Pentax MX-1 Review

4.0
February 18, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12.76 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4.5Mb.

The Pentax MX-1 produced photos of good quality. Noise is fairly well controlled by the Pentax MX-1, starting to appear at ISO 800 and becoming more easily detectable at the faster settings of ISO 1600 and 3200 when viewing images at 100% magnification on screen. The fastest settings of 6400 and 12800 look much better on paper than in reality. Colour saturation is commendably maintained throughout the ISO range except at ISO 6400 and 12800. The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, as they're noisier and much less sharp at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

The 12.76 megapixel JPEG images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. Image stabilisation via the camera body is a great feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto zoom setting.

The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and Bulb mode allowing you to capture enough light in all situations. The cleverly designed built-in pop-up flash was a little too powerful at close quarters, even with the flash compensation set to it's -2 EV maximum, and it also procduced obvious red-eye. The HDR mode greatly expands the dynamic range of a JPEG by combining three differently exposed images in-camera.

Noise

There are 8 ISO settings available on the Pentax MX-1. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:

JPEG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Pentax MX-1's 4x zoom lens provides a focal length of 28-112mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

28mm

112mm

File Quality

The Pentax MX-1 has 2 different JPEG file quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option, and it also supports RAW (Adobe DNG). Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (4.82Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (2.57Mb) (100% Crop)

   

RAW (22.1Mb) (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Pentax MX-1 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Pentax MX-1 allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash modes include Auto, Auto + Red-eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash On + Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync + Red-eye Reduction, Trailing Curtain Sync, and Flash Off. These shots of a white wall were taken at a distance of 1 metre.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Wide Angle (112mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (112mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-eye Reduction option could remove quite a significant amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Pentax MX-1 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 20 seconds at ISO 100. We've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction

The Pentax MX-1 has a Shake Reduction mechanism built into the camera body, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/10th / 28mm
     
1/10th / 112mm

HDR Capture

The Pentax MX-1's HDR Capture option (only available for JPEGs) takes three images with different exposures, and then records a single image that combines the properly exposed parts of each one, expanding its dynamic range. Here is an example which was shot with the three different modes. Although the MX-1 can microalign images before combining them, allowing hand-held HDR shots to be taken, for best results it's important to always use a tripod to prevent camera shake from blurring the HDR image, and it doesn't work very well for moving subjects.

Off

Standard

   
Strong 1 Strong 2

Dynamic Range Correction

The Pentax MX-1's D-Range Setting option allows you to set the camera to automatically correct for either the highlights, shadows or both.

Off

Highlight and Shadow Correction On

Custom Images

Pentax's Custom Images, similar to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. You can change the saturation, hue, high/low key, contrast and sharpness for each of the five options?. They are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences.

Bright

Natural

   

Vibrant

Reversal Film

   

Monochrome

 
 

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hd video, compact, review, photos, samples, images, 12 megapixel, test, video, movie, compact camera, 1920x1080, 1080i, 4x zoom, pentax, f1.8, retro, premium, 4x, advanced, pentax mx-1, Pentax MX-1, mx 1, mx-1, mx1

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