Which beginner DSLR is best for your needs? Find out in our Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500 comparison.
Sony has swapped over to SLT and ILCE non-reflex camera designs, and Olympus has committed to mirrorless Micro Four Thirds designs, which means that Canon, Nikon and Pentax are the only mainstream digital SLR makers left.
Canon and Nikon are the big names in this market, while Pentax is more of an outsider, but one that always offers an interesting alternative.
All three have recently announced new entry-level DSLRs , and while they’re all aimed at cost-conscious newcomers, they offer three very different approaches.
The Canon EOS 1200D is the newest, following hot on the heels of the Nikon D3300. The Pentax K-500, by contrast, has been around since the middle of 2012.
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Buy the Canon EOS 1200D on Amazon UK
Buy the Nikon D3300 on Amazon US
Buy the Nikon D3300 on Amazon UK
Buy the Pentax K-500 on Amazon US
Buy the Pentax K-500 on Amazon UK
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: 01 Sensor
All three cameras have APS-C sized sensors. The Canon’s is just a millimetre or so smaller than the others, but it’s not enough to make any significant difference.
The 24-megapixel Nikon D3300 is the clear winner for resolution, easily beating the 18-megapixel EOS 1200D.
The 16-megapixel Pentax K-500 is in third place, but only trails the Canon by 2 megapixels, so it’s not really a significant difference.
The Nikon has the potential to stretch its resolution advantage still further; like other new Nikon DSLRs it dispenses with the low-pass filter (OLPF) usually placed in front of DSLR sensors to prevent moire effects with fine patterns and textures.
This should make fine details even sharper, and Nikon doesn’t think moire will be a problem.
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: 02 Maximum ISO
The Canon EOS 1200D trails the other two for sensitivity, with a maximum ISO of 6,400, though this does go up to ISO 12,800 in ‘expanded’ mode.
The Nikon D3300 goes a whole stop further, with ISO 12,800 available in normal mode and ISO 25,600 in its ‘Hi’ mode.
The clear winner is the Pentax K-500, which goes right up to ISO 51,200 – though of course high ISO settings are no guarantee of quality, and these cameras may prove closer in quality at high ISOs than the figures suggest.
SEE MORE: Nikon D3300 review
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: 03 Anti-shake
Canon and Nikon both use lens-based image-stabilisation systems. Both come with stabilised kit lenses, and many other lenses in the Canon and Nikon ranges are stabilised too.
Pentax, however, uses a sensor-based stabilisation system. This means that in theory you get ‘stabilised’ images whatever lens you use.
The advantage of lens-based stabilisation systems, however, is that the image in the viewfinder is stabilised too.
With sensor-shift systems, the image itself is stabilised but the viewfinder image is not. You notice this especially with longer focal length lenses.
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: 04 Autofocus
The Canon EOS 1200D has the least sophisticated autofocus system, with 9 AF points including 1 more accurate cross-type sensor.
It’s likely to be perfectly adequate for everyday non-professional use, however.
The Nikon D3300’s AF system has 11 AF points but, again, just one cross-type sensor. You’re unlikely to notice much difference in practice between this and the Canon 1200D.
The Pentax K-500 has the same number of autofocus points as the Nikon, but 9 of them are superior cross-type sensors.
This should give it an advantage, though this will also depend on the autofocus speed of the lens.
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: Sensor, Maximum ISO, Anti-shake, Autofocus
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: Shutter speed, Burst mode, Metering, Flash
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: Flash sync, LCD display, Movies, Viewfinder
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: Kit lens, Storage & battery, Wi-Fi, Size, Price
Canon 1200D vs Nikon D3300 vs Pentax K-500: Our conclusion
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