Hands on with the Pentax MX-1, the Latest Horse in the Retro Camera Race


One of Pentax’s big announcements for this year’s CES 2013 was the MX-1, a camera that is designed to compete against other retrotastic compact cameras that are currently generating a lot of buzz (namely the Fujifilm X-Series and the Olympus OM-D).

The camera features a durable brass body and a textured rubber grip. While the top and bottom metal plates feel like most of the retro-styled cameras we’ve seen, the grip is actually a bit different: it actually offers quite a bit of grip.

It’s a textured grip that actually feels sticky and rubbery rather than slightly-sticky and leathery. You probably won’t be dropping this camera very often.


The 3-inch 921K-dot LCD screen on the back of the camera is nice and responsive. It can be pulled out away from the camera body and tilted to a 90-degree angle, which allows you to photograph subjects straight ahead while looking down at your camera.


In terms of speed, both autofocus and snapping photographs was acceptably fast. The camera locks onto subjects without too much hunting.


The camera’s interface, both digital and physical, are both pretty standard. The exposure compensation dial on the top of the camera is a nice touch — it’ll be appreciated by the same people who love having it handy on the Fujifilm X-Series.

Inside the camera is a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor that spits out 12-megapixel photographs. This will likely be the camera’s downfall if it doesn’t do well on the market, since you can get some pretty respected 1/1.7” cameras for the same price (the Canon G15, for example).

We’ve found that the number of people clamoring to handle cameras at CES 2013 company booths is a pretty good indication of how much interest those products are receiving. When we visited the Pentax booth, there was no waiting for the four MX-1 cameras laid out on the table. In fact, there was no one looking at them:


  • Duke Shin

    Dad angled edge…
    Dem straplugs…

    It’s time I got a buddy for my K1000.

  • Esrhan

    Does retro just boil down to an unergonomic brick?

  • Mansgame

    pretty much.

  • Matthew Palmer

    another day… another fad..

  • Jonathan Maniago

    “When we visited the Pentax booth, there was no waiting for the four MX-1
    cameras laid out on the table. In fact, there was no one looking at

    Theft-resistant design seems to be Pentax’s primary selling point these days. I suppose some street photographers might be into that.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Oh god, give us a viewfinder…

  • Wallerus

    When will see Argus style retrotasticnessness in cameras?

  • G

    In this case? Yes.

    In my book retro means proper manual controls and a viewfinder. This one has neither.

  • G

    I guess looks comes into the equation as well, but it shouldn’t be “all show and no go” like this.

  • maverick

    I love the brass design

  • Rob S

    Why wasnt this the “K-02″? Give me that body with a K mount and they would not be able to keep them in stock. Even better, just put a full frame sensor in the old MX body. Why after all these years do we still have DSLRs the size of bricks?

  • Aaron Link

    If you ever used the original MX or K-1000 you would know it’s surprisingly ergonomic. Did you not read the OP’s comment about how unlikely one would be to drop the camera? Did you read the part about the rubberized grip? And since the MX-1 is designed similarly to its vintage namesake, then yes, it is retro.

  • Jay

    Is there really a decent “retro” styled camera out right now? The X-series tries, but similar to this Pentax, it fails. Fuji got the dials and the aperture ring right, but then went ahead and used focus by wire and didn’t bother with a DOF scale on the barrel. The OM-D.. Meh. It’s just looks, everything else about it, from the dials to the menu is just unintuitive.

    In many ways, everyone is in the same boat. Pseudo retro looks, with major deal breakers. If you want to do retro, why not do it right and give us a useable camera? There is a market for it. We’re tired of all this Nikanon cameras that we can’t even tell apart.

  • Ivanov Vano

    VF for P&S camera? Why?

  • Markus Arike

    What a downer of a preview for what looks to be a nice camera. I’ve seen images from it and they look as good or better than the G15, which honestly I’ve never liked.