500« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 II
Sony A99« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 6.0 n Y Sony A99

The K-3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX10 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The K-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the RX10 only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3»YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3
Sony RX10«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10
Canon G3 X« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon G3 X
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
Nikon D7200« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Nikon D7200
Nikon D7100« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D7100
Panasonic FZ1000« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000
Pentax KP« »YstereomonoY--2.0Y--Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3 II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3 II
Pentax K-5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Pentax K-5
Sony A6500« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 II
Sony A99« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Sony A99

Both the K-3 and the RX10 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-3 was replaced by the Pentax K-3 II, while the RX10 was followed by the Sony RX10 II.

Review summary: Pentax K-3 vs Sony RX10

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

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Advantages of the Pentax K-3:

  • 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.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.4 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 (560 versus 420) on a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.

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

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 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 (10 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the K-3 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (129x88mm vs 131x100mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-3 emerges as the winner of the contest (12 : 10 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

K-3 12:10 RX10

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the K-3 or the RX10. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Pentax K-3»-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
Sony RX10«Rec80/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10
Canon G3 X« »Rec-4.5/53.5/54/5 Jun 2015 999 i i Canon G3 X
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i Nikon D7200
Nikon D7100« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199- i Nikon D7100
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Pentax KP« »-82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
Pentax K-70« »-79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i i Pentax K-70
Pentax K-3 II« »--5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i i Pentax K-3 II
Pentax K-5« »-83/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099- i Pentax K-5
Sony A6500« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Sony RX10 II« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II
Sony A99« »-84/1004.5/5rev4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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