Canon XT versus Pentax K100D
First, I apologize for another long message from a newbie. I wont ask which camera I should buy, but I hope you might be able to provide some answers to the questions Im trying to answer. Thanks in advance!.

I am looking to buy my first DSLR. Ive done a bit of research, but Im not sure that Im considering all the questions I should. Im looking to buy a budget/beginner system. It will initially be used mostly as a family camera, and will be used to take many photos of our newborn. We will buy a DSLR because I have always been interested in photography, and eventually would like to use the camera for landscape photography on our mountain hikes here in Colorado, USA..

Based on online reviews, coworker suggestions and a few trips to the big box stores, Im considering systems built around the Canon Rebel XT and the Pentax K100D. I know both are older cameras, but both seem to be of reasonably good quality and help me to meet my budget of $500-600. I will presumably expand the system later, but this is what Ill start with..

Canon Rebel XT systemCanon XT $430 or with kit lens $480 (XTi without lens is $580)Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II  normal lens $60.

Pentax K100D systemPentax K100D $370 or with kit lens $450 (super is $475 w/ lens)+/- Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4 Lens $200 (or other inexpensive recommendations?).


1) I could bump up to either the canon XTi or the pentax K100D super. It seems to me that most of the increased cost of the canon is in higher resolution and the pentax includes a cleaning system. Are these features worth $25-150 more?.

2) the Canon XT is an 8mp camera while the Pentax is 6mp  Is this something Ill notice? I anticipate printing mostly 5x7 and 8x10 images. Because my lens possibilities will be limited at first, Id like to be able to crop and expand a bit. Will there be a significant difference between the cameras?.

3) One feature I like about the Pentax is the image stabilization feature. Does it really work? Presumably, this will allow me to get better shots in marginal conditions. Its hard for me to know, though, whether this is more important that having more pixels (see question #1). If the stabilization is important, it is clearly better for the budget to have it in the body than to have it in the lenses as canon does. I know there is some discussion of image stabilizing lenses working better than in camera stabilization, but I dont know enough about this to have an opinion..

4) Availability of lenses. It seems to me that there are fewer lenses for the Pentax, and that they are a bit more expensive. The fact that I wouldnt need to buy IS lenses for the Canon is a plus, though. Also, Ive read that the Pentax kit lens is considerably better than the Canon. I like being able to start with a decent quality (according to the reviews), inexpensive normal lens with the Canon. Are there other things to consider here?.

5) I have had the chance to shoot some pics with the Canon. It seemed small in my hands, but I liked the user interface. It also seemed a bit cheap and lightweight. I have so far been unable to test the Pentax. It seems there are no retailers within a couple hundred miles. Is the camera well-built? Is it easy to use?.

6) I like that the Pentax uses AA batteries. I know they wont last long, but it is easy and inexpensive to carry a couple of sets in the bag for emergencies..

6) Are there other questions I should be asking?.

Thanks again...

Comments (9)

I have a K100D; I have not used the Canon..

I went for the K100D because of.

(i) the shake reduction. It does work, but not as well as it claims in the manual - you can get an extra 1 - 2 stops, which is well worth having. Hand-held shots at 1/15 - 1/30 sec using a focal length of 50mm (=75mm in 35mm film equivalent) are perfectly doable as long as the subject isn't moving of course.

(ii) the secondary status LCD top-plate which I like..

(iii) The kit lens is better than the equivalent offering from Canon..

(iv) AA batteries are fine if you get the lithium ones - they last for about 800 shots. Good rechargeable ones will give you several hundred shots too. And in an emergency - running out of battery power with no spares - you can always use standard Duracell alkaline AA batteries which are good for 100 shots or so..

The difference between 6MP and 8MP at the sorts of sizes you will be printing is of minimal significance. For a 10 x 7 print it amounts to the difference between 300 dpi resolution on the print, and 350 dpi resolution. Both of these provide higher detail than the human eye can resolve. The upside of having 'only' 6MP on the Pentax is that the larger pixels individually collect more light during an exposure, so the noise at high ISO settings is less, and I can get very nice 10 x 8 prints at ISO800 taken indoors without flash - the sorts of conditions you are likely to want a lot for photographic children..

Whichever camera you get, a wide-aperture lens like a 50mm f/1.8 is a must, it's an ideal focal length for taking photos of babies: and using natural room light (e.g. by a window) looks infintely better than the pop-up flash which generally produces awful results and should really only be used for fill-in purposes outdoors..

I'm sure plenty of Canon aficionados will sing the praises of the XT as well, it is a fine camera but the rather poor kit lens lets it down IMO. if you are wanting to take children pics indoors you will need the widest apertures, which is where it's deficiencies become most obvious. If you are going to use the 50/1.8 a lot then that's not an issue..

All the bestMike..

Comment #1

1. For resolution, probably not. For sensor cleaning and compatibility with Pentax's new version of USM lenses, , maybe. Consider 1 camera shop sensor cleaning is around $65. How soon will it need it, who knows. Depends on environment and how often you change lenses as well as if the lens is sealed at the body.

2. No you will not see a difference in anything over 6mp until you reach 12x18 plus print sizes., Maybe if you are doing an extreme crop printed at 8x10 you might notices a tiny difference in 6 to 8 and a noticeable one at 10mp. I have printed professional 16x20 prints off 6mp..

3. Yes image stabilization can improve picture. Actually, in some circumstances SAVE shots. It's not really applicable to compare it to resolution and ask "which will help more". A shot with camera shake is ruined at any resolution, and with sufficient shutterspeed or a tripod to get a crisp shot, IS does nothing. The bottom line is that for stationary subjects in low ambient light it will allow you to get a shot at a 2-3 stops slower shutter speed.

In bright sun or with help at all. And yes the in body stabilization is an incredible valuable thing. I would love to have it on My Fuji S5 Pro so I wouldn't have had to debate buying a $1800 70-200 2.8 VR lens over a $900 80-200 2.8 that otherwise is just as good. The lens version is slightly superior by most accounts, but not that much. 1 extra stop maybe..

4. How many lenses do you need? yes, Canon and Nikon have the most, but it seems to me that between Pentax and Sigma / Tamron everything that anyone other than serious sports pro might need is covered. Plus the Pentax with IS build in gives you a LOT more stabilized lens options than Canon or Nikon. Can't get a stabilized prime for example with either. You might consider an upgrade to a Tamron 18-200 lens over the kit zoom. It plus a 50mm prime would let you do most anything other than low light sports.

It wouldn't offer quite the sharpness of the prime, or the super shallow DOF or speed in low light, but would be a big jump from kit lens and probably be overall more versatile. Also a single lens will help the dust on the sensor situation if you don't go for self-cleaning. Since you will be printing mostly 8x10 or less I doubt you could tell an image quality difference..

5. I agree about the Rebel, while a fine camera feels cheap, small and plasticy. The k100D looks a tad better to me, but that might just be because it's all black. I have never picked one up. I personally like a solid camera with a little heft to it. Inspires confidence, feels better in my hands and is easier to hold steady.

Truly amazing build quality and feature set for the price. It's a 40D / D200 class camera at half the price..

6. I'm assuming it uses 4 AA, not sure. If so, it should las a good while with good rechargeables. My fuji can switch over to 6 AA in grip instead of 2 Lithiums and I can get 300 + shots out of those, and it does a BUNCH of processing shooting 25mb RAWs..

6b. Sounds like you are asking good ones, and the 2 systems you are looking at are good ones. I'm a Nikon fan as well, but the D40s AF system is just too limited for someone that knows they need a 50mm prime. I shot Canon professionally for 20 years before the switch to Fuji/Nikon but I have sent most entry level shopping friends Pentax's way lately just because I feel they offer the most bang for the buck out there...

Comment #2

Many thanks for your excellent comments. I just noticed that Pentax is offereing a $100 rebate on wither the K10D Kit of the K100D super kit. It makes me wonder if the K10D might be a better choice, given that the body + kit lens would be in the $610 range...

Comment #3

As my dad (even as a pretty frugal guy) always told me "If you don't buy what you really want, you will never be happy with it". I suspect that you would be most happy with the K10D. I picked one up the other day and played with it in a cameras shop that had the battery grip in it and it was very comparable to my $1800 S5 (Nikon D200 body) in terms of quality, handling and operational speed. Slightly lighter but very solid camera. About the only negative you will ever see is that out of camera jpgs are a little soft and you need to bump up in camera sharpening or shoot raw, but at 8x10 you aren't gonna notice it and if you are shooting something special, shoot RAW and there it provides the highest resolution of any 10mp DLSR. A while back I remember they had a rebate going that let you get the 16-45 4.0 lens which is excellent for only about $100 more than kit 16-55, not sure if they still have that or not...

Comment #4

Many thanks for your excellent comments. I just noticed that Pentaxis offereing a $100 rebate on wither the K10D Kit of the K100D superkit. It makes me wonder if the K10D might be a better choice, giventhat the body + kit lens would be in the $610 range..

That makes the K10D a steal... comparable what I paid for my K100D in the UK six months ago. That's what I would do!!.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #5

Kmcq wrote:.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II  normal lens $604) Also, Ive read that the Pentax kit lens is considerably better thanthe Canon. I like being able to start with a decent quality(according to the reviews), inexpensive normal lens with the Canon.Are there other things to consider here?.

Just wanted to note that the 50mm F/1.8 is "normal" on 35mm film cameras or full-frame DSLRs, but 35mm is closer to normal for crop-sensor cameras such as the two you are considering. Again, the Canon 35mm F/2 is available for less than the current Pentax offering (about $230 vs. $300). That said, a fast 50mm makes a great short telephoto for indoor candids or portraiture..

Also, don't be too quick to dismiss Canon's kit lens. At the print sizes you mentioned, both kit lenses get solid "A" or "A+" SQF ratings (popphoto) for every focal length at all apertures between wide open and F/22 and at print sizes up to 11 X 14 inches. Each lens has issues (e.g., vignetting at wide angle for the Pentax; more noticeable barrel distortion at wide-angle for the Canon), but, as there are lots of reviews on the internet for both, you can download some sample images to print off at your normal sizes to see what you think..

FWIW, I chose the Samsung GX-1S (Pentax *ist DS2 clone) due mainly to it's bigger, clearer pentaprism viewfinder in a compact package. The K10D you're now considering would have the same viewfinder magnification. I also found the Samsung, though slightly smaller than even the K100D, to fit my hands more comfortably than the Canon Rebel...

Comment #6

I think it's great that none of the Canon "wackos" has invaded your thread. .

It seems to me that you have the issues well analyzed. If you can afford the K10D, you will REALLY like it!.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog:

Comment #7

Thanks again with all your help with my questions. It's clear that the K10D is a great deal, but I decided to go with the K100D super, because it fits my budget better. I'll post again with my impressions...

Comment #8

Kmcq wrote:.

Many thanks for your excellent comments. I just noticed that Pentaxis offereing a $100 rebate on wither the K10D Kit of the K100D superkit. It makes me wonder if the K10D might be a better choice, giventhat the body + kit lens would be in the $610 range..

I recently upgraded from the *ist DS to a K10D, and I'm very happy with it..

The K10D is geared more towards more experienced photographers, and thus lacks the scene modes (e.g. landscape, portrait, sports, etc). If you don't need the pre-set scene modes , then I'd strongly recommend the K10D over the K100D super..

The K10D has much better low-light autofocus than the K100D Super, and has an external control for exposure mode. Those two factors alone made the upgrade worth it for me. The *ist D and K100D series tended to hunt in low light situations, and the K10D is far superior in this regard. I shoot in wildly varying conditions where lighting, exposure and WB change quickly. The K10D's control layout works very well in this situation and doesn't get in the way. It's a fantastic working camera..

The only disadvantages of the K10D over the K100D Super are:Weight and Bulk - K10D is significantly bulkier and heavierScene modes - K10D doesn't have any. It's an advanced amateur/semi-pro cameraPrice - K10D it's a bit more expensive than the K100D Super.

Less comfortable grip - K10D is fine, but I preferred the grip of the K100D/*ist D series...

Comment #9

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