Canon’s latest premium compact, the PowerShot G1 X Mark II, sets its sights on improving where the PowerShot G1 X left off. We find out whether the new model is a significantly better camera. Read our Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II review...
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II at a glance:
- 12.8-million-pixel CMOS sensor (13.1-million-pixel in 4:3 aspect)
- 5x optical zoom (24-120mm) f/2-3.9
- ISO 100-12,800
- DIGIC 6 image-processing engine
- 3in tilting touchscreen, (1.04 million dots)
- Street price £749
- See sample images taken with the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II review – Introduction
Rewind to the year of the millennium and it was the PowerShot G1 that sparked the creation of Canon’s G series – a camera out to appeal to photographers who desired more sophisticated control than your average point-and-shoot compact without the cumbersomeness of a heavy DSLR. It came with a 3.3-million-pixel, 1/1.8in CCD sensor and a 3x optical zoom lens that was equivalent to 34-102mm, but the G1 was soon overshadowed by the PowerShot G2, G3 and G5 (there was no G4 model as Japanese firms avoid this number).
Fourteen years down the line, Canon is continuing to develop its range of flagship compact models that have picked up such high acclaim from prosumer photography enthusiasts for more than a decade. Perhaps most interesting has been the manufacturer’s decision to continue developing its line of G-series models equipped with relatively small 1/1.7in sensors, while at the same time producing a premium model in the range with a larger 1.5in (18.7x14mm) sensor capable of challenging the level of detail resolved by other premium compacts and CSCs using micro four thirds and APS-C-sized sensors.
The first model in this new direction for Canon was the G1 X. Two years on and we have the G1 X Mark II – a camera that has it all to do if it is to answer some of the concerns that were raised when we reviewed the original G1 X in 2012.
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II review – Features
The G1 X had a number of flaws, including a rather hesitant focus system, a limited close-focusing distance for macro photography and an optical viewfinder that was little or no better than the kind we’d been used to seeing on previous G-series models. However, where it did pull out the stops was its sensor, so it’s no surprise to find that its successor’s 1.5in-type CMOS chip is the same physical size (18.7x14mm), working out at 16% larger than a micro four thirds chip and only 20% smaller than Canon’s APS-C-sized sensors.
The size of the G1 X Mark II’s sensor places it slap bang between the 1in sensor found in the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II and the APS-C chip used in Fujifilm’s X100S fixed-lens compact. While the 12.8-million-pixel resolution may seem a bit of a comedown from the original G1 X, the new sensor configuration means the pixels on the sensor are larger, allowing for greater light-gathering capabilities and a sensitivity ceiling of ISO 12,800. What’s more, by being able to adapt and capture images using the full width of the image circle of the lens, regardless of which ratio is being used, a maximum resolution of 13.1 million pixels is achievable when the aspect ratio is switched to 4:3 from its 3:2 (12.8-million-pixel) default setting.
Canon’s most advanced DIGIC 6 image processor has also been used to improve performance, produce less image noise and reduce shooting lag by as much as 56%. In addition, Canon has replaced the G1 X’s 4x zoom lens (28-112mm) with a 5x zoom optic (24-120mm), making it superior to its predecessor at both ends of the focal length. The larger optic also allows it to be faster and boast an impressive maximum aperture of f/2 that closes to f/3.9 at full telephoto. Furthermore, the G1 X Mark II addresses the risk of camera shake and blur by implementing Canon’s tried and tested Intelligent Image Stabilizer (IS) technology, and any close focusing concerns are put to rest by having the option to focus within 5cm – a significant improvement on the G1 X that can only shoot from 20cm.
Also improved is the AiAF system, which more than triples the G1 X’s nine AF points to an altogether more impressive 31 that tie in with the camera’s single, continuous, servo AF/AE and touch AF modes. The latter is the giveaway that the G1 X Mark II supports touch functionality via its 3in, 1.04-million-dot display, and users can expect the same intuitiveness and sensitivity response as that found on Canon’s touchscreen DSLRs such as the EOS 100D. Whereas the original G1 X had a vari-angle screen that could be pulled out to the side and rotated, the G1 X Mark II’s display is the tilt-angle type. While it can still flip out to aid low-level and high-angle shooting, it doesn’t offer quite the same level of manoeuvrability, although it still provides the option to be flipped to shoot self-portraits at arm’s length.
The G1 X Mark II looks slimmer than the G1 X due to the absence of a viewfinder. The G1 X Mark II is the first model in the G-series range not to feature a built-in viewfinder, and rather than attempting to improve the G1 X’s optical variety, Canon has decided to axe it altogether and give the user the choice of whether or not a viewfinder is a necessity by offering an optional clip-on electronic viewfinder (see EVF-DC1).
Other features to note include a pop-up flash that’s concealed within the top-plate, a built-in 3-stop ND filter that can be used to create longer shutter speeds or wide apertures in bright light, not forgetting full manual control and 14-bit raw support. With Wi-Fi connectivity now expected by today’s standards, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II provides Wi-Fi and NFC to sync images with mobile devices running Canon’s CameraWindow app. Alternatively, wireless remote control of the camera can be taken, provided the mobile device that it’s paired with remains within a 5m range.
Image: The built-in ND filter allows users to set a shutter speed up to 3 stops slower than would otherwise be possible, which is great for turning flowing water silky smooth