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07-15-2014, 08:37 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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My take on the MX-1

This is not a review, just a personal assessment.

As a professional photographer, I wanted a compact to carry with me at all times. My criteria was:
1. Image quality (always).
2. Portability, as in more compact than a DSLR. And,
3. Price. As far as dslr’s go, my Pentax cameras are reasonably compact so I did not want to spend the equivalent amount of a dslr for a compact.
When the price of the Pentax MX-1 dropped to $239, I pulled the trigger.

My first reaction upon pulling the camera out of the box was: “I think I may have made a mistake.” I was holding it in one hand and it felt heavy. The reviews said as much, but I wasn’t too concerned about it until I actually held the camera. Then I assumed shooting position (with two hands) and I immediately understood the reason for the weight. It felt like I had slid the camera into a slotted frame support. Rock solid. Stable and balanced. This was a camera designed for taking seriously good photos. And that it does. Having flirted with other compacts and found their image quality wanting, I have finally found my compact camera.

Why it works for me:
– Excellent image quality. The jpegs are so good, I may not even use raw.
– Love the exposure compensation dial. Since I shoot in manual mode almost 99% of the time on my gigs, I kind of want to relax with the compact in P or AV mode. The easy access to the EC dial makes shooting in these modes a close second to shooting in manual.
– The screen because: 1.) It flips out. And, 2.) Contrary to most camera assertions about screen use in sunlight, this one actually is useable in sunlight.
– Speedy auto focus.
– A very noteworthy lens. It is fast, meaning bright apertures from f/1.8 to f/2.5, and it is sharp across the lens.
– Has a telephoto lens. I shoot with primes on my dslr and carry at least two to cover needed focal lengths, so shooting with a fixed focal length on my fun camera would not be that much fun for me.
– I like the solidity of the camera overall which includes the definitive response of the buttons. No mushiness here.
– It is a super value. Originally it was released for just under $500, and was considered a good value then in the premium compact category. Now it’s only $240. One could spend three to five times as much for a sophisticated compact, but I will take this camera at this price anyday.

There are other little goodies on this camera that I won’t go into because they are well covered in reviews. A couple that I enjoy are the ND filter, and the HDR setting on the dial. I will push back on some of the negatives that have been discussed about the MX-1. Such as:
– No second dial for manual mode use. The camera is easy enough to use without one so no big deal.
– No hot shoe. Admittedly, I had this on my negative list but then I thought: “Wait, you buy a compact camera for portability and then you are going to carry around an external flash?” The fast lens and the reasonably high ISO usability make this a camera that won’t need flash that much.
– No viewfinder. This isn’t unique, is it? The optical VF’s on compacts are not that helpful anyway since they are so small. An electrical viewfinder could be nice, but then you will have to dig deeper into your wallet for a potentially larger camera, or carry around an add-on VF. I can live without it.

In conclusion, I love the build quality and the look of the MX-1. It feels substantial, like a real photographical instrument. It is very enjoyable to use, and the results are very good. At the current price, it is a steal.

07-15-2014, 09:32 AM   #2
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Reading posts like this really makes me want an MX-1 as well. I talked my dad into buying one for my mother, and I covet it every time I help her with it. I have a Panny LX-5 that I loved until I made the jump to the K-5IIs, but now I find myself wanting a new compact again. I still have the LX-5 and I know I should just dust it off and use it, but the lure of new always calls... I would really like to have the Fuji x100s, but wow!!! $1200 is crazy! I keep coming back to the MX-1. Like you said, for the price it is so good, and I agree the size is really nice. I think that is what bothers me about my LX-5, it is a little small and the menus seem cumbersome, although the picture quality is nice. I guess I should do a comparison between the two some time when my mom comes to visit.

Anyway, nice review, and thanks for putting fuel on my MX-1 fire.
07-15-2014, 10:55 AM   #3
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Nice write up.
What about shutter lag, any noticeable delay? What about AF speed at or near telephoto? Does the lens zooms out fast?
Those are my main gripes with the Canon S100 I just sold. I am now looking for a MX-1 to replae it.
07-15-2014, 10:59 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by skyoftexas Quote
When the price of the Pentax MX-1 dropped to $239, I pulled the trigger.
If you are patient and watch out for it, every now and then there are sales (often from Buydig, or through eBay) where the price goes down to $199. That's what I paid earlier this year, and it's certainly worth every penny, and I would have paid up to $250 for it too. Great compact alternative to my K-50 when I want to go lighter and/or be less obvious at a small social gathering like a dinner party or a children's play date.

07-15-2014, 03:04 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by seventysixersfan Quote
If you are patient and watch out for it, every now and then there are sales (often from Buydig, or through eBay) where the price goes down to $199.
I paid $250 for mine and feel it was well worth it. I don't know about waiting though; it has been discontinued and sooner or later new ones will be unavailable. Buying used will be the only option once they're gone but purchasing any electronics these days without a warranty can be dicey.
07-15-2014, 08:43 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by carrrlangas Quote
Nice write up.
What about shutter lag, any noticeable delay? What about AF speed at or near telephoto? Does the lens zooms out fast?
Those are my main gripes with the Canon S100 I just sold. I am now looking for a MX-1 to replae it.
No noticeable shutter lag. Haven't noticed a slackening of AF speed at telephoto length, but perhaps I'm not as sensitive as you might be on that aspect. The AF seems respectably fast in general, though. And no, the lens does not zoom out fast. I've seen slower, but this is not a camera with dslr responsiveness.

---------- Post added 07-15-2014 at 11:00 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by MBike74 Quote
Reading posts like this really makes me want an MX-1 as well. I talked my dad into buying one for my mother, and I covet it every time I help her with it. I have a Panny LX-5 that I loved until I made the jump to the K-5IIs, but now I find myself wanting a new compact again. I still have the LX-5 and I know I should just dust it off and use it, but the lure of new always calls... I would really like to have the Fuji x100s, but wow!!! $1200 is crazy! I keep coming back to the MX-1. Like you said, for the price it is so good, and I agree the size is really nice. I think that is what bothers me about my LX-5, it is a little small and the menus seem cumbersome, although the picture quality is nice. I guess I should do a comparison between the two some time when my mom comes to visit.

Anyway, nice review, and thanks for putting fuel on my MX-1 fire.
I had the LX-5. It's a nice little camera, and I particularly liked the ability to change aspect ratio on the lens itself. But as nice as the LX-5 looked, and as convenient as its small size was for portability, it never really felt like a real camera to me. The buttons are tiny and a bit squishy. I always felt like I needed to put on my glasses to use it. And while the quality of the pictures were pretty good, they do not compare to the MX-1, IMO.

Last edited by skyoftexas; 07-15-2014 at 09:03 PM.
04-11-2015, 03:48 AM   #7
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I waited too long and the prices went back up. I don't figure they will drop again- for new cameras- so I went ahead and bought a new MX1. I like it, and will keep it.

The weight of the thing is surprising; and I did not have to wait until I unpacked it to appreciate that: when the post office worker handed me the box, my first thought was that it weighed about twice what I was expecting. I got over it pretty fast though. Like the LX5, LX7, Nikon A, Ricoh GR, it is a compact camera, but not a "pocket" camera. It is small enough and light enough to be more convenient than the K5IIs or the K3. I pretty much agree with the OP.

My biggest complaint about the camera has to do with the lens cap. With compact cameras it is not intuitive to have to deal with a lens cap....So I have- already- on more than a couple of occasions, forgotten to remove it before turning the camera on, and been treated to the frustration of listening/feeling the lens bump into the cap as it tries to extend. I almost wish that they would have made it necessary to extend the lens manually, e.g. Fuji x10, 20, 30. I mean, if you are going to have to take the lens cap off anyway, how much more difficult would it be to extend the lens manually. It seems like every time I have experienced trouble with a compact, it has had something to do with the automatic lens extension operation. I can't image that bumping into the lens cap is doing the XM1 any good. I guess I will have to force myself to change my ways; at 55, its getting more difficult to do that.
04-13-2015, 05:36 AM   #8
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I have an ACMAXX filter on my lens, so I have stopped using a lens cap. The MX-1 has proven to be versatile and reliable.

04-13-2015, 06:25 AM   #9
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I was just looking at my poor, neglected MX-1 yesterday. I got one of those closeout cheap cameras, and I got a nifty little case that can carry it along with the charger, carry strap, and loupe for the LCD. However... Even though I can recognize, intellectually, that there's nothing really wrong with the camera, especially at the price, I haven't really bonded with it either. I have access to other cameras here, bigger and more costly and higher-spec cameras. What am I gonna reach for? Usually, not the MX-1.

If I had to pick out two specific gripes, though, it would be the lack of any viewfinder and the generally sluggish responsiveness of the camera.

If I need to travel light, though, then the MX-1 is a small and versatile kit.
04-14-2015, 08:06 AM   #10
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My other hobby is bbq, and the MX-1 is what I grab for pics to post to my bbq forum.
The other day I wanted to check my gutters, so I set it on pan focus, timer, and put it on an extended monopod.
So far I've resisted brassing up my black model.







04-16-2015, 07:40 AM   #11
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Don't forget to try the B&W mode. The camera is a stellar performer in that arena.
04-16-2015, 01:56 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tennjed Quote
My biggest complaint about the camera has to do with the lens cap. With compact cameras it is not intuitive to have to deal with a lens cap....So I have- already- on more than a couple of occasions, forgotten to remove it before turning the camera on, and been treated to the frustration of listening/feeling the lens bump into the cap as it tries to extend.
I think everyone does this a few times at first, it soon becomes habit to remove the cap first though.
One thing, you can turn the camera on to review your photos without the lens extending by pressing and holding the PLAY ► button, you can even go to the MENU, just make sure you power off the camera rather than going back to the ► button, else the lens will try to extend again

For quick shots and even video clips, the MX-1 is my go-to camera.
I don't find it sluggish, just different.
04-16-2015, 02:48 PM   #13
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Turning 'Instant review' off makes the camera feel less sluggish (if you don't press any buttons immediately after shutter press).
04-17-2015, 09:33 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by gaweidert Quote
Don't forget to try the B&W mode. The camera is a stellar performer in that arena.
True dat.
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