Pentax MX-1 First Looks

The MX-1 is a superb new addition to the Pentax range and sits at the top of their compact line up. Manufacturers are increasingly aiming their compact models at the enthusiast, and the Pentax is no exception. The styling and naming are a clear nod to Pentax’s popular MX series of SLR models, which was introduced way back in 1976.

Retro Design
Clearly Pentax have put a lot of thought into the design. It’s well constructed, has a clean button layout, with prominent mode and exposure dials on the top, giving quick access to key controls. The MX-1 utilises a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor, which at 1/1.7” is slightly larger than your typical compact, which should help to capture clean, sharp images.

The autofocus system is fast and responsive, and whilst there’s no optical viewfinder, the large 3” LCD screen is sufficiently high resolution to gauge critical focus and is a pleasure to use. The enthusiast positioning is also underlined by the inclusion of RAW recording, which should help to maximise the potential of the superb lens and large sensor. RAW images can also be processed in-camera, for added flexibility.

Brass top-plate
One unique feature is the camera’s top and bottom plates. Recalling an era when cameras had a metal top and baseplates, they’re constructed of painted brass and designed so that the paint will wear and weather over a number of years, revealing the brass beneath and giving each model a distinctive appearance. Amidst the conveyor belt of new models from the major manufacturers, it’s great to see such attention to detail. There are two colours available; black, or a two-tone design comprising a black body with silver top and bottom plates.

Brilliant Optics
One of the real strengths of the MX-1 is the lens. The 4x zoom (28-112mm) provides excellent range and the large maximum aperture of f/1.8 to f/2.5 should ensure great beautiful background blur and crisp, shake-free images. The fast lens, paired with the ISO range of 100-12,800, mean it can deliver shots with punch and depth even in the most dimly lit scenes.

Super Screen
The 3” screen is a high resolution LCD panel, with its 920,000 dots allowing precise composition and review of details in shots. It can be tilted horizontally to make capturing scenes from low or high angles really simple.

The display also includes a digital level, which shows both horizontal and vertical alignment - handy for those of us who have returned from holiday only to discover the sea appears to be going downhill in our photos.

The MX-1 sits well in the hand, with a comfortable grip and buttons within easy reach. There’s a dedicated video recording button, with Full HD movie capture and an HDMI connection allowing quick and easy playback on a TV. It feels solid and well built. I’d have preferred to see an electronic lens cover; Pentax have opted for an SLR style lens cap, but that’s really my only criticism. It’s a great cameras that can deliver super results.

Overall, it’s a worthy flagship of the Pentax compact range, with a potent combination of lens, sensor and processor that can deliver brilliant results in low-light situations. The £399 MX-1 is in stock now, so why not pop into our showroom to see for yourself?

Park Verdict
An impressive compact camera, perfect for the discerning enthusiast.

We Love
♥   Beautifully designed body will age over time
♥   Superb lens produces beautiful bokeh
♥   Versatile, tilting 3” screen
♥   RAW recording for the ultimate image quality

Jon Penney
Park Cameras


Anonymous said...

Please compare to the Panasonic Lumix LX7. For example - is the lens worse, as good, better? It does not seem as fast, and the zoom range is a little different, but quality, sharpness?

Few more megapixels too? Much if an advantage?



Park Cameras said...

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and post a question. The two models are quite similar but the MX-1 lens is a 4x zoom, 28-112mm, f/1.8-2.5 and the LX7 is 3.8x, 24-90, f/1.4-2.3. In practice this means the MX-1 has a slightly longer range and more reach at the telephoto end, but the LX7 has a useful 24mm wide angle and is faster at maximum aperture. It also benefits from a lens-based image stabiliser (the MX-1 is sensor based), and has an aperture ring.

There’s also more flexibility to expand the LUMIX, thanks to the mount for the optional DMW-LVF2 Live Viewfinder or DMW-VF1 External Viewfinder, and the flash hotshoe.

I don’t believe the extra 2 million pixels of the MX-1 will offer a huge advantage over the LX7 in practice. Indeed, since both models use the same size sensor (1/1.7”), the 10m pixels of the LX7 will be slightly larger than the Pentax, and possible enjoy better light gathering capability as a result.

In essence, both are excellent models, if you’re in the South East I’d suggest you might like to pop into our showroom to take a look for yourself.

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