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
Canon PowerShot G3 X review – Performance
With such a long zoom, the G3 X looks ideal for subjects such as sports and wildlife where continuous shooting is commonly used, and its headline 6fps shooting speed seems great for the task. Unfortunately, there are a couple of serious caveats.
First, if you want autofocus and exposure adjusting between each frame, the shooting speed drops to 3.3fps, with the camera displaying a strangely low-resolution, out-of-focus-looking preview between frames that’s particularly disconcerting when you use the EVF.
Second, you only get this sort of speed shooting JPEG only – the moment you turn on raw, the camera slows to a crawl, shooting at a miserly 0.6fps, and blanking out the screen and viewfinder between shots. This is inexcusable for a camera costing £800 in 2015.
On a more positive note, the camera’s metering and white balance systems work very well. I rarely found myself having to adjust exposure compensation to any great extent, or switch white balance away from auto. The optical stabilisation of the lens also does a very good job of combating image blur from camera shake, although it visibly struggles to deal with camera movement when shooting at full telephoto using the LCD.
In terms of image quality, the 1in sensor behaves much as we’ve come to expect, combining impressive detail at low resolution with relatively low noise at higher sensitivity settings. Not surprisingly for a 25x zoom, the lens is a little compromised, although in truth rather less than I’d expect.
At the wide end of the range the centre of the frame tends to be very sharp, but the corners are visibly soft at the pixel level. Given that you’ve got 20.2 million pixels to play with, this is only likely to show up on prints larger than 12x8in.
The lens actually gives the most even results across the frame at telephoto settings, although at the maximum aperture of f/5.6 image there’s some slight image softening due to diffraction, so images are never quite as crisp as those you get from cameras with faster, shorter zoom lenses like Canon’s own PowerShot G7 X.
Canon’s default JPEG processing gives bright, saturated colours with rich blue skies, but these could be a little overblown for some tastes. Noise reduction is also quite aggressive, blurring away fine detail even at moderate ISO settings. You can tone down colours using the ‘My Colors’ option in the Q Menu, but oddly, not if you’re also shooting raw, as the menu option is then disabled. So if you want to shoot raw+JPEG, with the intention of using JPEGs by default and processing only your favourite shots from raw, you’re stuck with Canon’s somewhat unsubtle processing.