Nikon D5100 vs Pentax MX-1
The Nikon D5100 and the Pentax MX-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2011 and January 2013. The D5100 is a DSLR, while the MX-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D5100) and a 1/1.7-inch (MX-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5100 and the Pentax MX-1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5100 and the Pentax MX-1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax MX-1 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Nikon D5100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5100 nor the MX-1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the MX-1 has a lens built in, whereas the D5100 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D5100 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|2.||Pentax MX-1||122 mm||61 mm||51 mm||391 g||290||n||Jan 2013||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|7.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||470 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The MX-1 was launched at a lower price than the D5100, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D5100 features an APS-C sensor and the Pentax MX-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the MX-1 is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 4.5. The sensor in the D5100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the MX-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 16.1MP, the D5100 offers a higher resolution than the MX-1 (12MP), but the D5100 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 1.89μm for the MX-1) due to its larger sensor. However, the MX-1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the D5100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax MX-1 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax MX-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the D5100 provides substantially higher image quality than the MX-1, with an overall score that is 31 points higher. This advantage is based on 3.1 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D5100 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the MX-1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D5100 and Pentax MX-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Pentax MX-1||none||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/8000s||1.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon P7800||921||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||Y|
|9.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Olympus XZ-2||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Panasonic LF1||200||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The Nikon D5100 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D5100 and the MX-1 write their files to SDXC cards. The D5100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the MX-1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D5100 and Pentax MX-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Pentax MX-1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon T2i||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Nikon P7800||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D5200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus XZ-2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic LF1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D5100 has a hotshoe, while the MX-1 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the D5100 and the MX-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D5100 was replaced by the Nikon D5200, while the MX-1 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the D5100 and MX-1 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D5100 Manual (free pdf) or the online Pentax MX-1 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D5100 better than the Pentax MX-1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D5100:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 12MP) with a 18% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (3.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (660 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax MX-1:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D5100 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x61mm vs 128x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D5100).
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 9 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5100 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5100 and the Pentax MX-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5100 or the MX-1. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|2.||Pentax MX-1||3/5||..||..||74/100||4/5||4/5||Jan 2013||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|7.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 10D vs Pentax MX-1
- Canon SX520 vs Pentax MX-1
- Fujifilm XF10 vs Nikon D5100
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Nikon D5100
- Leica D-LUX 7 vs Pentax MX-1
- Leica M10 vs Nikon D5100
- Nikon B700 vs Nikon D5100
- Nikon D3500 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon D5100 vs Pentax K-30
- Nikon D5100 vs Pentax K-70
- Nikon D70 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon W300 vs Pentax MX-1
Specifications: Nikon D5100 vs Pentax MX-1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D5100||Pentax MX-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|Launch Date||April 2011||January 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax MX-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.6||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1183||208|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax MX-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax MX-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||1 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax MX-1|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5100||Pentax MX-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||660 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
122 x 61 x 51 mm
(4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||560 g (19.8 oz)||391 g (13.8 oz)|
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