Pentax K-3 II vs Nikon D7200

May 4, 2015

Nikon D7200 and Pentax K-3 II side by side

In this article I’ll be comparing the Nikon D7200 vs Pentax K-3 II. Both are APS-C DSLR camera. They are both aimed to the enthusiast market and the D7200 costs only $100 more than the K-3 II as of the time of writing. If you are searching to buy a new mid-range DSLR, you should probably be focusing on these two cameras, and you’ll soon understand why.

If you are like me, you probably don’t mind spending a bit more money buy a camera that will serve you for a few years or so. That said, there is always the debate between spending more money on a better camera body or invest it in lenses.  If you intend to but a mid-range DSLR, you need to be sure that you don’t spend that money for nothing, and you will be using its extra features.  The alternative is to buy a cheaper camera and spend more money on a better lens or buy a another lens. This is true to any interchangeable lens camera, not just the D7200 and K-3 II.

Deciding between the Nikon D7200 and Pentax K-3 II isn’t easy. Both are really superb cameras, each one in its own way, and you’ll soon see what I mean. I made this comparison in order to give you a clear view of the differences, as well as the cons and pros of each camera versus the other one. After you finish reading this comparison, you’ll have a better idea which camera to buy.

I’ll start with a short introduction to the Pentax K-3 II. There are a lot of explanation to do. The Pentax K-3 II hosts many advanced technologies, some are unique to this camera. If you are interested in getting more information about the D7200, you can read my D7200 vs D750 vs D610 comparison article, or just go over the comparison table in this article.

Pentax K-3 II

The Pentax K-3 II replaces the K-3 which was announced on October 7 2013. This camera signifies the brilliance of engineering and digital imaging innovation.  This camera host almost all the features enthusiast photographers are dreaming of. For me it seems that the other companies have been sleeping too long. When I see a camera like the Pentax K-3 II I ask myself why should I ever buy another dSLR. There some reasons of course, like being able to upgrade to a full frame camera, lens selection and accessories and so on.

Pentax K-3 II DSLR camera

Having said that, the enthusiast photographer might find everything he or she needs in Pentax camp, especially considering that Pentax has confirmed that a full frame camera is on its way. This was the Achilles heel for Pentax for quite some time, and this is about to change. I’m sure that that full frame camera will be something extraordinary, but we’ll have to wait and see. So if that prevented you to buy a Pentax camera, you probably can be rest assured that such camera will be released pretty soon.

The Pentax K3 Mark II carries the same exact design has its predecessor but with some significant changes underneath its chassis. Pentax improve the built-in image stabilization from 3.5 stops to 4.5 stops, added a built-in GPS with compass, improved the AF tracking performance, increased the sensor resolution a bit, dropped the built-in flash, added new high-precision gyro sensor,built-in GPS, added panning detection, AA filter simulation, automatic horizon correction, Astotracer mode and auto level compensation.  The Pentax K-3 II also employs Pentax ‘Pixel Shift Resolution’ technology, which vastly improves the image quality when shooting static subjects.

You can find an in-depth review of those changes in my Pentax K-3 II vs K-3 comparison.

The Pixel Shift Resolution System is probably the most interesting feature on this camera. So how it works? — the camera captures 4 images of the same scene, but between each capture, the camera shifts the sensor in one pixel increment. This allows the K-3 II to capture all the RGB color data for each individual pixel, resulting in a full color image. Sigma’s Foveon sensor might ring a bell here? — Foveon does just that, but with one significant different. The K-3 II Pixel Shift Resolution can only work with static subjects. If the subject moves between captures, the moving objects will appear blurry. Because the sensor moves between captures, the subjects has to be still until the full capture of the four images is finished.

The Foveon sensor has its own problems, but it doesn’t employ Pixel-shifting technology. It has a surface that captures different color spectrum in different depths, therefore it doesn’t matter if the subject moves, you’ll get a full color image every time.  So although the Pixel Shift Resolution isn’t perfect, I’m sure you can imagine that it will be super useful for many type of scenes. Those who will probably benefit from it the most are landscape, cityscape, architectural, product and portrait photographers.

The end results are astonishing, with image detailed with pixel-perfect accuracy and with minimum or no image artifacts, moiré and false colors (again, for non-moving subjects). Did technology doesn’t exist in any other camera than the K-3 II. This is one BIG reason why so many photographers are so excited to get their hands on this camera.

If you worry about moire on everyday shooting when capturing images with Pixel-Shift resolution turned off, Pentax has it covered. It features an AA filter simulator, which applies microscopic vibration to the CMOS sensor and reduce false colors and moiré.

Other features included (hold on tight!):
stainless steel chassis and magnesium alloy body, weather resistance protection (-10°C freezeproof, dustproof and splash-proof — yes, you can shoot in the rain, quote from Pentax official website: “.. in severe conditions with rain and dust”), built-in GPS and electronic compass, improved Shake-reduction system (SR), 8.3 fps burst (60 JPEG / 23 RAW), mirror-bounce damper mechanism (absorbs shock caused by mirror up and down movements), in-camera HDR, lots of custom image effects, multi-exposure shots (layering), interval shooting, Full HD video recording, 3.5mm mic input, in-body raw conversion, Safox 11 AF system, bright pentaprism viewfinder, 1/8000 sec shutter speed and the list goes on and on.

This is a lot to take, I know. It’s like Pentax wanted to put it all in a single camera. If you wished for it it’s probably already there.  there are many other features which I’ll show in the comparison table below. This is one of the most fully-featured DSLR available, no other DSLR comes closer to what the K-3 II has o offer – at least not at this price point.

With all that goodness, you might ask yourself why pick up the Nikon D7200, especially considering that the K-3 II is $100 cheaper than the D7200. Well, we’ll have to dig a bit deeper and compare the two cameras in order to find out whether the Pentax K-3 II is indeed the best camera between the two.

D7200 vs K-3 II

It’s easy to get impressed when you see the long list of features that the K-3 II offers. That said, the Nikon D7200 it is one of the most popular cameras currently on the market , and there are many good reasons why. Let’s take a look at a side by side comparison table that will emphasize the differences between the two cameras.

Nikon D7200Pentax K-3 II
Build QualityMagnesium alloy top and rear, polycarbonate front-plateMagnesium alloy casing and metallic chassis (high-rigidity,
corrosion-resistant stainless steel)
Weather Sealingweather-resistant and anti-dust capabilities Same as the D800 and D300S.92 seals

Cold proof (14°F / -10°C), water-resistant, fog, snow, sand and dust.
The K-3 II offers more durable body and it's also cold proof
Shutter Life150,000 actuations200,000 actuations
K-3 II has longer shutter life.
Sensor24.2MP (effective)
APS-C (23.5x15.6mm)
DX Format


1.3x crop mode
24.35MP (effective)
APS-C (23.5x15.6mm)

Full Color ImageNoYes (Pixel shift resolution, works only for static subjects)
ISO100 - 25600
Boost: 102400 (Black and White only)
Pixel Size3.92 microns3.90 microns
The Pentax K-3 II has about the same effective resolution as the D7200. Both sensors have no OLPF, but the K-3 II has a AA filter Simulator mechanism that uses the SR unit to reduce moire - the D7200 doesn't employ such built-in mechanism to reduce moire.

The amount of details that the K-3 II can resolve with pixel-shift resolution is just unimaginable. I've looked at the official sample images on Ricoh imaging Japan website and I was just blown away. Every single tiny detail is tack-sharp!! every little pixel size spot is rendered perfectly. This is behind anything I've seen so far from any DSLR, only the Sigma was able to match this, but it didn't even come closer to the clean images of the K-3 II.

This is a dream come true to every landscape photographer, but keep in mind that the subject(s) has to be still in order to get a sharp image. In those situations, the K-3 II beats any other camera in this category, hands-down!
ProcessorExpeed 4Prime III
Image StablizationLens-basedIn-body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

Up to 4.5 stops! (CIPA standards)
Another big advantage for the K-3 II, it has a built-in image stabilization mechanism (sensor-shift).

Maybe the older SR was less attractive (3.5 stops), but this one was improved and how offers up to 4.5 stops stabilization, this is the same performance that you get with Nikon finest lenses, but with the K-3 II, every lens becomes stabilized and you don't need to worry about not having IS on your lens.

Not touchscreen

AR coating and air-gapless glass.

Not touchscreen
AF SystemMulti-CAM 3500 II
51 point AF
(15 cross-type)

f/8 supported by 1 sensors

Detection range: -3 to +19 EV

+ 1.3x crop mode
27 point AF
(25 cross-type in the center)

Detection range: -3 to +18 EV

Improved AF algorithm
The K-3 II has less AF points, but more cross-type. This should give the K-3 II an advantage for tracking subjects that are inside the available AF point area.

The D7200 has more AF points, which cover a larger area, but when 1.3x crop mode is active, the AF points cover almost the entire area of the frame, boosting the tracking performance.

The downside is having the focal length multiplier, but it's a good choice for wlidlife photography where you probably need that extra reach anyway.

The D7200 has one of the most impressive AF performance, and I am skeptic whether the K-3 II can match that performance, but we'll need to way and see.

I was also very pleased to see that it has an excellent detection range, which allows it to focus well under low-light conditions.
Shutter Speed30 - 1/18000 sec30 - 1/18000 sec
Built-in FlashYesNo
Do you really take advantage of the built-in flash?
Special Mode for
- via app (Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility), but you can't timed exposures

- "Interval Timer Shooting" (cannot be used in mirror-up release mode, which might cause vibrations and can blur small details)

- easy tracking of astronomical bodie using the GPS, on-body SR and acceleration sensor that sync the sensor with the movement of the astronomical body

- Interval shooting:

Still Image: Interval : 2s. to 24h., 2 : 2000 shots
Start Interval : Now/Set Time

Movie: Recorded size:4K/FullHD/HD Interval:2s. to 1h., Recording 99h.,
Start Interval:Now/Set Time
The K-3 II doesn't have wireless connectivity, but the Aastotracer and interval shooting that offer flexible shooting modes to capture beautiful and sharp photographers of stars. Star will appear as dots and not star trails.
Built-in GPSNo (optional Nikon GP-1)Yes

+ electronic cmopass
The K-3 II has built-on GPS and electronic compass and get geo-tag images, save GPS log data. It saves latitude, longitude, altitude, coordinate universal time, GPS status and lens direction.
Burst6 fps
7 fps in 1.3x crop

Buffer: 18 RAW, 100 JPEG
8.3 fps

Buffer: 23 RAW, 60 JPEG
In-camera Lens
YesYes (distortion, Peripheral Illumin, lateral chromatic aberration, diffraction)
Electronic LevelYesYes
ViewfinderOptical (pentaprism)

100% coverage
0.94x magnification
Optical (pentaprism)

100% coverage
0.95x magnification
Exposure Compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)±2 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
WB BracketingYesNo
Video1080p60 (1.3x mode only)

MOV (H.264/MPEG-4)

Stereo mic

mic input
headphone jack
1080i60 (interlaced, lower quality compared to progressive)

MOV (H.264/MPEG-4)

Mono mic
mic input
headphone jack

Clean HDMIYesNo
Battery Life
1110 shots720 shots
Dimensions136 x 107 x 76 mm (5.35 x 4.21 x 2.99″)131 x 100 x 77 mm (5.16 x 3.94 x 3.03″)
Weight675 g (1.49 lb / 23.81 oz)800 g (1.76 lb / 28.22 oz)
WirelessWi-Fi / NFCOptional (Flu Card)
Light Metering
2016-pixel RGB metering sensor86K-pixel RGB light-metering sensor


The Pentax K3 II offers a wide range of useful features that are very hard to resist.  Compared to the D7200, the K-3 II has better durability and weather-sealing protection, more durable shutter, full-color image capture functionality, high standard ISO range, built-in GPS, IBIS (4.5 stops!), more cross-type AF points, faster burst and larger viewfinder. It seems like less attractive for video enthusiast that will probably prefer the D7200 for its 1080p60 andClean HDMI.

The D7200 does offer wireless connectivity built-in, the unique 1.3x crop factor mode, more AF points, built-in Flash, larger buffer (JPEG),  more advanced video function and much better battery life. The K-3 II seems like an excellent alternative to the D7200. Pentax really pushed hard on specific areas that matter to enthusiast most. The Full-color capture by itself is an amazing feature that you won’t find on any Nikon DSLR. The image quality should be superior in every way to the D7200 when shooting static subjects. This is the image quality I’ve been waiting for since I bought my first Olympus digital camera so many years ago.

I can forgive Pentax for not including WiFi, because the pros outweigh the cons by a large margin in my opinion. If I had to choose between the two, I would go with the Pentax K-3 II, if only for its innovative full color capture which perfectly fits my personal shooting style. You just can’t find such a pack of amazing feature in one camera these days. I think that many photographers should consider switching to Pentax, especially when a Full frame is on its way, so you’ll have an upgrade path if you ever want to upgrade to full frame in the future. Pentax lenses are state-of-the-art in my opinion, but that’s a personal preference. Some of you might prefer staying with Nikon because of its lens selection or maybe because you already own a large selection of Nikkor lenses.

Which one you prefer? – would you go with the K-3 II or the D7200 and Why?, share your opinion in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and see ya soon on the next comparison.

Buy the Pentax K-3 II from B&H Photo here

Buy the Nikon D7200 from B&H Photo here

* the Pentax K-3 II will be released on May 25, 2015.

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