Canon 1D Mark II N vs Pentax K-3 II
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II N and the Pentax K-3 II are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2005 and April 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark II N) and an APS-C (K-3 II) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N and the Pentax K-3 II? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark II N and the Pentax K-3 II. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-3 II can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 1D Mark II N is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-3 II is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark II N. Moreover, the K-3 II is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the 1D Mark II N. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark II N gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the K-3 II can take 720 images on a single charge of its D-LI90 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark II N has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the K-3 II, Pentax provides the D-BG5 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|9.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|10.||Canon 1D Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1535 g||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499|
|11.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|12.||Canon 1D||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1585 g||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499|
|13.||Pentax K-3 III||135 mm||104 mm||74 mm||820 g||800||Y||Mar 2021||1,999|
|14.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|15.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|16.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The K-3 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the 1D Mark II N, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark II N features an APS-H sensor and the Pentax K-3 II an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-3 II is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 1D Mark II N. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II N). However, it should be noted that the K-3 II is much more recent (by 9 years and 8 months) than the 1D Mark II N, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-3 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-3 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-3 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark II N are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the 1D Mark II N, the K-3 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Canon EOS-1D Mark II N has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-3 II are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-3 II offers substantially better image quality than the 1D Mark II N (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 2.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|9.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|10.||Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66|
|11.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|13.||Pentax K-3 III||APS-C||25.6||6192||4128||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The K-3 II indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1D Mark II N does not. The highest resolution format that the K-3 II can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark II N and the K-3 II are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the K-3 II has a higher magnification than the one of the 1D Mark II N (0.63x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D Mark II N and Pentax K-3 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|13.||Pentax K-3 III||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the K-3 II and the 1D Mark II N is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-3 II reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 1D Mark II N offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The Pentax K-3 II has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 1D Mark II N writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SD cards, while the K-3 II uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The K-3 II supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 1D Mark II N cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N and Pentax K-3 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1D Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Pentax K-3 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the K-3 II has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the 1D Mark II N and the K-3 II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark II N was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark III, while the K-3 II was followed by the Pentax K-3 III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Pentax websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark II N or the Pentax K-3 II – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 720) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).
Advantages of the Pentax K-3 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 72%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.55x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 230k dots).
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (131x100mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 765g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 1.1).
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (73 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 8 months of technical progress since the 1D Mark II N launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-3 II is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark II N and the Pentax K-3 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark II N or the K-3 II. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1D Mark IV||5/5||..||89/100||..||..||Oct 2009||4,999|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|7.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|8.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|9.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|10.||Canon 1D Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||4,499|
|11.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|12.||Canon 1D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2001||6,499|
|13.||Pentax K-3 III||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2021||1,999|
|14.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|15.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|16.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark II N vs Pentax K-3 II
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D Mark II N||Pentax K-3 II|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2005||April 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 3,999||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark II N||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.17 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.49 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC II||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.3||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||975||1106|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark II N||Pentax K-3 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark II N||Pentax K-3 II|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8.5 shutter flaps/s||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark II N||Pentax K-3 II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark II N||Pentax K-3 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||720 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1565 g (55.2 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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