Canon’s latest enthusiast compact offers a compelling combination of a long zoom range and a relatively large 1in sensor. Andy Westlake tests it out

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Canon PowerShot G3 X

AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
LCD viewfinder:


  • - Huge lens range covers almost any subject
  • - Good image quality from 1in sensor
  • - Excellent touchscreen interface


  • - No built-in viewfinder
  • - Awkward ergonomics
  • - Poor continuous shooting with raw enabled


Canon PowerShot G3 X review


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Canon PowerShot G3 X review – Build and handling

Canon G3 X top

This top view shows this size of the lens barrel, even with the camera powered off

With its dustproof and splashproof magnesium-alloy body, the G3 X feels solidly made, and at 733g it’s not overly heavy, especially considering the range of the lens. The camera manages to be smaller than its shorter-zoomed competitors with 1in sensors, at 123.3×76.5×105.3mm, although this is substantially down to the omission of an EVF. In terms of design it’s little more than a box-shaped body, with a handgrip and cylindrical lens barrel added to the front.

The handgrip is covered in thick textured rubber that provides a positive hold, aided by a deep indentation for your second finger and a prominent ‘hook’ for your thumb. There’s not quite so much real estate to wrap your hand around, though, compared to the larger grips on the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10. The camera’s size and design means that your left hand naturally ends up supporting the lens barrel.

The G3 X has a decent array of controls, mostly positioned for operation by your right hand. The top-plate hosts the power and movie buttons, along with the exposure-mode dial and front electronic dial. The exposure compensation dial is perfectly placed for operation by your thumb, and offers up to 3EV correction in 1/3EV steps, which can also be used in conjunction with auto ISO in manual-exposure mode. A two-speed zoom lever around the shutter button allows reasonably precise composition.

Canon G3 X controls

The top-plate and rear controls are positioned for use by your right hand

Canon has squeezed plenty of buttons onto the back of the camera, but because the screen takes up so much space they feel rather cramped together.

While the button placement is similar to several other small Canons, including the PowerShot G1 X II and the EOS M3, there’s no consistency in function assignment between these models, so shooting them side by side could be a recipe for confusion.

The rear electronic dial is customisable to operate a range of functions, and I set it to change ISO directly. There’s also a small customisable shortcut button placed under your thumb. The touchscreen provides a quick and responsive interface for changing settings and playing back images, but it’s less useful than most for setting the focus point during normal shooting, simply because the G3 X’s design means you don’t have a hand free to operate it.

The lens barrel has a large, smoothly rotating focus ring, which can be re-assigned to change shutter speed, aperture or ISO. Oddly, though, unlike on the Sony RX10 or Panasonic FZ1000, it can’t be used as a zoom controller.

A button on the side of the barrel engages manual focus, while a second operates Canon’s framing assist function. This is extremely useful if you lose your subject when shooting at telephoto, as pressing it temporarily zooms the lens out to show a much wider view, so you can reacquire your subject and then release it to zoom in again. Given the size of the lens barrel, though, it would have been nice to see a second control ring, as on the G1 X Mark II.

Canon G3 X back

The onscreen Q menu give quick access to settings, and can be changed using the d-pad or by the touchscreen

Canon has tweaked the on-screen interface on its PowerShot compacts to more closely resemble that used on its DSLRs, but the changes are purely cosmetic. The menu items and ordering are still rather different, with similar functions given different names. For example, the G3 X has ‘DR correction’ in place of ‘highlight tone priority’, and ‘shadow correct’ rather than ‘auto lighting optimiser’, which could leave EOS users scratching their heads. Other manufacturers have done a much better job of unifying their interfaces between compact and interchangeable-lens cameras.

Unfortunately, I found that the G3 X wasn’t especially easy or pleasant to shoot with using the LCD. In particular, the 600mm equivalent zoom is predictably difficult to use with the rear screen, as it’s hard to hold the camera sufficiently steady to aim it properly and it’s more or less impossible to pan the camera to follow a moving subject. This is especially true when you’re shooting in portrait format and can’t tilt the screen to allow a more stable shooting stance. However, when shooting with the optional EVF-DC1 viewfinder, it’s much easier to use the long telephoto settings. This makes the omission of a built-in EVF all the more baffling.

  1. 1. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Introduction
  2. 2. Canon PowerShot G3 X - Features
  3. 3. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Screen and viewfinder
  4. 4. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Build and handling
  5. 5. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Autofocus
  6. 6.  Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Performance
  7. 7. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Test results
  8. 8. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Dynamic range
  9. 9. Canon PowerShot G3 X review - Verdict
  10. 10. Page 10
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  • John Russell

    This reviewer states ‘no where else to put your left hand other than below the lens’
    Duh, that is the only place to put your left hand, you want to stabilize the camera. Where else would you put your left hand, you certainly don’t hold the camera body with it or play pocket pool.
    To stabilize a camera whether it has an EVF or not you always tuck your elbows in to your sides. Never hold your elbows out away from your body. So who cares if it has an EVF or not. At least the Canon is versatile and if you want to put one on you can.
    Ergonomics is a all up to what the individual person is used to or feels comfortable with. If you use a camera enough then the buttons become second nature whether you own another camera or not. That is the great benefit to being human.
    Why in the world would a company put master capability in their silly little flash. These cameras are not meant for professional studio work. They are an updated point and shoot holiday cameras, nothing else.
    Constant 2.8 at 200mm can be replaced with 5.6 200mm. But you cannot replace 600mm 5.6 with a 200mm 2.8. You can digitally zoom all you want and all you get is a blurred mess.
    I believe Sony saves all their photos at 11bits, Panasonic saves at 12bits and Canon saves at 14bits. How big a difference does this make? for size of file, quality and manipulation of the file?
    People reading reviews and people writing reviews should do a bit of research on optics and learn how big a 600mm 2.8 lens would have to be on a 1inch sensor. Maybe just maybe they would realize how big a camera would be with a fixed lens at 24mm to 600mm 2.8. So the comment a rather slow 600mm is nothing but stupidity!!!!
    4k video is nothing but media hype and to sell more TVs. Do regular people really need 4K video, NO, 1080p is good enough. 4K video wastes good hard drive space.
    Should Canon have put in 4K video, Yes, it is an industry standard now.
    Should Canon have put in a built-in EVF, yes, it is an industry standard.

  • Tina Edwards

    Most negative comments focus on the lack of 4K video and an in-built EVF. The camera (apparently) has good image quality, weather sealing, a reasonably good aperture range, long zoom range and, even with the optional (and admittedly expensive but high quality) EVF, weighs less than the Sony RX10, the Sony RX10 II and the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. Perhaps I’m not in my ‘right mind’ but I think this could actually be a versatile camera for quite a few people.

  • entoman

    Nice looking camera and probably takes nice images, but no one in their right mind would buy it. Get rid of the silly and fragile little pop-up flash and fit the camera with an EVF. Panasonic are blowing you into the dust Canon. Change or die.