Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
Andy Westlake takes a first look at Canon’s groundbreaking APS-C-sensor zoom compact
andy westlake takes a first look at Canon’s new aps-C zoom compact
IN THE early days of digital, Canon’s PowerShot G series cameras were hugely popular with enthusiast photographers. Canon was also the first to put a large sensor into a reasonably pocketable zoom compact, with its original PowerShot G1 X in early 2012. But less than six months later Sony released its pocket-sized Cyber-shot RX100 with a 20MP 1in sensor, leaving the competition playing catch- up ever since. Canon’s follow-up G1 X Mark II never quite caught the imagination in comparison, with a bulky design but no built-in viewfinder.
Now, though, Canon has upped the ante considerably, by placing a 24MP APS-C sensor into a remarkably compact body. In principle, this means the new G1 X Mark III should offer better image quality than any other zoom compact on the market, and the equal of many DSLRs. The latest model also eschews the uninspired boxy designs of its predecessors, and instead is based on the SLR-like PowerShot G5 X, with a central built-in electronic viewfinder and fully articulated touchscreen. As a result, it promises a rare marriage between image quality and usability.
Naturally, there are some compromises to be made for this feat of miniaturisation, with the most obvious being the lens: its 24-72mm equivalent range and f/2.8-5.6 maximum aperture look modest compared to its predecessors or the large-aperture zooms now commonly found on pocketable enthusiast compacts. Its 200 shots-per- charge stamina is also well below par, especially given the £1,149 price tag.
The G1 X III’s key feature is undoubtedly its sensor. Canon says that the 24.2MP APS- C CMOS is similar to that used in its popular EOS 80D DSLR, with a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600. The firm’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology is onboard enabling on- chip phase detection, and even from my short time using of the camera, it’s clear that autofocus is impressively quick.
Thanks to Canon’s latest Digic 7 processor, continuous shooting is available at 7 frames per second with autofocus between frames, or 9 fps with the focus fixed at the start of a burst. Buffering is also quite respectable, with 24 JPEG or 19 raw frames recordable before the camera slows down.
Canon says that the 15- 45mm f/2.8-5.6 lens has been specifically matched to the sensor for optimal image quality. It includes optical image stabilisation promising 4 stops benefit, a switchable 3-stop neutral- density filter, and a 9-bladed aperture diaphragm. However, despite the large sensor the f/5.6 maximum aperture means that the G1 X III’s lens won’t give any greater background blur than those on 1in sensor cameras like the Sony RX100 V and Panasonic LX15 that have f/2.8 apertures at the 70mm equivalent setting.
When it comes to video, Canon has again disappointed any fans hoping that it might finally include 4K recording in an affordable camera. Instead, you only get Full HD at 60fps, and there’s no microphone socket, although in- camera time-lapse movie creation is available.
Body and design
In terms of design the Mark III represents a complete about-turn for the G1 X series. The DSLR-like body design gives a very pleasant shooting experience, particularly in comparison to pocket cameras such as Sony’s cramped RX100-series models. Despite its compact size, the G1 X III feels unexpectedly secure in your hand, thanks to its rubberised fingergrip and pronounced thumb hook. The key shooting controls are all well-placed too.
Canon has included an EOS-like command dial for changing exposure settings, placed vertically on the front-plate for operation by your forefinger. The top-plate exposure compensation dial falls naturally underneath your thumb, while a rocker around the shutter button controls the zoom. A smoothly rotating dial around the lens can be used for manual focus, and there’s another small dial on the back, although this is only really needed in manual- exposure mode.
The EVF is a 2.36-million- dot OLED unit, placed centrally above the lens. While this design means that the camera is bulkier than other zoom compacts with built-in EVFs, the advantage is that the viewfinder itself is much better. Immediately below is the 1.04-milliondot full-articulated touchscreen, which can be set to point in virtually any direction: up, down, or forwards for selfies. Canon has included its well-implemented touch interface, including the ability to use the touchscreen to move the focus point with the camera held to your eye.
Dust and drip-proofing Rarely found in compact cameras, this allows outdoor use in difficult weather conditions Pop-up flash The small built-in flash lifts up from the front of the viewfinder housing. The hotshoe above it allows connection of more powerful external units.
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Dynamic NFC are all built in, enabling easy connection to smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi printers and smart TVs. Battery The small NB-13L battery offers just 200 shots per charge, or 250 in Eco mode, according to CIPA standard tests. USB charging is available.
Canon has included plenty of controls on the small, slimline camera body, including top-plate dials and a ring aound the lens
The camera’s fully articulated touch screen is ideal for shooting at unusual angles