Nikon D80 vs Pentax MX-1
The Nikon D80 and the Pentax MX-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2006 and January 2013. The D80 is a DSLR, while the MX-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D80) and a 1/1.7-inch (MX-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 10 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 D80 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.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D80 and the Pentax MX-1 are illustrated 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 (45 percent) than the Nikon D80. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D80 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 D80 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 D80 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|2.||Pentax MX-1||122 mm||61 mm||51 mm||391 g||290||n||Jan 2013||499|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|5.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|6.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|7.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|8.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|9.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|11.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|13.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|14.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|15.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|16.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|17.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The MX-1 was launched at a lower price than the D80, 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 D80 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 D80 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the MX-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the MX-1 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the D80. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.89μm versus 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the MX-1 is much more recent (by 6 years and 5 months) than the D80, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax MX-1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the MX-1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D80 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D80 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax MX-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D80 provides substantially higher image quality than the MX-1, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The MX-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D80 does not. The highest resolution format that the MX-1 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D80 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 D80 and Pentax MX-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
The D80 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the MX-1 uses SDXC 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 D80 and Pentax MX-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D80 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 D80 and the MX-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, while the MX-1 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Pentax websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D80 and the Pentax MX-1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D80:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2006).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax MX-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 7%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- 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 D80 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x61mm vs 132x103mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D80).
- 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: Reflects 6 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D80 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the MX-1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (12 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 D80 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D80 and the MX-1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|2.||Pentax MX-1||3/5||..||74/100||4/5||4/5||Jan 2013||499|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon G15||4/5||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|5.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|6.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|7.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|8.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|9.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|11.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|13.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|14.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|15.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|16.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|17.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D80 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 D80||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||August 2006||January 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D80||Pentax MX-1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3872 x 2592 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.11 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.69 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||61||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||524||208|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D80||Pentax MX-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D80||Pentax MX-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||1 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D80||Pentax MX-1|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D80||Pentax MX-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
122 x 61 x 51 mm
(4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||668 g (23.6 oz)||391 g (13.8 oz)|
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