Canon 1D X vs Pentax K-3 II
The Canon EOS-1D X and the Pentax K-3 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2011 and April 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (1DX) and an APS-C (K-3 II) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 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.
|Canon 1D X||Pentax K-3 II|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|17.9 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)||ISO 100-51,200|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2 LCD, 1040k dots||3.2 LCD, 1037k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|14 shutter flaps per second||8.3 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|1120 shots per battery charge||720 shots per battery charge|
|158 x 168 x 83 mm, 1551 g||131 x 100 x 77 mm, 800 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D X 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D X and the Pentax K-3 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-3 II can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 1DX 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 (51 percent) than the Canon 1D X. Moreover, the K-3 II is substantially lighter (48 percent) than the 1DX. 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 1DX gets 1120 shots out of its LP-E4N 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 1DX 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Canon 1D X||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|Pentax K-3 II||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||50.8 oz||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 80D||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||25.8 oz||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|Canon 1D C||6.2 in||6.5 in||3.3 in||54.5 oz||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|Canon 5D Mark III||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||5.7 in||4.4 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 5D Mark II||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Nikon D4S||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.6 oz||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D4||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Pentax KP||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Pentax K-70||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.9 in||24.3 oz||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|Pentax K-3||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Pentax K-5||5.2 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||26.8 oz||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The K-3 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 84 percent) than the 1DX, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D X features a full frame sensor and the Pentax K-3 II an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-3 II is 58 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 17.9 MP of the 1DX. 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 6.95μm for the 1DX). However, it should be noted that the K-3 II is much more recent (by 3 years and 6 months) than the 1DX, 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 X are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the 1DX, 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 X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. 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 is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the K-3 II provides a faster frame rate than the 1DX. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1DX 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 1DX has a higher magnification than the one of the K-3 II (0.76x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D X, the Pentax K-3 II, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that differentiates the K-3 II and the 1DX is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-3 II reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 1DX 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 1DX writes its imaging data to Compact Flash 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.
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 X and Pentax K-3 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D C||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the K-3 II has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The 1DX lacks such a headphone port.
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.
The K-3 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the 1DX has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 1DX was succeeded by the Canon 1DX Mark II. 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 what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1D X better than the Pentax K-3 II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D X:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.63x).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 8.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1120 versus 720) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2011).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- 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.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (131x100mm vs 158x168mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 751g or 48 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 2.0).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (84 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 1DX 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 (14 : 7 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 X 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1DX and the K-3 II in practical situations. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon 1D X||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|Pentax K-3 II||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||+ +||..||..||..||..||Jan 2020||6,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 80D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|Canon 5D Mark III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 5D Mark II||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Nikon D4S||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|Nikon D4||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Pentax KP||..||82/100||5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Pentax K-70||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|Pentax K-3||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Pentax K-5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 100D vs Canon 1D X
- Canon 10D vs Canon 1D X Mark III
- Canon 1D C vs Canon 1D X Mark II
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Fujifilm XQ1
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Nikon D300S
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Olympus E-PL3
- Canon 1D X Mark III vs Canon 1Ds Mark II
- Canon 1D X vs Panasonic G2
- Canon 1D X vs Panasonic G9
- Canon 1D X vs Pentax Q
- Canon 1D X vs Sony A6000
- Panasonic FZ80 vs Pentax K-3 II
Specifications: Canon 1D X 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 X||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||October 2011||April 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 6,799||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D X||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.95 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.07 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+ (Dual)||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.8||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2786||1106|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D X||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||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D X||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||14 shutter flaps/s||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 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 cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D X||Pentax K-3 II|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||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 X||Pentax K-3 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1120 shots per charge||720 shots per charge|
158 x 168 x 83 mm
(6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in)
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1551 g (54.7 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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