Monday, March 4, 2013

Thought Of The Day: Nikon D7100 vs Pentax K-30 and Pentax K-5 II

I get asked to comment about cameras and equipment from time-to-time. These posts are always popular, but I'd rather not write them, because cameras are not important. However, if this helps someone, then it was worth my time.

The new Nikon D7100 DSLR, which has Nikon's new (and excellent) 24 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, is a great camera for a reasonable price. How does it compare to the Pentax K-30 and K-5 II?

These three DSLRs are all good cameras, and you won't go wrong with any of them. They each have excellent sensors, they're all weather sealed. You could do professional work with any of them. But which one is the best? Which one has the best value? Which one should you buy? These are questions that you are likely asking yourself.

In my opinion, the Nikon D7100 is the best of the three DSLRs, but just barely. The image quality from the D7100 will be slightly better than from the Pentax K-5 II and the K-5 II will be slightly better than from the Pentax K-30. But we're talking slight here, even from the D7100 to the K-30. The differences in image quality from one camera to the next are unnoticeable, except perhaps with a close side-by-side study (and who does that, really?).

The real advantage of the Nikon D7100 is with auto-focus (Nikon's is better, especially in low light) and memory card slots (two vs. one). However, the advantage of the Pentax K-30 is the price. The D7100 and the K-5 II will each run you about $1,200 with a kit lens, while the K-30 will cost about $900 with a kit lens.

You won't go wrong with the Nikon D7100, the Pentax K-5 II or the Pentax K-30. If you simply want the best of the three, go with the D7100. If you want the best value, go for the K-30. If neither of those two matter, go with the K-5 II. You'll be happy with your choice whatever that choice is.


  1. The best of the 3 cameras is definitely Pentax K-5II(s)Why? Best value best image quality best autofocus in low light best high iso image quality best quality build and so on...

    1. Thank you for your comment. The differences between the K-5 II(s) and the K-30 are really small. Yes, the K-5 II is better (just by a little), but it also costs significantly more, making it less of a value.

      The D7100 is in my opinion just slightly better than the K-5 II--just slightly.

      In all honesty, the small differences between these three cameras are nothing anyone should be concerned about. They are all perfectly capable cameras, and whichever one someone chooses, they will be happy with that choice.

  2. I am sorry but you should do your homework better, the K5 II has a better low-light focusing system than most of the Nikon (it can go up to D800), is basically the only focusing system on the market that has -3 EV focusing processor, the rest are up to -2 Ev, google it and you'll find out.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Unknown. I hope that Pentax has improved the low-light auto-focus on the K5 II to the point that it is as good (or, as you state, "better") than Nikon's. Pentax has struggled with low-light auto-focusing. My K-30 struggles with this, and it is supposedly the same system as the K5 II. But maybe the K5 II is better.

      I don't want to give readers bad information. If low-light auto-focus is important to you (it is not important to me, since the vast majority of my photographs are in daylight, and I have no issues manually focusing when I need to), readers should be aware that Pentax has always struggled with this. Yes, they've improved. But are they as good as Nikon? My opinion is no.

    2. You are giving readers bad information by saying Nikon 7100 is better in low light focusing than Pentax K-5IIs. When you have not tried the low light focusing in Pentax K-5IIs, how can you assume Nikon's is better? And who told you the low light focusing on Pentax K-5IIs and Pentax K-30 are same? When you don't know the specs of the cameras you are testing and writing about, you shouldn't even write. Atleast readers wont be mis-informed.

    3. Since I'm being accused of providing inaccurate information, I dug a little deeper and this is what I've discovered. The Pentax K-30 has the SAFOX IXi+ autofocus system and the K-5 II has the SAFOX X autofocus system. The difference? Almost nothing. The K-5 II "fishes" just slightly less in dark situations. Beyond that, they are the same. In fact, Pentax could do a firmware update for the K-30 and update it to the SAFOX X (since it is just a minor change to the algorithm). They probably will do this at some point.
      Now the reason that I can say that the Nikon D7100 has better low-light auto-focusing than the Pentax K-5 II and K-30 is because of reputation. Historically, Nikon has had a better low-light auto-focus system than Pentax. It has been this way since the invention of auto-focus. It continues to be this way today. Has Pentax made some strides and closed the gap? Sure. But if low-light auto-focus is important to you (it is not important to me), than the D7100 is going to be just slightly better.

  3. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)