When it comes to bridging the gap between compact point and shoot cameras and DSLR cameras, there are many brands who have launched models with small form factors that have sensors larger than those that are traditionally found on point and shoot cameras. Brands such as Olympus and Panasonic have introduced their own Micro Four Third system cameras, Sony's got their NEX range of cameras and more recently, Nikon's launched their 1 series of cameras. However, the only common factor between all these options is that they feature interchangeable lenses. A brand that is a glaring omission from this segment is Canon, as they are yet to unveil a compact system camera. However, till that happens, they have introduced another product from their PowerShot line-up that aims to compete with these cameras, called the G1 X. This model is a professional camera designed for those looking for a camera as an additional option to their DSLR.
Pop up flash located here
Design and Build Quality
When it comes to the design of professional cameras, these models are usually finished in black, giving it a classy and yet unobtrusive look. The PowerShot G1 X is on the the larger side of things, when it comes to size. The other professional compact cameras, such as the Fujifilm X10 and the Nikon P7100 are somewhat smaller in comparison. Encased in black, this camera oozes substance and has a professional flair about it, too. The front of the model comprises a large lens, which occupies most of the area. The other stand out features at the front include a rubberized hand grip, an AF assist and a viewfinder. The front of the camera is pretty minimalistic when it comes to controls with the only one here being the scroll wheel that helps in adjusting the various settings.
The front, however features only a few features and the rear of the camera is where all the fun lies with the G1 X loaded with controls allowing even the minutest of tweaking. The brand has not only added a display at the back, but has also added a display with a vari-angle capability. This allows it to be tilted in various ways allowing one to shoot images no matter how difficult the angle is. The rear is littered with buttons and this can be very helpful for enthusiast level photographers, as it would allow them to quickly adjust certain settings without needing to go into the menu. The rear comprises a total of eight buttons, some of which act as multifunction options. Other than these, there is a multifunctional scroll wheel at the back, which helps in accessing quick buttons for ISO, macro, flash and display. Other than this, the dial can also be used to adjust the different settings in various modes.
Very large point and shoot camera
The top of the G1 X features a shutter release button, zoom rocker, power button and two dials that sit atop one another. The dial at the bottom for adjusting the exposure, instead of featuring in the menu can be extremely handy. The second one, which is located at the top is the mode dial that is used for choosing different modes, such as aperture priority, shutter priority, manual mode as well as a host of others. The top of the camera features a flash mount, which allows a user to attach a compatible flash. This can be used in addition to the pop-up flash located at its side. The flash can be released by shifting the spring loaded button that is seated alongside. With the flash being fitted in the chassis, it reduces the amount of clutter on the face of the camera. Canon has added an optical viewfinder on this model as well, which tends to give the overall design a fair amount of bulk.
Connectivity options for this model are located in a bay at the side. The flap for this bay is spring loaded, which allows it not to be left open, if one is not using any cables with it. The ports found here are a mini-USB 2.0 AV digital out and a mini-HDMI port. Like on most point and shoot cameras, Canon has placed the memory card slot at the bottom in the battery bay. This can be convenient for those familiar with point and shoot cameras or a bit tedious task for professional photographers who are looking to easily swap memory cards, as DSLRs usually have their memory card slots located at the side. The flap for the battery bay, like the flap for the connectivity ports is spring loaded and it has an overall sturdy feel. Apart from these designs featured here, the camera also sports a detachable ring on the lens, which allow one to attach an adapter lens.
Controls at the back are convenient to use
All in all, to round up this segment of the review, the camera has been styled well and built extremely well. Its metal finish looks like it could be dropped accidentally a few times and still come out on top.
When it comes to the features of this model, the camera is loaded with all attributes that would please a professional photographer as well as photography enthusiasts. Being a professional point and shoot camera, this is feature-packed with all the necessary controls for manual and semi-manual modes. However, all of the above mentioned points are not the main feature of the camera. The chief attribute of the Canon PowerShot G1 X is the fact that it features a sensor size that measures at 1.5-inches. This is by far the largest sensor found on a compact point and shoot, in fact, it is larger than a Micro Four Thirds sensor as well and sits just below Canon’s APS-C range used on their DSLR cameras.
Very large point and shoot camera
With this 14.1MP sensor, along with the brand’s latest DIGIC 5 imaging processor, one can aim to get DSLR-like images and this all comes down to the fact that it uses a large sensor. As of now, there are no additional lenses available for the G1 X, and the brand has used a non-removable 4x optical zoom lens on this model, which on a 35mm film equivalent is 28 – 112mm. The aperture of this model ranges from f/2.8 to f/16 and with this wide aperture, one can expect a significant amount of light to hit the lens in low light shots. Alternatively one can easily focus on a subject and achieve a fair amount of depth of field as well. The Canon camera also comes with lens-shift image stabilization, which helps in negating blur from images.
The camera features a high-resolution 3-inch screen at the rear, which sports a resolution of approximately 922,000 dots. This is becoming the new standard resolution of camera displays and resolutions below this look insufficient in providing the detail required. The optical viewfinder featured on the camera is crisp as well and it features a lot of detail. However, it does not provide 100 percent coverage.
The vari angle screen at the back
Being a professional camera, this model features the various dials needed for accessing different modes and settings. However, there are some features that need to be accessed from the interface, as well, such as adjusting white balance, bracketing, etc. The interface for this camera is really easy to use and unlike other professional point and shoot cameras, there is no learning curve that goes with this to operate the model. Since at the end of the day, this is a point and shoot camera, the brand has added scene modes as well into the mix, which allows for convenient shooting in different environments such as night scene, beach, underwater, foliage, snow, fireworks, etc,. Canon has added a range of filters too such as toy camera, posterize, colour accent and a range of others, which can be great for capturing creative photographs. Apart from these modes, the camera also sports two customizable modes, which is a common feature found on many DSLR cameras.
The hand grip featured at the front assists in the handling
Video recording at full HD 1080p is possible through this camera at 24fps or HD 720 at 30fps. The camera can capture images in 14-bit RAW as well as JPEG, the former format can be great for photographers during post-processing. Images can be stored on memory cards, such as SD, SDHC or SDXC. Rounding this section up, it is sufficient to say that Canon has added a range of features that can adhere to professional photographers, enthusiast level ones and/or even amateur photographers wanting to step-up and improve their photography skills.
To start off with the performance of the camera, one will have to handle this with both hands as it is larger than most compact cameras available. One would need to use the neck strap as well, as the camera weighs 534g, which will be quite strenuous for shooting images at long stretches, especially on hikes or other trips where the camera cannot be placed down. The location of the buttons is good and one can easily reach controls on either side without any hassle.
We shot images outdoors, indoors as well as in a closed environment to test the performance of the camera. We were left with being more than impressed. Shooting images outdoors, we could make out the detail in each capture clearly and colours appeared accurately, with them not appearing too vibrant or dull. While capturing images outdoors, we noticed that skin tones rendered really well with the hues not appearing enhanced.
The camera performs brilliantly indoors as well and we noticed that the grain is kept to a minimal. When using manual settings, we observed that the noise levels were not high. At ISO set to 3200 or even 6400, images were usable. However a strange feature noticed here is that the camera, in auto mode does not click pictures at higher than ISO 1600. We found this to be quite strange as the camera features a maximum ISO of 12800. The camera, however has some really bad auto focusing capabilities. In macro shots, this is very noticeable as the subject that one wants to focus on does not get locked. One will need to retry focusing till the desired subject gets locked. The image quality is good thereafter and like the rest of the still image performances, the macro shots captured well.
ISO sensitivity test
ISO Sensitivity Test
The ISO of this camera ranges from 100 to 12800 with multiple f-stops in between ranges. We observed that at upto ISO 1600, the image was relatively clear of any image noise and this was great as not any point and shoot camera can achieve this task. Images shot at ISO set to 6400, had noise, but it was not that bad, either. At ISO 12800, the image noise was visible, but if images are shot in a controlled environment, then these images shot at this setting can be used too.
With the aperture set to F/ 2.8, the image appeared shallow, which provided sufficient depth of field with the subject in focus. With the aperture at its smallest, we observed that the image was clear and we can see clearly from the image above that there is less light that is hitting the sensor as compared to on wider apertures.
Aperture priority test
The image stabilizer of the camera is really good and even in images shot at 4x, we observed no blurring at all.
While recording videos from this camera, we noticed that in videos recorded at full HD 1080p at 24fps, the image quality was good and there were no anomalies appearing on the display. However, we did notice some minor transition issues, while moving from a dark area to a bright one, but after that the camera regains focus. This issue does not last for even a second, so it may not even be noticeable.
The camera’s flash is really powerful and it has multiple levels of adjustment allowing one to set the brightness of the flash that needs to be fired. The brand bundles a 920mAh battery with the camera and they rate it at 250 shots.
The Canon PowerShot G1 X is priced in India at an MRP of Rs.47,995. This is an extremely expensive camera that will probably put most people off from the get go. The model is a professional camera that is loaded with features that can be a good alternative for a DSLR camera. However, Canon, unlike other brands are not looking to launch a camera that bridges the gap between DSLR cameras and compact point and shoot options, instead, this camera is designed for owners of professional DSLR cameras looking for a point and shoot option. The performance of this camera is really good and almost DSLR quality. The dials here greatly assist in conveniently shooting images and tweaking settings and the feature set is vast, which is expected from a professional point and shoot camera. However, the only thing we actually disliked is the inability to autofocus accurately.
4x optical zoom found here
So the question lies with who should purchase this model. The answer is broken up in three ways. Firstly it is a great option for professional photographers who own a camera, like a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and want a secondary camera for casual outings. Secondly, it can be a good option for those who want to step up from compact point and shoot cameras with basic settings to model that is loaded with features and are not willing to make a plunge into the DSLR segment of cameras. And lastly, this model can be an option for those who have close to Rs.50,000 to spend and want to take their photography skills to the next level, just for the heck of it.
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