Pentax K-70 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Pentax K-70 image quality to its spiritual predecessor, the K-S2, as well as its more expensive sibling the K-3 II. For good measure, we've also compared it against both of its nearest DSLR rivals, the Canon T6i and Nikon D5500, as well as a similarly-priced mirrorless camera, the Sony A6000.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Pentax K-70, Pentax K-S2, Pentax K-3 II, Canon T6i, Nikon D5500 and Sony A6000 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Pentax K-70 to any camera we've ever tested!

Pentax K-70 vs Pentax K-S2 at Base ISO

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 100
Pentax K-70 at ISO 100
Pentax K-S2 at ISO 100

Despite its slightly greater 24.2-megapixel resolution on paper, the Pentax K-70 turns in a very similar performance to the 20.1-megapixel K-S2 at base sensitivity. There's perhaps just slightly more detail in the K-70's mosaic label and fabric swatch, but the difference is slight. As is typical of Pentax's default settings, both cameras give the pink fabric swatch a magenta hue

Pentax K-70 vs Pentax K-3 II at Base ISO

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 100
Pentax K-70 at ISO 100
Pentax K-3 II at ISO 100

Likewise, the comparison against the K-3 II is much as we'd expect: With near-identical sensor resolution, neither camera has a clear edge in the detail department. (The K-3 II's result looks just fractionally crisper, but that seems to be down to slightly stronger default sharpening.) And again, there's the magenta hue to the pink fabric swatch for which Pentax is well-known.

Pentax K-70 vs Canon T6i at Base ISO

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 100
Pentax K-70 at ISO 100
Canon T6i at ISO 100

Finally, we come to rather more interesting comparison. At base sensitivity, the Canon T6i and Pentax K-70 derive similar levels of detail from their 24.2-megapixel image sensors, although higher default sharpening from the K-70 gives it a crisper look. Canon wins on color, though, especially on the difficult pink and red swatches. It's perhaps just a touch warm in the pink swatch still, and its colors perhaps are slightly more muted than the typical consumer's tastes, but they're certainly more true-to-life than those of the Pentax at default settings.

Pentax K-70 vs Nikon D5500 at Base ISO

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 100
Pentax K-70 at ISO 100
Nikon D5500 at ISO 100

The Nikon D5500, too, has more realistic color at default settings than does the Pentax K-70. (They're not quite as good as those of the Canon, though, tending a little warmer in the pink swatch.) Like those of the T6i before it, the D5500's images look a little less crisp than those of the K-70, but that's down to higher sharpening from the Pentax. Look at the finer details, especially in the pink fabric swatch, and it appears that the D5500 is actually holding onto more detail.

Pentax K-70 vs Sony A6000 at Base ISO

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
Pentax K-70 at ISO 100
Sony A6000 at ISO 100

The best of the bunch at base sensitivity, though, has to be the Sony A6000. Sure, it's pink swatch is rather too warm compared to the Canon T6i, but it is still closer than the Pentax K-70's magenta rendering. And the Sony definitely holds onto the most detail of the group, despite lower levels of sharpening. (Note the absence of halos in the bottle crop, where the Pentax cameras and Canon T6i in particular show noticeable halos around the printing on the label.) And for bonus points, the A6000 also has the best contrast in the difficult red fabric swatch.

Pentax K-70 vs Pentax K-S2 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 1600
Pentax K-70 at ISO 1600
Pentax K-S2 at ISO 1600

With the sensitivity bumped up to ISO 1600 equivalent, we see similar noise levels from the Pentax K-70 and K-S2. The K-70 retains just a little more detail in the mosaic label, and both cameras struggle badly with the red fabric swatch, losing almost every hint of detail. It's close, but if we had to choose, we'd give a slight edge to the K-70 here.

Pentax K-70 vs Pentax K-3 II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 1600
Pentax K-70 at ISO 1600
Pentax K-3 II at ISO 1600

Now here's a turnup for the books: With the sensitivity raised to ISO 1600-equivalent, the more affordable Pentax K-70 actually outperforms its flagship sibling in terms of noise levels (as shown in the bottle crop) and perhaps just slightly in detail too (per the mosaic label crop). The K-3 II does just fractionally better with the fabric swatches at this sensitivity, but it's a close thing. Apparently if you're a Pentaxian and high-sensitivity performance is your main deciding factor, you might want to consider the entry-level K-70 over its enthusiast-grade sibling. (Of course, the K-3 II will still outperform the K-70 in many other respects.)

Pentax K-70 vs Canon T6i at ISO 1600

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 1600
Pentax K-70 at ISO 1600
Canon T6i at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600-equivalent, we see two very different approaches from Canon and Pentax. The K-70 has a pretty clear edge in both noise levels and detail, as you can see in the bottle and mosaic label crops. The T6i, though, clearly wins in terms of color and in its handling of that difficult red fabric swatch.

Pentax K-70 vs Nikon D5500 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 1600
Pentax K-70 at ISO 1600
Nikon D5500 at ISO 1600

It's a similar story against the Nikon D5500, too. The Pentax K-70 clearly trails in the fabric swatches, but holds onto a good bit more fine detail in the mosaic label. Noise levels are pretty similar between the pair, though, as you can see in the bottle crop.

Pentax K-70 vs Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 1600
Pentax K-70 at ISO 1600
Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

Once again, though, we find ourselves favoring the Sony A6000 even if it's not quite as resounding a victory as at base sensitivity. The A6000's noise reduction is a bit heavy-handed, showing some unnatural mottling in the mosaic label and pink fabric swatch, and to a lesser extent in the bottle crop as well. But the Sony still holds onto some fine thread patterns in the pink fabric swatch, has a good bit of contrast in the red swatch, and has fairly good color as well.

Pentax K-70 vs Pentax K-S2 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 3200
Pentax K-70 at ISO 3200
Pentax K-S2 at ISO 3200

Interesting results if we dial up the sensitivity, then, but what if we go a step further? At ISO 3200, the Pentax K-70 looks to have more of an edge over its lower-res sibling, with both somewhat lower noise levels in the bottle crop, and a bit more detail in the mosaic label. Both cameras have now lost almost all detail in the difficult red fabric swatch, and still show a very magenta rendition of the pink swatch.

Pentax K-70 vs Pentax K-3 II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 3200
Pentax K-70 at ISO 3200
Pentax K-3 II at ISO 3200

The trend continues in our comparison of the K-70 against its flagship sibling, the K-3 II. There's a pretty clear difference in noise levels between the pair, not to mention detail levels thanks to the effects of noise reduction. Where the K-3 II's image is starting to look rather mottled and ropey, the K-70 holds onto a fair bit more detail with lesser noise levels. The K-3 II does hold onto a tiny bit of red fabric swatch detail which the K-70 has lost, however.

Pentax K-70 vs Canon T6i at ISO 3200

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 3200
Pentax K-70 at ISO 3200
Canon T6i at ISO 3200

And again, we see the trend continued with the Canon T6i: The Pentax K-70 has noticeably lower noise levels and holds onto much more fine detail, but the Canon Rebel has better color and manages to retain a bit of contrast in the red fabric swatch.

Pentax K-70 vs Nikon D5500 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 3200
Pentax K-70 at ISO 3200
Nikon D5500 at ISO 3200

Of this group, the Nikon D5500 probably shows the most balanced approach at this higher sensitivity. Its color is noticeably more realistic than that of the Pentax, and it manages to hold onto a bit of detail in the red fabric swatch. The K-70 does better with the fine details in the mosaic label, and it's pretty much a wash in terms of noise levels between this pair.

Pentax K-70 vs Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
Pentax K-70 at ISO 3200
Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

Once again, the Sony A6000 shows that it has far higher default noise reduction. At first glance its bottle crop is cleaner, but then you notice an unnatural mottled, blotchy look that sometimes sees color bleeding across the boundary between bottle and background. The Pentax K-70 does far better with the mosaic label, but despite its blotchniness, the Sony manages better with the fabric swatches, although here too you can see colors bleeding between the two adjacent swatches.

Pentax K-70 vs. Pentax K-S2, Pentax K-3 II, Canon T6i, Nikon D5500, Sony A6000

100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Pentax K-70 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Pentax K-S2 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Pentax K-3 II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon T6i test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Nikon D5500 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 6400
Pentax
K-70
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Pentax
K-S2
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Pentax
K-3 II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
T6i
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D5500
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6000
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. As usual, we like to see how these cameras handle high-contrast detail, too, and so we turn to our Samuel Smith beer label for an assessment. The Nikon D5500 probably turns in the best performace, with good contrast and reasonably crisp red text across the sensitivity range. Second place probably goes to the Sony A6000, although at the highest sensitivity the red text loses some definition. Next up is realistically a four-way tie between the Canon and Pentax cameras, although if we had to call winners and losers, we'd probably give the edge to the T6i and K-70, with the K-S2 hot on their heels and the K-3 II just slightly behind.

 

Pentax K-70 Print Quality Analysis

Terrific 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100/200; a good 13 x 19 inch print at ISO 1600; a nice 5 x 7 inch print at ISO 6400.

ISO 100/200 both provide terrific printed images at 30 x 40 inches and larger - as large as you want to print until your resolution tops out. These images showcase crisp fine detail and rich color reproduction, with a nice vibrance throughout the image.

ISO 400 prints at 30 x 40 inches are fine for less critical applications and wall display prints. For your more critical applications we recommend 24 x 36 inches as the optimal large size here, and this size provides an excellent printed image all around.

ISO 800 images pass our good seal at 16 x 20 inches, although there is a mild amount of noise present in flatter areas of our test target at this size, and most contrast detail is now gone in our tricky target red swatch. Larger prints here may be OK for less critical applications, but overall noise levels prevent us from awarding them our good seal.

ISO 1600 produces a 13 x 19 inch print that passes our good rating. All contrast detail is now lost in our target red swatch, but otherwise the noise levels are fairly well-controlled for this ISO at this size, with plenty of fine detail remaining.

ISO 3200 prints just pass our good seal at 11 x 14 inches. These prints exhibit similar issues as found in the 13 x 19 inch prints at ISO 1600, but general color and fine detail is still good here. For your most critical applications, we recommend remaining at 8 x 10 inches and under here.

ISO 6400 yields 8 x 10 inch prints that are certainly fine for less critical applications, but there's simply too much overall softening apparent in certain areas of the print to pass our good rating. A size reduction to 5 x 7 inches does the trick for achieving a generally good overall print.

ISO 12,800 images at 5 x 7 inches are similar to the 8 x 10's at ISO 6400 - good for less critical applications but not quite up to our good standard due to issues with softness and a mild muting of colors overall. The 4 x 6's here are fine for most purposes, so we can call them good here.

ISO 25,600 produces a 4 x 6 inch print that almost passes our good grade, and you may be able to get away with them for less critical applications.

ISO 51,200/102,400 settings do not provide usable prints and we recommend avoiding these settings for most printing purposes.

Summary: The Pentax K-70 is an entry-level camera that offers print quality that is markedly above typical entry-level results. Base ISO and ISO 200 prints are stunning in their fine detail, thanks in large part to the lack of an optical low-pass filter, and the camera is capable of providing usable prints a good ways up the ISO spectrum. In general, as with most cameras these days in the APS-C world, we recommend remaining at ISO 3200 and below for your critical printing needs, especially for anything up to 8 x 10 inch prints. Moving to ISO 6400 and higher simply allows too much noise and general softening to enter the picture, but you can expect very solid results from this camera in the print quality department at ISO 3200 and below.

 



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