Pentax MX-1 review: Pentax MX-1

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Excellent design, look and feel. Sturdy construction. Very good photo and video quality. RAW capture. Plenty of in-camera editing options.

The Bad Video record button doesn't work when in dedicated video mode (but shutter button does). Slow RAW processing times. Noise starts to affect detail and colour on images at ISO 1600 and above.

The Bottom Line The MX-1 is a sprightly camera that looks, feels and performs like a more expensive model.

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The resurgence in retro-styled cameras continues with the Pentax MX-1, a compact camera with plenty of features targeted toward enthusiast photographers.

Design and features

Fortunately, the MX-1 has more than just good looks going for it, as inside is a 12-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor at 1/1.7 inch. This puts it at the same physical size as cameras like the Nikon Coolpix P330, Samsung EX2F and Canon PowerShot S110, though smaller than the 1-inch model on the Sony Cyber-shot RX100.

A nice, bright f/1.8 lens at 4x optical zoom sits at the front, though there's no rotating element around it that lets you adjust exposure or focus.

The tilting 3-inch LCD screen is nice and bright, boasting a resolution of 920,000 dots. It doesn't rotate or swivel around on itself, but just tilts up and down on its fixed point at the back of the camera.

Overall, the MX-1 is a sturdy camera with clean finishes, and is put together incredibly well. The top and bottom brass plates, painted silver, lend an authentic feel to the shooting experience. Also at the top is a pop-up flash, with manual lever just to the side of the camera, plus a mode dial, shutter and zoom rocker, exposure compensation dial and power and record buttons. The rubber grip surrounding the body is easy to hold, and ensures that the camera won't slip out of the hand.

Controls are all within easy reach, and the dials give a pleasing amount of resistance to ensure that you don't knock them out of the desired selection too easily.

The mode dial gives access to a range of shooting options, including semi-manual and fully manual modes. There are also HDR, scene, movie and a full auto mode to choose from. Plus, Pentax has equipped the MX-1 with a built-in ND filter.

By default, the screen displays levels for pitch and roll, which is useful for photographers who want to make sure their shots are level. The menu interface will be familiar to anyone who has previously used a Pentax SLR, and provides plenty of options for display overlays, such as a histogram.

The MX-1 can capture images in RAW (Adobe's DNG standard) or JPEG. This means that the DNG files can be opened in any program that understands the DNG format, such as Photoshop or Lightroom — a definite advantage for anyone who doesn't like installing a camera manufacturer's conversion software. In-camera RAW developing is also available, as well as a range of other adjustments, such as red-eye removal, resizing, cropping and rotating.

Compared to

EX2F vs
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Samsung EX2F Canon PowerShot S110 Pentax MX-1
20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (1-inch) 12.4-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch) 12.1-megapixel high sensitivity CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch) 12-megapixel backlit-CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch)
3-inch, 1.2-million-dot (VGA resolution) LCD 3-inch, flip-out 614,000-dot AMOLED 3-inch, 461,000-dot touchscreen LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot tilting LCD
3.6x optical zoom, 28mm wide angle 3.3x optical zoom, 24mm wide angle 5x optical zoom, 24mm wide angle 4x optical zoom, 28mm wide angle
Aperture range f/1.8-4.9 Aperture range f/1.8-2.5 Aperture range f/2.0-5.9 Aperture range f/1.8-2.5
Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p) Full HD video (Motion JPEG, 1080p) Full HD video (H.264, 1080p) Full HD video (H.264, 1080p)

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 1.20.40.70.1
    Panasonic Lumix LX7
  • 1.71.22.40.3
    Samsung EX2F
  • 2.50.210.2
    Pentax MX-1
  • 2.5110.1
    Sony RX100

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 11
    Panasonic LX7
  • 10
    Samsung EX2F
  • 8
    Sony RX100
  • 4.5
    Pentax MX-1

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Autofocus performance is accurate thanks to the 25-point system, though it does slow down slightly in low light. The MX-1 is also able to focus as close as 1cm in the dedicated macro mode.

The 1cm macro mode is incredibly useful for grabbing shots like this, creating a nice bokeh effect.
(Credit: CBSi)

The MX-1 can take a burst of 10 shots in high-speed continuous mode (JPEG) before stopping to process them. Then it takes around five seconds to process the burst. In contrast, the camera can only take six shots in regular continuous mode (RAW) before stopping to process them.

Pentax rates the battery life at 290 shots.

Image quality

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Where to Buy See all prices

Pentax MX-1 (Silver)

Part Number: MX-1Silver
Low Price: $464.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.0 Megapixel