Design and features
The G1X is a new line in the G series of PowerShots; cameras that are reasonably compact yet pack a whole range of manual control that amateur and professional photographers desire. The all-new 14.3-megapixel CMOS sensor is physically bigger than that found on previous G series cameras and slightly bigger than the Four Thirds sensor that appears on Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus. The exact dimensions are 18.7x14.0mm and it's classified as a 1.5-type high-sensitivity sensor.
Anyone who currently owns a G12 needn't worry, though, as the G1X isn't superseding it, merely sitting above it in the Canon range. It's targeted towards professional photographers and serious amateurs who want the functionality afforded to them by an SLR without the bulk (and interchangeable lenses). Speaking of which, the G1X uses a 4x optical zoom, f/2.8 lens at 28mm wide-angle, which sits out a fair way from the camera body. It's fair to say that the G1X is a monster of a camera, and we're struggling to categorise it as a compact as it's so far from that moniker.
The top panel of the G1X houses a mode dial, with exposure compensation dial underneath. We found this configuration to be more intuitive and useful than the mode dial/ISO combination that was found on the G12.
In the hand, the G1X feels just like any other G series camera, only a little bigger and more sturdy. With a stainless steel chassis, rather than magnesium alloy, and aluminium front and back panels, the G1X is probably strong enough to be hit by a truck (don't try this at home).
Click through for a complete photo gallery of the G1X. (Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)
The grip feels slightly more rubberised than that on the G12, which means it's less likely to slip out of the hand. At the same time, the material feels cheaper, which is unusual given the asking price and positioning of this camera. Like the earlier G series models, the G1X has a 3-inch variable-angle LCD (922,000-dot) as well as an optical viewfinder, which is small and only covers 77 per cent of the field of view. Plus, there's parallax error as it's not seeing exactly what is coming through the lens. There's 14-bit RAW shooting (compared to 12-bit on the G12) plus a maximum ISO rating of 12,800.
If these features weren't enough to make the transition easy for SLR shooters, the G1X features EOS-like dial settings and it's compatible with many accessories from the EOS system like speedlites and macro lights. There's also a built-in ND filter.
Naturally, the G1X comes with full PASM control, as well as automatic, scene modes and filter effects (which include such options as HDR and fish-eye to name a few). The button configuration hasn't changed dramatically from the G12, though the exposure compensation dial has been relocated to just underneath the mode dial, and there's no longer a dedicated ISO dial. This can be adjusted from the four-way directional pad and dial. A pop-up flash sits next to the hotshoe.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Canon PowerShot G1X
Canon PowerShot G12
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in seconds)
Canon PowerShot G1X
Canon PowerShot G12
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
While the camera is stated to be able to take 4.5 frames per second it can only sustain it for a maximum of six photos. Plus, this rate can only be achieved through the specific scene mode, not in manual mode. Canon rates the battery at 250 shots.
Despite its rather pedestrian performance statistics, the G1X delivers where it counts on image quality. It produces clean, noise-free images up to ISO 400 and rivals some of the entry-level interchangeable lens cameras on overall image quality. Tonality, colour saturation and sharpness is particularly pleasing on this camera's JPEG files, with RAW images offering even more detail.
The lens is also sharp, allowing the G1X to capture crisp detail. Edge sharpness, especially on the left-hand side of the frame, does fall off slightly. Bokeh at f/2.8 is smooth but does not challenge the results achievable from an interchangeable lens camera with a wide maximum aperture lens. Also, the lens does not cope well at all with macro, as its minimum focusing distance is around 20cm. This means that even if you do want to try and achieve some nice close-ups with a shallow depth-of-field, the lens won't allow you to without attaching a macro converter.
High ISO images are handled incredibly well by the G1X. While colour noise creeps in around ISO 3200, it's very easy to clean up in post-processing, and high ISO JPEGs are the best in class.
Unfortunately, the lens of the G1X stops down rather a lot when zooming in, more so than we would have liked. For example, at 28mm (the widest end) it's f/2.8. At 31.5mm it is f/3.2, at 34.5mm it is f/3.5, at 35.5mm it is f/4, at 44.7mm it is f/4.5 and maxes out at 112mm at f/5.8.
How does the G1X stack up against another high-end compact, the Fuji X100? The X100 produces a cleaner result, but that's because its image sensor is physically bigger. Exposure details: the G1X at 1/30, f/2.8, spot metering, auto white balance, 28mm; the X100 at 1/40, f/2.8, spot metering, auto white balance.
(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)
The G1X offers full HD video (1080p) at 24fps, HD (720p) at 30fps or VGA recording at 30fps. Exposure is automatic, though you can use the optical zoom while filming. Video quality is excellent for a camera of this class, offering crisp video footage and audio quality, but we would have loved to see an audio input jack for an external microphone. It certainly makes sense given the target audience of this camera.
Exposure: 1/30, f/2.8, ISO 1600
Exposure: 1/40, f/5.6, ISO 6400
Exposure: 1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 1000
Exposure: 1/40, f/3.2, ISO 400
Offering a wide selection of features in a sturdy chassis, the PowerShot G1X delivers excellent photographic results thanks to its extra-large image sensor and processor. Users will need to be wary of its average performance, but otherwise will enjoy shooting with this camera.