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Pentax K-S1 vs K-S2

The Pentax K-S1 and the Pentax K-S2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2014 and February 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-S1
versus
Pentax K-S2
Pentax K-S1 Pentax K-S2
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
20 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)
5.4 shutter flaps per second 5.4 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
410 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
121 x 93 x 70 mm, 558 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-S1 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Pentax K-S1 and the Pentax K-S2 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The K-S1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, grey, orange, white), while the K-S2 is available in six color-versions (black, grey, pink, orange, green, white).

Size Pentax K-S1 vs Pentax K-S2
Compare K-S1 versus K-S2 top
Comparison K-S1 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-S1 and the Pentax K-S2 are of equal size. However, the K-S2 is markedly heavier (22 percent) than the K-S1. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-S2 is splash and dust-proof, while the K-S1 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749 i
2.
 
Pentax K-S2 123 mm 91 mm 73 mm 678 g 410 Y Feb 2015 749 i
3.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749 i
4.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799 i
5.
 
Pentax KP 132 mm 101 mm 76 mm 703 g 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i
6.
 
Pentax K-70 126 mm 93 mm 74 mm 688 g 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i
8.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599 i
9.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549 i
10.
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299 i
11.
 
Pentax K-30 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y May 2012 849 i
12.
 
Sony A68 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 610 g 540 n Nov 2015 699 i
13.
 
Sony A58 129 mm 95 mm 78 mm 492 g 690 n Feb 2013 599 i
Notes: 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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

Pentax K-S1 and Pentax K-S2 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the K-S1 and the K-S2 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the K-S2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the K-S1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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.

The Pentax K-S1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. The Pentax K-S2 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

K-S1 versus K-S2 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.01061 78
2.
 
Pentax K-S2 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p...... ..
3.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.0919 71
4.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.91338 83
5.
 
Pentax KP APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i...... ..
6.
 
Pentax K-70 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i...... ..
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.61106 80
8.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.01120 79
9.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.11087 79
10.
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.41216 80
11.
 
Pentax K-30 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.01129 79
12.
 
Sony A68 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.5701 79
13.
 
Sony A58 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.312.5753 74

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-S1 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%), as well as the same magnification (0.63x). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Pentax K-S1 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-S1optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
2.
 
Pentax K-S2optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
3.
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Pentax KPoptical n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/6000s 7.0 Y Y
6.
 
Pentax K-70optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
7.
 
Pentax K-3 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y
8.
 
Pentax K-50optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
9.
 
Pentax K-500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
10.
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
11.
 
Pentax K-30optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
12.
 
Sony A681440 Y 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
13.
 
Sony A581440 n 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 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-S1 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Pentax K-S2 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the K-S1 and the K-S2 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

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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-S1 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-S1Ystereomono--micro2.0---
2.
 
Pentax K-S2YmonomonoY-micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Pentax KPYstereomonoY--2.0Y--
6.
 
Pentax K-70YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Pentax K-3 IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
8.
 
Pentax K-50Ymonomono--micro2.0---
9.
 
Pentax K-500Ymonomono---2.0---
10.
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
11.
 
Pentax K-30Ymonomono---2.0---
12.
 
Sony A68YstereomonoY-micro2.0---
13.
 
Sony A58YstereomonoY-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-S1 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-S1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-S1 was succeeded by the Pentax K-S2. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-S1 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-S1:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 120g or 18 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2014).


Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-S2:

  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • 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.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • 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.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 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 (8 : 2 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-S1 02:08 K-S2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-S1 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the K-S1 and the K-S2 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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-S14/5....4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749 i
2.
 
Pentax K-S24.5/5....5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749 i
3.
 
Canon T6i5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749 i
4.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799 i
5.
 
Pentax KP4/5..82/1005/54.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i
6.
 
Pentax K-704.5/5..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II4.5/5....5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i
8.
 
Pentax K-505/5....5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599 i
9.
 
Pentax K-500......4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549 i
10.
 
Pentax K-34/5..83/1005/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299 i
11.
 
Pentax K-304/5..78/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 849 i
12.
 
Sony A683/5....4/54/5 Nov 2015 699 i
13.
 
Sony A583/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 599 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Pentax K-S1:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Pentax K-S1 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-S1 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 August 2014 February 2015
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-S1 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 20 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5472 x 3648 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.28 μm 4.28 μm
    Pixel Density 5.45 MP/cm2 5.45 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA 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 MII PRIME MII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 78 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.5 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.0 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1061 ..
    Screen Specs Pentax K-S1 Pentax K-S2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x 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-S1 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 5.4 shutter flaps/s 5.4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer 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 UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-S1 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-S1 Pentax K-S2
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI109 D-LI109
    Battery Life (CIPA)410 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 121 x 93 x 70 mm
    (4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
    123 x 91 x 73 mm
    (4.8 x 3.6 x 2.9 in)
    Camera Weight 558 g (19.7 oz) 678 g (23.9 oz)

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