Pentax MX-1 vs Sony A77
The Pentax MX-1 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2013 and August 2011. The MX-1 is a fixed lens compact, while the A77 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (MX-1) and an APS-C (A77) sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 Pentax MX-1 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77? 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 Pentax MX-1 and the Sony A77 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 Sony A77 is considerably larger (100 percent) than the Pentax MX-1. It is noteworthy in this context that the A77 is splash and dust-proof, while the MX-1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 A77 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
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.||Pentax MX-1||122 mm||61 mm||51 mm||391 g||290||n||Jan 2013||499|
|2.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|5.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|6.||Fujifilm X30||119 mm||72 mm||60 mm||423 g||470||n||Aug 2014||599|
|7.||Fujifilm X20||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||353 g||270||n||Jan 2013||599|
|8.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599|
|9.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|10.||Olympus Stylus 1||116 mm||87 mm||57 mm||402 g||410||n||Oct 2013||699|
|11.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|12.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|13.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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 A77, 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 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 Pentax MX-1 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Sony A77 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A77 is 753 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 1.5. The sensor in the MX-1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the A77 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24MP, the A77 offers a higher resolution than the MX-1 (12MP), but the A77 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm 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 4 months) than the A77, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A77 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A77 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 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 Pentax MX-1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
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 consideration, the A77 offers substantially better image quality than the MX-1 (overall score 29 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.6 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.9 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.
|10.||Olympus Stylus 1||1/1.7||11.8||3968||2976||1080/30p||20.7||11.6||179||51|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A77 provides a faster frame rate than the MX-1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A77 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful 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 Pentax MX-1 and Sony A77 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Pentax MX-1||none||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/8000s||1.0||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon S120||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||Y||1/2000s||12.1||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1||Y||Y|
|6.||Fujifilm X30||2360||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Fujifilm X20||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Nikon P7800||921||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Olympus Stylus 1||1440||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus XZ-2||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.0||Y||Y|
|12.||Panasonic LF1||200||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|13.||Pentax K-3||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the A77, 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 A77 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the MX-1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The MX-1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A77 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A77 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 Pentax MX-1 and Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Pentax MX-1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon S120||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Fujifilm X30||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Fujifilm X20||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon P7800||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus Stylus 1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Olympus XZ-2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Panasonic LF1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Pentax K-3||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony A6500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A77 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The MX-1 does not feature such a mic input.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A77 (unlike the MX-1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the MX-1 and the A77 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A77 was replaced by the Sony A77 II, 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 Pentax and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax MX-1 and the Sony A77? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Pentax MX-1:
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the A77 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x61mm vs 143x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the A77).
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 4 months after the A77).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 44%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (29 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.9 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex 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 (12 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (470 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- 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 August 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A77 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 5 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 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 Pentax MX-1 and the Sony A77 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR 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 MX-1 and the A77 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], 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.||Pentax MX-1||3/5||..||..||74/100||4/5||4/5||Jan 2013||499|
|2.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|5.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|6.||Fujifilm X30||4/5||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2014||599|
|7.||Fujifilm X20||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2013||599|
|8.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599|
|9.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|10.||Olympus Stylus 1||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||699|
|11.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|12.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|13.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||3.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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: Pentax MX-1 vs Sony A77
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||Pentax MX-1||Sony A77|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2013||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Pentax MX-1||Sony A77|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.89 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||27.70 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||49||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.4||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||208||801|
|Screen Specs||Pentax MX-1||Sony A77|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Pentax MX-1||Sony A77|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Pentax MX-1||Sony A77|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Pentax MX-1||Sony A77|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
122 x 61 x 51 mm
(4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||391 g (13.8 oz)||732 g (25.8 oz)|
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