Canon 90D vs Pentax K-50
The Canon EOS 90D and the Pentax K-50 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2019 and June 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 32.3 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 16.1 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 90D and the Pentax K-50? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 90D and the Pentax K-50 are illustrated 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-50 can be obtained in three different colors (black, red, white), while the 90D 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-50 is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Canon 90D. Moreover, the K-50 is markedly lighter (7 percent) than the 90D. 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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 90D||141 mm||105 mm||77 mm||701 g||1300||Y||Aug 2019||1,199|
|2.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|3.||Canon R||139 mm||98 mm||84 mm||660 g||370||Y||Sep 2018||2,299|
|4.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|6.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|7.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|8.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|9.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|10.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|11.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|13.||Pentax K-70||126 mm||93 mm||74 mm||688 g||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|14.||Pentax K-500||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||646 g||710||n||Jun 2013||549|
|15.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|17.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||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.|
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-50 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the 90D, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-50 is 9 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (90D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 90D offers a higher resolution of 32.3 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the Pentax K-50. 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 3.23μm versus 4.77μm for the K-50). However, it should be noted that the 90D is much more recent (by 6 years and 2 months) than the K-50, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 90D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 90D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 34.8 x 23.2 inches or 88.4 x 58.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 23.2 x 15.5 inches or 58.9 x 39.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-50 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 90D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 90D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-50 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 determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|3.||Canon R||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.5||13.5||2742||89|
|5.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|6.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|16.||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 two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the 90D provides a higher video resolution than the K-50. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 90D and the K-50 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-50 has a higher magnification than the one of the 90D (0.61x vs 0.59x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 90D and Pentax K-50 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|5.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the 90D, but is missing on the K-50 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The 90D has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the K-50 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the 90D is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Canon 90D and the Pentax K-50 both have 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 90D and the K-50 write their files to SDXC cards. The 90D supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the K-50 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 90D and Pentax K-50 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|5.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 90D has a microphone port, which is missing on the K-50. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The 90D is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the K-50 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-50 was succeeded by the Pentax K-70. 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? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 90D and the Pentax K-50? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 90D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (32.3 vs 16.1MP) with a 42% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1300 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 2 months of technical progress since the K-50 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-50:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.61x vs 0.59x).
- More compact: Is smaller (130x97mm vs 141x105mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2013).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 90D is the clear winner of the match-up (18 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 90D and the Pentax K-50 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 90D or the K-50 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 90D||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2019||1,199|
|2.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|3.||Canon R||4/5||o||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2018||2,299|
|4.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|6.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|7.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|8.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|9.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|10.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|11.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|12.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|13.||Pentax K-70||4.5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|14.||Pentax K-500||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||549|
|15.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|17.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||83/100||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 were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 90D vs Pentax K-50
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 90D||Pentax K-50|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2019||June 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 90D||Pentax K-50|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||32.3 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6960 x 4640 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.23 μm||4.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||9.57 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 8||PRIME M|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||79|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1120|
|Screen Specs||Canon 90D||Pentax K-50|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 90D||Pentax K-50|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/6000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 90D||Pentax K-50|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Canon 90D||Pentax K-50|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1300 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
141 x 105 x 77 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
130 x 97 x 71 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||701 g (24.7 oz)||650 g (22.9 oz)|
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