Pentax MX-1 review: This retro-styled premium compact camera gets by on much more than just good looks


posted Friday, October 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM EDT


Quite a unique camera in more ways than one, the retro-styled Pentax MX-1 pays homage to the compact Pentax MX film SLRs from the 1970s and 80s. The premium enthusiast-geared MX-1 features all-brass top and bottom plates and a soft, rubberized coating around the middle, making it a joy to hold. But at the same time it's also fitted with advanced photographic features and functionality, including a tilting LCD screen and a sharp, fast f/1.8-2.5 4x optical zoom lens.

The camera's 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor is typical of what most other manufacturers feature in their enthusiast compacts of this class, and it's bigger (and better) than most point-and-shoots use. However, it's at a bit of a disadvantage compared to those models that manage to squeeze in slightly larger sensors (such as the Sony RX100 and Fuji XQ1). Those larger-sensor cameras, of course, come at an even higher premium price (of $600 or more). In any case, the MX-1 still manages to produce pleasing images up to around ISO 800.

Performance-wise, the MX-1 is no slouch -- for the most part. We found the camera's autofocusing system to be fast and accurate, and the camera overall is speedy to use with easy-to-navigate menus. The Pentax MX-1 also features functionality that many enthusiasts will appreciate, including a physical Mode dial with full PASM controls, a dedicated exposure compensation dial, and DNG RAW file capture. One feature we particularly liked was its super macro mode that lets you autofocus as close as 1cm. You can literally rest the lens on your subject and still manage to focus on it!

The Pentax MX-1 is a capable, advanced camera with excellent design and build quality, but is it the right compact for you? Read our Pentax MX-1 review to find out how it tested in the IR Lab, how it performed in real-world shooting, and whether it's worthy of a Dave's Pick.