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Pentax MX-1 Camera Review


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Introduction
You don’t always want to carry around a system camera or a larger camera – heck, sometimes there are places that do not allow interchangeable lens cameras and only point and shoot or fixed lens models.

 

Being interested in older or vintage gear, I decided to start looking into smaller sensor system or fixed lens cameras. These include 1″, 1/1.7″, 1/2.3″ and 2/3″ sensor cameras.

 

After much searching, the first camera that I found, held in high regard is the Pentax MX-1.

Let’s look into why this was highly recommended and what it is capable of providing!

 

Disclaimer – sample images represent was is possible to get from the specific camera used. The images are not straight from camera JPG and have most likely been post processed in Lightroom or other software to get them to the vision I wanted.

 

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Tech Stuff

 

Body. Picking up this body, you feel the quality construction right off the bat. This 1/1.7″ sensor camera comes with a fixed 28-112mm field of view powered zoom lens with an aperture range of f/1.8-2.5.

 

Styling wise, it takes its queues from the Pentax MX SLR. Looking at it, and it is very close the the SLR, just with the viewfinder hump removed.

 

The top and bottom of the camera are brass, and the body has a nice rubbery leatherette looking wrap.

 

Dials. Top plate has 2 dials, one for modes and scenes and the other is a +-2 exposure compensation dial.
Also on the top is the shutter button and around the shutter button is the wide to tele rocker for the zoom. Power and movie buttons on top as well.

 

This camera has no EVF, but it does have a pop up flash if you are in need of it. It does lack a hotshoe.

On the rear is a rear wheel / command dial for changing aperture/shutter speed.

 

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Buttons. There are a lot of buttons with a D-Pad setup on the rear plus a whole bunch more. Just about everything you’d want is a button, so menu diving is kept to a minimum.

 

No buttons are found on the front of the camera, only the auto focus assist lamp and the MX-1, SR logo.

 

Shutter Release – The shutter release has a positive feel between activating the auto focus and actuating the shutter. It requires the lightest of presses to actuate focus, then a little more pressure and it trips the leaf shutter.

 

Rear LCD – It has a decent size display, which flips up and down. The LCD is perfectly fine indoors or during an overcast day or at night. Where there are some struggles – bright daylight. You have plenty of visibility to make framing possible, but trying to see if focus is accurate or exposure is on point is harder to do.


Also of note – this is not a touch screen LCD.

 

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Flash

This little camera does have a built in flash. I would have preferred that they got rid of it and instead used that internal room to have an EVF.

 

Weather Sealing

Pretty sure that is not a feature on this camera. A small sprinkle may not hurt it, but you need to make your own judgements on what kind of weather you use your gear.

 

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Lens
As mentioned previously, the lens is a 6-24mm f/1.8-2.5 lens. Given the sensor size, this gives you a field of view of 28-112mm.

 

I remember how much I liked this range back when I had a Fuji X10. Very nice for everyday shooting.

 

With the sensor being as small as it is, you’ll be happy to hear that this lens is very sharp even wide open – so feel free to shoot it at f/1.8 through f/2.5. This will help to keep the ISO down and provide for optimal image quality.

 

Sharpness of the lens is also top notch, with the ability to use the lens wide open.

 

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Performance

 

Overall System Performance


This camera was released in 2013. While the performance is not up to the same standard as cameras of 2023/2024, but it is very responsive in most areas.

 

Jumping into menus or changing settings is nice and peppy. The only place you’ll find that the speed is not there is in shot to shot speed and saving RAW files. It takes a half second to one second.

 

Start up times are quick too and you’ll be ready to shoot within a second of hitting the power button so long as you leave the “remember last zoom position” turned off.

 

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Autofocus
Here, you have 2 options. AF-S and AF-C and then 4 types of Auto, Spot, Tracking and Select.

 

I’ve been happy with and exclusively using the AF-S and Select mode. The AF point is selected by using the d-pad on the rear of the camera.

 

Focus seems to be very accurate as I cannot remember a time when it missed! It is only contrast detect, but even in low light, it is slower and hunts more – but still nails it!

 

Focus point coverage is about 80% of the frame.

 

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Battery and Battery Life
When I first got the camera, it came with 1 OEM Pentax battery. Not truly knowing how long the battery would last, I ordered a few more third party batteries.

 

I’ve been out for many a day trip, in the cold Ohio winters and have yet to deplete the one battery. It seems to do very well.

 

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Stabilization (IBIS/AS)
This camera does have stabilization. It seems to be effective, but I cannot give you a “number of stops” that it is – just that I know it does work for the few times the shutter speed dipped low!

 

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Ergonomics
For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold.

 

Feel in The Hand

The camera feels solid, not a bit of flex to it. If a camera is too small it is hard to get to the buttons that are on the camera body. This camera feels very good to me for what it is. There really is no grip to speak of but the rubber covering does help. It is not a tall camera, my ring and pinky finger don’t even touch the bottom of the camera.

 

Still, given what it is, I put on a small wrist strap and pinch it to hold it in position and support it with my left hand.

The shutter button, rear dial, and exposure comp dial all fall into place.

 

99% of the time, I am shooting in Aperture priority mode, so rear dial changes aperture, dedicated exposure comp, shutter button are there! I’m good to go!

 

If you need to change any settings that do not have a button, tap the info button to get to a quick menu to change the most common features you’ll need.

 

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Image Quality
Having experience with Ricoh GR, Pentax Q7 and Pentax K-5 and K-3 cameras in the past, we knew what we may be getting into with this Pentax point and shoot.

 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that because this camera has a 1/1.7″ sensor (same size as the Pentax Q7) that it cannot be any good. The MX-1 is surprisingly good. Do you like Pentax color science? It’s here!

 

I especially like the reversal film and B&W modes – and yes to the next question – the JPG are very usable, up through ISO 3200! If you want even more control – shoot in RAW – or have the best of both worlds and shoot RAW + JPG!

 

You can even process the RAW files in camera with presets if you choose.

 

As you’ll find with the images in this post – the image quality is there. Is it a 2024 DSLR or mirrorless? No, but it has a very good sensor and if you take care to protect the highlights from getting blown out, the dynamic range and post processing capability will surprise you.

 

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Final Thoughts
For me, there were a few things that were strikes against the MX-1 for me.

 

Viewfinders a must is usually one of them. I’m trying to be more open minded about that. So far, I’ve resigned myself to using my experience to judge exposure and demote the LCD in bright sunlight to rough framing only.

 

Power zooms are also a negative to me. Also trying to be more open minded, with the approach being to only use the zoom when necessary and treat the MX-1 like it has a prime lens attached.

 

With that out of the way – the MX-1 just works well, even for an 11 year old camera. Yes, it is a little slow – but the Pentax processing on the sensor is really wonderful! The lens is sharp and bright. The system responsive.

As a main camera, that would be a no for me…however, as a supplementary camera or a small take anywhere, it can still fill that role quite nicely.

 

Final Verdict = Highly Recommended!

 

Some additional images for your viewing pleasure!

 

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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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