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Pentax MX-1

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12 28,548 Fri September 9, 2016
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Pentax MX-1

Pentax MX-1
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Pentax MX-1
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Pentax MX-1
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Pentax MX-1
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Pentax MX-1
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Pentax MX-1
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Description:
Announced in January, 2013, the Pentax MX-1 is Pentax's first camera featuring true retro styling. It is also Pentax's first entry into the enthusiast compact camera market.

Read our in-depth review to learn more about this camera.

It will hit the shelves in late February, 2013 at a launch price of US $499.95.

SENSOR


  • Type: 1/1.7” Backlit CMOS (5.6 x 7.4 mm)

  • Effective pixels: 12.0 MP

  • Total pixels: 12.76 MP

  • Recorded resolutions

  • Still: JPEG:[4:3]12M,7M,5M,3M [16:9]9M,5M,3M,2M [3:2]10M,6M,4M,2M [1:1]9M,5M,3M,2M RAW

  • Movie: HD (1920x1080 approx. 30fps), (1280x720 approx. 60/30fps), Audio Recording with Movie: Yes, Stereo

  • Quality levels: Still (Fine, Normal) Movie: Fixed Pixel Mapping: Yes

LENS


  • Type/construction: smc PENTAX zoom lens, 11 elements in 8 groups (4 aspherical elements)

  • Focal length (equiv.): 6.0-24mm (28-112mm)

  • Optical zoom: 4X, Digital zoom: 1.95X, Combined zoom: 7.8X

  • Intelligent zoom: Approx 5.2X at 7M, approx. 7.8X at 3M (including optical zoom)

  • Aperture: F1.8 (wide) - F2.5 (tele) Smallest Aperture: F8

LCD/VIEWFINDER


  • LCD: 3.0” Tiltable color TFT with AR Coating (Tilt down to 45°, up to 90° (approx.))

  • LCD resolution: (approx. 920,000 dots)

  • Wide angle viewable: 170°

FOCUS SYSTEM


  • Type: TTL contrast detection autofocus

  • Focus modes: Auto, Spot, Tracking , AF Select (25 Points), Infinity Landscape, Manual Focus, Pan Focus, AF Point Switching

  • Manual focus: Yes, range (.4” to infinity, depending on zoom setting)

  • Focus lock: Yes (by pressing the shutter release button half way)

  • Focus range: Normal: 1.3’ to infinity (wide), 5.2’ to infinity (tele)

  • Macro: 2” to 19.7” (wide) 8” to 19.7” (tele)

  • Super Macro: 0.4” to 7.9” (1cm) (wide)

  • Focus Assist Lamp: Yes

  • Face Detection: Yes (up to 32 faces), Smile Capture, Blink Detection

  • Pet Detection: Yes (up to 1 pet’s face), auto or select from 3 pre-registered faces)

FLASH


  • Type: Built-in auto flash

  • Flash modes: Auto, Flash Off, Flash On, Red-eye, Slow-speed synchro, Slow-speed+Red-eye, Trailing Curtain Sync

  • Effective range: 1.31 - 40’ (wide, auto ISO), 1.31 - 29’ (tele, auto ISO)

STORAGE MEDIA


  • Internal memory: 75.3 MB (approx.)

  • Removable memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC

  • Eye-Fi Compatible

  • File/Folder customization: n/a

INTERFACES


  • Ports: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, PC/ AV out, HDMI (Type D) out

  • Video out: NTSC, PAL

  • Printer interfaces: n/a

POWER SUPPLY


  • Power source: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery D-Li106

  • Recordable images: Approx 290 (D-Li106)

  • Playback time: Approx 280 min (D-Li106)

  • Movie recording time: Approx 90 min

  • AC adapter available: K-AC130 (tbd)

PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS


  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0” (excluding protrusions)

  • Weight: Without battery or removable memory: 12.8 oz (approx.)

  • Loaded and ready: 13.8 oz (approx.)

  • Construction material(s): Brass covers

  • Operating temperature: 32-104°F

TIMING


  • Startup: approx. 1.6 sec., Release Time Lag: approx.. 0.019 sec.

  • Continuous Shooting: approx. 1.57 fps (maximum approx. 37 frames)

  • High-speed Continuous Shooting:

  • [Burst Shooting L] approx. 2.86 frame/sec (for up to 10 frame)

  • [Burst Shooting H] approx. 4.21 frame/sec (for up to 10 frame)

LANGUAGE SUPPORT


  • English, French, Germany, Spanish, Portuguese, Italy, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian,Turkey, Greek, Russian

COMPUTER SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS*


  • *For direct device connectivity. Bundled software requirements may vary.

  • Windows: Windows XP (SP3), Vista, 7, 8, USB port

  • Mac: MacOS 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, USB port

IMAGE STABILIZATION (SHAKE REDUCTION)


  • Still: Sensor-Shift SR, Digital SR (ISO 100-12800), Dual (SR & Pixel Track SR)

  • Movie: Movie Shake Reduction Mode (Movie SR)

  • (Maximum effect of 3 stops using Sensor-Shift SR)

METERING SYSTEM


  • Type: TTL, Multi-segment, Center-weighted or Spot

  • Exposure compensation: +/- 2 EV (1/3 steps)

ISO SENSITIVITY


  • Auto: 100-12800*

  • Auto ISO Range: ISO 100-200, ISO 100-400, ISO 100-800, ISO 100-1600, ISO 100-3200, ISO 100-6400, ISO 100-12800

  • Manual: 100-12800

  • Auto ISO Range for Digital SR: 100 – 12800, Dynamic Range Adjustment: Yes

  • *Fixed at ISO 100-1600 in Handheld Night Snap, Green modes.

WHITE BALANCE


  • Auto preset modes: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent light (D: Daylight Color, N: Daylight White, W: Cool White, L: Warm White),Tungsten, Flash

  • Manual WB: Yes

SHUTTER


  • Type: Programmed AE electronic lens shutter w electronic sensor shutter

  • Shutter speed: 1/2000 sec. - 1/4 sec., max. 30 sec. (1/8000 sec. - 30 sec. with Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority,Manual Exposure, and combination of electronic shutter enabled), Bulb

  • Noise Reduction: Yes, automatically applied if shutter speed is slower than 1 sec

CAPTURE MODES


  • Mode selection: Auto Picture, Program, Natural Skin Tone, Handheld Night Snap (5M), Night Scene Portrait, Night Scene, Digital Panorama (2M per frame), High Speed Movie (VGA, 120 FPS capture, 30 FPS playback),Time Lapse Movie, Landscape, Blue Sky, Sunset, Flower, Digital SR (ISO 3200-6400 5M), Kids, Pet, Portrait, Food, Fireworks, Surf & Snow, Sport, Fisheye, Sketch, Miniature Filter, Text, Frame Composite (3M), Movie, Green

  • Auto Picture modes: Landscape, Portrait, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Standard, Flower, Sport, Candlelight, Blue Sky, Sunset, Text, Group Photo, Pet, Portrait x Blue Sky, Portrait x Sunset, Portrait x Backlight

  • Custom Image Modes: n/a

  • Green simplified mode available: Yes

  • Mode Dial: P/Av/Tv/M/User/HDR/SCN/AUTO PICT/Green/Movie

  • Date Imprint: Yes, date, date-time, time (not available in Green mode)

  • Digital filters (capture): Movie (B&W, Sepia, Fisheye, Miniature, Sketch)

  • Dynamic Range adjustment: Yes (shadow, highlight)

  • Digital level: Yes

DRIVE MODES


  • Mode selection: One shot, Continuous Shooting, Burst Shooting(L/H), Self-timer (2 or 10 sec.), Remote Control (immediately or 3 sec.), Auto Bracketing

  • Continuous FPS: Approx 1 FPS for 6 frames

  • Multi-exposure: n/a, Interval Shooting: n/a

  • HDR: Yes

PLAYBACK MODES


  • Mode selection: One Shot, Index (4, 9 or 25 thumbnails), Magnification (up to 10X, scrollable), Movie Playback, Histogram, Folder Display, Select & Delete, Calendar

  • Mode pallet: Slideshow, Image Rotation, Stretch Filter, Small Face Filter, HDR Filter, Collage, Digital Filter, RAW Development (Aspect Ratio, JPEG Recorded Pixels, JPEG Quality, Custom Image (Bright, Natural, Vibrant, Reversal Film, Monochrome) White Balance,Sensitivity, Shadow Correction, Distortion Correction, Original Frame, Movie Editing, Red-eye Edit, Resize, Cropping, Image Copy, Protect, DPOF, Start-up Screen

  • Digital filters (playback): B&W, Sepia, Toy Camera, Retro, Color, Extract Color, Color Emphasis, High Contrast, Starbust, Soft, Fish-eye, Brightness, Miniature, Slim, Invert Color Filter

  • Movie edit: Save as Still Image, Movie Divide, Add Title Picture

FILE FORMATS


  • Still: RAW (DNG), JPEG(conforms to Exif 2.3), conforms to DCF2.0, DPOF, PRINT Image Matching III

  • Movie: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264

Megapixels: 12.0
Movie Mode: Yes, Full HD at 30FPS in H.264 (1/1.7 inch sensor)
Weight: 13.8 oz / 391 g (w/ battery and card)
Zoom: 4x (28-112mm eqv.)
LCD: 3" VGA (921,000 dots)
In Production: Buy the Pentax MX-1
In-Depth Review: Read our Pentax MX-1 in-depth review!



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Pentaxian

Registered: July, 2007
Location: Stockport, Manchester. UK
Posts: 377
Review Date: September 9, 2016 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Excellent image quality, great colours, fantastic 1cm Macro
Cons: Slow write time, no hot-shoe, battery life
New or Used: New   

Just a brief review of this little gem of a camera, which I have had for a couple of years now.
When it came out it was just too expensive (at £500), but I managed to get mine new at the end of its production life at a mere £200. I am glad I did.

The image quality is fantastic, lovely sharp lens, and produces great colour.
The LCD is amongst the best I have come across in detail and sharpness, along with a bright display.

The 1cm macro mode is something to behold, with superb detailed close-ups, you can even zoom the lens a little in this mode.

Looks and build quality are probably the best that you come across in a compact camera.

Downsides.

write speed is awful, even worse if you are shooting RAW.

There is no hot-shoe, even a compact camera of this quality needs a hot-shoe.

Finally the battery life is not the best. couple of hundred shots at most before the battery is depleted.

If those three things were fixed in (a no longer forthcoming MX-2 sadly) then it would be a solid 10 out of 10. As it is, it is a well respected 8/10 as on the whole is a cracking little camera.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2009
Location: Chicago Suburbs.
Posts: 450
Review Date: November 1, 2015 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $229.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: excellent image quality for small sensor, has RAW and JPEG, good features, recognized by DxO Optics Pro
Cons: sluggish RAW performance, hard to hold one-handed
New or Used: New   

Good overall performance, defintely slow in RAW but JPEG is moderately fast. Fits in most coat pockets. Zoom range is useful. Fast lens with excellent quality.

I added a Hoya 62mm polarizer (see link: AdapterRingsAdded).

Had a K-3 with me but forgot my wide angle zoom, good thing I had this with me! Here are some slightly oversharpened, slightly cropped pics after processing with DxO Optics Pro (the small sensor cannot handle as much sharpening and contrast adjustment as a regular DSLR, so go a little easy on it):

Times Square Ad #1
Times Square Ad #2
Manhattan Court (through tinted bus window)
World Trade Center Memorial (flower means it was that person's birthday)
World Trade Center Tower
St.Patrick's
Central Park
John Lennon Memorial
   
Pentaxian

Registered: April, 2009
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 2,013
Review Date: June 14, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp, fast lens, plenty of manual settings, nice colours
Cons: slow RAW processing, hefty shutter lag
New or Used: New   

I've had great success with this little camera, mainly because it is so easy to have with me, so I've taken many shots that I would otherwise not have taken. It's not a camera for fast action, children running around, low light or snap shooting on the street, however. There is a really noticeable amount of shutter lag, RAW processing shot to shot is very slow (too slow, imho), and the sensor is very small with all that entails in terms of noise. But these issues are pretty typical of compact cameras generally (very few have RAW anyway) and judging the MX-1 in this regard is probably pushing it into areas for which it was never intended. For more static shots - landscapes, architecture, still life, nature, flowers, portraits, groups, records of special events and the like, perhaps using jpeg only, it is a really nice little camera. The lens is very sharp and the colours produced are very pleasing. There are plenty of manual settings, so you are not limited to auto with anything. There are also two excellent macro modes; the "close in" macro mode allied to the sharp lens and the DOF inherent with a small sensor means that it's possible to obtain some great images.

As a sophisticated point-and-shoot, but with plenty of manual settings and RAW on board, this camera fulfills its purpose, imho. Just be aware that it's all within the limits of what compact cameras can typically do. That said, I suspect the days of cameras like these have quickly passed in favour of mobile phones or cameras with larger sensors. Perhaps not worth buying now unless a bargain or inexpensive second-hander can be found.
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 115
Review Date: May 26, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $249.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: macros!, sharp, fast lens
Cons: shutter lag, balance, write delays, EVF, no evidence of firmware update

As noted below, images are nice and sharp. The 1cm Macro mode is wonderful! Really neat, sharp shots.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/obnoid/14258978274/

I took the camera out to check it in a street photography setting and it was challenging in a number of ways. As noted in other reviews, the camera around the neck is off-balance, write time for RAW images is very long, and worst of all, there's serious shutter lag. As the Pentax Forum's official review says,
There is also a slight delay right after taking a photo and right after focusing during which all buttons on the camera are dead. This combined with the delay described above results in a very annoying effect; you push buttons and nothing happens, then you push the button again, only to see a "data being recorded message". Similarly, if you focus and then let go to the shutter release button, live view freezes for a fraction of a second, though this is a very minor issue in comparison.
Indeed, the delays add up to a nearly impossible situation - when shooting street you want to capture the image you're seeing instantly, period. Any delay - much less one of a half second or more - is intolerable. I was unable to catch shots I wanted to about 50% of the time.

I think this is a great alternative to a big, heavy DSLR (I also have a K-r) for travel photography and macros but it doesn't work for street or anything else you need to have a quick response time (concert photography, sports photography, etc.). If any of the issues are resolvable by a firmware upgrade it would be very nice of Pentax/Ricoh to make one available...to date they have not and now that the camera has been discontinued I'm not sure how likely it is that they will produce one.
   
New Member

Registered: April, 2014
Location: Saskatchewan & Mexico
Posts: 15
Review Date: May 2, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good colors, Pentax interface, image stabilization, build quality, good macro, good lcd
Cons: Rather chunky for "compact" camera
New or Used: New   

A lot of fun to use. The tilt screen works very well and allows for using the screen when taking photos in bright light. Built like a tank, but also quite large. A bit too big to slip into a shirt pocket - more of a jacket pocket-size. A nondescript look to the camera, along with the tilt screen, makes it good for street photography. At the current sale prices, this camera is a real deal!
   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2012
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 441
Review Date: February 26, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $199.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Image quality; excellent UI; nice button layout, nice screen
Cons: no grip; lens cap; size
New or Used: New   

This is a nice camera.
Pro:
1. Retro design: MX's sibling, also with nice covering skin and copper top and bot. This is very obvious...
2. the micro and 1-cm micro. I have never owned a micro lens before but MX-1 provides me very good experience with the micro function.
3. the screen. Not a big fan of the flip-flop screen but this one is good. Very good view angle and very easy to see even under stron g sunshine.
4. the UI. if you also use pentax DSLR everything here will remind you the best UI.

Con:
1. Bulky. The flip-flop is not actually necessary.....
2. no grip
3. Lens cover is a little bit dumb.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2013
Location: Shawnee, KS
Posts: 1,431

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 1, 2014 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $249.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Design, handling, customization, image quality, versatility
Cons: Not pocketable
New or Used: New   

I bought the MX-1 to replace my film cams, to avoid trashy cell phone pics (they're all trashy, IMO), and to not have to carry 6 pounds of DSLR and old metal-barreled lenses.

I read a million reviews, good and bad, plus every post on this forum that resulted from a search for "MX-1". I looked at the MX-1, Q7, Ricoh GR, and the Fuji x20. I didn't want the fuss of collecting lenses with the Q7. The Ricoh was glamorous, but too expensive. X20 was handsome, but I have never been in love with the colors that Fujis produced, compared to what Pentax makes.

It is bigger and heavier than any point-and-shoot I've ever held. I thought it would be able to fit in an inside pocket in my small purse, but it just has to ride in the main compartment with my wallet, as it is too bulky. (It's pretty much exactly the same size as my ME Super, more or less, with a 50mm lens.

But it is what it is and there is no reason to expect it to be something it isn't. I will gladly accept the attractive style in exchange for being able to put it the back pocket of my blue jeans. More importantly, it fits in my coat pocket, purse, and in my hand, which is where I really care about most.

The camera feels great in-hand, screen is fantastic, I couldn't care less about a hotshoe, and I don't miss the viewfinder at all. The articulated screen is more useful than I imagined. All of the settings are excellent (except auto while balance, but WB can be set manually with minimal effort). ISO performance is important to me because I shoot a lot indoors and the MX-1 is "great" up to 800 and "good" up to 3200. I personally wouldn't venture beyond that unless absolutely necessary.

I don't know what kind of people are bogged down by the write-speed, but apparently I'm not one of them. A few seconds for the camera to save a RAW file is not a deal-breaker for me and I've yet to be inconvenienced by it.

I was skeptical about the image quality at first, coming from the APS-C-sized sensor in the K-30. The images looked kind of unimpressive on the camera's screen, BUT on the computer/in Photoshop they are absolutely wonderful. I am using the RAW setting and the images are perfectly workable. Obviously not on-par with the "dynamic range" the K-30's sensor can capture, but I am very happy I have picked this up as an alternative to carry with me at all times!

For me, I absolutely made the right choice to balance features, quality and value.

If you're on the fence about it, I can solidly advise you to stop wafflin' and spend the money!

Click here to see my Flickr album with MX-1 images!

Update: MX-1 Revisted 8/31/15:

I used the MX-1 for my Single in August challenge, which ended up being a private struggle about half way through the month. I used the MX-1 in April 2014, but I've grown a lot since then, in technique and processing, so I thought it would be worth giving the camera a run for its money once again.

Handling is probably the most important issue for any camera (or camera/lens combo), because ease of handling relates directly to ease of use, and if it's easy to use, you use it often and naturally. If it's awkward or uncomfortable to use, the likelihood of you getting it out to shoot with diminishes. The MX-1 is kind of heavy, and it ought to have a grip. Using it one-handed is uncomfortable. A wrist strap is preferable to the neck strap, and I have used both for extended periods. Start-up is very fast, and that's convenient when I want to snag a camera from my bag and get a shot. Between all my photographic devices, the MX-1 is hands-down my "quick draw". Although the body of the camera is on the awkward side, operation of the functions is pretty darn intuitive, and the camera is extremely capable as far as functionality.

Some of the modes/features I appreciated were: Zoom (obvs), 1cm macro mode, M mode, infinity focus (for the night sky shots), pan focus (sort of a hyperfocal mode), manual focus mode, manual WB settings (like, with a gray card), articulating screen, and the easily accessible exposure compensation dial (+/-2EV in 1/3 stops).

I can't tell you how precious that articulated screen is. Maybe I'm just super accustomed to it after spending so much NON STOP time with the K-S2, but I was bustin' out that articulated screen for all kinds of situations. Absolute necessity, from my perspective. (Ha!) It's a solid mechanism, and the screen is great.

I've always told myself the slow write time of the MX-1 doesn't matter to me, and it really doesn't, but I did take a few shots in "continuous" drive mode, and it was pretty sad. Of course, I was shooting in RAW, so there's probably a lot of aspects of continuous shots that I didn't totally explore. For normal "snaps", the slow write time wasn't something I noticed.

The glass is sharp, pretty resistance to flare (but not great), and I did actually get a few starbursts! CA/PF was noticeable in high-contrast/back lighting, and worse near the edges of the frame. Using longer focal length via the zoom helped to reduce this, and the rest was easily corrected in Lightroom.

Distortion is significant at the wide angle (a correction of +15 in Lightroom was my standard for 6mm shots), but it disappeared with a modest touch of the zoom rocker.

The performance of the sensor (matched with the very good glass) is impressive! I got very respectable bokeh, and macro/detail shots were pretty delightful. Wider shots, where I was looking for great detail in distant horizons and/or landscapes, were more disappointing. I'm not too scientific about it, but there was just something "mushy" about the images that I couldn't resolve in post. Maybe I should have experimented more with different focal lengths and manual focus settings to crisp things up, but there it is. Maybe I'll start taking some landscape shots in JPEG mode and see if I'm happier with the final results... I should have used the JPEG mode more, just on principle.

The files were workable, although obviously not as resilient to aggressive processing as the K-30's or K-S2's. Blacks frequently went blue or magenta, and grain was sometimes obnoxious in areas with heavy work in the shadows. The IQ and workability of the files, of course, far surpasses my little Sony pocket-sized P&S and/or my smartphone, no question.

In summary, I love the MX-1. It's a nice size and an attractive package, if a little blocky in the hand. The capabilities for the convenient size is not something I've seen matched in my price range. :-) I could see myself getting rid of it for a more versatile zoom range, and added features like WiFi (which is why I bought the little Sony P&S), but I would not want to give up the manual controls, sharp lens, or RAW files for editing.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2011
Location: New Joisey
Posts: 1,202

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 3, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $369.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fast lens, excellent sensor response for size, IQ, build quality, tilting LCD,
Cons: Slow write times for RAW, no hot shoe
New or Used: New   

This is a convenient and high quality camera that is well built and capable of taking excellent pictures through ISO 400, and even pretty decent through ISO 800 where the noise starts to become visible but can be post processed pretty effectively. The lens is fast and sharp, and capable of detailed images and really helps in keeping the ISO in the lower ranges. As a result, I find that I am more inclined than I thought I would be to leave my DSLR at home.

On the downside, the RAW write speeds are pretty slow (wish they would fix that), and there is no hotshoe. Of couse, an EVF would be nice, but not crucial.

With the sales going on now, it is hard to beat this for the price.

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Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2011
Location: ON, RH
Posts: 2,170
Review Date: December 3, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very god IQ, great lens, well built, good balance, very good setting options for this level, gorgeous looking camera
Cons: I guess if I have to complain of something will be the speed writing while using RAW+
New or Used: New   

Fun little camera that deserves at least a second look.

While hot shoe is not an option, you can use the small flash to trigger external flashes - flash sync at 125.

The writing speeds while using RAW+ are not as bad as some people are mentioning... I didn't find the extra second I had to wait disturbing.
I was getting the "data writing..." message only when trying to fiddle with the settings right after I take the picture. Once is set and I do not touch the settings, it works without pauses between shoots.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the IQ of the camera... and my advice, is not to dismiss this camera until you actually played with it properly... while not perfect, it CAN perform.

Looks apart (I love them, but that's subjective), is a neat little tool to accompany your DSLR and I do recommend it without any reservation.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Rochester, New York, USA
Posts: 765
Review Date: September 14, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: build quality, image quality, RAW, classic appearance
Cons: write speed, balance on strap lugs
New or Used: New   

Intro:

I travel a lot for business, and usually bring a DSLR with 1-2 lenses. When the price hit $400 in August, I purchased the MX-1 for use as a travel camera to keep with me for the times when I just canít bring the DLSR. I knew I had to have a compact that could save RAW, and I love the retro style.

I recently had the opportunity to take the MX-1 on a quick trip to Paris for a good test. Overall I agree closely with the PentaxForums review, but I can add some samples and the key observations I had.

Pros:

I am very pleased by the image quality of the MX-1. Even though I took several backlit shots of architecture, I did not see chromatic aberration. The JPGs are very good, but since I use RAW, I was able to coax a lot of detail out of the shadows. The dynamic range is clearly not equivalent to the K-5, but itís pretty good.


The shake reduction systems works well, and I could take some great shots handheld in low light.


The zoom range is very good for my purpose as a compact travel companion. The MX-1 is adept at both wide angle scenery as well as close-up and macro.


I find the moveable LCD screen to be a nice feature. I was able to get some shots with the camera above my head or down at street level that I never would have tried with my K-5. But as you would expect, in direct sunlight, it becomes almost impossible to see.

The build quality is great. It feels solid, and the weight and feel of the camera is just about perfect for me. I like that the button layout and menu system is familiar. The one-button movie feature is very handy and makes it easy to grab a quick video.


Cons:

As usual with first models, there are some problems, but a couple of these are due to clear lack of testing. First and most significant, the time it takes to write a file to the card is ridiculously long. The camera never should have been released with this flaw (I keep hoping for a firmware update to fix this). Also, I really wish the info button would pull up the photo info like my DSLRs.

The strap lugs are located in the front that causes the camera to balance improperly (at a 45 degree angle with the lens facing up) when hanging. I would guess this was done to mimic the classic MX appearance, but that camera had a heavy lens on the front to balance it. Because of this, the MX-1 turned out to be very awkward to carry around my neck, and I ended up just carrying the camera in my hand most of the time. Also, the neck strap is a few inches too short for an older guy to hold the camera outstretched and be able to focus my eyes on the screen. Didnít anybody give this a real world test before the design was finalized?


Summary:

First of all, I really want to love this camera, but the disappointments make it hard to fully recommend to someone else. I hope there will be a firmware update to address the write time which is almost a deal breaker, as well as activate the info button. The poor balance of the camera, however, is hard to fix without adding an external case. This really feels like a wonderful design that was rushed to the market.

If, by some chance, Pentax (or Ricoh) were to launch an MX-2, I would also plead for a TAv mode, optical viewfinder (this could even more closely mimic the classic MX prism tower), and a manual zoom like the Fuji X20.

Bottom line Ė I love a lot of things about this camera, but there's some real disappointments as well. I give it a 6 and I can recommend at this price point because of the great picture quality, but it easily could have been an 8 if it had been tested before launch.
   
Junior Member

Registered: December, 2009
Location: London
Posts: 43
Review Date: June 14, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, superb lens, good image quality, easy to use in more advanced settings, decent battery life, great rear screen
Cons: Raw buffer, no ability to control noise reduction in camera, no hotshoe or EVF option
New or Used: New   

Despite the short list of con's, this is the best compact camera I've used in a long time. Build quality is excellent. it's easy to control if you want to head away from the auto modes, the menu system when needed is logical and straightforward (especially if you use a Pentax dSLR), JPEGs often require very little post-processing and the camera is quiet, discrete and quick to use.

The image quality is competitive with other cameras in its class, not least because the lens is so sharp. And because it's fast, you can keep the ISOs low, which helps a lot. There is more ability to control depth of field and blur than I'd anticipated too.

For some, the camera will be a little too bulky and yet without a grip not easy to use one-handed. As I always shoot two-handed in any case, it's not an issue for me and I find the size just about spot-on - easy enough to carry all day and yet large enough to not be fiddly. It's a shame there isn't an optional EVF but the excellent tilting LCD does a pretty decent job.

Overall, I'm very happy with the MX-1 and can see that it's the kind of camera I'll keep for a long time - it simply feels right when I pick it up, and the images are more than good enough for most normal purposes up to around ISO800 - and I wouldn't expect more than that from a compact. The camera is a doddle to use if you like to take a bit more control. If you need more than this, then you're probably fishing in the wrong pool and would be better off looking at MILCs or dSLRs instead.
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2013
Posts: 3
Review Date: June 11, 2013 I can recommend the Pentax MX-1: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lens quality, sensor quality, JPEG & RAW quality, control layout & menus, LCD tilt screen, handling using 2 hands
Cons: Holding camera 1 handed, large size & weight, info button
New or Used: New   

Overall I'm very happy with my MX-1 and use it as my "take everywhere" alternative to the K-5 and a back-pack of lenses. It fits in my jeans pocket, just, but bulges a lot!
The image quality is very good for such a small sensor especially at ISO 400 and below and the fast lens helps to keep it in that range. The lens has minimal CA and sharpness problems at all focal lengths, even wide open. The zoom range is good although I would prefer it a little wider to suit my style of shooting. The 1cm macro mode works really well and focus speed and accuracy is good for a contrast based system at all focal lengths.
I find the menus and controls very easy to use (I'm almost always in Av mode) and in manual mode a button press to go from aperture to shutter control is easy. So the lack of a second control wheel is no big deal for me. The menu systems are very similar to my K-5 and full of logical and useful options. And the exposure compensation dial is perfectly placed.
I love the tilt screen and use it very often and have no problems seeing it clearly on sunny days except when facing directly into the sun. The controls are perfectly placed for my average sized hands when shooting with both hands.
Holding the camera when not shooting, however, is a problem with one hand when the lack of a grip bulge and the weight proves troublesome. The strap lugs are on the front of the body so when using a neck strap the camera hangs pointing upwards at 45 degrees which looks daft and is not comfortable. My only other gripe is the info button: in playback or recording it doesn't access or scroll through the info screens!
So, for me, it's an almost perfect compact camera with almost everything I need in a smallish package.
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