Pentax MX-1 at a glance

  • 12-million-pixel 1/1.7in CMOS sensor
  • 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5 lens
  • 3in articulated LCD screen
  • Full HD video recording
  • Integrated ND filter
  • Street price £399

Pentax MX-1 review – Introduction

Pentax may be renowned for its competitively specified DSLRs and a slew of high-quality optics, but up until recently it didn’t appear to show any intention of adding to the pool of enthusiast compacts. Yet now, with the decline in popularity of budget compact cameras, it joins practically every other major manufacturer in providing such a model, one fit to rival the likes of Panasonic’s LX series.

The Pentax MX-1 is in many respects a predictable affair, with a retro styling and a spec list that reads like that from a number of its peers.

With a large sensor, wide-aperture optic and raw shooting, the Pentax MX-1 seems certain to appeal to discerning DSLR owners looking for a lightweight alternative. Yet, with no viewfinder, nor a hotshot in which to place one, it’s likely to polarize opinion.
Image: Distortion at the wideangle end is unlikely to be deemed objectionable unless the subject is characterised by straight lines or edges. For JPEGs, this can be immediately corrected by the MX-1’s distortion-correction option

Pentax MX-1 – Features

Pentax MX-1 sensor

Most manufacturers have deemed around 12MP as sufficient for their own enthusiast compacts, and Pentax clearly agrees; from a total pixel count of 12.76MP the Pentax MX-1 outputs 12MP images in the 4:3 aspect ratio.

As with sensors inside similar models, it is constructed around a backlit architecture for more efficient light capture, and operates over a broad ISO range of ISO 100-12,800.

Pentax MX-1 formats

In contrast to the company’s DSLRs the Pentax MX-1 provides only one Raw format – namely Adobe’s DNG type, which is instantly compatible with Adobe’s suite of raw-editing programs such as Lightroom and Camera Raw.

Pentax MX-1 video

The Pentax MX-1 is also capable of recording full HD video at 30fps with stereo sound alongside, although there’s no way of attaching an external microphone should you wish to improve on the built-in microphone’s audio quality.

Pentax MX-1 optics

The optic in front of the sensor provides a focal range equivalent to 28-112mm (in 35mm terms), and a respectably wide aperture range of f/1.8-2.5.

Pentax MX-1 ND filter

Pentax follows Canon, Samsung and number of other manufacturers in incorporating a neutral density filter into the camera to prolong exposures, and while shutter speeds as standard stretch from ¼-1/2000sec, enabling the electronic shutter option allows the camera to fire between 30 and 1/8000sec, the latter being particularly beneficial when using wider apertures in bright conditions.

Pentax MX-1 shake reduction system

Pentax’s sensor-based Shake Reduction system is complemented by an optional Pixel Track mode, which calculates blur in an image before attempting to correct it through processing (as opposed to raising the sensitivity, which would introduce more noise).

Pentax MX-1 mode dial

The mode dial, meanwhile, provides access to the standard PASM quartet of exposure options, and also leaves space for a user-defined option. For the less certain, the dial can also be turned to Pentax’s Green Mode, in addition to Auto and Scene settings, and even an HDR option.

Pentax MX-1 menus

Strangely, some features we’d expect to see on such a model – such as control over noise reduction, or a customisable Fn button – are nowhere to be found. Yet, a quick exploration of the menus reveals a surprising level of control offered elsewhere.

The camera can, for example, be set to correct colour casts under tungsten sources either partially or fully, and can also embed copyright information into an image’s metadata. Perhaps most usefully, raw and JPEG versions of an image can be deleted independently of each other, a feature that’s sadly still absent from many other models.

Image: While not capable of ‘true’ macro results, the minimum focusing distance of 1cm still makes images like this possible

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