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The Pentax MX-1 is a new "serious compact" with a bright f/1.8 4x optical zoom lens, tilting 3 inch screen and slightly larger than normal backlit CMOS sensor. The MX-1 features a retro design with top and bottom brass plates and is available in silver and black or entirely black.
The Pentax MX-1 design is reminicent of the Pentax MX SLR film camera, and features the same logo design, with a rubber grip surrounding the front of the camera, as well as strap loops in the same position.
Brassed OffThe top and bottom brass plates are designed to wear with use and any damage to the paint covering this will reveal the brass underneath.
The 4x optical zoom lens is the equivalent of 28mm at the wide end and zooms to 112mm at the telephoto end, and has f/1.8 - f/2.5 aperture available, with the same specification and design as the lens on the Olympus XZ-2.
Remote control sensors on front and back panels, Dual-axial digital level for accurate horizontal and vertical alignment, 15 digital filters, including Miniature and Toy Camera, to add creative touches to captured images, a range of creative image-processing tools including Stretch, Small Face filters and Collage function. The camera has RAW image processing in playback to convert photos to JPEG.
- 12.1 megapixel backlit 1/1.7inch sensor
- 4x optical zoom lens, f/1.8 - f/2.5, 28-112mm equivalent
- SR Shake Reduction - Sensor Shift Image Stabilisation
- 3inch tilting screen, 920k dots
- Dual axis electronic level
- Exposure compensation dial
- P/A/S/M shooting, AdobeDNG RAW
- Full HD Video recordin with stereo sound
- High speed and Time-Lapse Movie at VGA resolution
- ISO100 - ISO12800
- 4.5fps continuous shooting
- Electronic shutter available
- 1cm macro
- HDR shooting
- Black or Black and Silver
Handling - Picking the camera up, the first thing you notice is the weight, weighing in at 391g with battery and memory card it certainly feels substantial. The top and bottom feature brass plates, however the rest of the camera (apart from the lens surround) are made out of plastic and it's a shame that the rest of the body isn't metal. It almost seems unnecessarily large considering it doesn't feature a flash hot-shoe when there is clearly space for one on top, and in fact the Panasonic Lumix LX7 is smaller and features a flash hot-shoe.
Switching the camera on with the lens cap still on results in a message asking you to check the lens cover. You then have to switch the camera off and on again to get it started, instead of simply pressing a button to continue like on other cameras with removable lens caps.
Menus – The menus are clearly laid out with 3 pages of photo options, 1 page of video options, 4 pages of setup options, followed by two pages of custom options, where you can find options for WB when using flash or AWB in tungsten light, and electronic shutter to name a few. Using the INFO button you can quickly set the options on the rear screen without having to go into the menus. The middle OK button acts as a 'Display' button changing how much is shown on screen.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 290 shots according to Pentax / CIPA test results, we were able to take over 250 shots before the battery went flat.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Pentax MX-1||Sony RX100|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.2||0.3|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.45*||0.3|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||2.1||2.2|
|Shot to Shot without Flash||1.3||0.9|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||2.0||2.1|
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
|4.5fps (10 shots)||7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)|
|Continuous Shooting - Flash||N/A||1.6s|
|Continuous Shooting - RAW||4.5fps (10 shots)||4fps (13 shots)|
Shutter response is excellent with quick focus at the wide end of the lens. Continuous shooting is quick, although write times are quite slow with the camera popping up a message at times saying "Data being processed" before you can continue shooting. * Would not focus a number of times, but when it did the speed was 0.45 seconds. This appears to be a problem with the test object used as focusing outdoors appeared fine.
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Pentax MX-1 Sample Photos
Outdoors Overcast | 1/80 sec | f/2.8 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
Thoresby | 1/1000 sec | f/4.0 | 8.1 mm | ISO 100
Drive | 1/500 sec | f/3.5 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
HDR Drive | 1/500 sec | f/3.5 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
Sunset Scene mode | 1/640 sec | f/4.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Portrait | 1/80 sec | f/2.3 | 16.7 mm | ISO 400
Sample Photos - Dynamic range appeared to be good, and can be enhanced using the camera's shadow and highlight adjustment options. Colour is bright and richly saturated, and photos with flash showed a small hint of red-eye in our test shots.
Pentax MX-1 Lens test images
Trees | 1/200 sec | f/2.8 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
Macro | 1/45 sec | f/2.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 640
Lens Performance - Distortion correction takes care of barrel and pincushion distortion. Purple fringing is quite high, and slight chromatic aberation can be seen in some photos. Macro performance is excellent with the camera able to focus on subjects just 1cm away from the front of the lens. Detail is good whether shooting at the wide or telephoto ends of the lens. Detail is also good into the corners of photos, as long as you're not shooting wide open. Vignetting was not noticed and exposure was reliable.
Pentax MX-1 ISO test images
1/20 sec | f/2.8 | 16.7 mm | ISO 100
1/30 sec | f/3.2 | 16.7 mm | ISO 200
1/45 sec | f/3.5 | 16.7 mm | ISO 400
1/80 sec | f/4.0 | 16.7 mm | ISO 800
1/125 sec | f/4.5 | 16.7 mm | ISO 1600
1/200 sec | f/5.0 | 16.7 mm | ISO 3200
1/320 sec | f/5.6 | 16.7 mm | ISO 6400
1/500 sec | f/6.3 | 16.7 mm | ISO 12800
Lens Correction Off | 1/45 sec | f/4.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 200
Lens Correction On | 1/45 sec | f/4.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 200
Lens Correction Off | 1/125 sec | f/4.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 1600
Lens Correction On | 1/125 sec | f/4.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 1600
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO100, and increases at ISO200. Noise increases again at ISO400 and again at ISO800, but detail is still very good. Noise becomes quite strong at ISO1600, but detail still remains quite good. At ISO3200 detail suffers as noise increases further. Noise is strong at ISO6400 and this setting and above is best avoided, unless you want to resize your photos.
Pentax MX-1 White-balance test images
AWB Tung Subtle | 1/10 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
AWB Tung Strong | 1/13 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
Tung Preset | 1/13 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
AWB Fluorescent | 0.3 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
Fluorescent Preset | 0.3 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
AWB Low Light Tungsten Subtle Correction | 1.3 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
AWB Low Light Tunsten Strong Correction | 1.3 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
Low Light Handheld Mode | 1/20 sec | f/2.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 500
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well, although there are two options for AWB under tungsten lighting, with the choice of strong correction, or subtle correction, with the subtle correction leaving the image warm. There are a number of fluorescent presets available that should suit a variety of fluorescent lighting, and AWB does a good job under fluorescent lighting.
Panoramic | 1/1600 sec | f/4.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 200
Panorama mode - Panoramic lets you take three photos and you have to line them up using an overlay of the previous image, after taking three, the camera will stitch them together, although results vary depending on how well you can line them up.
Pentax MX-1 Digital filters
Miniature | 1/1000 sec | f/4.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 200
Digital Wide | 1/640 sec | f/4.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
Normal Wide | 1/640 sec | f/4.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
Pentax MX 1 Bright IMGP0276 | 1/1000 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
Pentax MX 1 Neutral IMGP0277 | 1/1000 sec | f/4.0 | 9.0 mm | ISO 100
HDR | 1/500 sec | f/4.5 | 6.0 mm | ISO 100
Non HDR | 1/500 sec | f/3.2 | 10.7 mm | ISO 100
HDR Tripod | 1/500 sec | f/3.2 | 10.7 mm | ISO 100
High Contrast | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Starburst Pink Hearts And Others effects | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Toy Camera | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Collage | 1/400 sec | f/3.5 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Digital Filters - Scene modes: The camera has the usual scene modes, but also has handheld night shot, candid capture, digital wide (stitches two portrait photos to take an ultra wide angle photo), and panoramic.
Playback effects/options, include image rotation, stretch, small face filter, collage, digital filter, HDR, original frame, RAW processing, movie edit, red-eye edit, resize, and crop. There are 15 digital filter effects including B&W, Sepia, Toy Camera, Retro, Colour, Extract Colour, Colour emphasis, High Contrast, starburst, soft, fish-eye, brightness, miniature, slim (stretch), and invert colour. Some of these are shown above, and can be combined in the camera before saving.
HDR options are standard, strong 1 and strong 2. HDR shots are best when using a tripod, otherwise the results can be quite soft. Custom image has a number of presets including Bright, Natural, Vibrant, Reversal Film, Monochrome, and you can set the saturation, hue, contrast, and sharpness.
Video - Both the time-lapse and high speed video modes record in VGA (640x480) resolution, and uniquely feature sound. Optical zoom is available when recording full HD videos, although in video mode you can't use the video button to start recording video, instead you use the shutter release button, and the noise from the optical zoom is quite loud.
Value For MoneyThe Pentax MX-1 is available for £399 which makes it good to average value for money, somewhere in the middle of other serious compacts. Others to consider with bright lenses include the Olympus XZ-2, Panasonic Lumix LX7, Canon Powershot G15, Nikon Coolpix P7700, and Fujifilm FinePix X10. For more serious compacts, have a look at our Top 10 Serious Compact Cameras.
|Olympus XZ-2||Panasonic LX7||Canon G15||Nikon P7700||Fujifilm X10|
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
It is currently at the more expensive end of the market and offers high image quality and manual controls. While there were some quirks with some of the features, such as HDR, which we would have preferred to have worked better, the camera offers a lot of customisation and editing features within the camera, without the need to process images on your PC. For this reason it could be a good choice, particularly if you want to take images from your camera, without using the PC to fine-tune images. The camera also provides some unique video options including time-lapse and high speed video, with sound.
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|The Pentax MX-1 is a uniquely styled retro digital camera capable of producing bright colourful images.|
Pentax MX-1 ProsMetal top and bottom plates
Excellent macro performance
Dual axis electronic level
Rubber grip front and back
Timelapse / High Speed Video with sound
Lots of Digital Filters / Effects
Bright f/1.8 4x optical zoom lens
Pentax MX-1 ConsLacks flash hot-shoe
Competitors have additional controls around lens etc
Feels large and heavy
HDR / Panoramic stitching not great
Slow write times
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Pentax MX-1 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/1.8 - f/2.5|
|35mm equivalent||28mm - 112mm|
|CCD pixels||12Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Type||Back-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)|
|Sensor Size||1/1.7 inch|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||920k dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/8000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||30sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 12800|
|Continuous shooting||No Data|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||Lithium-Ion D-LI106|
|Box Contents||No Data|