In the Field
Noticeably chunkier than its G-series brethren, the G1 X nonetheless feels good in the hand. Toting it around New York City, we were able to carry it in a man’s coat pocket without a problem. Women with small purses may balk at its size, but even a medium-sized handbag should hold this camera.
The body itself feels rugged, and it sports the advanced controls that you’d expect on a camera of this class. A convenient second dial concentric with the mode dial lets you adjust exposure compensation. A control wheel in front of and below the shutter button is bolstered by one that encircles the control pad on the camera’s back. In manual exposure mode, one wheel controls shutter speed and the other aperture. You can access most of the other settings through the control pad, the dedicated buttons surrounding it, or the intuitive overlay activated by the Function button when pressed.
While most of G1 X’s menus and controls are simple to understand, the autofocus modes can be a bit confusing, especially if you’ve never used a Canon DSLR. Separate menu items let you activate continuous AF and Servo AF, while the AF-frame menu item lets you select tracking AF. So, if you want burst shooting with continuous tracking AF, you might not know what to do. Servo AF is the best bet for tracking, and you can combine it with tracking AF to cover all bases. Just remember to turn Servo AF and continuous AF off if you want to return to normal (single-shot) AF.
The video footage we shot with the G1 X looked very nice, and with tracking AF we found it easy to shoot. The AF tracking also worked well for still shooting. Single-shot focusing is fast compared with older compact cameras, but about average compared to the current crop of point-and-shoots.
Macro shooting was one of the few areas in which the G1 X falls short of many compact cameras. Since the lens is so big (necessitated by that big sensor), it can’t focus when very close to a subject. With the lens at its widest setting of 28mm equivalent, the G1 X still manages to focus only to 7.9 inches in macro mode, while some compacts can get as close as a few millimeters. In normal mode, the closest it can get is 1.3 feet. We found ourselves using macro mode for some shots where we would normally never need it.
Though a little frustrating, we didn’t find this a deal breaker, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re a fan of macro. (Canon makes an adapter that allows the lens to accept 58mm screw-in filters; with it, you can mount Canon’s two-element close-up filter or a third-party close-up lens.)
Also, when in macro mode, the built-in flash can cast a shadow on the lower right-hand portion of the frame. In normal shooting this wasn’t an issue.
Has Canon created a viable alternative to interchangeable-lens compacts? We say yes. The improved image quality compared with compacts is drastic enough to make the G1 X a serious competitor to ILCs.
The tough decision comes when you look at the $800 price tag. Ultimately, the question is whether you want to deal with swappable lenses. If so, you can buy Panasonic’s Lumix GX1 with its standard 14–42mm f/3.5–5.6 kit lens for the same price. If not, the Canon PowerShot G1 X makes a lot of sense, and the images you get are worth the extra money over the Canon’s S100 or the G12.
Imaging: 14.3MP effective, 1.5-inch (18.7x14mm) CMOS sensor captures images at 4352x3264 pixels with 14 bits/color in RAW mode.
Storage: SD, SDHC, SDXC. Stores JPEG, CR2 RAW.
Video: Up to 1920x1080p24 in MOV H.264 format; built-in stereo mic, no mic input; contrast-detection AF with continuous AF.
Burst Rate: Full-sized JPEGs and RAW files (P mode): 1.9 fps. Full-sized JPEGs (High-speed Burst HQ mode): 4.5 fps.
AF System: TTL contrast AF with adjustable, continuously selectable AF points, face detection, AF tracking.
Shutter Speeds: 1/4000 to 60 sec.
Metering: Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot (size of spot not specified).
ISO Range: ISO 100–12,800 (in 1/3-EV increments).
Flash: Built-in pop-up flash.
Maximum Wide Angle Range: 1.6–23 feet. Maximum telephoto range: 3.3–10.2 feet.
Monitor: Articulating 3-in. TFT color LCD with 922,000-dot resolution.
Output: Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and mini HDMI video.
Battery: Rechargeable NB-10L Li-ion, 250 shots with LCD screen turned on or 7 hours playback time.
Size/weight: 4.6x3.17x2.55 in., 1.19 lbs with card and battery.
Street Price: $800