Canon XT vs Pentax K-1
The Canon EOS Rebel XT (called Canon 350D in some regions) and the Pentax K-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2005 and February 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (XT) and a full frame (K-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8 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 XT 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 XT and the Pentax K-1. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
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 (26 percent) than the Canon XT. Moreover, the K-1 is substantially heavier (87 percent) than the XT. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-1 is splash and dust-proof, while the XT 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. 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 XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|2.||Pentax K-1||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799|
|3.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|5.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|6.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|7.||Canon T4i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|8.||Canon T1i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|10.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|11.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|12.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|13.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|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.|
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 XT was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the K-1, 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon XT features an APS-C sensor and the Pentax K-1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 is 162 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.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 offers a higher resolution than the XT (8MP), but the K-1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 6.41μm for the XT). Yet, the K-1 is a much more recent model (by 11 years) than the XT, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 XT are 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for good quality, 13.8 x 9.2 inches or 35.1 x 23.4 cm for very good quality, and 11.5 x 7.7 inches or 29.3 x 19.5 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the XT, 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 XT has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. 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 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-1 offers substantially better image quality than the XT (overall score 36 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.6 bits higher color depth, 3.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 |
|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 are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The K-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XT does not. The highest resolution format that the K-1 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The XT 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 XT (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 0.49x), 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 XT and Pentax K-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|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 XT has one, while the K-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the XT 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.
The XT writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the K-1 uses SDXC cards. The K-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the XT only has one slot.
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 XT 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 XT does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-1 (unlike the XT) 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 XT and the K-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XT was replaced by the Canon Xti, 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon XT better than the Pentax K-1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XT:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 137x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 470g or 47 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 (50 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2005).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 113%.
- 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 (36 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- 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 0.49x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 115k dots).
- 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 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 400) 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.
- More modern: Reflects 11 years of technical progress since the XT 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 (25 : 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 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 XT 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the XT or the K-1 perform in practice. 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 XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|2.||Pentax K-1||5/5||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799|
|3.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|4.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|5.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|6.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|7.||Canon T4i||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|8.||Canon T1i||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|9.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|10.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|11.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|12.||Canon 20D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|13.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|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 review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon XT 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 XT||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 2005||February 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 1,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon XT||Pentax K-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.2 x 14.8 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||328.56 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3456 x 2304 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.41 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.42 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC II||PRIME IV|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||60||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.8||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||14.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||637||3280|
|Screen Specs||Canon XT||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|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||115k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon XT||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 shutter flaps/s||4.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 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||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon XT||Pentax K-1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||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 XT||Pentax K-1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||760 shots per charge|
127 x 94 x 64 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||540 g (19.0 oz)||1010 g (35.6 oz)|
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