I wouldn’t consider a camera a “Gizmo”, but a point and shoot camera is something I always carry in my camera bag. There are times when a 65 pound camera bag is neither prudent or welcome to carry, so even the most serious photographer needs a pocket-able camera for those times when size and convenience is a necessity.

I’ve tried lots of them and for the most part, they are all serviceable. They’ll do fine for quick shots intended for Social Media sites and e-mails, but I’m often frustrated when I only have my pocket camera and I see something I want to shoot semi-seriously.

Enter the amazing little Pentax MX-1. If I were to write a a wish list of features I’d want in my pocket camera, this meets that list at about 95%.  If it had an optical viewfinder, it would be just about perfect.You won’t believe the price ( I’ll tell you at the end of the article)

In order of importance to me, the pocket camera feature list is as follows.

1) Image quality- if nothing else, a camera MUST produce sharp images with substantial dynamic range and accurate color. The RAW images out of this camera are stellar for the sensor size ( 1/1.7 inch) , the JPEGS are a little over-processed right in the camera which renders more noise than I prefer.

2) Durability- The camera must be able to survive in a backpack or glove box. I have had so many point and shoot cameras literally start losing casing screws as soon as the temperature changes that it swore me off  the whole style of camera for years. The MX-1 has an amazing build quality, it feels like a $1200 camera.

3) Functionality- I want a camera that allows me to take the type of photo I want. I really don’t care if it’s difficult, just as long as it’s possible. Being a DSLR shooter, having PMAS controls are a must, along with independent control over white balance, ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and Focus. The MX-1 not only has those, but those features are easily accessible (as a bonus)

…and that’s it. That’s all I ask. I don’t care how the camera looks or how it “feels in my hands”. Neither of those things affects the way the photo looks. Convenience is a convenience that I am happy to relinquish if that means I can have creative control over my imaging. In fact, I find that slowing down a bit is advantageous for the creative process. It is my opinion that when a photographer gives in to pure “size and convenience” as the main reason for camera selection, they’ll never realize their full creative potential. That said….there is a time and place for a camera that you can tuck into a coat pocket and the Pentax MX-1 does that job as good as any camera I’ve tested in this class. In the end, it’s always the images that either make my like a camera or dislike it. Here are a few examples.

42ruggs MIXED LIGHT43ruggs MACRO44ruggs DAYLIGHT45ruggs

As you can see, the MX-1 performs well in varied conditions and delivers sharp images with impressive dynamic range. People will be drawn to the classic styling, but it’s the image quality that will make them want to carry this little camera everywhere


Pentax MX-1 key features

  • 12MP backlit CMOS sensor
  • 4x 28-112mm equivalent F1.8-2.5 lens
  • ISO 100-12800
  • 3.0 inch, 920K dot LCD screen
  • JPEG, Raw (DNG), Raw+JPEG capture
  • 1080p 30fps video recording with stereo microphones
  • Rear control dial and EV dial
  • Pentax SLR-like interface

    where to buy

    Now for the very best part….The Pentax MX-1 retails for only $299.99. which makes it one of the best values in the field.