Olympus E-30 vs Pentax MX-1
The Olympus E-30 and the Pentax MX-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2008 and January 2013. The E-30 is a DSLR, while the MX-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-30) and a 1/1.7-inch (MX-1) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 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.
|Olympus E-30||Pentax MX-1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Four Thirds lenses||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-3,200||ISO 100-12,800|
|Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|2.7 LCD, 230k dots||3.0 LCD, 920k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||1 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|750 shots per battery charge||290 shots per battery charge|
|142 x 108 x 75 mm, 701 g||122 x 61 x 51 mm, 391 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-30 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 Olympus E-30 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 consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 (51 percent) than the Olympus E-30. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-30 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 E-30 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 E-30 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|Pentax MX-1||122 mm||61 mm||51 mm||391 g||290||n||Jan 2013||499|
|Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|Fujifilm X20||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||353 g||270||n||Jan 2013||599|
|Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||535 g||500||n||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-P1||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||121 mm||70 mm||36 mm||355 g||300||n||Nov 2009||799|
|Olympus E-420||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Olympus E-410||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The MX-1 was launched at a lower price than the E-30, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-30 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax MX-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the MX-1 is 81 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 4.5. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 12.2MP, the E-30 offers a slightly higher resolution than the MX-1 (12MP), but the E-30 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.89μm for the MX-1) due to its larger sensor. However, the MX-1 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 2 months) than the E-30, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The Olympus E-30 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax MX-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 E-30 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the MX-1 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|Olympus E-600||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.5||10.3||541||55|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56|
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51|
|Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
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 E-30 does not. The highest resolution format that the MX-1 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the E-30 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 Olympus E-30 and Pentax MX-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One feature that is present on the E-30, but is missing on the MX-1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The E-30 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the MX-1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The E-30 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the MX-1 uses SDXC cards. The E-30 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the MX-1 only has one slot.
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 Olympus E-30 and Pentax MX-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the E-30 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 E-30 and the MX-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Olympus and Pentax. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-30 or the Pentax MX-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Olympus E-30:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- 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.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- 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 (5 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 (750 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2008).
Reasons to prefer the Pentax MX-1:
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the E-30 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x61mm vs 142x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the E-30).
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 2 months of technical progress since the E-30 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-30 emerges as the winner of the contest (12 : 9 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 Olympus E-30 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the E-30 or the MX-1. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Olympus E-30||..||71/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|Pentax MX-1||..||74/100||4/5||3.5/5||4/5||Jan 2013||499|
|Canon G16||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|Canon G15||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|Fujifilm X20||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||..||5/5||Jan 2013||599|
|Nikon P7800||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|Olympus XZ-2||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|Olympus E-450||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|Olympus E-600||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||449|
|Olympus E-620||88/100||72/100||4.5/5||o||5/5||Feb 2009||699|
|Olympus E-P1||+||66/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2009||799|
|Olympus E-P2||+||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2009||799|
|Olympus E-420||85/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2008||599|
|Olympus E-520||87/100||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|Olympus E-3||88/100||+ +||o||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|Olympus E-410||86/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699|
|Olympus E-510||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 100D vs Pentax MX-1
- Canon 200D vs Pentax MX-1
- Canon G1 X vs Olympus E-30
- Fujifilm X-E2S vs Pentax MX-1
- Leica D-LUX 5 vs Olympus E-30
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon B500 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon Coolpix A vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon D500 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon D750 vs Olympus E-30
- Olympus E-30 vs Sony HX400V
- Pentax MX-1 vs Sony NEX-5T
Specifications: Olympus E-30 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||Olympus E-30||Pentax MX-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|Launch Date||November 2008||January 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-30||Pentax MX-1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4032 x 3024 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.29 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.42 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||55||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.3||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.4||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||530||208|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-30||Pentax MX-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-30||Pentax MX-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||1 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-30||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||Olympus E-30||Pentax MX-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
142 x 108 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.3 x 3.0 in)
122 x 61 x 51 mm
(4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||701 g (24.7 oz)||391 g (13.8 oz)|
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