Pentax XG-1 Review: 4K Would Be Nice, But Overall, An Excellent Choice

Pentax make some truly excellent cameras, and this one is no exception.

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The Pentax XG-1 is a digital bridge camera. The name bridge suggests that the camera is a cross-over of sorts and combines the fundamental advantages of a small sensor camera with the form factor of a DSLR.

Main Features

  • 16 megapixels 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor
  • Maximum still picture resolution of 4608 x 3456 pixels
  • Auto ISO of 100 – 3200
  • 52x optical zoom which is a 35mm focal length equivalent of 24mm – 1248mm
  • 3” fixed LCD screen with a resolution of 460,000 dots
  • Maximum aperture of f/2.8


Two things about the sensor that stands out – first is the BSI technology. BSI stands for back-side illuminated. This basically is all about putting the wiring on the sensor at the back of the sensor freeing up space for the light sensitive photo diodes. Second is the individual pixel size.

The thumb rule for low noise digital imagery is that the individual sensors must be large so as to be able to collect a lot of light.

The less the number of individual pixels on the sensor surface, compared to other sensors, without the actual sensor size not getting small, the cleaner the image will be. Unlike some of the other cameras that we have reviewed with high resolution, the resolution on the Pentax XG-1 is only 16 megapixels. Plus, it also has BSI technology.

Extremely long focal length lenses are susceptible to image shake. Blame it on the wind or your unsteady hands or whatever else, when you are zoomed in all the way at 1248mm, even the slightest movement will turn your images into a blurry disaster. To counter this Pentax use a type of image stabilization technology that actually moves the sensor. It is called sensor-shift image stabilization.


The fixed lens on the Pentax XG-1 has a 52x optical zoom range. On a 35mm format parlance that tantamount to 24-1248mm. Maximum aperture on the lens is f/2.8.

pentax-xg-3LCD screen

The fixed 3” LCD screen at the back of the camera has a resolution of 460,000 dots.


The viewfinder at the back of the camera has a resolution of 200,000. There is no flipping mirror. This is a bridge camera. Thus, the viewfinder is of electronic type.

ISO sensitivity

Auto ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 3200.

Built-in flash

There is a built-in flash. Compact cameras mostly do. The flash can be fired in a multitude of modes. Though it is not always the first preference when you need extra light or to compensate when ambient light is poor, it can do a decent job if you use it the proper way.

pentax-xg-4Movie recording

Being able to shoot video is a must-have feature on all cameras and not just bridge cameras. The Pentax XG-1 is capable of shooting full HD videos at 30 fps. If you scale down the resolution to 720p it can shoot videos at 60 fps as well.


The Pentax XG-1 is a great camera to boot. It has almost everything that you need to be an ideal companion when traveling. A series manual shooting modes, full-HD video shooting, powerful 52x optical zoom, continuous 9 fps burst rate, built-in flash and most importantly a BSI sensor design. Everything adds up to make an excellent travel camera. The only things missing are probably native 4K shooting ability and RAW support.

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