Canon G1X: A photographer’s delight?

The other week I spent a pleasant few days using a Canon Powershot G1 X the company’s recently available top end enthusiast “Super G” compact camera.In truth I knew the Canon G1 X would very likely be a good camera. A number of recent on-line reviews have heaped much praise upon it. What surprised me was just how good it was.

As a former G7 owner I like to think am fussy about what an enthusiast compact should consist of. Well this new Canon doesn’t disappoint overall because it can deliver in spades most notably in image quality and in particular in its low light capacity.

(For a look at the test shoots check out my Flickr G1X “set”)

Canon has been rather shrewd by placing a large CMOS sensor (almost APS-C sized) into a G series type body and sticking a pretty high quality lens on the front which sports a useful focal range (28-112mm F2.8-5.8).This combine with a plethora of direct access buttons, a detailed articulated screen, and a build quality second to none has resulted in an impressive camera. The ergonomics and general handling indicates that the G1 X is intended to be a serious photographic tool.

Whilst not exactly pocketable (although it will fit into large coat pockets with no trouble), the size and weight of the G1X is far from excessive and the camera is definitely not cumbersome, more “meaty” and purposeful.Some have commented on its price but when you have at your disposal a piece of kit able to produce near DSLR quality images in a package which is far more portable, I’d say the £650 – £699 asking price is not necessarily excessive.

The bottom line is that the Canon G1 X is an excellent camera. JPEG images display great detail and show a reasonable dynamic range with great colour rendition. There’s plenty of scope to adjust the”look” of images plus a host of scene and effect modes. The presence of PSAM modes allows great flexibility and the icing on the cake is RAW capture capacity. The camera also allows limited in-camera RAW adjustment. Granted some of the effects modes are more successful than others but they are nice to have nonetheless.

I accept the Canon G1 X won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The camera is clearly designed to be an enthusiast tool and to use it in auto mode would be a terrible waste.The Canon G1 X does have some minor weaknesses, namely a poor near useless optical viewfinder (they should have opted for a high res EVF), far from stellar AF speed, a sluggish frame rate, poor battery performance and a seriously mediocre macro performance. I also found the direct HD video button poorly placed with a tendency to being accidently pressed when holding the camera in certain ways and the shutter button is very sensitive. Finally whilst I love the articulated screen I feel its flexibility would have been enhanced if it had touch screen capacity.

However in truth these minor grumbles did not detract overall from the positive impression that the G1X delivers, well not for me. I will confess the G1 X even managed to outperformed my Olympus EP1 (M4/3rd camera) in the image state.

I personally would have preferred a “wider” start to the focal length and another preference would have been for a “faster” lens (i.e. start at F2) as you can struggle to blur backgrounds but this in turn would have meant a physically bigger camera so I can see why Canon opted for the specification they did.

So in conclusion the Canon G1X is a quality product with a high ISO performance that leads the field. If you’re looking for a classy, portable and highly capable compact camera to act as a back up for your DSLR, and don’t want the hassle of a lens interchangeable system, look no further than the Canon G1 X. If you’re an existing Canon DSLR owner looking for a more portable option to avoid lugging the heavy DSLR about it’s a bit of a no brainer really.

Canon G1X:
The “ultimate” “G Series” compact (ish) camera. The GX1 sets a new bench mark in image quality from an all in one compact camera.

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