Which camera is best bang for your hard earned dollar?

There’s a  bevy of new cameras models slowly coming to market. Two that I find intriguing are the Pentax MX1 and the Fujifilm XF1.

The MX1 sports a 16mp 1/1.7 sensor and the XF1 a 2/3 EXR Cmos sensor. Both are currently available here in New Zealand for $698NZD. This price seems reasonable for a high quality prosumer compact.

So whats hot and whats not.

The XF1 lacks a little in the ergonomics and basic functions area.

Shutter speed of 1/2000 sec is only 25% of the Pentax MX1 at 1/8000 sec. That’s a huge gap and for me would be enough to put me off the XF1 if sports and other action are the priority. The  f1.8 – 2.5 Lens is another nod to the MX1. At f 1.8 -4.9 The Fuji may be found wanting in low light shooting. However this should be offset somewhat by the larger sensor in the XF1

Both have 4x zoom and both have near identical digital zoom as well.

Both shoot Raw, faster with the Fuji. This is not the MX1’s strong suit. Both shoot excellent Jpegs and while the Fuji sports the EXR sensor with its

Courtesy of Flower Photo Store's

enhanced Dr% the Pentax proves to be a capable shooter here as well. The above image from the MX1 is a good example of a difficult scene with lots of differing light values. The MX1 acquits itself well here, in point of fact better than I have ever been able to achieve with my HS20 in similar shooting situations.

I have no doubt the the XF1 would also do well in this situation.

So what else sets these two cameras apart. For one, the 460K LCD of the XF1 Vs. 920K LCD of the MX1 means that visual feedback will be enhanced in the MX1. The MX1 also sports a tilt-table  LCD screen as well which for a lot of folks is a very nice addition even if the retro design aesthetics takes a little bit of a hit. I also like the brass used in the MX1’s camera body and this shows in the weight figures where the MX1 is a lot heavier than the XF1. This is a plus for the Fuji as it means its not so likely to feel as heavy in the pocket.

It would be easy to bang on about other items that may be of use to varying degrees, however I will leave that to the reviewers. Heres a couple of links to reasonably well done reviews:

Both sites do a fairly comprehensive review of these cameras so its well worth the while to read through them if you are in the market for a quality compact. I tend to feel that reviews are okay but there’s nothing like using the camera to see how you feel about its performance and design.

The Bottom Line:

For me at least, were I in the market for a good quality compact where zoom range wasn’t a high priority, then these two cameras are well worth consideration. Priced identically, cost becomes irrelevant and its purely down to what you want from a camera and its output.

For me the MX1 wins hands down, the faster lens, faster shutter speed, 920k tilt-able LCD, slightly heavier weight and build quality, as well as excellent retro styling, something I feel Fuji have missed the mark on, with the  XF1, makes the MX1 a standout model. While its accepted that the 2/3 EXR sensor will no doubt be a good performer at higher ISO as is to be expected with the larger sensor, that alone isn’t enough to negate the feature set that comes with the MX1.

The echoes of previous stellar performing cameras and the pedigree (think K1000 35mm SLR, arguably one of the world finest manual SLR’s) are easily seen in the MX1. The styling of the XF1 seems a little lost, as it doesn’t really hark back to the Rangefinders of the past which the other X series cameras do or to Fuji’s SLR range either. As far as styling goes I find the XF1 curiously devoid of its origins in the styling.