Pentax KP vs Sony A9 II
The Pentax KP and the Sony Alpha A9 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2017 and October 2019. The KP is a DSLR, while the A9 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (KP) and a full frame (A9 II) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 24.1 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 KP and the Sony Alpha A9 II? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Pentax KP and the Sony A9 II. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The KP can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A9 II 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 A9 II is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Pentax KP. Moreover, the A9 II is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the KP. 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.
Concerning battery life, the KP gets 390 shots out of its D-LI109 battery, while the A9 II can take 690 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A9 II can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|2.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|3.||Fujifilm X-H1||140 mm||97 mm||86 mm||673 g||310||Y||Feb 2018||1,899|
|4.||Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|5.||Pentax K-3 III||135 mm||104 mm||74 mm||820 g||800||Y||Mar 2021||1,999|
|6.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|7.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|9.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|10.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|11.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|12.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|13.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|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 A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The KP was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the A9 II, 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. 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. 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Pentax KP features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A9 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A9 II is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Pentax KP offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 24 MP of the Sony A9 II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 5.94μm for the A9 II). Moreover, it should be noted that the A9 II is much more recent (by 2 years and 8 months) than the KP, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the KP has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The A9 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the A9 II, the KP has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Pentax KP has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 819200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A9 II are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|5.||Pentax K-3 III||APS-C||25.6||6192||4128||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|10.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|12.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|13.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|14.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
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 A9 II provides a better video resolution than the KP. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A9 II has an electronic viewfinder (3686k dots), while the KP 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 A9 II has a higher magnification than the one of the KP (0.78x vs 0.63x), 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 KP and Sony A9 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Pentax K-3 III||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|10.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||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 difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The KP has one, while the A9 II does not. While the built-in flash of the KP is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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, both cameras under consideration feature an 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 KP and the Sony A9 II 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 KP and the A9 II write their files to SDXC cards. The A9 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the KP only has one slot. The A9 II supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the KP can use UHS-I 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 KP and Sony Alpha A9 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Pentax K-3 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|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||-|
It is notable that the A9 II has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The KP lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 II (unlike the KP) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the KP and the A9 II are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A9 II replaced the earlier Sony A9, while the KP does not have a direct predecessor. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Pentax KP better than the Sony A9 II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax KP:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (76 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2017).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A9 II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.63x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (690 versus 390) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the KP launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 II is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 6 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. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax KP and the Sony A9 II 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the KP or the A9 II. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|2.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|3.||Fujifilm X-H1||..||+||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,899|
|4.||Nikon D7500||4.5/5||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|5.||Pentax K-3 III||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2021||1,999|
|6.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|7.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|8.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|9.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|10.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|11.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|12.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|13.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|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 A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Pentax KP vs Sony A9 II
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 KP||Sony A9 II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Pentax K mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2017||October 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 1,099||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax KP||Sony A9 II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.90 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.56 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60i Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 819,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||PRIME IV||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3434|
|Screen Specs||Pentax KP||Sony A9 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax KP||Sony A9 II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/6000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||500 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/24000s||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax KP||Sony A9 II|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Pentax KP||Sony A9 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||390 shots per charge||690 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
132 x 101 x 76 mm
(5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
129 x 96 x 76 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||703 g (24.8 oz)||678 g (23.9 oz)|
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