DPReview has published a new hands-on preview on the Pentax MX-1. Pentax has finally decided to join the group of end-less number of premium compacts. It uses 1/1.7-inch sensor so it sits at about average level in this group. The MX-1 is rather big physically though. And usually a larger size in this segment means more buttons and dials which is not the case here. The lens also sits at about average for this class – 28-112mm f1.8-2.5 which matches Olympus XZ-2, not far from Canon G15 and Nikon P7700. Panasonic beats them all by starting at 14mm and offering f1.4 at the wide end and stops at f2.3 which is also class leading. Fuji X10 / X20 also offers similar range of focal length and aperture sizes but sits on a larger sensor.
In short (for now), I don’t see much of an advantage owning the MX-1 over many of the other competing models.
At least, the max shutter speed is nice and fast – 1/8000s.
Their first impressions: Taken on its own, the Pentax MX-1 is easy to appreciate. Its large, good quality, fast lens and rugged, retro styling make it a handsome companion for those who miss old camera designs. The MX-1 also has nice heft for those who appreciate what a little well-balanced weight can add to camera stability. That the extra weight comes from brass plates may matter to some, but be careful about treating the MX-1 roughly to give it that ‘brassing’ appearance prematurely; let those battle scars come naturally.
Though the camera wasn’t fully ready for testing or evaluation, shooting with the Pentax MX-1 was still fun. The lens seemed to be of high quality and autofocus and exposure were good. We can’t comment on speed, menus, or other features like HDR and onscreen levels, as they simply weren’t ready. We look forward to testing the more SLR-like functions of the MX-1 when we get a more fully functional sample.
The lack of more customization options, particularly around exposure control or noise reduction, is unfortunate, because many watching this segment for their next camera will worry that another option, like the XZ-2, S110, or RX100 will offer the control they just might miss with the MX-1. That will really depend on the user. As much as we’ve used custom controls, most of our street and family shooting requires more compositional speed than thought about exposure adjustments; and when we want to shoot more carefully we have our SLR along, so all those special customizable dials on premium pocket cameras don’t get used quite as much as we thought. Also missing was any sign that Ricoh has anything to do with Pentax camera design. We think their brilliant customizable GRD/GXR interface would have added that extra something to make the MX-1 more compelling; but that too would have required an additional control or two.
When it comes down to it, though, what you need for good pictures in more lighting situations is a good, fast lens, a good quality sensor, and a shutter button, and the Pentax MX-1 wraps those basics into a neat little body with good heft and a sense of presence. We’ll reserve judgment until after we’ve tested a final camera and seen its relative image quality, but for now we like what we see.