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Pentax K1 vs Nikon D810


I haven’t really had the chance to use Pentax cameras much, however, I’ve used Nikon cameras a lot, and I’m still using one.

Considering the mass market, there are plenty of camera options to choose from, and that might be pretty frustrating for some because you got a lot of options but you don’t really know which one meets your requirements the most.

As I have said in almost any of my reviews, it’s really important to know what features are you after for, depending on the type of photography that you do.

DSLR cameras have been the runaway option for most novice photographers, people who want to upgrade their photography level, semi-professionals, and professionals.

Therefore, for this article, I decided to make a comparison review about to full-frame DSLR cameras which come at a relatively similar yet expensive price, but I think they pay the debt fully in specs and performance, while by the end of this review, I’m pretty sure you’re going to come up with a decision on which camera is best for you.

Anyhow, I’m also going to put a comparison table at the end where you’ll be able to see the key specs and features of the Pentax K1 and Nikon D810 and see which one outperforms the other in which case. So, let’s dive in now and see what these cameras are truly capable of.

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Head To Head Comparison

Pentax K1

Pentax K1 is a full-frame DSLR, in fact, it’s the brand’s landmark product that unlocks the potential for a variety of full-frame Pentax K-mount lenses which have been released over the years. Pentax is originally a brand of Ricoh, however, it’s not only the full-frame sensor that they’ve implemented in this camera, but it’s also the new design that really stands out from the other cameras on the market.

Of course, it’s not as compact as you’d expect, but it’s somewhere in-between with a very comfortable handling and feel, while it takes its design cues from the high-end APS-C DSLRs with a grip similar to the K-7/K-5/ II/K-3/K-3 II, which means that it’s sizeable and comfortable, with all the buttons and controls positioned well and balanced for easy access. In addition, the body features a magnesium alloy shell that has weather sealing, which basically means that you’ll be able to use the camera under different weather conditions, whether it’s rain, snow, or dry weather, you’ll still be good to go.

It has a pentaprism optical viewfinder with a field coverage of 100% and a magnification of 0.7x, while it also features an articulated 3.2-inch tilting LCD with 1,037,000-dots. This all enables the camera to be great for videographers, and I really like that the screen tilts because it’s very useful in some situations where you have to take shots from a different angle, however, the LCD lacks one of the most in-vogue features for most users, touchscreen capabilities.

I don’t really think that I need to explain why would you need a touchscreen because you can already imagine, you can navigate through the menu easier, scroll through images or use some features, but I guess you’ll have to be fine with not having that in this camera.

Nonetheless, let’s see what specs this camera has, and is it worth it.

First, let’s just point out one of the most important parts, it has a full-frame 36.4-megapixel CMOS sensor which runs the PRIME IV image processor that truly enhances the camera’s performance, while the full-frame 36.4MP sensor delivers a stunning image quality with plenty of detail, sharpness, and vibrancy. To be exact, the max sensor resolution is 7360×4912, which means that even if you view your picture in larger screens, you’re still going to get the same image quality that you see on your camera’s LCD screen.

I also had stunning results in low-light, mostly due to the camera’s ability to deliver noise-free images even at extreme ISOs. To be more specific, the Pentax K1 has an ISO sensitivity that ranges from 100-204800.

However, this is not the best DSLR that you can find for videography, it has a continuous shooting speed of 4.4-frames per second, which is not much even if you compare it with some entry-level DSLRs. Although the autofocus system is pretty impressive, featuring a 33-point AF system, you’re going to get some serious tracking which enables the camera to lock and maintain focus even with fast-moving subjects.

Well, it’s not that bad if you think about it, thus, you’re still going to be able to use the camera for wildlife, action, sports, portrait photography, but above all, for still photography and landscape you’re going to get astonishing results.

Moreover, for video recording, you can only shoot at Full HD 1080p at 60i, while this camera lacks one of the most essential features for videographers, 4K video, and I’m a bit disappointed since this has become a pretty common feature even with low-cost cameras, so the manufacturer could have done a better job here.

To sum up, the addition of a built-in Wi-Fi is also a good touch to the user experience, where you’ll be able to instantly share and transfer your work with compatible smartphones or tablet, so the guideline is, the Pentax 1 is a reliable camera which sits among the most high-end full-frame DSLRs.

Pentax K1 Sample Footage:

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Nikon D810

Just as we stated in the beginning, these two cameras are both full-frame DSLRs while they also share a similar price, but in terms of specs and performance, we’re about to see. I’ve personally used this camera much more than I’ve used the Pentax K-1, while I can safely assure you that this DSLR checks all the boxes that a professional camera should be like, starting from design, specs, features, and performance.

Since we mentioned design, let’s start by pointing that despite the fact that it is a DSLR camera, the Nikon D810 boasts a compact construction which weighs around 34.6-ounces, while it feels comfortable in hand mostly due to the deeply sculpted handgrip, it’s decent and it has just the right size. But that’s not all since the button layout is also very well-thought-out, everything is well-spaced and balanced and easily accessible.

The camera also has weatherproof sealing which gives the camera extra versatility and incredible durability, it can perform great in rain and other weather conditions that you can think of.

Now comes the disappointing part of the camera, the fixed 3.2-inch diagonal LCD screen with 1,229k-dots. It’s not what we expected from Nikon, to be honest, a fixed LCD screen in a camera of this caliber, what were they thinking? But wait there’s more, the Nikon D810 is not touch-enabled also, so there go two of the most essential features for most photographers and videographers, you can’t tilt your screen, while you also don’t get to navigate through the menu or use features using your finger.

Anyhow, let’s see now if the Nikon D810 pays the debt in specs and performance.

Firstly, the Nikon D810 has a 36.3-megapixel full-frame sensor which is similar to the Pentax K1, while it is armed with the EXPEED 4 image processor, so here you’ll get a faster performance with enhanced features and plenty of improvements, in other words, it has a flawless detail retention from snow white to pitch black.

Regarding the ISO, the Pentax K1 takes the lead here since the D810 has a sensitivity that ranges from ISO 64-12,800, and it tends to remove noise at even extreme ISOs, but you won’t really get the same results that you’d get with the K1.

Other than that, if you combine all of these specs into one piece, you’ll get an impressive continuous shooting speed of 5-frames per second which is slightly better than the K1’s 4.4-fps. Keep in mind, these two cameras that we’re currently reviewing are mainly oriented toward photographers and not videographers, so that’s why we’re missing out on some of the most in-vogue features for video recording, starting from the lack of an articulating touchscreen LCD, to the lack of 4K video recording, but we’ll talk about that later in this review. 

The D810 is great at shooting close-ups of objects both indoors and outdoors. For example, we listed it as one of the best cameras for food photography in our roundup.

To continue, the autofocus system is somewhat impressive, featuring a 51-point autofocus system, you’ll have pretty good results with tracking and maintaining focus across the frame due to its fast acquisition.

Now, to get back to the lack of 4K, you only get to record at full HD 1080p, same as with the Pentax K1, but there’s some good news also since the ISO can auto-adjust in video mode, which pretty-much prevents a distracting shift in exposure as lighting conditions change.

In terms of connecting, you might be disappointed due to the fact that the Niko nD810 doesn’t have a built-in Wi-Fi, whereas it only supports an optional Wi-Fi dongle, and I really hope this feature is appealing enough for some users, while for me particularly it’s not what I’d want.

Simply put, the Nikon D810 keeps it simple in terms of features, but when it comes to specs and performance, you’ll get top-notch everything including with a pretty high-quality image with plenty of sharp details and vibrancy.

Nikon D810 Sample Images:

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Pentax K1 vs Nikon D810 Feature Comparison

  Pentax K1 Nikon D810
Camera Type Full-Frame DSLR Full-Frame DSLR
Megapixels 36.4 36.3
ISO Range 100-204800 100-12,800
Flip-Out Screen Yes No
AF Points 33 AF Points 51 AF Points
Viewfinder Yes Yes
Touchscreen No No
Video Recording Yes Yes
Sensor Size Full-Frame CMOS Full-Frame CMOS

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As you can see, both options are great cameras to go with, but in the end, it all depends on what type of photography are you in more. If you find yourself in one of these categories: portrait photography, still photography, landscape, and events, then both cameras will serve you good.

The Pentax K1 mostly great for still photography and portrait photography, due to its remarkable 36.4MP full-frame CMOS sensor and the impressive autofocus system, however, I’m really disappointed at the 4.4-frame per second continuous shooting speed.

On the other hand, the same as the Pentax K1, the Nikon D810 is great for portrait photography and still photography, but it can also suit wildlife photographers, sports photographers, and action shooters, due to its improved 51-point AF system and the same 36.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor. However, when it comes to features, if you compare it to the Pentax K1, the D810 has quite some disadvantages starting from the lack of a tilting screen, a built-in Wi-Fi, and so on.

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