Updated (September 2012): Compare the Nikon D5100 vs Pentax K-5 II

Pentax K-5 vs Nikon D5100

Winner
Pentax K-5

90

Nikon D5100

69

Runner-up

Reasons to buy the Pentax K-5

Wide dynamic range
Dynamic range
14.1 EV
Large viewfinder
Viewfinder size
0.60x
Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
Weather sealed
Weather sealed
Shoot in extreme weather
 

Reasons to buy the Nikon D5100

Supports 24p
24p movies
For that film look
Screen flips out
Flip-out screen
Great for movies
Movie continuous focus
Movie continuous focus
Makes it easy to get in-focus movies
HDR
In-camera HDR
Combines multiple exposures

Items often bought with the Pentax K-5 or Nikon D5100

galleries

Explore our gallery of 50 sample photos taken by the Nikon D5100.
Explore our gallery of 4 sample photos taken by the Pentax K-5.

differences

Advantages of the Nikon D5100

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Supports 24p
Supports 24p
Yes vs No
Help
Get that real film feel
Autofocus
Video autofocus
Contrast detection vs None
Help
Automatically focuses shooting video
Lens availability
Much more lenses available
230 lenses vs 113 lenses
Help
More than 2x more lenses available
Screen flips out
Has a flip-out screen
Yes vs No
Help
Flip-out screens can be helpful when composing tricky shots or taking movies
Movie format
Lower frame rate movies
1080p @ 30fps vs 1080p @ 25fps
Help
Both shoot Full HD (1080p) video, but D5100 does so at a higher frame rate
Weight
Significantly lighter
560 g vs 740 g
Help
More than 20% lighter
Startup delay
Slightly less startup delay
500 ms vs 600 ms
Help
Around 20% less delay when turning on
Lowest price
Cheaper
$368.00 vs $544.94
Help
The best price we've seen is $177 cheaper (more than 30% less)
Nikon D5100 Learn more about
the Nikon D5100

Advantages of the Pentax K-5

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Image stabilization
Image stabilization
  1. Sensor shift
vs None
Help
Helps eliminate blur caused by small camera movements
Shutter lag
Much less shutter lag
104 ms vs 273 ms
Help
2.6x less delay when taking photos
Viewfinder size
Significantly larger viewfinder
0.60x vs 0.51x
Help
Around 40% larger viewfinder
Continuous shooting
Shoots much faster
7 fps vs 4 fps
Help
Around 80% faster continuous shooting
Weather sealed
Weather sealed
Yes vs No
Help
Sealed to shoot in the rain
Cross type focus points
More cross-type focus points
9 vs 1
Help
Grab focus in difficult situations
Viewfinder
Has a pentaprism viewfinder
Pentaprism vs Pentamirror
Help
Pentaprism viewfinders are typically brighter
Viewfinder coverage
Significantly better viewfinder coverage
100% vs 95%
Help
Around 10% better viewfinder coverage
Dynamic range
More dynamic range
14.1 EV vs 13 EV
Help
0.2 f-stops more dynamic range
Overall image quality
Slightly better image quality
82.0 vs 80.0
Help
Almost the same
Light sensitivity (boost)
Better boost ISO
51,200 ISO vs 25,600 ISO
Help
The K-5's boost ISO is 2 f-stops better
Light sensitivity
Better maximum light sensitivity
12,800 ISO vs 6,400 ISO
Help
The K-5's maximum light sensitivity is 2 f-stops better
Battery life
Longer battery life
740 shots vs 660 shots
Help
More than 10% more shots per battery charge
Thickness
Significantly thinner
2.9" vs 3.1"
Help
Around 10% thinner
Color depth
Better color depth
23.7 bits vs 23.5 bits
Help
Almost the same
Fastest shutter speed
Much faster max shutter speed
1/8000s vs 1/4000s
Help
2x faster max shutter speed
Size
Smaller
131×97×73 mm vs 127×97×79 mm
Help
Around 10% smaller
Pentax K-5 Learn more about
the Pentax K-5
vs

recommendations

Which camera do we recommend? Relative to the best recent entry-level DSLRs, and ignoring price

Snapsort Recommends
Nikon D5100 Nikon D5100 69
Retailer
    Style
      Color
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        vs
        90 Pentax K-5 Pentax K-5
        Retailer
          Style
            Color
              You save

              similarities

              Compared to recent entry-level DSLRs

              Common Strengths
              Overall image quality Good image quality Help
              D510080.0
              K-582.0
              External mic jack Have external mic jacks Help
              Record higher quality audio with a microphone
              Common Weaknesses
              True resolution Capture low resolution images Help
              16.1 MP
              Focus points Few focus points Help
              11
              Light sensitivity Poor maximum light sensitivity Help
              D51006,400 ISO
              K-512,800 ISO
              Touch screen No touchscreens Help
              More buttons
              Movie format Full HD (1080p) video Help
              D51001080p @ 30fps
              K-51080p @ 25fps

              dxomark

              DXOMark

              competitors

              Shared Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3300

              Nikon D3300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $430 - $497 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D5200

              Nikon D5200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $405 - $497 body only

              $479 - $500 with 18-55mm lens

              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              True resolution Takes much higher resolution photos
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D5300

              Nikon D5300

              Entry-level DSLR

              $465 - $647 body only

              $545 - $747 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              Fastest shutter speed Has a slower max shutter speed
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D7200

              Nikon D7200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $968 - $1,097 body only

              $1,397 with 18-140mm lens

              Low light performance Is slightly less noisy at high ISO
              Overall image quality Has slightly better image quality
              Lowest price Is much more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D7000

              Nikon D7000

              Entry-level DSLR

              $479 body only

              $720 with 18-55mm lens

              Battery life Has a significantly longer battery life
              Focus points Has significantly more focus points
              Lowest price Is slightly more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker
              Nikon D7100

              Nikon D7100

              Entry-level DSLR

              $713 - $797 body only

              $948 - $1,097 with 18-140mm lens

              Movie format Records higher quality movies
              Screen size Has a significantly larger screen
              Lowest price Is significantly more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker
              Canon EOS 60D

              Canon EOS 60D

              Pro DSLR

              $819 body only

              $960 with 18-135mm lens

              Screen resolution Has a slightly higher resolution screen
              True resolution Takes slightly higher resolution photos
              Lowest price Is much more expensive
              Thickness Is thicker

              Nikon D5100 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Nikon D3200

              Nikon D3200

              Entry-level DSLR

              $289 body only

              $349 - $447 with 18-55mm lens

              True resolution Much higher true resolution
              Color depth Better color depth
              HDR Lacks in-camera HDR
              Screen flips out Screen does not flip out
              Nikon D5500

              Nikon D5500

              Entry-level DSLR

              $559 - $747 body only

              $649 - $847 with 18-55mm lens

              Movie format Lower frame rate movies
              Low light performance Lower noise at high ISO
              Lowest price More expensive
              Canon Kiss X5

              Canon Kiss X5

              Entry-level DSLR

              $1,299 body only

              Screen resolution Higher resolution screen
              True resolution Higher true resolution
              Low light performance Significantly more noise at high ISO
              Overall image quality Significantly worse image quality
              Canon Rebel T5i

              Canon Rebel T5i

              Entry-level DSLR

              $494 - $649 body only

              $579 - $649 with 18-55mm lens

              Touch screen Has a touch screen
              Screen resolution Higher resolution screen
              Low light performance Significantly more noise at high ISO
              Overall image quality Much worse image quality

              Pentax K-5 Competitors

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              Pentax K-3

              Pentax K-3

              Entry-level DSLR

              $650 - $749 body only

              $1,039 - $1,047 with 18-135mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Autofocus Video autofocus
              Battery life Shorter battery life
              Overall image quality Slightly worse image quality
              Pentax K-50

              Pentax K-50

              Entry-level DSLR

              $295 body only

              $375 - $378 with 18-55mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Autofocus Video autofocus
              External mic jack Lacks an external mic jack
              Battery life Significantly shorter battery life
              Pentax K-5 II

              Pentax K-5 II

              Entry-level DSLR

              $619 body only

              $947 with 18-55mm lens

              Low light performance Slightly lower noise at high ISO
              Battery life Longer battery life
              Shutter lag Much more shutter lag
              Lowest price More expensive
              Pentax K-30

              Pentax K-30

              Entry-level DSLR

              $365 body only

              $531 with 18-55mm lens

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Movie format Lower frame rate movies
              External mic jack Lacks an external mic jack
              Battery life Significantly shorter battery life
              Pentax K-S2

              Pentax K-S2

              Boutique

              $450 - $547

              Supports 24p Supports 24p
              Light sensitivity Better maximum light sensitivity
              Interchangeable lenses Built-in lens only
              External mic jack Lacks an external mic jack

              appearance

              Nikon D5100 Pentax K-5
              Nikon D5100 Pentax K-5
              Nikon D5100 Pentax K-5

              discussion

              Nikon D5100
              D5100
              Nikon

              Report a correction
              Pentax K-5
              K-5
              Pentax

              Report a correction

              Showing 6 comments

              anonymous (5:31 PM, August 25, 2012)
              please remove the popularity point on each of comparison. we buy camera for the image quality, not the popularity. if it needed, you can put it as additional information
               
              enterco (6:05 AM, June 21, 2012)
              D5100 can't be compared with K-5, they only share image quality. On the ergonomics side, the K-5 is a winner by far. What about the D5100 which can't use 'D' lenses without manual focus? K-5 can shoot with high speed sync, can control multiple flashes, can be operated with one hand, etc.
               
              Chicago painter (7:28 PM, November 13, 2011)
              What is the point to compare cameras for $700 and $1200. It's like to compare BMW 5 and Chevy Malibu. 30G vs 60G.....
              I agree with Sdick. If you spend 700 for body you won't spend 30 000 for all available lenses. 
               
              Sdick (11:21 AM, October 18, 2011)
              K-5 wins in almost any category--except for popularity, # of lenses (how many do I need?) and some of the video convenience features.  I'm probably not like most here, but I'm interested in a DSLR for taking great still pictures.  I won't need it to connect to the internet, do FB, make cel phone calls or play 3D video games.  And if I'm going to do anything more than "dabble" in videography, I'll get a good video camera--to which there aren't any DSLR's at any price that compare.  

              I also find the bias and skew of this site  to be kind of cheap.  Brand "X" might have 50 gazillion lenses, and "Y" has only 30.  I only need/want 3, so am I really disadvantaged to choose those three lenses from 30?  "X" is more popular--save it for the MA pageant.  I think both these cams are great pieces of engineering and very capable for producing excellent photos.  The K-5 wins hands-down for durability, backwards compatibility of lenses, and slightly less-hands-down on some of the issues that will affect image quality.  It admittedly does lose out as a pinch-hitter of a video camera--though both of these are pinch-hitters in this category in my opinion.  And the K-5 price is a bit higher--that generally doesn't stop the serious photog who makes a living.  I just wish Pentax would have left off some of the bells-n-whistles they stuck into this one.  Shame on ALL the brands for some of the bandwagons they jump on.  Toy camera?  Miniature effect? How serious do you take yourselves?  And why do you look for/want/need some of these worthless gadgets on a serious machine?  Buy the toy camera for $6 on e-bay and get the "real" effect.  Give me a great lens or two, durability, good metering, PASM and excellent picture quality.  Affordability would also be nice.  I don't need much else.  The Sigma SD-1 just about knocked it out of the park in my books--until I saw the price.
               
              Avatar for JeanMarcDufourq JeanMarcDufourq (5:27 AM, August 02, 2011)
              I agree. This entire site sways towards Nikon; that, or there comparison algorithm does not work correctly.
               
              eikit nahuj (8:25 PM, July 29, 2011)
              and again.. Entry level Nikon is as good as semi pro pentax. Come on,stop this BS. Just tell you are Nikon fans and thats it. Or go ant compare Nikon D40 against K-5 and write that D40 is much better camera, that would be no surprise because all you can write is just how nikon is good and how pentax is awful