Pentax K-5 vs Sony NEX-5N
The Pentax K-5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and August 2011. The K-5 is a DSLR, while the NEX-5N is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-5 and the Sony NEX-5N is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5N can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the K-5 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5N is considerably smaller (48 percent) than the Pentax K-5. Moreover, the NEX-5N is substantially lighter (65 percent) than the K-5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the K-5 is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-5N does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|5.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099||ebay.com|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|7.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Pentax K-500||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||646 g||710||n||Jun 2013||549||ebay.com|
|9.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299||ebay.com|
|10.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849||ebay.com|
|11.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||110 mm||60 mm||33 mm||225 g||400||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 NEX-5N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 36 percent) than the K-5, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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 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, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-5N is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 16.1MP, the K-5 offers a slightly higher resolution than the NEX-5N (16MP), but the K-5 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-5N) due to its larger sensor. However, the NEX-5N is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the K-5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Pentax K-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 80-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5N are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 review, the K-5 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NEX-5N (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.099999999999998 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|3.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|4.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|11.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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 NEX-5N provides a faster frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/25p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-5 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5N relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-5 and Sony NEX-5N along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Pentax K-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0 / 610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Pentax KP||optical||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/6000s||7.0/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3/s||n||Y|
|7.||Pentax K-50||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Pentax K-500||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Pentax K-3||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Pentax K-30||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony NEX-5R||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Sony NEX-F3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||n|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The K-5 has one, while the NEX-5N does not. While the built-in flash of the K-5 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The NEX-5N has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the K-5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Pentax K-5 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The K-5 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Pentax K-5 and Sony Alpha NEX-5N and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Pentax K-5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Pentax KP||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||-||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Pentax K-50||Y||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Pentax K-500||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Pentax K-3||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Pentax K-30||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony NEX-5R||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Sony NEX-F3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the K-5 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-5N. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the NEX-5N) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the K-5 and the NEX-5N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The K-5 was replaced by the Pentax K-5 II, while the NEX-5N was followed by the Sony NEX-5R. Further information on the features and operation of the K-5 and NEX-5N can be found, respectively, in the Pentax K-5 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony NEX-5N Manual.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-5 and the Sony NEX-5N? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-5:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (740 versus 460) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-5N:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/25p).
- 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 131x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 491g or 65 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (36 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-5 emerges as the winner of the contest (13 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-5 and the Sony NEX-5N place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
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 shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the K-5 or the NEX-5N. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|3.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|4.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|5.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||3/5||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099||ebay.com|
|6.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|7.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599||ebay.com|
|8.||Pentax K-500||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||549||ebay.com|
|9.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299||ebay.com|
|10.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849||ebay.com|
|11.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099||ebay.com|
|12.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Sony NEX-F3||4/5||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|15.||Sony NEX-C3||3/5||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 100D vs Sony NEX-5N
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Pentax K-5
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Sony NEX-5N
- Canon D30 vs Pentax K-5
- Canon M5 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Canon SX730 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Hasselblad X1D II vs Pentax K-5
- Leica S Typ 007 vs Sony NEX-5N
- Leica SL vs Pentax K-5
- Nikon Df vs Sony NEX-5N
- Panasonic ZS200 vs Pentax K-5
- Pentax K-5 vs Sony ZV-E10
Specifications: Pentax K-5 vs Sony NEX-5N
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Pentax K-5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,099||USD 699|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax K-5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.7 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.09 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.81 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.32 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/25p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||PRIME II||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||77|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.1||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1162||1079|
|Screen Specs||Pentax K-5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax K-5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax K-5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Pentax K-5||Sony NEX-5N|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||740 shots per charge||460 shots per charge|
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
111 x 59 x 38 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||760 g (26.8 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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