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SMC Pentax 6-24mm f/1.8-2.5 (Pentax MX-1) Lens Review

John Riley reviews the Pentax MX-1, or more specifically reviews the SMC Pentax 6-24mm f/1.8-2.5 lens found on the Pentax MX-1.


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Pentax Mx 1 Body (1)

A zoom lens covering a “35mm equivalent” range of around 28-112mm, a fast maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.5, the ability to focus as close as 1cm... what could possibly be the catch? Well, the catch is that to achieve that we need to make the lens for a very small format and in this case, the lens is permanently mounted on the Pentax MX-1 compact camera, which I have had in constant use since I bought it new in September 2013. The camera was reviewed on ePHOTOzine when originally released and given 4 stars and overall an encouraging report.

The camera is long discontinued but these days in high demand, so this is a hybrid review, mainly looking at the interesting aspects of the lens but also looking at the lasting qualities of the overall design of the camera.

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SMC Pentax 6-24mm f/1.8-2.5 Vintage Lens Handling and Features

Pentax Mx 1 Lens Retracted

Originally I used the MX-1 in conjunction with the Ricoh GR. There is no doubt that the APS-C sensor of the GR gives better quality than the 1/1.7” sensor of the MX-1, but then we have to weigh this against the limited versatility of a 28mm-equivalent lens that only focuses down to 10cm and the MX-1 with its fast zoom that focuses down to 1cm as well as being able to cover just about anything from a fly to stage shots. The fact that the MX-1 stayed in use, and is still in use, makes the decision that was made clear.

The lens is not on its own and there is a remarkable similarity with the seemingly identical specification lens fitted to the, also discontinued, Olympus XZ-1 and XZ-2 cameras. I bought an XZ-1 but changed to the Pentax as soon as it was released. The reason was much to do with the clearer menu system, a slightly higher pixel count (12MP against 10MP) and a camera that operationally is very similar to any Pentax DSLR.

Before we get to the lens itself there is also the brass top plate and brass bottom plate. In the case of the black finish, the original promise was that it would eventually wear through to the brass, the effect familiar to users of classic black cameras and called brassing. Coupled with the camera mimicking the shape and logo of the much loved Pentax MX film camera here was something with a nostalgic retro appeal. A bit of style. I can report that brassing does eventually appear, nothing drastic, but that familiar worn-in effect that shows a camera that has seen real use. As a result of the brass top and bottom plates, the tilting screen and the fairly large camera the Pentax MX-1 weighs in at a solid 391g including battery and card. It will however all fit in a jacket pocket.
Pentax Mx 1 Lens Extended

To the lens itself, it is Super Multi-Coated and extends when the camera is switched on. If we leave the lens cap on the camera reminds us and we have to remove it and start again. The AF is quite snappy and is definitely accurate, even in quite low light. There are options for standard AF, macro, super macro around 1cm, pan focus (hyperfocal distance), infinity and MF. The lens is however also clever enough to also switch into macro setting automatically should we move too close for the standard AF range.

Standard focusing is down to 0.4m. Macro focusing is 0.05m-0.5m (wide) and 0.2m-0.5m (tele). Super macro is 0.01m-0.2m. No magnification is quoted by Pentax, but the closest focus image gives an idea that this is very close indeed.

Optical construction is 11 elements in 8 groups, including 4 aspherical.

Handling is a doddle for Pentax Users as the came operates just the same way as all other Pentax cameras. The lens is supported by a host of features and the full manual runs to over 200 pages. However, none of this is over complicated in use and it is an excellent companion that will manage to shoot most subjects in most places. The usual difficulties with the back screen in bright light apply, and cupping a hand round the screen so the details can be seen may be needed. Having said that, the screen is brighter and clearer than many.

But the main question is, is the lens up to it? Let's look at the performance and see what we have.
Pentax Mx 1 Body (9)


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Photographs taken using the Pentax MX-1

Deep in DeclineHappiness Is....a Gin DistilleryLost LeavesThree PotatoesSecurity in MindEntertaining the PassengersEuropean BeechTree and SkyFly on DahliaA Tribute to MarkTraffic JamPassers ByLost in the Time VortexSummer Fly on Heath BedstrawCaged

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Comments


jimmoore1 8 4 United Kingdom
5 Jun 2021 10:11AM
John,
You are not wrong, they do hold their value.
I recently sold one. A forum member offered £125 but did not come back, so I put it on eBay and got £260 in about half an hour. Should have asked for more?
Jim

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