Pentax MX-1 borrows the Olympus XZ-2 formula

pentax mx-1

Pentax unveils today its high-end compact camera with a 1/1. 7″ backside illuminated CMOS sensor and a promissing fast lens. Here is the Pentax MX-1.

The Pentax MX-1 gets what it takes ti ensure the success of a compact camera aimed towards enthusiast photographers with the adoption of 1/1.7″ larger than usual sensor , more sensible and easily generating the a smooth bokeh often asked for by creative photographers. The Pentax MX-1 sensor is naturally the new BSI CMOS 1/1.7″that we saw blooming in almost all digital compact serious cameras at the 2012 Photokina. To serve the 1/1.7″ sensor, the Pentax MX-1 has a bright optical zoom equivalent to a 28-112mm. This gast lens will be appreciated because it is not only fast in wide-angle with a generous max aperture of f/1.8, but also at telephoto at 112mm, a perfect portrait focal length which has a maximum aperture of f/2.5. Such data are quite similar to those of the Olympus XZ-2, the successor of the XZ-1 which was the first compact camera to benefit from such a fast lens. The MX-1 is slightly beaten in aperture by the Panasonic LX7 (see the Panasonic LX7 review) which offers a maximum aperture of f/1.4 in wide-angle and f/2.3 in telephoto with a maximum focal length shorter, 90mm vs 112mm on the Pentax MX-1.


The image of the Pentax MX-1 is stabilized by a built-in mechanical stabilization system : the sensor moves to balance camera’s movements. Combined with the wide aperture of the lens and the supposedly good image quality in high ISO values of the sensor, the “SR” system on the MX-1 will allow photogrpahers to skip the use of the built-in pop-up flash to photograph in ambiant light to reproduce the atmosphere at the the photo was taken.

The backside illuminated CMOS sensor of 12 megapixels resolution can also record videos in Full HD, 30p, and for fans of slow motion movies who would need more frames per second, the rate of 60p is available in 1280 x 720 pixels. The audio is captured in stereo via the built-in microphone and the MX-1 has an HDMI output, a luxury a few years from now which is now widespread in our cameras.


Pentax mx-1
The pentax MX-1 in black

This compact camera is designed to be used in PSAM modes and will benefit from the ability to shoot in RAW format. But it also includes traditional auto modes, scene modes, and it gets its share of embedded intelligence with the possibility of applying artostic filters. On the photo mode dial, you will notice a position dedicated to HDR photo as well.

The Pentax MX-1 does not have any viewfinder, probably to keep the form factor as compact as possible although we are talking about a relative compactness here due to the  large sensor and bright lens. But it remains still pretty compact and weighs 391 grams with the lithium-ion battery and memory card loaded. The battery provides the MX-1 about 290 images of battery life. Not bad. If the viewfinder is missing, note that the TFT screen can rotated on its vertical axis.


Pentax MX-1 with an articulated screen


Price and availability of the Pentax MX-1


The Pentax MX-1 will face many competitors all more attractive as each other. The serious amateur camera segment is now at the heart of the concerns of camera manufacturers which are evolving on a market where the simple compact camera sales are badly hurt by the smartphones competition which forces camera manufacturers to work on small market like yesterday’s niches : ultrazoom cameras, expert compact, waterproof cameras, premium compact cameras, smartcameras, etc …

The segment of enthusiat photographer’s camera is now intenly rich of very appealing cameras like this new Pentax MX-1 which will face the Canon Powershot G15 and S110, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 to, the Fujifilm X-10 and X-F1 with their 2/3″ sensor, or the Sony RX100 and its 1″ sensor , the Olympus XZ-2, Panasonic LX7 and the Samsung EX2F (with Wi-Fi as the Canon Powershot S110 as well).

The back of the Pentax MX-1 shows more or less all the buttons we would need if we’d consider ourselves as serious photographers 😉


Main technical sepcifications of the Pentax MX-2


  • 1/1.7 BSI CMOS sensor of 12 megapixels
  • Sensitibility: ISO 100 to 12,800
  • Lens: 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5 smc Pentax 11 elements in 8 groups, including 4 aspherical lenses
  • Mechanical image stabilization (sensor shift)
  • Autofocus: 25-point AF-tracking
  • Shutter speed: 1/4s to 1/2000s (manual 30s)
  • Closest focusing distance : 1cm in macro mode (maximum magnification ratio of 0.246 x)
  • Face detection up to 32 people, smile detection and eye blink safe
  • Video recording : 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 fps (60 fps possible in 720p) with stereo sound
  • RAW format
  • Panorama
  • HDR
  • Tiltable TFT Screen
  • D-LI106 Lithium-ion battery
  • Battery life: 290 images
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed ​​, PC/AV, HDMI (Type D)
  • Dimensions: 122.5 x 60 x 51.5 mm
  • Weight: 391 grams with battery and memory card


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