The Most Unfair Comparison: Canon 7D + L Series 24-70 vs Pentax K-x + Kit Lens

I had a chance to play around, and decided to do the most unfair comparison ever between DSLRs. I own a Pentax K-x with several lenses that I use around the house. It’s a great small DSLR. It cost me $385 used with the DAL 18-55mm kit lens. For work we just got a Canon 7D with a 24-70mm f2.8 L series lens. The L series lenses are some of the best available for the Canon EOS system.

The Canon system, on sale, cost $2700 for the body and lens. That’s seven times more than my K-x with kit lens cost me. There is no way my kit can take a better picture than the 7D with that lens. The Pentax kit lens is nowhere the quality of the L series glass. Don’t get me wrong, Pentax makes a really good kit lens, but there is a reason you can buy one for 1/20 the cost of the L series. Used appropriately, the 7D with that lens will take amazing pictures. But, what if someone just grabbed it and snapped shots in automatic? How does it perform then?

I decided to have some fun. I put both cameras in full program mode. Just let the bodies do what they automatically did. I shot a couple pictures of this fake plastic flower thing in my house.

First up the Pentax. Generally, not a horrible picture. At 55mm, ISO was up at 3200, which is a bit high, but necessary in the low light indoors with the slower lens at f5.6. The K-x does a great job at noise reduction in JPGs.

Next, the 7D. There’s no doubt that the f2.8’s narrower DOF drives focus to the red flowers. At 70mm the closer framing is nicer. Generally, this is a much better image. I could argue that moving the Pentax closer to the flowers would fix some of the framing issues, but the slower f5.6 cannot reproduce the narrower DOF. The 7D also did not have a lot of noise at 3200.

As expected the 7D with L series glass outperforms the K-x with kit lens in automatic program mode. You can get better images from both cameras using different settings in different situations, but both give usable pictures in the most basic mode. The K-x is designed for entry level photography, while the 7D is more akin to the higher level bodies from Pentax like the K5. There is no real comparison of the two lenses. The kit lens from Pentax is great, but it’s not the best lens ever made. The 24-70mm L series is one of the best EOS lenses available. If it didn’t produce a better image than the Pentax DAL 18-55mm I would be shocked.