Pentax K-S2 vs Sony A6400
The Pentax K-S2 and the Sony Alpha A6400 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2015 and January 2019. The K-S2 is a DSLR, while the A6400 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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-S2 and the Sony Alpha A6400? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Pentax K-S2 and the Sony A6400 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-S2 can be obtained in six different colors (black, grey, pink, orange, green, white), while the A6400 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 A6400 is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Pentax K-S2. Moreover, the A6400 is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the K-S2. 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 power pack in the A6400 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|2.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|3.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|6.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|7.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|9.||Pentax K-S1||121 mm||93 mm||70 mm||558 g||410||n||Aug 2014||749|
|10.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|11.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|12.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|13.||Sony A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|14.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The K-S2 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the A6400, 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. 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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 A6400 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the K-S2. This megapixels advantage translates into a 10 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the A6400 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.28μm for the K-S2). However, it should be noted that the A6400 is much more recent (by 3 years and 11 months) than the K-S2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 Sony A6400 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6400 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-S2 are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A6400 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Pentax K-S2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6400 are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400.
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|5.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A6400 provides a better video resolution than the K-S2. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6400 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the K-S2 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the A6400 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-S2 (0.70x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax K-S2, the Sony A6400, and comparable cameras.
|5.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the K-S2 and the A6400 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-S2 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the A6400 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A6400 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
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.
The K-S2 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A6400 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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-S2 and Sony Alpha A6400 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Both the K-S2 and the A6400 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The K-S2 replaced the earlier Pentax K-S1, while the A6400 followed on from the Sony A6300. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax K-S2 or the Sony A6400 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-S2:
- 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.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2015).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6400:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.63x).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 123x91mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 275g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the K-S2 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6400 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 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 before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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-S2 and the Sony A6400 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the K-S2 or the A6400 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
|1.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|2.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|3.||Canon M50||..||+||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|5.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|6.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|7.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|9.||Pentax K-S1||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||749|
|10.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|11.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|12.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|13.||Sony A6100||..||..||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|14.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Pentax K-S2 vs Sony A6400
|Camera Model||Pentax K-S2||Sony A6400|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||January 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax K-S2||Sony A6400|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.28 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.45 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||PRIME MII||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1431|
|Screen Specs||Pentax K-S2||Sony A6400|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax K-S2||Sony A6400|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/6000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5.4 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax K-S2||Sony A6400|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Pentax K-S2||Sony A6400|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||410 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
123 x 91 x 73 mm
(4.8 x 3.6 x 2.9 in)
120 x 67 x 50 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||678 g (23.9 oz)||403 g (14.2 oz)|