The Pentax MX-1 is a 12MP high-end compact camera with a fast 28-112mm equivalent zoom lens - the first camera of its type that Pentax has created. With a rich history in camera design, it seems fair that Pentax would seek to recapture the two-tone camera designs of the last century with its MX-1 enthusiast compact (the MX-1 is also available in an all-black model as well). A metal top and bottom and a leather-like band around the middle provide a gripable surface as well as a classic look. Thanks to the painted brass top and bottom plates, we're told users will enjoy that old tendency toward 'brassing' exhibited in well-used vintage cameras as the MX-1 accumulates wear. We haven't yet bashed the Pentax MX-1 around enough to test this feature, but there's still time.
Following the near extinction of the standard pocket digital camera in the wake of the smartphone juggernaut, camera manufacturers are aiming more squarely at the enthusiast market, and the MX-1 is a clear sign that Pentax considers it an important segment to serve. Dominated largely by cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 and Canon Powershot S110, and more recently by the Sony Cyber-Shot RX-100, the enthusiast pocket camera market consists of cameras with larger sensors, premium lenses, raw capture and a bias toward manual controls and modes, in addition to the usual auto and semi-auto modes.
The MX-1 shares a lens (and probably sensor) with the Olympus XZ-2: a 28-112mm equivalent zoom with a relatively bright F1.8-2.5 aperture across the zoom range. Physically though, they're very different cameras. The MX-1 is both wider and thicker, lacks a hot shoe, and surprisingly has only one control dial, skipping the trend toward a customizable control ring around the lens. In the MX1's favor are a slightly larger LCD (thanks to its 4:3 aspect ratio), that flips up and down in the same way as the XZ-2, and an EV adjustment dial that hangs over the right rear edge ever so slightly, for quick changes to the auto and semi-auto capture modes; it's also stiff enough that it doesn't turn by accident.
We were a little disappointed to see no hint of Ricoh's influence on the interface (Ricoh purchased Pentax 18 months ago, so we'd expect to see some of the fruits of that deal appearing soon). In particular, some of the GRD and GXR's control features, with customizable access to key menus and simple, smart controls would have been welcome. But several other omissions show that Pentax isn't aiming the MX-1 at quite the same market as some other premium compacts.
Built as much as a premium camera for the casual snapshooter as it is for the photographer craving more control, the Pentax MX-1 makes accessing its high quality optic and potentially good sensor less intimidating. It looks cool, and if it measures up to expectations, particularly from its lens and sensor, it will make a good street camera for semi-auto shooters, and a reasonable substitute for carrying an SLR everywhere.
Pentax MX-1 key features
- 12MP backlit CMOS sensor
- 4x 28-112mm equivalent F1.8-2.5 lens
- ISO 100-12800
- 3.0 inch, 920K dot LCD screen
- JPEG, Raw (DNG), Raw+JPEG capture
- 1080p 30fps video recording with stereo microphones
- Rear control dial and EV dial
- Pentax SLR-like interface
- HDR mode
The Pentax MX-1's 1/1.7" backlit CMOS sensor has a total resolution of 12.76MP, outputting a 12-megapixel image measuring 4,000 x 3,000 pixels. Many of the Pentax's rivals, including the Olympus XZ-2, Nikon P7700 and Samsung EX2F also use 1/1.7" 12MP BSI CMOS sensors. It seems likely that most of them share a single sensor, possibly the one Sony published details of in October.
Sensor sizes compared
The diagram below compares the size of the MX-1's 1/1.7" sensor to those in its nearest competitors - in general larger sensors potentially offer better image quality. The MX-1's sensor is equal to most of its direct competitors, like the S110, XZ-2, and LX7.
|The MX-1's sensor is smaller than recent premium pocket leaders, but on par with most premium pocket category competitors.|
Enthusiast compacts: lenses, sensors and background blur
The table below compares the MX-1's lens specifications and sensor size against its main competitors and the X20. Along with the familiar 35mm-equivalent focal length, we've also included a 35mm-equivalent aperture range, which gives some idea of the control over depth of field offered by each camera's lens.
|Sensor area, mm2
|Focal length range||Focal length range (equiv.)||Aperture range||Aperture range (equiv)*||Dimensions (mm)|
* Equivalent aperture, in 135 film terms - this gives an idea of the depth of field control offered by the lenses when the sensor size is taken into account.
** Panasonic DMC-LX7 sensor area figures based on 4:3 aspect ratio mode
Photographers tend to be interested in how well a lens can blur backgrounds when shooting portraits at full telephoto, and in this respect the MX-1 is among the best in its class - matching exactly the ability offered by the Olympus XZ-2. This isn't the sort of shallow depth-of-field that a DSLR will offer with a specialized lens, but at the long end of the lens it'll give about the same flexibility as most DSLR kit lenses will offer.
The equivalent apertures also give a rough idea of how the cameras might compare in low light; to a degree they indicate how far a larger sensor should be offset by a faster lens. Obviously this isn't the whole story; the characteristics of the individual sensors matters too, as does the quality of in-camera processing for JPEG shooters. But the story is essentially the same - the MX-1 should do a bit better than most small-sensor cameras, but not as well as the RX100 over most of its lens range.
The MX-1's larger lens and articulating screen means it's a little thicker than most cameras in this category, as well as a little wider. It's also thicker than the XZ-2. The Pentax MX-1 is still small enough to slip into a shorts or jacket pocket, and there's enough space on the back for a few extra buttons and controls. We have a feeling many users are likely to want to take advantage of the camera strap to show off this good-looking camera (though unfortunately we found it doesn't hang as well as we'd like with the strap lugs mounted in the front).
|The Lone Photographer by ed rader|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Neighbourhood Watch by Stevie Boy Blue|
from Zoo trip ~ Cute...
Cosina has announced its eighth lens designed specifically for Sony's E-mount system. The Voigtlander 21mm F3.5 lens is due out October 2018.
Sony has taken the wraps off of its new 24mm F1.4 GM full-frame lens, which the company claims is the lightest in its class. Despite its fast aperture, the 24mm F1.4 is remarkably light, weighing just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). The lens will set you back $1400 when it ships next month.
In this episode of DPReview TV we take a look at Sony's brand new 24mm F1.4 GM lens, a desirable focal length for many photographers. How does it perform? Chris and Jordan give us their first impressions.
We've had a little time to shoot with Sony's new wide/fast prime, both close to home and on the water in San Francisco. Check out our initial sample images.
Fujifilm released a firmware upgrade for its X-T3 mirrorless camera that addresses issues with distortion compensation and the mechanical lock on SD cards.
The app's algorithms have been trained using using 200 million cropping data points from real photographers.
Thanks to a software update, the Loupedeck+ editing console can now be used for video editing.
British photographic engineer MTF Services is claiming the world’s first third-party lens adapters for the new Nikon Z system with a collection of four units designed to allow cinema lenses to be mounted on the mirrorless full frame bodies.
Think Tank Photo has updated its line of heavy-duty rain covers and introduced a new, compact version for emergency situations.
The X-T3 is our first opportunity to analyze what's likely to be Fujifilm's next generation image sensor. Take a look at how it performs next to the competition in our studio test scene.
Canon's new normal is seriously sharp wide open. After shooting with it for a few days, we've prepared a gallery of real-world sample images.
Nikon will cease offering Brazil-based customer service and technical support, though the company stresses that it will still offer technical assistance and warranty repairs for valid warranties.
Two years ago, CatLABS of JP announced a plan to save Packfilm from the dead. Now, it's announced it's giving up its efforts to better focus its resources elsewhere.
The GoPro Fusion is designed to make it easy to capture 360-degree video and stills. We took it out recently on a typically hot Seattle summer day to see what it can do.
We've got our hands on a full-production Nikon Z7 camera and have updated our gallery with additional samples.
A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funding for Chroma Chrono, a programmable RGB camera flash that emits multiple colors during long exposures.
Think Tank Photo has launched a new lineup of six dual-access, water-resistant protective lens cases it calls Lens Case Duo.
Canon and Nikon finally entered the full-frame mirrorless market this summer with the brand-new RF and Z mounts. Now that we've had some time with the cameras, we wanted to revisit our earlier predictions and take stock.
The devices' camera specs look pretty much identical to last year's iPhone X but under the hood a number of important improvements have been made.
Blackmagic Design has announced the public beta of its new Blackmagic RAW video codec. The company says the new format combines the benefits of shooting Raw video with the ease of use and smaller file sizes usually associated with non-Raw video files.
Serif, the company behind the Affinity suite, has announced the latest update for its mobile Photoshop competitor Affinity Photo for iPad.
The Atomos Ninja V external video recorder and monitor will be ready to ship at the end of this month. The 5.2in Ninja V is designed to provide a smaller option, while still offering many of the features of the larger 7-inch models.
Having shot with the camera, spoken to Canon and read the tea leaves, here's what DPR Technical Editor Richard Butler thinks the EOS R tells us about Canon and the RF's mount's future.
After last week's teaser, lighting manufacturer Profoto has announced its 'small big' new product. The B10 is designed to be used as studio flash head but in a very small body, and has a powerful continuous light source for videographers as well.
Konseen has launched Photo Studio, a new light box tent large enough to photograph people, as well as objects.
Seagate has introduced new high-capacity hard drives for Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices: the 14TB IronWolf and 14TB IronWolf Pro HDDs.
The case was first announced earlier this year as a Kickstarter campaign and comes with a range of features aimed at iPhone photographers.
Manfrotto has introduced a new two-in-one tripod to its Befree lineup. Called the Befree 2N1, this new addition is both a tripod and monopod in one and is available with both of Manfrotto's locking mechanisms.
This new high dynamic range editing software comes with an AI-powered Quantum HDR Engine for improved photo merging.