Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D850

  • Full frame
  • 36 megapixels
  • Pentax KAF2
  • 60
    Overall
  • 42
    Imaging
  • 76
    Features
  • 70
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • Full frame
  • 46 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 63
    Overall
  • 46
    Imaging
  • 85
    Features
  • 69
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D850: 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. Models we are reviewing in this article have different types of sensors, Thus, Pentax K-1 is equipped with a 36.0 MP CMOS sensor. Nikon D850, on the contrary, features BSI-CMOS sensor with a resolution of 46.0 MP.

To get started, let’s take a look at some of the key features of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D850 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 D850 Key Features:

  • 46.0 MP Full frame BSI-CMOS sensor
  • ISO 64 - 25600 (Expands to 32 - 102400)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Tilting Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 7.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 146 x 124 x 79 mm
  • Weight: 1015 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Replaced Nikon D810. Compare

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

Why is Pentax K-1 a better choice than Nikon D850

Gps Built-in vs No Has GPS
Sensor Area 861.6 mm2 vs 858.01 mm2 0.4% larger pixel area
Image Stabilization Yes vs No All lenses are stabilized
Screen Type Fully Articulated vs Tilting Flexible shooting positions
Weight 1010 g vs 1015 g 5 g lighter
Dxo Low Light Iso 3280 vs 2660 Better High ISO performance

What are the key reasons to pick Nikon D850 over Pentax K-1

NFC Yes vs No Easy wireless connectivity with compatible devices
Bluetooth Yes vs No Connect your camera to other devices via Bluetooth
Sensor Resolution 46.0 MP vs 36.0 MP 21.7% more pixels
Continuous Shooting 7 fps vs 4.4 fps 2.6 fps faster
Number Of Focus Points 153 vs 33 120 more focus points
Number Of Cross Focus Points 99 vs 25 74 more cross focus points
Screen Resolution 2,359k dots vs 1,037k dots 56% higher resolution screen
Touch Screen Yes vs No Easy control of camera functions
Battery Life 1840 shots vs 760 shots 1080 more frames with a single charge
Max Video Resolution 3840 x 2160 vs 1920 x 1080 Higher Resolution Video
Dxo Color Depth 26.4 vs 25.4 Better color depth
Dxo Dynamic Range 14.8 vs 14.6 Better dynamic range
Viewfinder Magnification 0.75 vs 0.7 0.05 better magnification

Key PROs of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D850

Screen Size 3.2″ | 3.2″ Large display
Screen Resolution 1,037k dots | 2,359k dots High resolution screen
Screen Type Fully Articulated | Tilting Help viewing and changing settings easily
Viewfinder Optical (pentaprism) | Optical (pentaprism) Better framing and control
Raw Support Yes | Yes Better image quality
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP | 46.0 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 | 1840 shots Big number of frames with a single charge

Key CONs of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D850

Continuous Shooting 4.4 fps | 7.0 fps Low continuous shooting
Built-In Flash No | No No built-in flash

Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D850: 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 D850 from the front view.

Pentax K-1
Nikon D850
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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 D850
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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, Pentax K-1 is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 5g less than the Nikon D850. 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 D850 — 1840 shots
Min: 390 shots
Average: 871 shots
Max: 1840 shots
Thickness values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Pentax K-1 — 86 mm
Nikon D850 — 79 mm
Min: 64 mm
Average: 75 mm
Max: 86 mm
Weight values for Semi-Pro DSLR cameras:
Pentax K-1 — 1010 g
Nikon D850 — 1015 g
Min: 479 g
Average: 783 g
Max: 1074 g

Comparing Pentax K-1 and Nikon D850 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 D850 any different in terms of sensor type?

In fact, that's exactly what makes these two models really different. Thus, it is a good point to consider if your are choosing between these two cameras. Pentax K-1 features a 36.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor . Nikon D850, in its turn, comes with a 46.0 MP Full frame sized BSI-CMOS sensor , which makes it significantly different from the first model.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Pentax K-1 and Nikon D850 by the size of their sensors.

Pentax K-1
Nikon D850
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Pentax K-1 and Nikon D850 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 D850 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 D850 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 D850
Portrait Photography
99%
94%
Street Photography
99%
88%
Sports Photography
95%
99%
Daily Photography
70%
68%
Landscape Photography
100%
100%

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 D850 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (46 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 D850 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (1840 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (146 x 124 x 79 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 D850 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (153)
  • Big Number of CrossFocus Points (99)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2660)
  • Big battery life (1840 shots)
  • Big size (146 x 124 x 79 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (7.0 fps)

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 D850 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (1015 g)
  • Big size (146 x 124 x 79 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

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 D850 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (46 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.8)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2660)

Disadvantages:

No Significant Disadvantages

Comparison of Pentax K-1 vs Nikon D850: 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 D850, 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 D850 here is what we can say in conclusion:

According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Nikon D850 deserves a higher Total Score than the Pentax K-1. 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 D850 Table Of Technical Specs

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

Pentax K-1 Nikon D850
General
Brand Pentax Nikon
Model K-1 D850
Announced Feb 17, 2016 Aug 24, 2017
Body Type Mid-size SLR Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS BSI-CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame Full frame
Sensor Dimensions 35.9 x 24 mm 35.9 x 23.9 mm
Sensor Area 861.60 mm2 858.01 mm2
Sensor Resolution 36.0 MP 46.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 7360 x 4912 8256 x 5504
Max Native ISO 204,800 25,600
Max Boosted ISO n/a 102,400
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 Yes
AF Continuous Yes Yes
AF Single Yes Yes
AF Tracking Yes Yes
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center Yes Yes
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection Yes Yes
AF Contrast Detection Yes Yes
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points 33 153
Number of Cross Focus Points 25 99
Screen
Screen Type Fully Articulated Tilting
Screen Size 3.2″ 3.2″
Screen Resolution 1,037k dots 2,359k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen No Yes
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 0k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.7 0.75
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 4.4 fps 7.0 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 No
Flash Range 0 0
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 (normal), Rear-curtain sync, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction with slow sync, Slow 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 Yes
AF-Area Yes Yes
Center Weighted Yes Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 96 100
DxO Color Depth 25.4 26.4
DxO Dynamic Range 14.6 14.8
DxO Low Light ISO 3280 2660
Video Features
Video Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p) 3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
Max Video Resolution 1920 x 1080 3840 x 2160
Video Formats MPEG-4, H.264 MPEG-4
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 1015 g
Physical Dimensions 137 x 110 x 86 mm 146 x 124 x 79 mm
Battery Life 760 shots 1840 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model D-LI90 EN-EL15a
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Built-in
Storage Type Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II supported) + XQD
Storage Slots 2 2

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