a story of Southern agriculture

Pentax MX-1 – Why this photographer farmer bought one…

I bought a Pentax MX-1 to do work my Canon dSLR (60D) can already do.  Why?

Today I’ll tell you why I added an enthusiast level compact camera to my lineup.

Throughout this post I’m including my Pentax MX-1 images you’ve seen here at Beef & Sweet Tea since I purchased it in December 2013.

4 months ago already!  Ah, love – it makes the time pass so quickly!

Christmas in the Country 13-4

Gift: Christmas in the Country – a holiday blog party

Christmas in the Country 13-1

Here’s why I bought The Pentax MX-1 to do work my Canon 60D can do just as well:

1.) Comfort:  My arms and shoulders tire quickly with my dSLR.
Years of photographing weddings and portraits, helping pull fence, cutting off baling wrap (which is like taking the saran wrap off left overs, except a little more taxing on the upper body), catching baby calves and tagging them while hoping there mamas don’t trample me and general bovine shenanigans have quite simply left my arms and shoulders loathe to haul around a dSLR and accompanying lens if I don’t have to have to.

Frankly, have to has much narrower parameters now than it use to.  I just want great shots, not great tiredness.  I wanted to find a lightweight camera that could give me delightful depth of field and bokeh while I work in my office.  Then, when glancing up to see what Buddy is barking at (because Buddy rarely barks, I know I should bring a camera when I go check – he’s a photo op hound that way) I can dial the aperture to something nice and landscapey, like f/11 and zoom the lens – walah! – this coyote picture taken from my back deck.


mar714 coyote

First coyote sighting – late winter 2014

In camera I enlarged the image enough to determine that this was indeed a coyote and not a neighborhood dog.  What a treat to quickly and effectively document the beast without hefting the big gun around!


I want this doughnut now…except it’s in Arkansas…

2.) Travel: Keeping up with memories not photography equipment.
I worry about my dSLR being stolen – if I have it with me, then I have one lens with me – sometimes two.  This is a chunk of money waiting in the truck.  I will harass my husband by asking at every stop “did you lock the truck?”  I  carried a bit of dread with me in addition to the bulk of my camera gear pack.  Over time, I just stopped taking my camera at all and began relying on a cell phone that had a less desirable camera function.

I was missing documenting memories I really wanted to tuck away on a disk or frame for my desk.

Theft – doesn’t insurance cover that?  Yes, I have insurance, but  I don’t want it to be stolen – or the images on the memory card!  I love my dSLR – it’s an appendage to my eyes.  If I could choose a lens to be this window to my soul, I would choose the Canon 85mm 1.8 – no L – because it doth not need the red ring to be awesome.

I just needed a solution to accomodate my love of nice aperture options on the road without bulk that I was all the time trying to hide.

Now that I have the Pentax MX-1 and a nifty leather case for it, I take it everywhere.  It easily tucks under the truck seats, in the glove box or, even better, in any purse I own.

(I don’t carry big purses – I’m more of a medium cross body carrier. I may have to take out the extra large farm key ring, but the MX-1 will tuck and go).


ga farmhand house-16

Waiting with Georgia Heart Pine – a Deep South Photo Op

On the road again…out there photographing with my friends…I’m so glad to be on the road agaaaaaaiiiiinnnn.

3. Finding the Fun Switch and Leaving it ON!
My dSLR pushes my work button – the “can’t miss a shot” button – the “let this moment unfold and pounce on the shutter at the optimal moment” button.

Neurotic?  Maybe.  We all have our switches. 

I wanted a camera I could work with a bit if I wanted to.  Mainly I wanted a camera that wouldn’t automatically cue my worker bee just by unzipping the equipment bag.

I like letting my heart and nerves be happy and my brain relax while I play with a camera that can take completely lovely photos.


Scrutinizing the old year.  Smiling at the New Year!

Donkey smiles = priceless.
Pentax MX-1 =  Totally worth a few benjamins.


So, I was tired, missing travel memories, and not having enough fun when I did want to take pics…what next?

I researched.

Tom did not help.


Basket case

I learned that many professional photographers wanted something more compact to take with them. 

Something with an admirable aperture – 1.8 and 2.5 I do love thee.

Home video capability – there’s great joy in that little zoom slider and easy easy easy.

Well-placed controls – I don’t hunt for controls.  They’d better be where they make sense to be – and they’d better work (working photographers got to get the shot not look for controls).

Cameras speak through control placement – if you’re often searching or if you have to accommodate a control placement with too many movements/to much time and thought – your camera is saying, “Hi.  My engineers got their diplomas from a cracker jack box.  Seriously.  Their primary hand to face movement was snacking – not lifting a camera to take great photos day by day.”

I took these images one handed under an umbrella because the snow was coming down hard.  The Pentax MX-1 may not be snow proof, but it can be used one handed without dropping it because the controls are well placed.

snow helpers-4

Who knew this little camera liked snow and good neighbors!

See Benelli in the background above – sharing secrets.  She knows the secret of enthusiast level compact cameras.

snow helpers-7

I learned that the improvement of cell phone cameras was lessening the need for certain snapshot cameras, so camera manufacturers were putting more resources into a new category of camera – enthusiast level cameras.

So you’re not a pro…

… and don’t want to get into the dSLR price range or just don’t want those extra details.  Fine, an enthusiast compact camera like the Pentax MX-1 gives you manual and auto controls just like what I have on my dSLR – it’s just a snapshot version.

Purist may say, “Yeah and with snapshot results, too. Bleh.” 

But I say, “We go for ‘just right’ around here – not perfect, because perfect doesn’t exist.  These enthusiast level cameras bring it.”

I read a lot of reviews – I learned there was a whole line up of enthusiast level cameras I could choose from.  I sifted through pros and cons and price ranges.  Digital Photography Review helped the most. Check out the Enthusiast Compact Camera 2013 Roundup that I read several times last fall when I was making my final decision.

christmas in the country-2

Receipt: Christmas in the Country – a holiday blog party

christmas in the country-3

I hope this Pentax MX-1 series is helping you think about your next camera purchase or maybe a trade you need to make.  I couldn’t be happier with it!

Indeed “happiness is contagious” and if you’re like me, it doesn’t take much to “catch” a bad case of needing to buy a great piece of equipment.  🙂

Emily Grace

NEXT WEEK: I’ll go into the pros and cons of the Pentax MX-1 with you in more specific detail.

Last week, I shared the unboxing video that gave me a great look at the MX-1 (love that fold out screen – nifty for sneaky takes!…on animals and humans alike!)

For more Pentax MX-1 raves.

20 Responses to “Pentax MX-1 – Why this photographer farmer bought one…”

  1. carolynsteve

    Emily, from one photophile to another, I really loved your blog on the MX-1!


  2. Teresa Blackburn

    I as well carry around a small Canon S90 for just having fun taking photos. It is very freeing to make a move to having a small good camera as well as a more home based camera. The new technology in the camera world is just amazing and allows us all to just play more.


  3. Shane Francescut

    Very nice little write up, and excellent sample images to go along with it. I agree, it has absolutely nothing to do with the equipment… unless you need specific gear for specific purposes… but many people get too caught up in the latest thing. I’ve learned that if you keep your kit simple, you’ll learn it a lot faster, and make more consistent shots.


  4. Gonzi

    I purchased my MX-1 on April 2013, and have made more photos with it than I ever did with my old Nikon D200! The MX-1 is so fun to use and I’m kind of addicted to it’s looks 🙂

    Great photos btw!


    • Emily Grace

      I’m so glad to hear this, Gonzi! I agree, it’s so fun, and the camera is quite fashionable and vintage looking. Thanks for stopping by!


  5. gpcox

    I spoke with Sheri and she sings your praises – looks like we have a mutual admiration group here.


  6. mimidholtz

    Thank you for this post! I have had several Panasonic cameras to carry in my purse…loved the 20x zoom and the Leica lens. The last one has broken and I need to replace. So many choices! I will definitely consider your Pentax now! (and I adore your photography!)


  7. thegategirl

    Bless you! You have no idea how much I needed this info! As a new blogger still using my cell phone for pics, I had NO idea what to get. I’m definitely going to check out the Pentax MX-1!


    • Emily Grace

      It’s is a great camera and at only about $250 you can’t beat the features it has and the pleasing look of the images it processes. I’ve got some more posts coming up on the Pentax. It’s arguably the happiest blog topic ever. 🙂


  8. Gonzi

    Three years and three months later, and my MX-1 is still performing great! and it’s my main companion in my trips around my country. I also have a K-3II but this little buddy is my pal 🙂



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