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 – Dynamic range
The G3 X’s 20.2MP sensor delivers good results at low ISO sensitivities in our Applied Imaging tests, with nearly 12EV of dynamic range at ISO 125. In practice, this means that it doesn’t clip highlights as abruptly as cameras with smaller sensors tend to, while also retaining a bit more useful shadow detail. But at ISO 800 and above it falls off quite quickly, reflecting increasing noise levels particularly in the shadows. The top three ISO settings give particularly low readings.
Noise and detail
At ISO 125 the G3 X gives impressively detailed images, with barely any visible noise. A hint of luminance noise appears at ISO 400 when examining images on the pixel level, but this will have no serious impact on prints. At ISO 800 the impact becomes a little more severe, with fine low-contrast detail beginning to smear away, and at ISO 1,600 this is accentuated, with shadow detail becoming lost too. At ISO 3,200 the effects of noise and noise reduction are quite obvious, making it best avoided if possible, while ISO 6,400 and ISO 12,800 should only be used if there’s really no other choice.
This is all familiar behaviour from this sensor, but it’s worth pointing out that the G3 X’s slow maximum aperture forces you to raise the ISO sooner as light levels drop, especially when shooting at the long end of the zoom where you’ll need faster shutter speeds to avoid blurred images from subject movement and camera shake.