Canon PowerShot G1 X Review
The Canon PowerShot G1 X is a new premium compact camera with a large CMOS image sensor. Dubbed “the finest compact camera Canon has ever produced”, the metal-bodied G1 X has a 14.3 megapixel, 18.7x14mm sensor that’s marginally bigger than Micro Four Thirds cameras. And also full manual controls with shooting mode and exposure compensation dials.
Positioned as a more portable alternative to a DSLR, the Canon G1 X also offers an extensive ISO range of 100-12800, 4x zoom lens with fast maximum aperture of f/2.8, 3-inch vari-angle LCD screen with 920k dots, optical viewfinder, built-in flash and a flash hot shoe, full HD movie recording and 14-bit RAW image capture.
The G1 X measures about 4.6 x 3.17 x 2.55-inches and weighs in at a little over 17 ounces without a battery or memory card, so it won't be doing much travelling on shooting assignments in a shirt pocket. On the other hand, there's that big sensor to consider along with the fact the G1 X comes in smaller and lighter than the tiniest Canon DSLR. It has a stainless steel chassis, and used textured rubber and knurled metal to good effect on the grip and dials. This makes the camera feel substantial in hand, although the G1 X's "boxier" build (compared with the Canon G12) makes it a little less ergonomic.
The Canon G1 X also has full manual controls, as well as two custom settings modes. However, like the recent G-series cameras, the G1 X comes with a hotshoe for Canon Speedlites, dual-mode dials and a rotating jog-dial that resembles those on the company's midrange and high-end DSLRs. The G1 X's button and dial setup sees some rearrangement, too, with a conspicuously missing ISO-selector dial up top - to make way for the new pop-up flash - and a large video record button on the back, next to where your thumb would rest.
One thing initially missed was the jog-dial for ISO selection, which has now been replaced by an exposure-compensation dial. Canon opted to keep the latter, and it's mainly to do with the negligible difference in image at settings below ISO 3,200.
A camera with the promise of high-quality images should come with a great screen, and the 920k-dot articulating display on the G1 X doesn't disappoint. Images were displayed clearly, and remained readable in all but direct sunlight. An optical viewfinder has been included, too, although that's barely usable, giving us shots with our subject consistently appearing a lot higher in the frame.
As an advanced compact, the PowerShot G1 X is as responsive as the G12, in most aspects. The camera starts up relatively quickly, taking about 2.2 seconds, while shutter lag was measured at 0.26 seconds on average. That's not quite as fast as most ILCs but is a little speedier than typical compacts. JPEG shot-to-shot time was good, too, taking about 0.59 seconds.
One thing not expected, was the subpar minimum focusing distance on the G1 X. Canon had to make some compromises here to prevent the G1 X from being bulkier than it already is by opting for a 28mm to 112mm zoom lens. The result: The lens and sensor combo on the PowerShot G1 X gives it a minimum focusing distance of about 16cm at the wide end (though it's rated at 20cm). This will definitely be a huge drawback for those even remotely interested in closeup work.
Another slight letdown was battery life, with the G1 X rated for 250 shots when shooting with the LCD on. The camera managed to capture about 180 images and a handful of full-HD videos before seeing a low-battery warning.
The Canon G1 X gave image quality that's possibly the best from any compact camera. The noise control is even better than recent Micro Four Thirds cameras, which means that this gamera performs exceedingly well in low light. Colors were also nicely saturated without being over-the-top. There are also ample in-camera tweaks that can turn your images into anything from black and white and nostalgic, to dramatically oversaturated. There's an automated HDR mode, too, though a tripod is recommended when using it.
Video performance on the G1 X is good, but not perfect. However, colors were pleasing, images remained sharp, and audio (which is recorded in stereo) sounded good enough, as well. The highest resolution the camera is capable of for video is 1080/24p, which is better than the 720p offered by most advanced compacts.
Overall, the Canon PowerShot G1 X is well-built, intuitively laid-out, but pricey. It produces among the best image quality ever seen from a compact.
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