Don Lindich’s Sound Advice: Pentax MX-1 is for enthusiasts

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

Q. I need a new cam­era for trav­el­ing, and my pri­mary in­ter­est is good pic­ture qual­ity. I would also like some­thing that does not fo­cus as slowly as my old point-and-shoot. My bud­get is $250, maybe $300 max.

I don’‍t want a big SLR or in­ter­change­able lenses, but I am open to car­ry­ing some­thing a bit big­ger than a pocket cam­era if it means bet­ter pic­tures. Do you have any rec­om­men­da­tions?


Ridge­land, S.C.

A. There are some very good val­ues on the mar­ket right now. One cam­era in par­tic­u­lar stands out in the $250-and-un­der price range, and I think it will be the best choice for you.

The cam­era is the 12.-1 megapixel Pen­tax MX-1, an en­thu­si­ast com­pact cam­era. An en­thu­si­ast com­pact is a step above a point-and-shoot and a step­ping stone to an in­ter­change­able lens cam­era. Many en­thu­si­asts use cam­eras like the MX-1 when they do not want to take an in­ter­change­able lens cam­era sys­tem with them, hence the name “en­thu­si­ast com­pact.” These cam­eras are much more ca­pa­ble than a point-and-shoot in both op­er­a­tion, im­age qual­ity, fea­tures and over­all per­for­mance.

I rec­om­mended the MX-1 as a good value when it was sell­ing for $439, and the price has re­cently dropped all the way to $249 on­line.

The MX-1 is not a tiny cam­era and is a bit too big for a pants pocket, but it would fit fine in a jacket pocket, belt pouch or a purse. The top and bot­tom plates are made of brass and fin­ished in ei­ther black or sil­ver, like a clas­sic SLR. It feels very solid in your hand, al­most like a brick. The but­tons and di­als have a nice feel to them and the size of the cam­era means they are not so tightly grouped to­gether they are hard to push. There is an ar­tic­u­lat­ing LCD screen with a high res­o­lu­tion of 920k pixels.

Though the MX-1 can work as a point-and-shoot by us­ing the au­to­matic modes, when you hold it in your hand, it is ap­par­ent it is much more than a ba­sic cam­era. The menus and con­trols are very easy to un­der­stand and use, much like a Pen­tax dig­i­tal SLR. Fo­cus­ing is fast and ac­cu­rate, and the 28-112mm (35mm equiv­a­lent) f/​1.8-2.5 zoom lens is fast and sharp.

I was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the flash pic­tures from this cam­era, which were very evenly lit with good color and very ac­cu­rate ex­po­sure.

In short, this is a whole lot of cam­era for the money, and I don’‍t think it can be beat for un­der $250 new.

The Pen­tax MX-1 has a re­mov­able lens cap, rather than the in­te­grated cap found in most com­pact cam­eras. Many peo­ple do not like the lens cap dan­gling from the cam­era when tak­ing pic­tures and it can also be knocked off the cam­era when it is be­ing trans­ported, ex­pos­ing the lens to pos­si­ble dust, smudges and scratches.

If you buy the MX-1, you may want to or­der the Rain­bow Imag­ing auto clos­ing lens cap as well. It’‍s less than $13 on Am­a­ and it works ex­tremely well. Just at­tach it to the cam­era and it will open when you turn the cam­era on and close when you turn it off.

Read past col­umns and prod­uct re­views by Don Lindich at www.soundad­vice­

Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse

Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here