Canon PowerShot G1X - Performance, Image Quality and Verdict

Score

Sections

View All

The Canon G1X switches on and becomes ready to shoot in a fraction under four

seconds which hardly makes it the fastest camera out of the blocks.

Autofocus modes are limited to a user-selectable single-point FlexiZone

mode with good frame coverage that extends quite close to the edges and

corners; a fully automatic Face AiAF mode that priorities face detection

and which is capable of detecting more than one face in the same scene;

and, lastly, a Tracking AF mode that works adequately with slow-moving

subjects but struggles with fast-moving ones.

Overall AF speed

is actually a little bit slow for a camera of this type, price and

specification; it certainly doesn’t feel like a big improvement over the

G12. Even in good light the time taken for the AF to lock on to its

target is far from instant, while in less than ideal light conditions it

slows down even further. While this won’t have any dramatic effect on

considered shots where time isn’t an issue, it does limit the camera’s

ability to take snatched, candid shots – especially in poor light.

What

is of more concern, however, is the poor close focusing distance of the

28-112mm zoom. Canon claims the minimum focus distance as 20cm when the

camera is being used in Macro mode although we measured it as closer to

23cm. Taking the camera out of Macro, minimum focus distance jumps to

around 35cm, and that’s at its 28mm widest! Zoom in a bit and you’re

soon looking at around 1.5meters minimum distance, and just under two

metres at 112mm. The upshot of all this is that it’s hard to recommend

the G1 X as a serious tool for dedicated Macro enthusiasts.

Processing

times are, on the whole, are fairly respectable although hardly

class-leading either. We did find the sluggish AF performance slowed

things down someway when using the camera in Single-shot drive mode

though. In fact, in repeated tests, we were only able to reel off four

full-res JPEGs inside ten seconds. Switching to Raw capture this dropped

to three, with the same result in simultaneous Raw and JPEG shooting.

Switching

over to Continuous mode (whereby the camera only focuses for the first

image), we managed eight full-res JPEGs inside ten seconds, although Raw

(and also simultaneous Raw and JPEG) capture was actually slightly

faster at around 10 frames. Lastly, with the camera set to Continuous AF

(where the AF remains active throughout the burst) the speed dropped to

around eight frames per 10 seconds in JPEG only, seven frames in Raw,

and six on simultaneous Raw and JPEG.

Overall image quality is,

as might be expected, very good indeed. There are many aspects that

particularly impress. The first of these is the optical quality of the

28-112mm fixed zoom. This produces really impressive, almost DSLR-like

levels of sharpness and detail and across the whole frame too, with only

occasional instances of purple fringing on high-contrast borders

letting the side down. As might be expected, there is some barrel

distortion at 28mm however this soon disappears as you extend the zoom.

Thanks to the larger sensor, it’s also possible to get some

fantastically shalllow depth of field effects – just so long as you can

work around the close-focusing issues mentioned above.

Colour,

tonality and white balance are another three areas in which the G1 X

excels. Canon has a deserved reputation for making cameras that produce

pleasingly vibrant and snappy colour while managing to remain lifelike

and the G1 X is no exception. Of course, you can fine tune the way you

want your images to look using the My Colours menu, with a ramped-up

‘Vivid’ and toned-down ‘Neutral’ offered alongside settings such as

‘Positive Film’ and ‘Lighter Skin Tone’ to name but four options. White

balance is perfectly consistent when left on the AWB setting, which is

one less thing to worry about.

Metering is accurate and reliable

on the whole especially when the camera is being used in flat or even

lighting conditions. High-contrast situations are a little trickier due

to the fact that the metering system relies heavily on the positioning

of the FlexiZone AF box. In such situations a ‘wrongly’ placed box can

lead to blown highlights. Thankfully, the EV Compensation dial is found

within easy reach on the top of the camera, with /-3EV on offer to

correct matters.

Perhaps the biggest single strength of the G1 X,

however, is ISO performance. Frankly, we were blown away by just how

well the G1 X handles noise at higher sensitivities. While ISO 100 to

400 might be expected to deliver noise-free results given the size of

the sensor (which they do), it’s from ISO 800 to ISO 3,200 that really

impresses – even at the higher settings, the G1 X’s images keep noise

almost entirely at bay while retaining plenty of fine detail, even in

shadow areas. The top settings of ISO 6,400 and 12,800 do show a gradual

decline in quality along with an increase in noise, but even these

remain perfectly usable at smaller sizes.

Verdict
The

Canon G1 X is the company’s latest flagship advanced compact and

benefits from a bespoke sensor that is only slightly smaller than what

Canon uses in its APS-C equipped DSLRs. The advantages of this larger

sensor are immediately clear to overall image quality, with the G1 X

offering class-leading performance in this respect. However, in other

areas the G1 X lets itself down somewhat with sluggish operation and

niggly performance issues. Image quality purists may well be willing to

forgive these flaws, however anyone in the market for a snappy advanced

compact with quickfire operation may well be slightly disappointed.

Latest from Trusted Reviews