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Pentax K-50 vs K-S2

The Pentax K-50 and the Pentax K-S2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2013 and February 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The K-50 has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the K-S2 provides 20 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-50 versus Pentax K-S2
Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 20 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-51,200 ISO 100-51,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 921k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 5.4 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
410 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
130 x 97 x 71 mm, 650 g 123 x 91 x 73 mm, 678 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-50 and the Pentax K-S2? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-50 and the Pentax K-S2. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The K-50 can be obtained in three different colors (black, red, white), while the K-S2 is available in six color-versions (black, grey, pink, orange, green, white).

Size Pentax K-50 vs Pentax K-S2
Compare K-50 versus K-S2 top
Comparison K-50 or K-S2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-S2 is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Pentax K-50. However, the K-S2 is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the K-50. 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 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599i
2.
 
Pentax K-S2 123 mm 91 mm 73 mm 678 g 410 Y Feb 2015 749 i
3.
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699i
5.
 
Panasonic GH4 133 mm 93 mm 84 mm 560 g 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499i
6.
 
Pentax KP 132 mm 101 mm 76 mm 703 g 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i
7.
 
Pentax K-70 126 mm 93 mm 74 mm 688 g 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i
8.
 
Pentax K-3 II 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099i
9.
 
Pentax K-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749i
10.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549i
11.
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
12.
 
Pentax K-30 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y May 2012 849i
13.
 
Pentax K-5 II 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2012 1,099i
14.
 
Pentax K-5 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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. The K-50 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the K-S2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

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.

Technology-wise, the K-S2 uses a more advanced image processing engine (PRIME MII) than the K-50 (PRIME M), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Pentax K-50 and Pentax K-S2 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the K-S2 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the K-50. This megapixels advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the K-S2 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.28μm versus 4.77μm for the K-50). However, it should be noted that the K-S2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the K-50, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-S2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-S2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-S2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-50 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Pentax K-50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. The Pentax K-S2 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

K-50 versus K-S2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112079
2.
 
Pentax K-S2 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p........
3.
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
5.
 
Panasonic GH4 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174
6.
 
Pentax KP APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i........
7.
 
Pentax K-70 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i........
8.
 
Pentax K-3 II APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680
9.
 
Pentax K-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.0106178
10.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.1108779
11.
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
12.
 
Pentax K-30 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112979
13.
 
Pentax K-5 II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.814.1123582
14.
 
Pentax K-5 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The K-50 and the K-S2 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the K-S2 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-50 (0.63x vs 0.61x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-50 and Pentax K-S2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Pentax K-50optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
2.
 
Pentax K-S2optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
3.
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
4.
 
Olympus E-M101440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
5.
 
Panasonic GH42359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 Y n
6.
 
Pentax KPoptical n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/6000s 7.0 Y Y
7.
 
Pentax K-70optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
8.
 
Pentax K-3 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y
9.
 
Pentax K-S1optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
10.
 
Pentax K-500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
11.
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
12.
 
Pentax K-30optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
13.
 
Pentax K-5 IIoptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
14.
 
Pentax K-5optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
The K-S2 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-50 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Pentax K-50 and the Pentax K-S2 both have 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the K-50 and the K-S2 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-S2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the K-50 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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Connectivity comparison

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-50 and Pentax K-S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Pentax K-50Ymonomono--micro2.0---
2.
 
Pentax K-S2YmonomonoY-micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
4.
 
Olympus E-M10Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
5.
 
Panasonic GH4YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
6.
 
Pentax KPYstereomonoY--2.0Y--
7.
 
Pentax K-70YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
8.
 
Pentax K-3 IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
9.
 
Pentax K-S1Ystereomono--micro2.0---
10.
 
Pentax K-500Ymonomono---2.0---
11.
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
12.
 
Pentax K-30Ymonomono---2.0---
13.
 
Pentax K-5 IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Pentax K-5YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the K-S2 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the K-50 does not provide wifi capability.

The K-S2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the K-50 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-50 was succeeded by the Pentax K-70. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax website.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-50 and the Pentax K-S2? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Pentax K-50:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2013).


Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-S2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (PRIME MII vs PRIME M).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.61x).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (123x91mm vs 130x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-S2 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 3 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

K-50 03:12 K-S2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-50 and the Pentax K-S2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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-50 or the K-S2. 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Pentax K-505/5....5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599i
2.
 
Pentax K-S24.5/5....5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749 i
3.
 
Nikon Df4/5..81/1004/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
4.
 
Olympus E-M104/5..80/1005/55/5 Jan 2014 699i
5.
 
Panasonic GH45/5+ +85/1005/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499i
6.
 
Pentax KP4/5..82/1005/54.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i
7.
 
Pentax K-704.5/5..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i
8.
 
Pentax K-3 II4.5/5....5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099i
9.
 
Pentax K-S14/5....4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749i
10.
 
Pentax K-500......4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549i
11.
 
Pentax K-34/5..83/1005/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
12.
 
Pentax K-304/5..78/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 849i
13.
 
Pentax K-5 II5/5..80/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,099i
14.
 
Pentax K-54/5..83/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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.

Pentax K-50:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax K-S2:
Check Amazon price

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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Pentax K-50 vs Pentax K-S2

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date June 2013 February 2015
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.77 μm 4.28 μm
    Pixel Density 4.39 MP/cm2 5.45 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 51,200 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    Image Processor PRIME M PRIME MII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 79 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.0 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1120 ..
    Screen Specs Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.61x 0.63x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/6000s 1/6000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 5.4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Pentax K-50 Pentax K-S2
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI109 D-LI109
    Battery Life (CIPA)410 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 130 x 97 x 71 mm
    (5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
    123 x 91 x 73 mm
    (4.8 x 3.6 x 2.9 in)
    Camera Weight 650 g (22.9 oz) 678 g (23.9 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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