Pentax has revealed its latest compact camera, the high-end Pentax MX-1 at CES 2013, and we've had the chance for a quick play on the show floor.
We have to say that we like the retro styling, which evokes memories of classic camera models from the past. It's no surprise to find that Pentax has taken this route, given the stylings of other cameras in its range, like the dinky Q10 for example.
It also follows the lead of cameras such as the beautiful Fujifilm X20 and X100S, both also launched at CES 2013.
With that substantive styling comes substantial weight too. Pentax has opted for brass top and bottom plates, in a move that wouldn't be out of place for a company like Leica. The result is a compact camera that weighs 391g once fully loaded with battery and SD card.
The build quality feels incredibly solid, but the weight is undeniable too. It feels like a camera designed to last, with Pentax telling us that the brass is designed to weather and scratch, to age with the camera, for that lived-in look and feel.
While it all feels reassuringly solid and retro, the tiltable screen brings you back into the modern world, giving you the flexibility to compose those awkward angle shots with ease. It's a nice touch, but worth noting that unlike some high-end compacts, the Pentax doesn't offer an optical or electronic viewfinder.
The 3-inch display is a high resolution too, with 920k-dots setting it among the sharper screens you'll find on a compact camera, so there's plenty of detail. Naturally, in our limited time with the camera we weren't able to take it outdoors to see how it coped with reflections, but it does have an anti-glare coating, Pentax tells us.
Controls fall neatly to hand when using the camera, but we didn't have the time to spend with it to detect those daily nuances, something we'll examine in detail when we get the camera in for a full review.
It's the control that really appeals here. The 28-112mm (in 35mm terms) lens offers an impressive aperture range with f/1.8 at the widest angle and only f/2.5 at the far end, so if you're after great bokeh shots, the MX-1 should have you well covered.
We also like the horizontal and vertical digital levels, seen in the shot below, which will help keep everything aligned when composing shots.
The prominence of the exposure compensation dial on the rear right-hand shoulder means it's instantly accessible for tweaking exposure, although we have to say there seem to be a lot of buttons on the back, which tended to fall under the right-hand thumb when gripping the camera.
Such things we're sure will be overcome with time and unfortunately we didn't have long with the camera, nor were we able to take away any of our test shots. The lasting impression is that this is an intriguing camera, one that should appeal to photographers, but it certainly feels a little weighty.
The price however, at £399, sits in a competitive space for high-end compact cameras. Whether it performs is going to be the biggest consideration, and we'll have to wait for a full review to make that judgement.