Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - by Hafeez Sim & Mar­cus Wong

The gen­eral com­pact cam­era mar­ket may be head­ing on a down­ward trend, but pre­mium com­pacts are show­ing signs of growth, and many cam­era com­pa­nies have been quick to cap­i­tal­ize on this.

Sony has their Cy­ber­shot RX100, Pana­sonic has their Lu­mix LX7 and Canon has their PowerShot G1 X. When launched in 2012, the G1 X looked to be a ma­jor com­pact cam­era pow­er­house that could ri­val a mir­ror­less sys­tem cam­era with its 1.5-inch sen­sor, op­ti­cal viewfinder and ar­tic­u­lat­ing dis­play. Un­for­tu­nately, it suf­fered from slug­gish aut­o­fo­cus and an in­abil­ity to han­dle close fo­cus, rel­e­gat­ing it to be some­what of a niche cam­era.

Two years later, we now get to play with the G1 X Mark II, a semi-por­ta­ble com­pact that’s only slightly smaller than its pre­de­ces­sor. Its build qual­ity is good, and does not feel cheap or pla­s­ticky. How­ever, its size and heft still means you’ll want to use two hands for sta­bil­ity. The G1X Mark II now comes with step zoom, which just means that the cam­era fea­tures preset fo­cal lengths (24, 28, 35, 50, 85, 100, 120mm) that you can jump straight to with­out fid­dling with the zoom lever.

Gone is the lens cover found on the orig­i­nal G1 X. In­stead, there’s a re­tractable lens cover, which means one less thing to lose. The cam­era will ap­peal to those fa­mil­iar with man­ual con­trols and it now comes with two con­trol rings on the lens bar­rel, a short­cut but­ton and a scroll wheel. All of which, you can as­sign func­tions to, which makes it eas­ier to ad­just shoot­ing vari­ables with­out hav­ing to ac­cess the menu sys­tem.

We like that the con­trol rings func­tion dif­fer­ently. One turns smoothly, while the other pro­vides tac­tile feed­back. Know­ing this, you could for ex­am­ple as­sign step zoom func­tion­al­ity to

CON­CLU­SION A bet­ter all-round cam­era com­pared to the orig­i­nal that would even com­pare well against mir­ror­less sys­tem cam­eras.

the smooth con­trol ring and aper­ture con­trol to the stepped con­trol ring while in aper­ture pri­or­ity mode, and ad­just both vari­ables with­out hav­ing to ac­cess any menus.

The op­ti­cal viewfinder on the orig­i­nal PowerShot G1 X has been re­moved from the Mark II, though you can pur­chase an op­tional elec­tronic viewfinder (EVF) which mounts onto the hot­shoe. Be­side the hot­shoe is a pop-up flash which can be tilted, giv­ing you a bit more lee­way when it comes to us­ing the flash in­stead of hav­ing it fire straight-ahead all the time.

While the dis­play on the G1 X Mark II can­not be ro­tated out, it can still be tilted up or down, which lets you take self­ies. The dis­play is also touch-en­abled, so you can tap to fo­cus, or tap to snap a sshot.ot In terms oof con­nec­tiv­ity, the G1 X Mark II comes with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, with the NFC con­tact area found on the right of the cam­era.

One of the main com­plaints about the orig­i­nal G1 X was its slug­gish aut­o­fo­cus speed, and it’s safe to say the is­sue is “mostly” fixed. We say mostly be­cause the G1 X Mark II still oc­ca­sion­ally strug­gles in low light; there were times the cam­era took longer than usual to fo­cus, or on rare oc­ca­sions, would not fo­cus at all.

In terms of res­o­lu­tion the G1 X Mark II did very well, con­sid­er­ing that it’s still a com­pact cam­era (al­beit a larger one). And im­ages shot at ISO 1600 still show a lot of de­tail and none of the smudg­ing that you com­monly see in lesser com­pact cam­eras.

The G1 X Mark II fea­tures a rated min­i­mum fo­cus­ing dis­tance of 5cm, and comes with a ND fil­ter to help with over­ex­po­sure when you’re shoot­ing wide open in bright en­vi­ron­ments. Its lens is not only brighter (F/2.0-3.9 com­pared to F/2.8-5.8) than the orig­i­nal, it also reaches fur­ther (120mm com­pared to 112mm) and fo­cuses faster with a shorter min­i­mum fo­cus­ing dis­tance (5cm com­pared to 20cm).

With all the im­prove­ments found in the G1 X Mark II, it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see that bat­tery life re­mains an is­sue. And ac­tu­ally, the Mark II’s bat­tery life is in­fe­rior to the orig­i­nal—which is al­ready con­sid­ered a weak per­former—at just 240 shots, down from 250 shots.

That said, the num­ber of phys­i­cal con­trols you can now cus­tom­ize and the sheer image qual­ity and noise con­trol shown by the PowerShot G1 X Mark II places it above its pre­de­ces­sor as a bet­ter all-around cam­era. It also doesn’t have many equals in the com­pact cam­era cat­e­gory. What begets a ques­tion is its $1,099 price tag, putting it close to an en­try-level mir­ror­less sys­tem cam­era. And the ques­tion you want to ask your­self is whether you still en­joy the con­ve­nience of a com­pact or are look­ing to ven­ture into sys­tem cam­eras.

The built-in EVF on the orig­i­nal G1 X has now been re­placed by a hot­shoe mount.

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