Olympus E-400 vs Pentax MX-1
The Olympus E-400 and the Pentax MX-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and January 2013. The E-400 is a DSLR, while the MX-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-400) and a 1/1.7-inch (MX-1) sensor. The Olympus 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.
|Olympus E-400||Pentax MX-1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Four Thirds lenses||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor||12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1600||ISO 100-12800|
|Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|2.5" LCD, 215k dots||3.0" LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3 shutter flaps per second||1 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|500 shots per battery charge||290 shots per battery charge|
|130 x 91 x 53 mm, 435 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-400 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-400 and the Pentax MX-1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. 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 (37 percent) than the Olympus E-400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-400 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-400 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-400 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Olympus E-400»||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Sep 2006||699||Olympus E-400|
|Pentax MX-1«||122 mm||61 mm||51 mm||391 g||290||n||Jan 2013||499||Pentax MX-1|
|Canon G16« »||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549||Canon G16|
|Canon G15« »||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499||Canon G15|
|Fujifilm X30« »||119 mm||72 mm||60 mm||423 g||470||n||Aug 2014||599||Fujifilm X30|
|Fujifilm X20« »||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||353 g||270||n||Jan 2013||599||Fujifilm X20|
|Nikon P7800« »||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549||Nikon P7800|
|Nikon D40X« »||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus XZ-2« »||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-450« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-620« »||130 mm||94 mm||60 mm||521 g||500||n||Feb 2009||699||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-420« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2008||599||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-520« »||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410« »||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||435 g||500||n||Mar 2007||699||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-500« »||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599||Olympus E-500|
|Panasonic L10« »||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||Panasonic L10|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 E-400, 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-400 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the MX-1 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the E-400. 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 4.74μm for the E-400). However, it should be noted that the MX-1 is much more recent (by 6 years and 3 months) than the E-400, 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 inch or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inch or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inch or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-400 are 18.2 x 13.7 inch or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inch or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inch or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Olympus E-400 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax MX-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus E-400||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-400|
|Pentax MX-1||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/30p||20.4||11.3||208||49||Pentax MX-1|
|Canon G16||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||21.0||11.7||230||54||Canon G16|
|Canon G15||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||19.9||11.5||165||46||Canon G15|
|Fujifilm X30||2/3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X30|
|Fujifilm X20||2/3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X20|
|Nikon P7800||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/30p||21.2||11.7||200||54||Nikon P7800|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus XZ-2||1/1.7||11.8||3968||2976||1080/30p||20.4||11.3||216||49||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-620||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.3||536||55||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-420||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.4||527||56||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.1||10.0||494||51||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..||Olympus E-500|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The MX-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-400 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 range of features. For example, the E-400 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-400, the Pentax MX-1, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-400||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-400|
|Pentax MX-1||none||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/8000s||1.0||Y||Y||Pentax MX-1|
|Canon G16||optical||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y||Canon G16|
|Canon G15||optical||n||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1||Y||Y||Canon G15|
|Fujifilm X30||2360||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y||Fujifilm X30|
|Fujifilm X20||optical||n||2.8||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y||Fujifilm X20|
|Nikon P7800||921||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y||Nikon P7800|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus XZ-2||optional||n||3.0||920||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.0||Y||Y||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-620||optical||n||2.7||230||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-420||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||Y||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Olympus E-500|
|Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L10|
The E-400 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the MX-1 uses SDXC cards. The E-400 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-400 and Pentax MX-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Olympus E-400||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-400|
|Pentax MX-1||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Pentax MX-1|
|Canon G16||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Canon G16|
|Canon G15||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G15|
|Fujifilm X30||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X30|
|Fujifilm X20||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Fujifilm X20|
|Nikon P7800||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon P7800|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Olympus XZ-2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus XZ-2|
|Olympus E-450||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-450|
|Olympus E-620||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-620|
|Olympus E-420||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-420|
|Olympus E-520||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-520|
|Olympus E-410||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-500||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-500|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
It is notable that the E-400 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-400 and the MX-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-400 was replaced by the Olympus E-410, 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 Olympus and Pentax websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-400 or the Pentax MX-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-400:
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- 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 (500 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 September 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax MX-1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- 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 215k 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 E-400 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x61mm vs 130x91mm) 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-400).
- 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 3 months of technical progress since the E-400 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the MX-1 comes out slightly ahead of the E-400 (12 : 11 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 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-400 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-400 or the MX-1 perform in practice. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
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 450D vs Olympus E-400
- Canon G15 vs Olympus E-400
- Canon G9 X Mark II vs Olympus E-400
- Leica Q2 vs Olympus E-400
- Nikon D1 vs Pentax MX-1
- Nikon D7000 vs Olympus E-400
- Olympus E-30 vs Pentax MX-1
- Olympus E-400 vs Sony A6400
- Olympus E-400 vs Sony A99 II
- Olympus E-PL2 vs Pentax MX-1
- Panasonic GF6 vs Pentax MX-1
- Pentax MX-1 vs Sony RX1R II
Specifications: Olympus E-400 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-400||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||September 2006||January 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Olympus E-400||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||10 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.74 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.44 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||11.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||208|
|Screen Specs||Olympus E-400||Pentax MX-1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||215k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Olympus E-400||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||CF or XD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Olympus E-400||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-400||Pentax MX-1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
130 x 91 x 53 mm
(5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
122 x 61 x 51 mm
(4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||435 g (15.3 oz)||391 g (13.8 oz)|
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