In 1977, Pentax introduced two compact 35mm SLRs, the MX and the ME, after the Olympus OM-1 presented in 1972 had introduced a new trend for compactness in SLR cameras.
The Pentax ME was succeeded in 1979 by the more advanced ME Super and the simpler Pentax MV. The MV was in turn followed in 1980 by a less basic version, the Pentax MV1. The differences with the MV were the following:
- winder attachment for the ME I winder (1.5i/s) or ME II winder (2i/s)
- self-timer present
- memo holder on the back
- data back attachment for the Dial Data ME
- ASA range from 32 to 1600
The Pentax MV1 is an aperture priority automatic camera, with an electronic focal plane shutter from 1s to 1/1000, synchronized at 1/100. The shutter curtains are metal and have a vertical movement. There is no shutter dial, and the camera cannot be used in manual mode, except for B and 1/100 exposures. The exposure meter is of the standard TTL open aperture center weighted type. It is activated by a slight pressure on the release button.
The Pentax MV1 has a 0.85× viewfinder, covering 92% of the field. The finder screen is fixed, with a split image image and a microprism ring in the center. Neither the shutter speed nor the aperture is displayed in the finder.
There is a self-timer and a hot shoe on the top of the prism with an additional contact for dedicated Pentax flash units. The selector around the release button has three positions: Auto, 100X (1/100, X sync) and B. The Pentax MV1 can attach the external Winder ME (1.5 i/s) or the later Winder ME II (2i/s). The Pentax MV1 can also use the Dial Data ME databack with an adaptor to slide in the hot shoe, or the later Digital Data M databack via a cord adapter and the hotshoe adapter.
The lenses are interchangeable with the K bayonet mount. Together with the M series was introduced the SMC Pentax-M series of compact lenses.
The Pentax MV1 was sold in black and in chrome finish.
It was followed in 1981 by the improved Pentax MG.