Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D810

  • Full frame
  • 36 megapixels
  • Pentax KAF2
  • 60
    Overall
  • 42
    Imaging
  • 76
    Features
  • 70
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • Full frame
  • 36 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 55
    Overall
  • 36
    Imaging
  • 59
    Features
  • 69
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D810: a Complete Review and Comparison

Are you looking for the best camera to suit your needs? Due to a wide range of options, making a wise and weighted decision can be rather challenging. Which specs to keep in mind? What are the key pros and cons of each model? This comparison should give some helpful hints!

In this review, we are going to provide a detailed evaluation and comparison of two different camera models that fall into the same category - Semi-Pro DSLR. Although these cameras are from the same category, they were introduced by different brands - Pentax and Nikon. Although Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 cameras that we are going to review here have significant distinctive features, they also have something in common. Thus, the first common trait of both models is sensor. These cameras feature identical 36.0 MP CMOS sensors.

To get started, let’s take a look at some of the key features of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 and, after this, we can go on to our detailed comparison of these models.

Pentax K-1 Key Features:

  • 36.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 204800
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • 3.2″ Fully Articulated Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 4.4 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p)
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 137 x 110 x 86 mm
  • Weight: 1010 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced by Pentax K-1 II.

Nikon D810 Key Features:

  • 36.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 64 - 12800 (Expands to 32 - 51200)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 5.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p)
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 146 x 123 x 82 mm
  • Weight: 980 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced Nikon D800. Compare
  • Replaced by Nikon D850. Compare

Pentax K-1 was substituted by Pentax K-1 II.

Why is Pentax K-1 a better choice than Nikon D810

Gps Built-in vs Optional Has GPS
Image Stabilization Yes vs No All lenses are stabilized
Number Of Cross Focus Points 25 vs 15 10 more cross focus points
Screen Type Fully Articulated vs Fixed Type Flexible shooting positions
Dxo Low Light Iso 3280 vs 2853 Better High ISO performance

What are the key reasons to pick Nikon D810 over Pentax K-1

Continuous Shooting 5 fps vs 4.4 fps 0.6 fps faster
Built-In Flash Yes vs No All the lenses are stabilized
Flash Range 12 vs No 12 better flash range
Number Of Focus Points 51 vs 33 18 more focus points
Screen Resolution 1,229k dots vs 1,037k dots 15.6% higher resolution screen
Battery Life 1200 shots vs 760 shots 440 more frames with a single charge
Weight 980 g vs 1010 g 30 g lighter
Dxo Color Depth 25.7 vs 25.4 Better color depth
Dxo Dynamic Range 14.8 vs 14.6 Better dynamic range

Key PROs of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810

Screen Size 3.2″ | 3.2″ Large display
Screen Resolution 1,037k dots | 1,229k dots High resolution screen
Viewfinder Optical (pentaprism) | Optical (pentaprism) Better framing and control
Raw Support Yes | Yes Better image quality
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP | 36.0 MP Bigger prints and more details
AutoFocus Face Detection Yes | Yes Very handy for portraits
Microphone Port Yes | Yes High quality audio recording option
Headphone Port Yes | Yes Better video control
Timelapse Recording Yes | Yes Creative shooting
Storage Slots 2 slots | 2 slots Extra Storage Slots
Bracketing Yes | Yes Useful for tough lighting conditions and HDR
Flash Sync Port Yes | Yes Port for Flash Sync
Environmental Sealing Yes | Yes Shoot at tough conditions
Battery Life 760 shots | 1200 shots Big number of frames with a single charge

Key CONs of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810

Touch Screen No | No No touch screen
Continuous Shooting 4.4 fps | 5.0 fps Low continuous shooting

Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D810: Comparing Two Models By Physical Characteristics

Before heading straight to the technical characteristics of each model, let’s start with comparing their physical specs. Let’s start with looking at the physical difference of the two products. Below are images that clearly show the sizes of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 from the front view.

Pentax K-1
Nikon D810
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Now, let’s go on and see how the reviewed models are different or similar by the top view.

Pentax K-1
Nikon D810
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After looking at these images, you should get a clear idea of each model’s dimensions and how they are different from each other. However, we are not going to stop there. The next characteristic worth looking at is the weight. Of course, not every photographer is concerned about the weight, for example, it wouldn't be a decisive point for those who shoot in a studio. However, it is still an important factor because if you happen to go on a long photo session or just love having the camera with you wherever you go, you want to be sure that the chosen model isn't too heavy.

Speaking of weight, Nikon D810 is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 30g less than the Pentax K-1. This difference, in fact, can become a significant disadvantage for the photographers, who prefer to have their cameras with them wherever they go.

Battery values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Pentax K-1 — 760 shots
Nikon D810 — 1200 shots
Min: 390 shots
Average: 871 shots
Max: 1840 shots
Thickness values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Pentax K-1 — 86 mm
Nikon D810 — 82 mm
Min: 64 mm
Average: 75 mm
Max: 86 mm
Weight values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Pentax K-1 — 1010 g
Nikon D810 — 980 g
Min: 479 g
Average: 783 g
Max: 1074 g

Comparing Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 by the type of Sensor and Resolution

Sensor is, without a doubt, the most significant element of every digital camera. Its type, size, and resolution are the factors that define the quality of future shots. Thus, it is barely possible to pick a suitable camera without looking at these specs.

Are Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 any different in terms of sensor type?

In terms of sensor type and resolution, these models are identical. Both Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 come equipped with the same CMOS that has a resolution of 36.0 MP. Thus, if you are wondering, which option to choose, this is not a factor you should be looking at.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 by the size of their sensors.

Pentax K-1
Nikon D810
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Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 are identical by this indicator, as each feature a sensor of the same size. Thus, both cameras will provide the same level of control in terms of the depth of field if you use them with the same focal length and aperture.

For Which Fields Of Photography Are Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 Suitable?

If you are interested in photography or has made a career in this field, you should know that different types of shooting actually require different camera characteristics. While one model can produce outstanding portraits, at the same time, it can be terrible for shooting landscapes, and so on. Thus, before you purchase a specific camera, it is vital to decide, which type of shooting you do most often and consider an option that suits it the most.

This section of our comparison is devoted to the performance of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 in different fields of photography. Here we are going to look at the five main areas and evaluate how well each of the reviewed models performs in them. This will help you choose an option that suits your needs the most depending on your interest in one or several of these fields.

Photography Type Pentax K-1 Nikon D810
Portrait Photography
99%
94%
Street Photography
99%
89%
Sports Photography
95%
93%
Daily Photography
70%
39%
Landscape Photography
100%
99%

Pentax K-1 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Image Stabilization
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

No Significant Disadvantages

Nikon D810 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • No Image Stabilization

Pentax K-1 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Fully Articulated Screen
  • Image Stabilization
  • Large Full frame(35.9 x 24 mm) sensor

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (137 x 110 x 86 mm)

Nikon D810 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (1200 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Pentax K-1 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of CrossFocus Points (25)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (3280)
  • Big size (137 x 110 x 86 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (4.4 fps)
  • Smal Number of autofocus Points (33)
  • Small battery life (760 shots)

Nikon D810 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (51)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2853)
  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (5.0 fps)
  • Small Number of CrossFocus Points (15)
  • Bad Max Native ISO (12800)

Pentax K-1 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (1010 g)
  • Big size (137 x 110 x 86 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

Nikon D810 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • Built-in Flash
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (980 g)
  • Big size (146 x 123 x 82 mm)

Pentax K-1 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.6)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (3280)

Disadvantages:

No Significant Disadvantages

Nikon D810 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (36 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.8)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2853)

Disadvantages:

  • Bad Max Native ISO (12800)

Comparison of Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D810: Final Verdict

Hopefully, our detailed overview of these models has helped you consider all the main specs, pros and cons of each cameras. Maybe, after reading this comparison, some of you have already decided which option to opt for depending on your needs and preferences. However, if you are still wondering which option is a better choice, Pentax K-1 or Nikon D810, below you can see what scores each of them received in five different aspects. To wrap up, we have used our unique Decision Algorithm that assesses different camera models upon 63 different factors including their price, and, if possible, DxO Mark scores. This algorithm allows us to make our verdict more consistent and objective.

What is our final verdict? Based on our comparison and the final scores of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D810 here is what we can say in conclusion:

According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Pentax K-1 deserves a higher Total Score than the Nikon D810. Thus, if you are choosing between these options, we would recommend you to choose the first model over the other one.

Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D810 Table Of Technical Specs

For better understanding of each model’s technical characteristics, find the detailed comparison below:

Pentax K-1 Nikon D810
General
Brand Pentax Nikon
Model K-1 D810
Announced Feb 17, 2016 Jun 26, 2014
Body Type Mid-size SLR Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame Full frame
Sensor Dimensions 35.9 x 24 mm 35.9 x 24 mm
Sensor Area 861.60 mm2 861.60 mm2
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP 36.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 7360 x 4912 7360 x 4912
Max Native ISO 204,800 12,800
Max Boosted ISO n/a 51,200
Min Native ISO 100 64
RAW Support Yes Yes
Lens
Manual Focus Yes Yes
Lens Mount Pentax KAF2 Nikon F
Number of Lenses 144 287
Focal Length Multiplier 1x 1x
Macro Focus Range
AutoFocus
AF Touch No No
AF Continuous Yes Yes
AF Single Yes Yes
AF Tracking Yes Yes
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center Yes No
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection Yes Yes
AF Contrast Detection Yes No
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points 33 51
Number of Cross Focus Points 25 15
Screen
Screen Type Fully Articulated Fixed Type
Screen Size 3.2″ 3.2″
Screen Resolution 1,037k dots 1,229k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen No No
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 0k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.7 0.7
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 4.4 fps 5.0 fps
Shutter Priority Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Yes Yes
Manual Exposure Mode Yes Yes
Exposure Compensation Yes Yes
Custom White Balance Yes Yes
Image Stabilization Yes No
Built-in Flash No Yes
Flash Range 0 12
Flash Modes Auto Flash Discharge, Auto Flash + Red-eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash On + Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync + Red-eye, P-TTL, Trailing Curtain Sync, Contrast-control-sync, High-speed sync, Wireless sync Front-curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, redeye reduction, redeye reduction w/slow sync, slow rear-curtain sync
External Flash Yes Yes
AE Bracketing Yes Yes
WB Bracketing No Yes
Exposure Modes
Multi-Segment Yes Yes
Average No Yes
Spot Yes Yes
Partial No No
AF-Area Yes No
Center Weighted Yes Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 96 97
DxO Color Depth 25.4 25.7
DxO Dynamic Range 14.6 14.8
DxO Low Light ISO 3280 2853
Video Features
Video Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p) 1920 x 1080 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p)
Max Video Resolution 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Video Formats MPEG-4, H.264 MPEG-4, H.264
Microphone Port Yes Yes
Headphone Port Yes Yes
Connectivity
Wireless Connectivity Yes Yes
HDMI Yes Yes
USB USB 2.0 USB 3.0
Physical
Environmental Sealing Yes Yes
Water Proof No No
Dust Proof No No
Shock Proof No No
Crush Proof No No
Freeze Proof No No
Weight 1010 g 980 g
Physical Dimensions 137 x 110 x 86 mm 146 x 123 x 82 mm
Battery Life 760 shots 1200 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model D-LI90 EN-EL15
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Built-in Optional
Storage Type Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) SD/SDHC/SDXC, CompactFlash (UDMA compliant)
Storage Slots 2 2

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