Product snapshot: Pentax MX-1 camera

A retro throwback compact camera, with high-end aspirations

Pentax has had an interesting few years. It’s also had some interesting cameras, like the James Bond-esque Q and the Marc Newson K-01.

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The MX-1 continues that trend. It mimics the 1976 Pentax MX it shares its name with, with leatherette wrapping a solid metal body in either silver or black.

This is a classic look, but also importantly makes the camera easy to grip, which is a sticking point with many compact models. We’ve seen some other strong entrants in the compact camera category, like the Sony RX-100, but we think the MX-1 is Pentax’s best effort yet and looks as good as any other high-end compact.

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At the heart of the Pentax MX-1 is a 12-megapixel, 1080p video-recording 1/1.7-inch CMOS imaging sensor, similar to the one found in the Olympus XZ-2. It has an identical zoom lens to the XZ-2, as well, with a 28-112mm (equivalent) range and a relatively fast f/1.8-f/2.5 variable aperture.

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In terms of controls, Pentax has decided that less is more on the MX-1. There’s a dial up top for changing between automatic and various manual shooting modes, with easy access to preset scene modes, a high dynamic range composite mode, and a user-preset automatic mode. You get a dedicated exposure compensation dial and built-in flash. There are no controls on the front of the camera, only where you can see them while you’re shooting.

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The camera’s rear is dominated by a 4:3-ratio, 3-inch LCD screen that can tilt up and down. On the right-hand side of the back, the camera’s main controls are clustered: a five-way navigation pad, control dial, various playback and menu buttons. Nothing you don’t need expressly for the purpose of taking photos.

The MX-1 looks great, and it’s got specs that rival other high-end compact cameras. We do think that it’ll be a hard sell against technically-superior models like the RX-100 that are only slightly larger and more expensive, but the MX-1 is sure to end up in a few discerning photographers’ pockets and camera bags.

The Pentax MX-1 is on sale now around Australia, with a recommended retail price of $499.95.

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

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