Canon reck­ons its third-gen­er­a­tion G1X is the best com­pact cam­era it’s ever made which, of course, meant we just had to take a closer look. Does it live up to the star billing? Turn to page 44 to find out.

So what’ll it be? D-SLR? Nope, too big and too clunky. Mir­ror­less? Hmm, not sure I re­ally need in­ter­change­able lenses. Com­pact then? Nah, those titchy sen­sors aren’t so good in low light and, be­sides, I still want a real cam­era, not a toy. Ah, OK… how about a dig­i­tal rangefinder cam­era then? Whaaat? Do you think I’m made of money? Good point. So that puts the Sony RX1R II out of the pic­ture as well and maybe even the Fu­ji­film X100F too. Def­i­nitely, I want a zoom lens any­way. Right, well…

If you’ve been hav­ing a de­bate along these lines, then Canon reck­ons it’s cre­ated the cam­era to tick all those boxes. The new Pow­er­Shot se­ries flag­ship is what you’d get if you dropped the EOS 800D, EOS M5 and Pow­er­Shot G5X into a blender and mixed thor­oughly. It looks very much like the mir­ror­less M5 – which mim­ics the styling of a D-SLR any­way – and has the same ‘APS-C’ size sen­sor and ‘DiG!C 7’ pro­ces­sor combo that’s cur­rently do­ing ser­vice in a num­ber of Canon ILCs, in­clud­ing the M5, M6, 800D, 77D and 200D. It also has the ex­cel­lent ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ which de­liv­ers im­ager­based phase-dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion mea­sure­ments, plus an EOS-style menu de­sign which con­tains fa­mil­iar EOS-type func­tions such as the ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­sets, and the ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’ and ‘High­light Tone Pri­or­ity’ (HTP) pro­cess­ing. Like the M5, it has a high-res­o­lu­tion OLED-type EVF that is cen­trally lo­cated and a dial-based ex­ter­nal con­trol lay­out that is com­ple­mented by a touch­screen mon­i­tor.

When Canon says that the G1X III is “the best com­pact cam­era we have ever made”, you have to sit up and take some no­tice.

Un­like the M5, it has a mag­ne­sium al­loy bodyshell with weather seal­ing and, on the in­side, sen­sor-based five-axis im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion for shoot­ing video clips and a ‘Dual Sens­ing’ sys­tem that also in­volves op­ti­cal sta­bil­i­sa­tion to give up to four stops of cor­rec­tion for cam­era shake. The lens is a zoom equiv­a­lent to 24-72mm which is a handy fo­cal range and, be­ing fixed, it’s matched op­ti­cally to the sen­sor so there’s no need to worry about in-cam­era cor­rec­tions (or dust, for that mat­ter). You’d think to­day’s cam­era mar­ket al­ready cov­ered all pos­si­ble con­fig­u­ra­tions, but the Pow­er­Shot G1X Mark III is ac­tu­ally cur­rently the only fixed-lens com­pact cam­era which com­bines an ‘APS-C’ sen­sor and a zoom (with the EVF and weather-sealed metal body mak­ing it even more of a unique brew).


In­ter­est­ingly, Canon makes no ref­er­ence to its mir­ror­less cam­eras in re­la­tion to the G1X III and in­stead prefers to see it as a com­pact ri­val to a D-SLR – “D-SLR per­for­mance in a com­pact body” is the tag line – but it’s closer to be­ing a fixed-lens EOS M5 than any­thing else. The tar­get au­di­ence, says Canon, is “se­ri­ous am­a­teurs” and any­body look­ing for some­thing to back up their D-SLR… with the em­pha­sis again be­ing on the com­bi­na­tion of ca­pa­bil­i­ties and com­pact­ness, but also the “D-SLR like shoot­ing”.

The di­als for mode se­lec­tion and ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion are go­ing to be fa­mil­iar, but less so the ar­range­ment of the front and rear con­trol wheels and the mul­ti­func­tion con­trol ring around the lens which are def­i­nitely more from the com­pact cam­era world. Set­ting the lens ring to act as the man­ual fo­cus­ing col­lar will help re­store some fa­mil­iar­ity, but it can also be as­signed to zoom­ing (seam­less or stepped), aper­ture set­ting, ISO set­ting, chang­ing the as­pect ra­tio, white bal­ance cor­rec­tion (handy for on-the-fly ad­just­ments), or for en­gag­ing the ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’. The front and rear con­trol wheels plus a small se­lec­tion of buttons are multi-func­tional, but the scope for cus­tomi­sa­tion isn’t as ex­ten­sive as of­fered by, for ex­am­ple, Pana­sonic on many of its Lu­mix models. As on the EOS M5, there’s a cus­tomis­able ‘Quick Set’ con­trol screen which dis­plays a se­ries of func­tion tiles down ei­ther side of the live view im­age. These can be nav­i­gated con­ven­tion­ally or se­lected via the G1X III’s touch­screen which is very well im­ple­mented and ex­tends to the menu sys­tem, sta­tus dis­plays, re­play and re­view func­tions, AF point se­lec­tion and switch­ing, and shut­ter re­lease. Com­mend­ably, you can use the touch screen for AF point se­lec­tion while also us­ing the EVF and even spec­ify a par­tic­u­lar area of the panel with a ‘rel­a­tive’ or ‘ab­so­lute’ po­si­tion­ing of your fin­ger­tip. The mon­i­tor panel it­self is ad­justable for both tilt and swing while the dis­play can be ad­justed for bright­ness. There’s the op­tion of auto switch­ing be­tween the mon­i­tor and EVF, us­ing a prox­im­ity sen­sor in the lat­ter’s eye­piece.

The cam­era’s EVF looks to be the same 0.39-inch OLED panel as is used in the EOS M5 and which re­freshes at 120 fps to min­imise lag. It has a res­o­lu­tion of 2.36 megadots and 0.62x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion which means it’s a bit on the small side, but still quite com­fort­able to use.

Over­all, the G1X III han­dles well and the er­gonomics are good, but if you are a con­vert from a D-SLR, the power zoom’s lever – which is lo­cated around the shut­ter re­lease – can eas­ily cause you to make ac­ci­den­tal trig­ger­ings. It takes a del­i­cate touch if you’re not to also in­ad­ver­tently de­press the shut­ter re­lease in the process of zoom­ing.


As al­ready noted, the sen­sor is the same 22.3x14.9 mm de­vice Canon is us­ing on a range of in­ter­change­able lens bod­ies at present, and has a to­tal pixel count of 25.8 mil­lion. The ef­fec­tive pixel count is 24.2 mil­lion which gives a max­i­mum im­age size of 6000x4000 pix­els. There’s a choice of four im­age sizes for JPEG cap­ture with two lev­els of com­pres­sion and crops for the 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 as­pect ra­tios. RAW im­ages are cap­tured in the max­i­mum size only, but with 14-bit colour. The RAW+JPEG cap­ture can be con­fig­ured for any size JPEG.

An op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter is re­tained to counter moiré ef­fects, and the na­tive sen­si­tiv­ity range is equiv­a­lent to ISO 100 to 25,600. The sin­gle mem­ory card slot is for the SD for­mat with sup­port for UHS-I speed SDHC and SDXC types. Its com­part­ment is in the cam­era’s base and shared with the bat­tery pack so it isn’t eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble (if at all) when the G1X III is mounted on a tri­pod.

The eight ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­sets in­clude the Fine De­tail mode and an Auto set­ting which is an ad­junct of the cam­era’s scene recog­ni­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The ad­justable pic­ture pa­ram­e­ters also in­clude the newer tweaks for more con­trol over sharp­ness and which are la­belled Strength, Fine­ness and Thresh­old. There are also ad­just­ments for colour sat­u­ra­tion, hue and con­trast, with the lat­ter two re­placed in the Mono­chrome pre­set with B&W con­trast fil­ters and a se­lec­tion of ton­ing ef­fects. Ad­di­tion­ally, up to three ‘Pic­ture Styles’ can be userde­fined and saved in-cam­era.


Canon re­verts to Pow­er­Shot think­ing with the G1X III’s pre­sen­ta­tion of spe­cial ef­fects which are pack­aged up with sub­ject/scene modes and spe­cial shoot­ing modes, giv­ing 17 set­tings in all that are ac­cessed via the ‘SCN’ po­si­tion on the main mode dial. The sub­ject/scene modes are Self-Por­trait, Por­trait, Smooth Skin, Star, Hand­held Night Scene, Un­der­wa­ter and Fire­works. The spe­cial ef­fects are Grainy B&W, Soft Fo­cus, Fish-Eye, Art Bold, Wa­ter Paint­ing, Toy Cam­era and Minia­ture. The spe­cial shoot­ing modes are Panorama, Panning and HDR. Panora­mas are cre­ated by panning, and the frames then stitched to­gether in-cam­era. They can be ei­ther hor­i­zon­tal or ver­ti­cal with a max­i­mum im­age size of 24,064x2800 pix­els or 16,000x4200 pix­els re­spec­tively.

The panning mode – ac­ti­vated when the shut­ter but­ton is de­pressed to the half-way po­si­tion – de­ter­mines a sub­ject’s speed and then sets the shut­ter speed needed to give a blurred back­ground. The HDR mode cap­tures three shots in quick suc­ces­sion, ad­just­ing the ex­po­sure for each and then merg­ing them in-cam­era to give an ex­panded dy­namic range. There is no pro­vi­sion for set­ting the amount of ex­po­sure vari­a­tion, but there’s a choice of edge ef­fects called Art Stan­dard, Art Vivid, Art Bold and Art Em­bossed.

If you’re one of the “se­ri­ous am­a­teurs” that Canon talks about then you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to want any of these gim­micks and it’s just as well they’re all in the one place where you don’t ever need to go. The good news is that in terms of be­ing in charge of your cam­era set­tings, the G1X III is in­deed in the same league as a mid-range D-SLR or mir­ror­less cam­era.


As noted pre­vi­ously, the sen­sor has Canon’s ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ ar­chi­tec­ture which em­ploys a pair of pho­to­di­odes at each pixel point. These are read sep­a­rately for phase-de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus­ing and to­gether for imag­ing, giv­ing a mas­sive 80 per­cent cov­er­age of the frame which is ob­vi­ously par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial when shoot­ing mov­ing sub­jects. And the faster PDD mea­sure­ments help with track­ing too, as well as re­duc­ing re­sponse times.

The lens’s min­i­mum fo­cus­ing dis­tance is ten cen­time­tres at 15mm and 30 cen­time­tres at 45mm. Cu­ri­ously, the macro mode doesn’t go any closer, but sim­ply re­stricts the long­est dis­tance to 50 cen­time­tres which helps re­duce fo­cus­ing times.

Up to 49 fo­cus­ing points – ar­ranged in a 7x7 grid – are avail­able for in­di­vid­ual se­lec­tion with the op­tion of a ‘Smooth Zone’ mode which uses a clus­ter of nine points and au­to­mat­i­cally se­lects how­ever many points are re­quired by the sub­ject mat­ter. Ad­di­tion­ally, the ‘Smooth Zone’ can be moved around the frame us­ing touch-and­drag con­trol (or the nav­i­ga­tor keys) with the aut­o­fo­cus­ing per­formed at the same time (and, if pre­s­e­lected, au­to­matic shut­ter re­lease).

In the sin­gle-point mode, the fo­cus­ing zone can be ad­justed to one of two sizes, al­though even the big­gest is still pretty small. Point se­lec­tion can again be via the touch­screen or con­ven­tion­ally us­ing the nav­i­ga­tor wheel. Face recog­ni­tion AF is also avail­able with the op­tion of adding iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for in­creased se­lec­tiv­ity. A mag­ni­fied im­age – ei­ther 5x or 10x – is avail­able with both AF and MF op­er­a­tion – and there’s a fo­cus peak­ing dis­play in a choice of three colours at one of two lev­els to also help with man­ual fo­cus­ing. Switch­ing be­tween sin­gle-shot and con­tin­u­ous AF op­er­a­tions has to be done man­u­ally, but there’s the op­tion of set­ting the cam­era to al­ways aut­o­fo­cus with­out need­ing the shut­ter re­lease but­ton to be first pressed to its half-way po­si­tion (which makes it even faster).

A lit­tle con­fus­ingly though, Canon calls this “Con­tin­u­ous AF” – prob­a­bly be­cause it la­bels con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus­ing – as in the def­i­ni­tion ac­cepted by ev­ery­body else – as “Servo AF”.

The G1X III can shoot con­tin­u­ously at up to 9.0 fps with the aut­o­fo­cus­ing fixed to the first frame, and at up to 7.0 fps with frame-by-frame AF ad­just­ment.

Ex­po­sure con­trol is based on 256-zone eval­u­a­tive me­ter­ing with the op­tions of cen­tre-weighted av­er­age or spot mea­sure­ments, but not the se­lec­tive area mode that’s of­fered on all EOS models.

The pro­gram and semi-auto ex­po­sure con­trol modes are sup­ple­mented by an AE lock, up to +/-3.0 EV of com­pen­sa­tion and auto brack­et­ing over three frames with up to +/-2.0 EV of ad­just­ment. The shut­ter’s speed range is 30-1/2000 sec­ond with a bulb set­ting avail­able in the man­ual mode for longer ex­po­sures. Be­ing a leaf-type shut­ter in the lens, flash sync is pos­si­ble at any speed which en­hances bal­anc­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties when shoot­ing in day­light (but only when us­ing the built-in flash). The cam­era’s flash is neatly in­te­grated into the front of the EVF’s hous­ing and is sup­ple­mented with a hot­shoe. E-TTL auto flash con­trol is avail­able when one of Canon’s EX se­ries Speedlites is at­tached.

The au­to­matic white bal­ance cor­rec­tion is sup­ple­mented with seven pre­sets (in­clud­ing one for un­der­wa­ter shoot­ing, as a marine hous­ing is avail­able), pro­vi­sion for cre­at­ing one cus­tom set­ting and man­ual colour tem­per­a­ture set­ting over a range of 2500 to 10,000 de­grees Kelvin. There’s fine-tun­ing, but no auto brack­et­ing for white bal­ance.


Both the EVF and the mon­i­tor can be cy­cled over three dis­play con­fig­u­ra­tions, in­clud­ing one which has both a dual-axis level in­di­ca­tor and a real-time his­togram. Ad­di­tion­ally, the his­togram can be set to ei­ther bright­ness or RGB chan­nels and one of two sizes. There’s also a se­lec­tion of three guide grids.

The play­back screens can be cy­cled through five dis­plays (al­though you can set just one if that’s your pref­er­ence) which com­prise the full im­age alone or with ba­sic cap­ture info and thumb­nails with ei­ther just a bright­ness his­togram or also ac­com­pa­nied by the RGB chan­nel graphs, the white bal­ance set­tings (in­clud­ing fine-tun­ing) or the ‘Pic­ture Style’ set­tings.

There’s a choice of thumb­nail pages for six, 12, 42 or 110 im­ages, zoom­ing (from 2.0x to 10x) and a slide show with ad­justable im­age dis­play times and a se­lec­tion of tran­si­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the slide show can be set to only re­play se­lected im­ages – for ex­am­ple, ac­cord­ing to the date of cap­ture, the folder name or a star rat­ing. As noted ear­lier, the touch­screen is avail­able for brows­ing via swip­ing or se­lect­ing an im­age from the thumb­nails. The thumb-and­fore­fin­ger pinch or spread ac­tions re­spec­tively delve deeper into the thumb­nails or mag­nify an im­age.

A se­lec­tion of in-cam­era edit­ing func­tions can be ac­cessed via a con­ven­tional menu or a ‘Quick Set’ menu with, once again, there is the con­ve­nience of easy se­lec­tion via the touch screen. In ad­di­tion to most of the ‘Creative Fil­ter’ ef­fects, the edit­ing op­tions in­clude re­siz­ing, crop­ping, red-eye cor­rec­tion, pho­to­book set-up and RAW-to-JPEG con­ver­sion.

As with the M5, the G1X III has both WiFi and the Smart Blue­tooth ‘al­ways on’ con­nec­tiv­ity which adds to the wire­less con­trol op­tions with your smart­phone, in­clud­ing ac­ti­vat­ing WiFi.

When you use WiFi from the cam­era, there’s the con­ve­nience of quick NFC-en­abled hook-ups for An­droid users, and the Canon Cam­era Con­nect app al­lows for ex­ten­sive re­mote con­trol ca­pa­bil­i­ties.


Loaded with our ref­er­ence SD mem­ory card – Lexar’s 128 GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) ‘2000x’ de­vice – the Pow­er­Shot G1X Mark III fired off a se­quence of 26 JPEG/large/fine im­ages in 2.913 sec­onds which rep­re­sents a shoot­ing speed of 8.92 fps. This is as close to Canon’s quoted spec as makes no dif­fer­ence and with a slightly longer burst length. The test files had an av­er­age size of 10.8 MB. Even with this fast card, the cam­era still took quite a while to empty the buf­fer (so clearly any­thing quicker than UHS-I makes no dif­fer­ence) and es­sen­tially locks up while it’s hap­pen­ing.

We’ve ap­plauded Canon’s ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ on pre­vi­ous cam­eras and it’s equally im­pres­sive here, be­ing both ex­tremely fast and very re­li­able even when track­ing sub­jects mov­ing er­rat­i­cally. It also stays un­err­ingly on-tar­get in low light con­di­tions.

The lens’s op­ti­cal con­struc­tion in­cludes a to­tal of four as­pher­i­cal types (three of them dou­bled­sided) to cor­rect for dis­tor­tion and op­ti­mise cen­tre-to-cor­ner sharp­ness. While the zoom is a lot sharper over­all at its tele­photo end than at the widest-an­gle fo­cal lengths (al­though this is still very good), it’s also a lot slower than would be the case with any com­pa­ra­ble in­ter­change­able lens, even a kit-level ‘cheapie’. At the ef­fec­tive fo­cal length of 72mm, the max­i­mum aper­ture has stopped down to just f5.6 which po­ten­tially means ei­ther us­ing a slower shut­ter speed or a higher ISO


set­ting (or break­ing out the tri­pod which you may not want to do if you’ve picked the G1X III be­cause you want to travel ex­tra-light). It also lim­its what you can do with the shal­lower depth-of-the-field that would oth­er­wise be avail­able with this size of sen­sor. Es­sen­tially it’s the price you pay for hav­ing such a com­pact lens - and a zoom at that - but we sus­pect many po­ten­tial users might have been pre­pared to trade pock­etabil­ity for a faster max­i­mum aper­ture range. And while we’re here, the small bat­tery pack also comes at a price… a pretty or­di­nary range of around 200 shots so, if you are plan­ning to travel with the cam­era, a spare (or pos­si­bly even two) will be an es­sen­tial ad­di­tional pur­chase.

JPEGs ex­hibit lots of crisply­de­fined de­tails and look to be sub­jec­tively sharper than those de­liv­ered by the EOS M5, with ac­cu­rate colour re­pro­duc­tion and seam­lessly smooth tonal gra­da­tions. The noise re­duc­tion pro­cess­ing ap­pears to bet­ter balanced too, ef­fec­tively ban­ish­ing any arte­facts so that sharp­ness and sat­u­ra­tion hold to­gether very well up to ISO 1600, but are also still more than ac­cept­able at ISO 3200 and 6400. The dy­namic range is very good straight out of the cam­era, but Canon’s ALO pro­cess­ing will help get more out of the shad­ows with­out com­pro­mis­ing tonal­ity in the high­lights. As we’ve found with other re­cent Canon cam­eras, the Fine De­tail ‘Pic­ture Style’ pre­set re­ally sharp­ens things up even more and works es­pe­cially well with sub­jects which con­tain a lot of fine de­tail.


Like the EOS M5, the Pow­er­Shot G1X III is a bit of a roller-coaster ride of great highs and some lows. Again, Canon has got the fun­da­men­tals right in terms of pack­ag­ing an ‘APS-C’ sen­sor – es­pe­cially its bril­liant ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ de­sign – into a very com­pact, but very well-made cam­era that of­fers the ben­e­fits of weather-proof­ing. The sen­sor and its com­pan­ion pro­ces­sor de­liver ex­cep­tional AF per­for­mance, bril­liant im­age qual­ity (in­clud­ing at high ISO set­tings) and con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing at 9.0 fps. The EOSstyle fea­ture set and menus also en­able the G1X III to punch well above its weight. Then there’s the ex­cel­lent touch con­trols, wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity (ri­vals take note… this is how easy it should be) and OLED viewfinder (plus the var­i­ous dis­play op­tions).

The lows? Well, it’s ex­pen­sive for a fixed-lens com­pact and the same money will buy you the EOS 77D or even Sony’s A77 II, both of which of­fer a lot more bang for your buck. There are many more mir­ror­less al­ter­na­tives, but let’s just note that the Sony A7 with its full-35mm sen­sor is pos­si­bly cheaper if you shop around. The G1X III is also hob­bled by its fixed zoom lens and its small bat­tery pack, both of which make you pay in one way or an­other.

On pa­per the G1X III looks like a very vi­able al­ter­na­tive to a D-SLR or mir­ror­less cam­era, but this proves to be less than the case in prac­tice… iron­i­cally be­cause Canon has pos­si­bly con­cen­trated just a lit­tle too much on get­ting the size down with­out con­sid­er­ing all pos­si­ble ram­i­fi­ca­tions, es­pe­cially in terms of the lens’s de­sign.

This said, if you re­ally need a pocket-sized cam­era which de­liv­ers ‘big sen­sor’ per­for­mance then the Pow­er­Shot G1X III is it. Noth­ing else de­liv­ers the same com­bi­na­tion quite as ef­fec­tively so, as far as the in­tended ob­jec­tive goes, you’d have to say that Canon has con­clu­sively has met the brief.


Canon says the G1X Mark III is “the best com­pact cam­era we have ever made” and it com­bines an ‘APS-C’ size sen­sor with a fixed zoom. It also has many EOS-level fea­tures so it’s highly ca­pa­ble too.

 Re­play/re­view thumb­nail screens can be cy­cled through a se­ries of pages which show (from left) the main cap­ture data, RGB his­tograms, white bal­ance set­tings (in­clud­ing fine-tun­ing) and the ‘Pic­ture Style’ set­tings for the sharp­ness ad­just­ments, and then con­trast, colour sat­u­ra­tion and colour hue.

Live view screen com­po­nents in­clude guide grids, real-time his­togram and dual-axis level in­di­ca­tor.

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