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Customer Review

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would really rate this 4.5. Good camera, with cavaets, June 18, 2013
This review is from: Pentax MX-1 Silver 12MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD Display (OLD MODEL) (Electronics)
I must admit upfront that I'm a bit of a Pentax fanboy these days, although I am quite aware of the shortcomings in each of their cameras. Nevertheless, I wasn't going to buy the MX-1 originally, as I had a dslr and a megazoom camera (K-5 and X-5). When I saw a guy advertise one for cheap however, (he wanted funds to buy a waterproof camera for his trip in 2 weeks) I couldn't resist and now have an as new MX-1 for only 2/3 the price of a new one.

When I look at the MX-1, I see it being compared to it's direct competitors in the enthusiast compact cameras - eg Canon s110, Olympus ZX2, Sony RX100 etc., and compared within Pentax itself to the Q, Q10, and newly announced Q7- which has the same sensor size as the MX-1. I'll touch on each.


- in good light, or in poorer light where you can place it on a stable base and adjust shutter speeds, or aperture, the MX-1 gives images in jpeg which are much closer to the aps-c sensor in my dslr than I expected. I haven't tested the iso limits, but up to 800 it was not bad at all.

- the f1.8-2.5 across it's zoom range really makes a difference. For some cameras like the Canon s110 and Sony RX100, the f stop starts big, but quickly gives an aperture that's no different than any other compact camera. I took the MX-1 to a wedding banquet and the lighting was well down, except on stage and along the central path where the bride and groom walk in. The faster shutter speed from a wider aperture was noticeable, and I'm glad to have a much less fuzzy handheld photo, and even did it twice in hi burst mode too.

- ergonomics. Despite being the largest and heaviest of it's direct competitors, it's easy to grip, and tilting LCD screen gives it a distinct edge in flexibility. It's one reason I never looked at the s110 (fixed screen- although much smaller, easier to carry). Ergonomics are good, buttons easy to push, nothing loose. This compares to the rear "ring" control of the Olympus ZX2 which I felt was much too loose and sensitive, easy to make accidental presses. I have had enough of that type of poor ergonomics with the Canon SX50 superzoom- when you want to take a pic, then your finger brushes the ring and you've missed your shot.

- Bokeh- aka soft and gentle out of focus background. You can see the result of having a quality wide open lens. Good stuff.

- Battery life. Took 200 photos and the battery gauge showed still 75% full.

- Attractive retro look. Not as fanciful as Fujifilm's style, so a bit of a personal preference here.

- Pentax has one of those lens caps which blocks the lens extending out when you turn it on. I was given one of those third party automatic lens covers- the front splits into thirds, like 3 pieces of pie, when the lens is turned on and pushes forward. This thrid party lens cover adds about 4mm to the thickness of the camera, but I use it.


- Won't save photos as quickly as a dslr., the burst rate is nowhere near the k-5 dslr or some other enthusiast cameras. I'm using a Class 10 SD card, and it's not saving as fast as I think it could

- While the brass makes for good marketing, I'd rather keep the paint from wearing off and have some lighter metal and shave off 100grams from the weight.

- Despite being enthusiast, it lacks some manual controls, or ease of reaching some functions, than you'd expect, such as white balance. The Pentax X-5, a compact sensor super zoom at half the price of the MX-1 has more features.

- With the release of the Q7, which is a mirrorless system unique to Pentax, but with a sensor size the same as the MX-1, it has given itself a direct competitor. However, I believe the Q system lacks enough lenses to challenge the MX-1 yet. The MX-1 has a zoom range with wide open aperture in a complete camera. The Q system only has a single prime (45mmf1.9 in 35mm equiv) which is remotely similar. The Q is much lighter, and has the handy shortcut dial on the front, but to me doesnt offer much advantage, besides being able to attach dslr lenses to it via an adaptor.

- Only as wide as 28mm- would have been nice to have a wider lens, say 24 or 22mm.

So compared to it's competitors, it depends on whether you want- style, ergonomics, size, pocketablility, weight, aperture wideness, cost, tilting LCD. For me, MX-1 has wheat I want- familiar system, wide open lens, good bokeh, tilting LCD, attractive looks, ergonomics.

I can't say if the MX-1 is the one for you, but for me, it's one I can carry around and I can use for low light areas and evening/night time outings.

Hope this review is helpful to you.

Update Sept 16th 2013

I recently travelled and brought this along as my night camera. It didn't let me down. The wide open lens allowed me to take photos of almost anything in the city, as long as there was some light. I also changed the white balance to tungsten to avoid the yellow from dominating the photos. With such an awesome lens, it brings home the fact that the sensor is only 1/1'7. When I pixel peeped (please forgive me for being anal), I could see noise, and artefacts in outlines after zooming in. This is partly due to sensor size, and the fact that it's at night/lack of light. Still, it is far far better to get a photo at a good shutter speed by using a wide open fast sharp lens, than having a crappy photo. The bokeh remains smooth, creamy and you can see starbursts at lights- headlights, streetlights, etc. I should also say that I only view pics on computer screen at home, or upload on internet, so size doesn't really matter.

If I were to make a final whinge, it is about the Pentax lens cap. The camera is very stylish and retro. The lens cap is just a flat slice of plastic. If you look hard, you can see the word Pentax imprinted on it. Let's compare that to the Olympus lens cap for the OM-D EM-5- it's got a shiny chrome circular outline and the wording is also like shiny brushed aluminium. That's the sort of quality Pentax should show off and convey. I'm proud of my MX-1 dammit! Don't leave the last 5% off and cover this beauty of a lens with a black piece of ubiquitous plastic!

The MX-1 remains a keeper. :)
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2013 12:06:02 AM PDT
Enjoyed the detailed review. Just wanted to note, the Sony RX100 is really *not* comparable to the class of "prosumer" cameras that the MX-1 and S110 belong to, due to its significantly bigger sensor which is the reason for it costing several hundred dollars more.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2013 7:46:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2013 8:11:31 PM PDT
A. Kim says:
True, Sony does have bigger sensor than Pentax and because of it picture quality will be better. Still, for people on budget who want decent compact camera, Pentax MX-1 is hard to beat. Woot had black model Pentax MX-1 on one day sale for unbelievable price of $250.

The price of Sony RX100/B at $598 and RX100M II at $798 (Amazon Price as of 10-20-2013)...well, if you can afford it more power to you. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2013 8:07:50 PM PDT
yes, I saw that ad which is what got me curious about the MX-1 in the first place. However, since I already own the Canon S95 which I'm pretty happy with, I think getting the MX-1 would be redundant. I also have a Pentax K-01 that I use for higher quality shooting when compact size is not important.

Posted on Feb 22, 2014 8:30:47 PM PST
Smaug says:
I think Canon started this genre with the S90. Olympus followed up with the XZ-1, with the superior lens and hot shoe, at the expensive of size. This one's got HDR and that nice brass body. Now, everybody's getting on the bandwagon. I love it!

Posted on May 19, 2014 5:21:30 AM PDT
Michael says:
Thank you Adrian for your thoughts and experience on this one. Since you also have the X-5, could you tell me if and how the photos from both camera compares ? Which one do you prefer as far as quality of the photos ? I have a K-3 and a K5 so i have a tendency to expect too much from compact but the camera I will end up buying is for my wife and she's not as strict as I am on quality. Thanks!
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