Canon T2i vs Pentax K-1
The Canon EOS Rebel T2i (called Canon 550D in some regions) and the Pentax K-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2010 and February 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (T2i) and a full frame (K-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 36.2 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 Rebel T2i and the Pentax K-1? 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 T2i and the Pentax K-1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The K-1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the T2i 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-1 is notably larger (19 percent) than the Canon T2i. Moreover, the K-1 is substantially heavier (91 percent) than the T2i. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-1 is splash and dust-proof, while the T2i does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Pentax K-1||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799|
|3.||Canon T100||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|5.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|6.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|7.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|9.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|10.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|11.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|12.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|13.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|14.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|15.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|17.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The T2i was launched at a markedly lower price (by 61 percent) than the K-1, 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon T2i features an APS-C sensor and the Pentax K-1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 is 160 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 offers a higher resolution than the T2i (17.9MP), but the K-1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 4.31μm for the T2i) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the K-1 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the T2i, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon T2i 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 T2i, the K-1 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 Rebel T2i has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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-1 offers substantially better image quality than the T2i (overall score 30 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.3 bits higher color depth, 3.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.1 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 |
|2.||Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|15.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the K-1 provides a faster frame rate than the T2i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The T2i and the K-1 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 viewfinder in the K-1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the T2i (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the K-1 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.54x), 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 T2i and Pentax K-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|15.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The T2i has one, while the K-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the T2i is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Pentax K-1 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the T2i and the K-1 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the T2i only has one slot. The K-1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the T2i 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 Rebel T2i and Pentax K-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the K-1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the T2i does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-1 (unlike the T2i) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the K-1 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the T2i and the K-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T2i was replaced by the Canon T3i, while the K-1 was followed by the Pentax K-1 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon T2i or the Pentax K-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel T2i:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (129x98mm vs 137x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 480g or 48 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (61 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 42%.
- 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 (30 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.54x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.4 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (760 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the T2i launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-1 is the clear winner of the contest (26 : 6 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 T2i and the Pentax K-1 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the T2i or the K-1. 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 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 T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|2.||Pentax K-1||5/5||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799|
|3.||Canon T100||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|5.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|6.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|7.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|8.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|9.||Canon T3||..||80/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|10.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|11.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|12.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|13.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|14.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|15.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||..||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|17.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon T2i vs Pentax K-1
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 T2i||Pentax K-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||February 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 1,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T2i||Pentax K-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 204,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||PRIME IV|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||14.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||3280|
|Screen Specs||Canon T2i||Pentax K-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T2i||Pentax K-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||4.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||300 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T2i||Pentax K-1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon T2i||Pentax K-1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||760 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||1010 g (35.6 oz)|
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