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Pentax K-1 vs K-3 Comparison

Storage & Battery

Pentax K-1

Pentax K-1 camera image

Pentax K-3

Pentax K-3 camera
Pentax K-1
Pentax K-3
Refers to the year this camera was officially made available for sale.
Announcement Date
Refers to the date the manufacturer publicly announced the upcoming release and general specs of this camera.
February 17, 2016
October 08, 2013
Camera Type
Camera Size
Camera Weight

The Pentax K-1 takes the lead with a score of 77/100, outperforming the Pentax K-3, which has a score of 69/100. Both cameras are DSLR types, launched in 2016 and 2013 respectively. They share similarities in their launch prices, with the K-1 at $1800 and the K-3 at $1300.

The Pentax K-1 has advantages in its specifications, such as a larger camera size (137 x 110 x 86mm) and a heavier weight (1010g / 2.23lbs). This suggests that the K-1 offers more advanced features and better build quality.

On the other hand, the Pentax K-3 has its own strengths. It is more compact, with a size of 131 x 100 x 77mm, and lighter, weighing 800g / 1.76lbs. This makes it a more convenient option for those prioritizing portability.

Taking into account these differences, the Pentax K-1 is the superior camera in terms of performance and features, while the Pentax K-3 is a more suitable choice for users seeking a compact and lightweight DSLR.

Pentax K-1 vs K-3 Overview and Optics

The Pentax K-1 outperforms the Pentax K-3 in optics with a score of 85/100 compared to the K-3’s 74/100. Both cameras share some common specifications, such as the CMOS sensor type, Pentax KAF lens mount, and image stabilization. However, the K-1 has distinct advantages that contribute to its higher score.

The K-1 has a 36.4-megapixel sensor, which is significantly higher than the K-3’s 24-megapixel sensor. This difference allows the K-1 to capture more detail and produce higher resolution images. The K-1 also has a full-frame sensor size, which provides better low-light performance and a shallower depth of field than the K-3’s APS-C sensor. Furthermore, the K-1’s Prime IV processor is an upgrade over the K-3’s Prime III processor, offering better image processing capabilities. Lastly, the K-1’s DXOMARK sensor score of 96 is notably higher than the K-3’s score of 80, reflecting the K-1’s superior image quality.

On the other hand, the K-3 does have a faster shooting speed of 8.3 frames per second, compared to the K-1’s 4.4 frames per second. This makes the K-3 better suited for action and sports photography, where capturing fast-moving subjects is crucial.

Taking these factors into account, the Pentax K-1 is the clear winner in terms of optics and image quality. Its higher megapixel count, full-frame sensor, better processor, and higher DXOMARK sensor score all contribute to its superior performance. However, the Pentax K-3 may still be a viable option for those who prioritize fast shooting speeds for action photography.

The higher the number of megapixels, the more detail the cameras sensor can capture.
36.4 MP
24 MP
Image Resolution
Image resolution is measured in pixels and megapixels, width by height. The higher the number, the higher its resolution.
7360 x 4912 px
6016 x 4000 px
Sensor Type
The camera sensor captures light and records the image. Sensors vary in physical size, the number of pixels, and quality.
Sensor Size
The sensor size contributes to the overall quality as well as the dynamic and tonal range a camera can capture. As a rule of thumb, the more surface there is to read the light, the more information it will capture.
24 x 35.9 mm
15.6 x 23.5 mm
Sensor Format
Refers to the most commonly used sensor sizes.
Full Frame
Frame Rate
The number of sequential frames per second the camera can write to the memory card when shooting in burst or continuous mode.
4.4 fps
8.3 fps
Lens Mount
The lens mount will tell you what type of lens range you can fit onto the camera body. Often the same camera company will have different lens ranges for different cameras.
Pentax KAF
Pentax KAF
Image Processor
The image processor in the camera converts the information collected on the sensor for digital storage on the memory card.
Prime IV
Prime III
Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the proportional difference between width and height. The most popular aspect ratios are 3:2 and 4:3.
Minimum ISO (Native)
Refers to the lowest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Lower ISO are less sensitive to light but make a cleaner image.
Maximum ISO (Native)
Refers to the highest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Higher ISO is necessary for low-light situations or night photography, but higher ISOs often introduce grain or noise.
Minimum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Maximum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Minimum Shutter Speed
The minimum shutter speed will tell you the longest exposure your camera can take without using an external accessory.
30 s
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
The maximum shutter speed tells you the length inside 1 second the camera will capture. These can sometimes be extended with accessories such as extra external batteries.
1/ 8000 s
1/ 8000 s
Autofocus Points
Autofocus points show where the camera is focusing graphically as squares or brackets in Live View or on an electronic viewfinder. These points are also used for light meter readings.
In-body Stabilization
In-body Stabilization means the camera has a certain technology embedded that counteracts camera shake.
Viewfinder Type
The viewfinder type is either electronic or optical. Electronic viewfinders will have a small screen in the viewfinder. Optical viewfinders will use prisms and mirrors to look through the lens.
Optical (pentaprism)
Optical (pentaprism)

Pentax K-1 vs K-3 Video Performance

The Pentax K-1 and the Pentax K-3 both have a video score of 70/100, indicating that they have similar video capabilities. They share many common specifications, making them quite comparable in terms of video performance.

Both cameras have a maximum video resolution of Full HD, with dimensions of 1920 x 1080. This ensures that they can produce clear and detailed video content. Additionally, they both have a maximum video frame rate of 60fps, which allows for smooth and fluid motion in captured videos. Time-lapse functionality is also built into both cameras, providing users with the ability to create creative and compelling time-lapse videos.

Since both cameras have the same video score and share many common specifications, it is difficult to determine a clear winner in terms of video capabilities. However, there may be other factors, such as additional features or user preferences, that could influence a buyer’s decision between the two models.

On the other hand, it is also important to consider any areas where one camera may outperform the other. In this case, both cameras share the same video capabilities, so it is unlikely that one camera is significantly better than the other in terms of video performance.

Taking all of these factors into account, it is clear that the Pentax K-1 and the Pentax K-3 are evenly matched in terms of video capabilities. With the same video score and shared specifications, users can expect similar video performance from both models. Ultimately, the choice between the two cameras will likely depend on individual preferences and other factors, such as additional features or price.

Indicates if this camera is capable of recording video.
Max Video Resolution
The best resolution this camera can capture video in. Modern cameras can capture up to 8K video.
Full HD
Full HD
Max Video Dimensions
Video resolution measured by the greatest number of pixels possible in each frame, width by height. A higher resolution means more detail or clarity in your video.
1920 x 1080 px
1920 x 1080 px
Max Video Frame Rate
How many frames per second your video will capture. Most cameras have options for multiple frame rates, depending on the resolution you shoot in. For a general video, 24p or 30p is the standard, but more serious filmmakers may need a higher frame rate for creative effect.
60 p
60 p
Time-Lapse Built In
A built in time-lapse mode will allow continuous shooting throughout a prolonged period of time to be compressed into a sped up video.
Video File Format
Different cameras can record in various video file formats. The File format you record in can impact how you edit and use the files.

Pentax K-1 vs K-3 Features and Benefits

The Pentax K-1 and Pentax K-3 both have a feature score of 59/100, making them equal in this aspect. They share several specifications, including a 3.2-inch screen size and a screen resolution of 1,037,000 dots. Neither camera has a touchscreen.

The Pentax K-1 has some advantages over the K-3. It includes a flip screen, GPS, and WIFI capabilities. The flip screen allows for more flexibility in shooting angles, while the GPS and WIFI features make it easier to geotag photos and share them wirelessly.

On the other hand, the Pentax K-3 lacks a flip screen, GPS, and WIFI. However, it is important to note that these features may not be essential for all photographers, and the absence of these features does not necessarily make the K-3 an inferior camera. Both cameras have the same feature score, which means that they both offer a solid set of features for photographers.

The K-1’s additional features, such as the flip screen, GPS, and WIFI, make it a more versatile camera for certain types of photography and situations. The K-3, while lacking these features, still provides a strong set of specifications that make it a capable camera for various photography needs. Ultimately, the choice between the two cameras comes down to individual preferences and the specific requirements of a photographer’s workflow and shooting style.

Built-in Flash
A built-in flash will often be positioned right above the lens. This will automatically pop up when you activate it.
External Flash
External flashes are often connected through a hot shoe at the top of a camera, or a cable at the side of the camera.
GPS features in a camera will include location metadata to each of your photographs.
Weather Sealing
Weather sealing capabilities will give you more confidence when shooting in unfavourable conditions.
Screen Type
Touch Screen
Touchscreen allows you to change camera settings and access menus with a swipe of your finger, instead of using buttons.
Screen Size
Screen Resolution
Screen dots indicate the resolution of the LCD screen by including each sub pixel.
1,037,000 dots
1,037,000 dots
Flip Screen
A flip screen (or articulating screen) is a second screen which can flip out from the side or top of the camera. This rotating screen allows you more freedom to take photos at different angles.
Live View
Live View feature allows you to see a continuous live video of what is being seen through your lens.
Bluetooth capabilities allow you wireless control of your camera with other external devices.

Pentax K-1 vs K-3 Storage and Battery

The Pentax K-1 outperforms the Pentax K-3 in storage and battery with a score of 68/100 compared to the K-3’s 63/100. Both cameras share common specifications in this category, including two memory card slots, compatibility with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, the use of D-LI90 battery type, and the absence of USB charging.

The K-1’s superiority in storage and battery is primarily due to its longer battery life of 760 shots, compared to the K-3’s 560 shots. This difference allows photographers to take more images before needing to change or recharge the battery, proving advantageous in various shooting situations.

On the other hand, the K-3 does not have a notable advantage over the K-1 in this category, as both cameras share similar specifications, with the exception of battery life.

Considering the longer battery life of the K-1, it is the clear winner in the storage and battery category. The Pentax K-3, although a solid camera, falls short in comparison to its counterpart, the K-1, when it comes to storage and battery performance.

Storage and Battery
Storage and Battery
Memory Card
SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS-I compatible)
Dual Memory Card Slots
Battery Type
Battery Life
Approximately how long this cameras battery will last measured by how many photographs you will be able to take.
760 shots
560 shots
USB Charging
Sensor scores tested by DXOMARK
Overall Score
DXOMARK overall sensor score.
Portrait (Color Depth)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Portrait score in our camera sensor reviews defines color depth performance and its unit is a number of bits. A color depth of 22 bits is excellent; differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable.'
25.4 bits
23.7 bits
Landscape (Dynamic Range)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Landscape score in our camera sensor tests defines the maximum dynamic range of the camera sensor and its unit is an exposure value (EV). A value of 12 EV is excellent with differences below 0.5 EV usually not noticeable.'
14.6 EVs
13.4 EVs
Sports (Low-Light ISO)
Described by DXOMARK as 'The maximal value of ISO sensitivity needed to reach a given value of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). The greater the value, the better'

Pentax K-1 vs K-3 Alternatives

User Scores
B&H photo video
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