Pentax MX1 Fixed Lens Compact Camera Review

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There was lots of fanfare at the end of 2012, with large imaging trade shows such as Photokina in Cologne, Germany and Photo Plus in NYC providing the perfect setting for camera companies to launch their latest and greatest – Like the Panasonic Lumix GH3, Fuji X-E1 and Sony NEX 6.  Consequently, 2013 came in with a wimper, and first quarter tech and trade shows like CES in Las Vegas were unusually devoid of any earth shattering camera unveilings.  But one of the most pleasant surprises so far this year has come from one of the most unlikely sources…  Pentax – who early this year launched the latest addition to their fixed lens compact camera lineup, the MX1.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 4.59.35 PMThe Pentax MX1 is an interesting addition to an already crowded fixed lens compact field, which includes some stiff competition in the form of the Sony RX100, Panasonic Lumix LX7, Olympus XZ2, Canon G15 and now, the new Fuji X20.  There have been some fairly positive reviews coming in on the new Pentax, with many pointing out it’s quality construction, including brass top and bottom plates and retro styling reminiscent of the old Pentax MX series film cameras.  Also impressive are the MX1’s high quality, fast and bright lens and superb macro performance.  But just how does the new MX1 stack up against the competition?

One of the latest reviews to be filed comes from the staff over at ePhotozine, who rate the Pentax MX1 as follows…

Pentax MX1 Conclusion…

The Pentax MX1 has divided opinion in the office, with some liking the styling and others not as keen on the retro looks. It is definitely a unique looking camera, looking more like a classic camera in the silver and black finish. The camera feels good with a rubber grip at the front and back that is part of the cameras styling, although it is quite heavy in the hand. Despite the camera having room for a flash hot-shoe, one isn’t provided, and a number of the competition provide this feature.

It is currently at the more expensive end of the market and offers high image quality and manual controls. While there were some quirks with some of the features, such as HDR, which we would have preferred to have worked better, the camera offers a lot of customization and editing features within the camera, without the need to process images on your PC. For this reason it could be a good choice, particularly if you want to take images from your camera, without using the PC to fine-tune images. The camera also provides some unique video options including time-lapse and high speed video, with sound.  ePhotozine gave the Pentax MX1 4 out of 5 stars and rated it as “Recommended” (Read full review on ePhotozine)

Pentax MX-1 Pros

Metal top and bottom plates
Excellent macro performance
Dual axis electronic level
Rubber grip front and back
Timelapse / High Speed Video with sound
Lots of Digital Filters / Effects
Bright f/1.8 4x optical zoom lens

Pentax MX-1 Cons

Lacks flash hot-shoe
Competitors have additional controls around lens etc
Feels large and heavy
HDR / Panoramic stitching not great
Slow write times


My 2 Cents

Based on the early feedback, it looks like the Pentax MX1 is pushing it’s way into the top 5 cameras in this category, and it’s performance, cool looks and the fact that it’s priced right in the middle of the pack should make it a compelling choice for those looking to step up from a cheap-o point and shoot or to add a high quality “go anywhere” camera to their collection without ponying up the cash for one of the premiums compacts (namely, the Sony RX1, Fuji X100s or Nikon Coolpix A).

This should be an interesting horse race, and when it all shakes out, I expect the ponies that will battle it out for the top four spots will be the Sony RX100, Panasonic Lumix LX7Pentax MX1, and Fuji X20.  Of these four, the Sony and Panasonic are known commodities and both are exceptional (and the Panasonic LX7 is by far the best deal in this category, as at the time of this posting, it’s selling for only $298 USD – insanely low for a camera of this quality).  The other 2 are new and are not completely proven so far, but the Pentax looks like a strong contender, and the X20 has a fast and bright Fujinon Lens, it’s loaded up with Fuji’s new X-Trans II Sensor and EXR II Processing technology, and is the only camera in this group with a built in EVF (Electronic Viewfinder).   Which one will come out on top will purely be a matter of preference and in my opinion, if you choose any of these four you’ll be in the winner’s circle.

Buy the Pentax MX1 (in Black or Silver) on Amazon Here


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