Olympus E-1 vs Pentax K-1
The Olympus E-1 and the Pentax K-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2003 and February 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-1) and a full frame (K-1) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 4.9 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.
|Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Four Thirds lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|4.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-800 (100-3200)||ISO 100-204800|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|1.8" LCD, 134k dots||3.2" LCD, 1037k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||4.4 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|750 shots per battery charge||760 shots per battery charge|
|141 x 104 x 81 mm, 738 g||137 x 110 x 86 mm, 1010 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-1 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-1 and the Pentax K-1 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-1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-1 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 somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Olympus E-1. Moreover, the K-1 is substantially heavier (37 percent) than the E-1. 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
|Olympus E-1»||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699||Olympus E-1|
|Pentax K-1«||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 6D Mark II« »||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 7D« »||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||Canon 7D|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D500« »||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D610« »||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D7000« »||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||Nikon D7000|
|Olympus E-M1 II« »||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Olympus E-5« »||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699||Olympus E-5|
|Olympus E-3« »||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330« »||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300« »||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799||Olympus E-300|
|Pentax K-1 II« »||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Pentax K-1 II|
|Sony A99 II« »||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 E-1 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the K-1 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 Olympus E-1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax K-1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 is 283 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the E-1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the K-1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). Yet, the K-1 is a much more recent model (by 12 years and 7 months) than the E-1, 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 inch or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inch or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inch or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inch or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inch or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inch or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the E-1, 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 Olympus E-1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-1|
|Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 7D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66||Canon 7D|
|Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D500||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.0||14.0||1324||83||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D7000||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80||Nikon D7000|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56||Olympus E-5|
|Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-300|
|Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..||Pentax K-1 II|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The K-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-1 does not. The highest resolution format that the K-1 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-1 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the K-1 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-1 (0.70x vs 0.48x), 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 Olympus E-1, the Pentax K-1, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8||134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Olympus E-1|
|Pentax K-1||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Canon 7D|
|Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7000|
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0||920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-5|
|Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5||230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8||134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Olympus E-300|
|Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y||Pentax K-1 II|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
One feature that differentiates the K-1 and the E-1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The K-1 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the E-1 has to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.
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 E-1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the K-1 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 Olympus E-1 and Pentax K-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-1||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-1|
|Pentax K-1||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon 6D Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 7D||Y||mono||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 7D|
|Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Nikon D500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D500|
|Nikon D610||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D7000||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D7000|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-||Olympus E-M1 II|
|Olympus E-5||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-5|
|Olympus E-3||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-3|
|Olympus E-330||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
|Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Pentax K-1 II|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
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 E-1 does not offer wifi capability.
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-1 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the E-1 and the K-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, 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 Olympus and Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-1 better than the Pentax K-1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 272g or 27 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2003).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 4.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 177%.
- 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: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.48x).
- 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 134k 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.
- 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.
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-1 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 3 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 Olympus E-1 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 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 E-1 and the K-1 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.
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 250D vs Pentax K-1
- Canon 5DS R vs Pentax K-1
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Olympus E-1
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Olympus E-1
- Leica V-LUX 3 vs Olympus E-1
- Olympus E-1 vs Panasonic ZS200
- Olympus E-1 vs Sony A7S II
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Panasonic FZ2000 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Pentax K-1 II vs Pentax KP
- Pentax K-1 II vs Sony A77
- Pentax K-1 II vs Sony H200
Specifications: Olympus E-1 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||Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2003||February 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1699||USD 1799|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4.9 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2560 x 1920 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.78 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.19 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100-800 ISO||100-204800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-3200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||TruePic||PRIME IV|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3280|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|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||1.8 inch||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||134k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000/s||1/8000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||4.4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||300 000 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 XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||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||Olympus E-1||Pentax K-1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||760 shots per charge|
141 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||738 g (26.0 oz)||1010 g (35.6 oz)|
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