The Canon G1X is the latest camera to grace Canon’s perennially popular G-series range of advanced compacts. However, for reasons that will become clear soon enough, the G1X marks quite a departure from previous models in the range.
Aimed predominantly at enthusiast photographers, it aims to be a ‘take anywhere’ camera that still has DSLR-like handling and image quality. With a launch price of around £700, the G1X is around £300 more than the last G series camera, the Canon PowerShot G12. We expect this price to stick for a while, but once it does come down the G1 X will undoubtedly broaden its appeal quite dramatically. With it arriving in UK at the end of February 2012, we can hope those price drops will happen sooner rather than later.
For a second opinion, check out the video review on our sister site: WhatDigitalCamera.com
In terms of hardware, the most interesting thing about the G1X is undoubtedly the brand new sensor at the heart of it. The new model ditches the 1/1.7inch sensor (itself larger than a 1/2.3inch sensor used on most compacts) that has been the mainstay of previous G-series models in favour of an all-new 18.7 x 14mm (1/0.11in if you want to think of it that way) CMOS chip that packs in 14.3megapixels (MP).
This new sensor is over six times bigger than the 10MP CCD sensor employed by the G12, and only slightly smaller than the APS-C sensors Canon uses in its consumer DSLR range. Interestingly, Canon claims that the individual pixel size along with the pixel density of this new sensor matches that of the APS-C chip found inside the EOS 600D.
Given that Canon is now the only major manufacturer not to offer a compact system camera range, the G1X is certainly an interesting proposition. While it doesn’t offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses it does have a relatively long range on its zoom lens. Moreover the sensor is actually marginally bigger than the Micro Four Thirds chip used on such cameras as the Panasonic G3 and Olympus E-PL3 as well as being quite some way bigger than the Nikon CX standard too. This does raise some interesting questions as to the positioning of the G1X.
Could the G1X be Canon’s long-awaited response to the burgeoning CSC market, or will we see a more conventional interchangeable-lens CSC from Canon later in the year? If we do (and our suspicion is that we will) then what are the chances of finding the G1X’s sensor at the heart of it? Only time will tell of course, but in the interim (and irrespective of whether it’s by accident or design), Canon has come up with something of a curveball that is sure to present plenty of potential CSC buyers with an interesting alternative/dilemma.
Given the hardware and price specifications of the G1X, it’s actually quite tricky to pinpoint its main competitors. Ultimately, it’s a camera that bridges the gap somewhere between advanced compact and compact system camera (minus the interchangeable lenses). For this reason we’d be just as inclined to group it with the likes of the Sony NEX-5n, Nikon J1, Olympus E-PL3 or Panasonic GX1 as we would with the Nikon P7100, Panasonic LX5 and Olympus XZ-1.
Perhaps we’d better off simply judging the G1X on its own merit. In which case, let’s take a closer look on what’s on offer…