Pentax has just announced the MX-1, the company's first entry into the "enthusiast" point-and-shoot market. As such, this camera will deliver more manual controls, more features, and better image quality than your everyday point-and-shoot.
What's most noteworthy about this camera, however, is its retro styling: Pentax has finally created a camera that resembles a classic SLR. Take a look at the original Pentax MX to get a sense of the design elements that the new MX-1 embodies.
Apart from the fact that's the MX-1 is not an SLR, the overall design of these two cameras is actually quite similar. Pentax is also launching the MX-1 in black, a color option that was also available back in the old days for select SLRs. One cool thing about the black body is that as it gets worn, the brass below the paint will become exposed, giving the camera a very classic look.
The MX-1 will become available next month (in February, 2013) at a retail price of $499.95 USD. It can already be pre-ordered in the US.
The Pentax MX-1 features the latest in Pentax technology and will likely feel very much like a Pentax Q in a much larger package. It has a 1/1.7" 12-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, can record Full-HD video at 30FPS in H.264 format, and has a 4x F1.8-2.5 zoom lens corresponding to 28-112mm on film. The maximum ISO is 12,800.
Because it's an enthusiast camera, the MX-1 can shoot in RAW and supports the all the basic shooting modes (P/A/S/M a.k.a P/Av/Tv/M) in addition to full-auto and scene modes.
For the full specifications, please visit the MX-1's entry in our camera database.
At first sight, the MX-1 looks like a wonderful camera. We're happy to see that Pentax has finally made a retro-styled camera for those who have been passionate about Pentax for a while or enjoy retro-styled cameras. We like the large, high-resolution LCD (the same one found on DSLRs), which delivers twice the resolution of the one found on the Pentax Q.
Given its launch price of $500, however, enthusiasts might expect a little more than the MX-1's small 1/1.7" sensor, which is similar if not identical to the one found in the Olympus XZ-2. This sensor's area is about 50% greater than that of the Pentax Q, but less than half of that of a 1" sensor found in cameras such as the Sony RX-100. Other camera makers are already using 1", APS-C, and now full-frame sensors (thanks to the Sony RX-1) in their enthusiast offerings, and we know that larger sensors deliver cleaner images with less noise and better resolution. The MX-1 also lacks a hot shoe, which means that there will be no external flash support. Furthermore, we think that the tilting LCD takes away from the retro styling, as Pentax should have just made it fully articulating if they wanted to go down that route. Ultimately, we would have preferred for the MX-1 to be a DSLR, but rather than speak to soon, we will wait until we actually hold this camera in our hands before drawing further conclusions. In other aspects, such as video recording and shooting modes, however, the MX-1 looks promising, and we sure like its fast F1.8-2.5 lens!
One other observation that we'd like to make is that the MX-1 has a green button as well as a red button, which can be used to start video recording, like on the K-01. We hope that the red button becomes standard on all Pentax DSLRs and enthusiast camers from now on.
Click on any image to enlarge.