More and more photographers are demanding durable cameras. But what they’ve also been asking for are brass cameras. The only brands to really do something like this in the past two decades have been Pentax and Leica. But with Leica, the brass doesn’t have paint that wears away to reveal the brass. That’s a far different story with the Pentax MX1, however. When we reviewed it in 2013, we knew that there was lasting value. But we didn’t think that 11 years later, we’d consider it to be one of the most important digital point-and-shoot cameras ever made. Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with its sensor.
The Pentax MX1 and the Lasting Allure
When I first laid eyes on the MX-1, I was struck with an immediate wave of nostalgia. This is due in no small part that my very first camera was a Pentax MX, this camera’s spiritual predecessor. I was pleased with how solidly built the camera is, and never having had a camera with an LCD that can move about, I have to say that it has been a lot of fun to shoot with. It’s a very nimble and quiet machine which allows one to shoot in a very discreet manner. I have been pleased by the image quality I was able to extract from it, but I was a little (just a little) disappointed in the fact that the sensor was only a 1/1.7″ rather than something like an APS-C sized one.Our review of the Pentax MX1
By the specs, the Pentax MX1 doesn’t have many great things going for it. The sensor is incredibly small. That’s stuffed behind an f1.8-2.5 lens into a camera body sporting brass and flexing a silver or black layer of paint. Read that sentence again — it’s got a brass top and bottom. Specifically, we were told when the camera debuted that it was designed to add to the lasting appeal of the camera. But back in 2013, the camera and lens industry was a far more tumultuous time. We cared a lot more about pixels, resolution, bigger camera sensors, and autofocus speed. That’s because back then, it was still possible for a brand to make a “bad camera.”
Within a year or two, though, no one was making bad cameras. But lots of us wanted bigger sensors. That still hasn’t really changed even today, as the point-and-shoot camera market was devastated. Still, though, the Pentax MX-1 continues to hold its value far better than most other point-and-shoot cameras.
On eBay, the Pentax MX1 goes for anywhere between $300 and $500. Good luck trying to get one on Amazon. And any legitimate retailer won’t give you what the camera is worth, but they’ll surely charge the premium and tell you things like, “We made sure it works, and you can trust us.”
Is It Worth Buying?
So how did this camera hold its value? Well, lots of photographers want better build quality. And the retro-camera trend combined with the old digicam trend made people want to have something just like this. Why wouldn’t you want a camera with brass?
We reviewed the Pentax MX-1 in 2013. And here’s a snippet that a lot of photographers might really care about:
With brass top and bottom plates this little camera feels quite solid in the hands. I have seen some early complaints about the size of the camera–specifically that it is too big and chunky for a point & shoot. I can understand that sentiment as it’s the largest compact I’ve seen in a while, but I love that aspect about the camera! I have big hands and sometimes these tiny cameras are very difficult to operate with my not-so-dainty mitts. It has just the right amount of heft and while I’m sure I won’t be with the camera long enough to see the top & bottom plates gain some brassing, I imagine that will look quite cool. In the month that I’ve been using the camera, nothing has skipped a beat, and I think that the only potential weak point is the lens barrel when extended (not an uncommon thought for any P&S camera).Our review of the Pentax MX1
The photographers who might like something like the Pentax MX1 are those that want a sort of retro look. And I don’t just mean that by the body aesthetics. This camera is from 2013 and has image quality that almost gives off the look of old digicam vibes. Our full review, which you can check out here, has a lot of samples. Plus, the camera roots RAW DNG files. You’d most likely use the center autofocus point and recompose. It’s not weather resistant, but the brass plates will surely make the camera feel great in your hands.
We recommend checking it out if you’ve got the money to burn. There’s surely never going to be another camera made like this in a very long time.