With its Sony sensor, we had pretty high hopes for the image quality of the Pentax MX-1, especially also given the high quality lens.
Happily, the camera has produced some excellent results, with images that show vibrant colours and plenty of details, especially in scenarios where the light is good.
Although it's not the largest sensor that can be found on other premium compact cameras, it is still capable of producing images with an attractive shallow depth of field effect, especially when shooting at the widest apertures. There's also a good fall off in focus, with out of focus areas rendered very attractively.
With its wide angle starting at 28mm, it's a reasonably flexible option for shooting a wide range of subjects. At the telephoto end of the optic, a good amount of detail is maintained.
In most ordinary situations, the Pentax MX-1's automatic white balance does a decent job of producing accurate colours, although it does struggle somewhat under artificial lighting conditions, tending to produce warmer than accurate colours. It's reasonably easy to change the white balance setting from the quick menu, though, if the camera is struggling.
Similarly, multi-segment (general purpose) metering does a good job of accurately reproducing good exposures in the majority of conditions.
At high ISOs, such as ISO 1600, a fair amount of image noise can be seen, and there is some image smoothing and loss of image quality.
It's not too bad at normal printing or web sizes, but when examining at 100%, the loss becomes apparent.
Generally, focusing is pretty quick and accurate, not struggling in the majority of conditions. Macro focusing, although a little bit tricky to actually navigate to, does a good job when it is activated, and enables you to capture frame-filling close-ups.
The high resolution screen is clear and bright and doesn't suffer too badly from glare or reflection in general scenarios, but if the sun is particularly bright it can be difficult to use. As the screen tilts, it is possible to angle it away from the sun if you're really struggling, though.
Many of the other premium compact cameras on the market have digital filters available for added creativity when shooting. Sadly, Pentax has decided not to include any of these on the MX-1.
However, you can shoot Monochrome under the Custom Image setting in the main menu. Other Custom Image options such as Bright and Reversal Film are available, and all of these are customisable, enabling you to make changes, such as increasing the contrast.