Nikon D90 vs Pentax K7

by Enche Tjin on June 18, 2009

Although Nikon D90 and Pentax K7 are not belong in the same class (K7 is an advanced DSLR camera, and D90 is a mid level DSLR camera), but in size and capability, they has some similarities that might confuse potential buyers.

Body and Design
The size of the two cameras are quite similar. Nikon D90 5.2×4.1×3.0in (132×103x77mm) and Pentax K7 5.1×3.8×2.9in (130×97x74mm). The weight is also almost identical d (D90: 700g vs K7: 750g). But in term of built-quality, K7 is superior with weather/water proof magnesium alloy and stainless steel chassis.

Control and Handling
K7 might be more comfortable to handle because it has textured rubber, but many would probably say that D90 fits in the hand better. D90 is by far the most ergonomic camera that I ever use.

Both cameras has many dedicated buttons and dials to make sure users do not have to dwell inside menu to change popular settings. Most K7 buttons are on the right hand side, just like Pentax k-m/k2000 design. I found the Pentax K7 layout to be a bit better than D90, but it depends on your preference. So the layout might not be a deal breaker.

K7 advantages

  • Image resolution: 2 extra megapixel
  • Continuous shooting speed: 5.2 fps vs 4.5 fps
  • Slightly better movie mode with external mic/audio input
  • 100% viewfinder coverage compare to 95%
  • Magnesium alloy + Stainless steel body that is weather/water proof
  • Come with WR (weather sealed) lens
  • Post processing: Auto HDR (High image resolution), digital filters, auto corrections.
  • Shake Reduction / built-in image stabilization that potentially save you money in the long run


  • Share almost the same size and weight
  • 3″ LCD screen
  • 12 bit image processing
  • Anti dust sensor mechanism
  • Live view with movie mode

Nikon D90 advantages

  • Nikon lens selection and accessories are wider
  • US$350 cheaper
  • Cleaner image throughout ISO level, however 1600 is still a limit of acceptable images

From this quick comparison, we know that K7 is a better camera in many aspects but not many improvement are significant. For example, extra 2 megapixel does not mean that the camera produce better quality picture. The continuous shooting speed differences are also very small, less than 1 frame per second. Auto HDR, digital filters and auto correction might be great for practicality and time saving, but many post-processing software already have those features with greater customization and control.

However, Pentax K7’s built quality is significantly better, and it is weather sealed as well. The movie mode is also better because it provide external audio input, a feature that only offered by high-end dslr camera, Canon 5D mark II.

So, unless you need a built to last camera and do outdoor activities a lot, D90 is a very capable camera for the job. In the same time, you can save your money for other purposes.

Related links

  • Photography Blog – Pentax K7 sample photos in various setting and video
  • Ephotozine - Pentax K7 Review, sample photos, noise comparison in various ISO settin

Comments (imported from old blog platform)

Please, next time ask someone to review the text or use a spellchecker.

Jared W Lynem
Review = epic fail.

Hester Mandolins
You know your complete bias for the D90 shows in this review. To be a good reviewer and a reviewer that others trust when reading their review, you have to put your personal biases aside and keep an open mind. You’ve clearly not done anyone, Nikon D90 fan or Pentax K7 fan any favors by posting this review.

This isn’t a review, it’s a dismal attempt at detailing specifications of the Pentax K-7 with a heavy bias towards the Nikon D90.

Did you forget about the 1/8000 shutter speed of the K-7?

It’s a higher class camera than the D90, no doubt about it.

Enche Tjin
yes it is true, I stated that K7 is higher class camera. I also stated many advantages of the K7.

In this article, I want to show that for beginner or intermediate photographer, they might not need the features so D90 could serve them as well with less money.

It is not a review as well since K7 is still in pre-production and not available in the market until today.

Thanks for the feedback.

Then… people: buy the K20, which is also weather sealed, is also 14 mp, and it’s better built, for less money than the D90.
Fps? Movie mode? Come on… a real photographer doesn’t need those things.

What else is better in the Nikon D90? Accesories? Maybe… lenses for APS-C… the Pentax system is far more complete than the Nikon.

And also… has better ergonomics than the D90.

Even… Nikon D90 best ergonomics??? Come on… have you ever tried a Nikon D200/300??? A Nikon D3? A Sony A900? A Canon 1D series camera??? COME ON.

Man… just quit.

Enche Tjin
I’ve also compare k20d with K7 in this blog, take a look and let me know what you think about it.

I’ve tried most of cameras u state above, include Nikon D3, D200, D300, D700, Canon 40D. I often work with other photographers so I can borrow their second/back up camera in the job. They are a bit too big for my hand.

Believe it or not, fps is quite
essential for some type of photography such as photojournalism. Movie is not there yet, but eventually maybe it will. Photo will converge with video in some way = visual jurnalism or visual art.

I think pure/traditional photography will stays as a hobby, but most of the people won’t be able to make money from it easily like before.

There are many other things the K-7 is better at. Which you left out.
Many reviewers are astonished at the white balance of the new camera. Some even saying that the D3 and Canon 1D Mark III could learn a thing or two.
9 cross sensors for AF. The Nikon has 1 I think. Better AF accuracy away from center.
TAv mode, something unique to Pentax and a great tool. longer battery life.
Green AF assist lamp, not so annoying to look at compared to the D90.
Quieter shutter.
Ability to meter with older lenses.

Yes you are right that many people can save their money and get the D90. But it is a lot more camera than the D90. The weather resistance mag alloy body and image stabilization being the key features.

By your advice you could get the Canon XSI or any entry level camera. The K-7 is a long way in front of the D90 and deserves a bit more credit as a photography tool when it is not that much more expensive.

Enche Tjin
the AF improvement is a good point. It has been Achilles heel for Pentax DSLR for the last several years.

The dimensions provided in the second paragraph are crossed up. It is the D90 which is just a tad bigger. The smaller dimensions of 5.1 x 3.8 x 2.9 go to the K7. Yes, the Pentax K7 is slightly smaller, while also slightly heavier than the D90. It has a compact solidity that a number of reviewers really like. I can’t say from personal experience, but I’ll bet that when you have the K7 in your hands you have no problem with the extra cost, especially if you’ve already been ‘hands on’ with the IQ. For a small handed male shooter in dusty/windy West Texas (me) the Pentax K7 is just perfect. I’m in line for the K7!

Enche Tjin
thanks, the dimension is corrected now.

I didn’t mean that fps are not important… but just most people who are looking for this cameras, don’t even know how to use them, and don’t don photojournalism. Which is something I studied for, and worked for (not much time, but did it).
And the photojournalism guys, wouldn’t even think of looking at a Nikon D90…
Someone with really low budget, go for the Nikon D200, and not the D90… why? Because of body construction, weather sealing and AF sensor. Oh yeah… sure… fps re important, but how many people use a D90 for shooting fast sports? Or even, politicians in an act?

Be realistic… not every tool can be recommended for everyone. And my point is still there: for those kind of people, who won’t EVER shoot a fast action sport… the K20 is far more camera than the D90, for at least what it was meant to be: taking photos.

Does the Pentax have a processing mode similar to Nikon’s “Active D-Lighting?” This feature I find particularly intriguing, and am hoping that Pentax has something similar?

Enche Tjin
yes, it has something called expanded dynamic range, similar to Active D-lighting of Nikon.

Would you say the ISO1600 of the K7 is on par with the D90? As I recall the D90 had astonishing noise control at high ISOs.

Enche Tjin
yes it is as good if not better.

Enche Tjin
Sorry, based on the test from imaging resource and some other, D90 is cleaner throughout the ISO level.

Pete Dee
Real ISO of the D90 is know to be less than shown in the data by as much as 200 points at ISO1400. So you have compared oranges to apples.

Related Post:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gerfaut November 20, 2009 at 6:11 am

HDR does not mean High image resolution but High Dynamic Range. It is not about image sharpness but about management of high contrast.

steve February 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I’d pick the D90 over the D200 solely because of the CMOS sensor. MUCH better colors, contrast, etc. I own a D700 BTW & love the solid feel & great controls. I chose Nikon over the others for the lens selection & ergos. Let’s face the facts…Canon, Pentax, Olympus, etc also make advanced DSLRs that can take fantastic images in the hands of a photographer. Just buy what you can afford & quit trashing brands you don’t subscribe to. The latest DSLR offerings from the major brands are superb.

Kyoshi March 1, 2010 at 11:26 pm

As a D90 user I find this review biased towards the D90. Although the writer obviously didn’t study ether camera enough (the D90 has many post editing options) the K7 is the better camera. The D90 is still in it’s class (midrange, professional, upper prosumer, advanced hobbyist) along with the K-20, E-30, D300(s), SD-14, 50D, E-3, and 7D, it just happens to be at the bottom. The consumer class has been the D5000, E-620, D3000, Rebel T2i, K-x, E-420, a-550, a-230, Rebel xti, a-330, K-2000, Rebel T1i, and D60.

Francis April 16, 2010 at 10:25 pm


I’m an entry level dslr user. I’m in the process of upgrading and contemplating between the D90 and the K7. Honestly I’ve read alot of reviews lately of the k7 being a better dslr compared to the D90 and others. When you look at the photo posts you can see for yourself that K7 does not justify with all the additional features, especially indoor images very saturated and lots of shadows. Looking at the numerous images of D90 posted by the vast users I’m convinced that the D90 speaks for itself being the far superior all round dslr.

J. P. December 28, 2010 at 2:33 am

I was a D200 user and now a happy owner of the K7 (could have purchased the K5, I’ll wait till their price drops). The D90 is not without flaws and Nikor lens do in fact PF and blow out when max arp is used. I like the K7 because it is a truly outdoor all weather camera. You don’t need to purchase a rain bag to put on it unlike the D90. If I shoot indoors, I use the Limited lens and thus shoot in low light and the pictures are excellent. Sorry, if I had lots of money to spend, it’d be on a Canon 7D over Nikon D700 or D7000. And, since I don’t have lots of money, I know the K5 will do all that I need it for.

J.P. July 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Another neat thing the K7 does that the D90 does not, one can shoot with the K7 mirror locked up and the D90 can not.

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