Built like a Canon PowerShot G12 on steroids, the new PowerShot G1 X has a large 14.3-million-pixel sensor and a 28-112mm equivalent lens. Could it be the compact camera that finally replaces your DSLR?
While it is not surprising that Canon has created a larger sensor for the G1 X, many people will be surprised at just how large this sensor actually is. All the promotional material informs us that the sensor is 6x larger than the one in the PowerShot G12, but it is difficult to put this in context.
The G12’s 7.6×5.7mm sensor is, in fact, tiny in comparison to the 18.7x14mm (4:3 aspect ratio) CMOS sensor of the G1 X. Indeed, the larger sensor is even bigger than a four thirds unit, and is just 0.8mm smaller in height than Canon’s own APS-C models, which generally measure 22.2×14.8mm.
DxO Labs (www.dxomark.com) quotes the pixel pitch of the G1 X sensor as being 4.16μm, which is exactly the same as the pixel pitch of the 18-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor of the Canon EOS 7D. When compared to the 2.03μm pixel pitch of the G12, it is clear that the sensor of the G1 X has more in common with Canon’s EOS range of cameras than it does with its PowerShot predecessors.
With an ISO range of 100-12,800, the sensitivity of the G1 X matches that of the EOS 7D, while image data is handled by a Canon Digic 5 processor. The company claims that this processor is 6x faster and produces 75% less noise than the Digic 4 in the G12. However, it is on image quality that the G1 X will be judged, not its specification.
While the sensor may be the standout feature of the G1 X, its fixed zoom lens must be a close second. The G1 X has a 15.1-60.4mm f/2.8-f/5.8 4x zoom, equivalent to 28-112mm on a 35mm, full-frame camera. This focal range is slightly shorter than the 28-140mm equivalent zoom of the G12, but given the G1 X’s larger sensor, a larger focal range would no doubt have affected the size of the lens, and the camera itself. For more on the lens, see Features in use on page 55.
Optical image stabilisation is also present, reducing camera shake via an Intelligent IS system that automatically selects from seven different modes, depending on the shooting settings. Despite these improvements, Canon still states that the stabilisation makes a 4-stop difference, which is the same as that found on the G12.
As expected from an advanced compact camera, there is a full range of exposure modes, raw image capture and a hotshoe for mounting compatible flashguns. The G1 X also has a small pop-up flash, with three levels of manual-power adjustment plus auto settings.
In all, the G1 X feature list is comprehensive, which is no surprise given that most of its features are the same as those found in the G12. So, in these terms, the G1 X is really just a larger version of the G12.
Features in use: 28-112mm f/2.8-5.8 4x optical zoom lens
Although much of the specification of the PowerShot G1 X matches that of a compact system camera, there is one feature that doesn’t – the fixed lens. The 15.1-60mm f/2.8-5.8 4x zoom lens is the equivalent of a 28-112mm optic due to the sensor providing a 1.8x equivalent angle of view when compared to a 35mm frame. This focal-length range is ideal for travel, street and candid photography.
Fixing the lens to the camera rather than opting for a lens mount has a few advantages. First, the sensor and image processing can be tailored to the specific optical properties of the lens. Also, it is collapsible, making it far more compact than an equivalent lens would be on a CSC. The cost of the lens should also be considered when buying the camera. Although the G1 X’s RRP of almost £700 seems expensive, it is reasonable when compared to a CSC with an equivalent lens.
The maximum f/2.8 aperture will produce a shallow depth of field compared to compact cameras with small sensors, and the large aperture will help in low light. However, at longer focal lengths this will be reduced as the aperture becomes f/5.8.
More creative photographers can also make use of the Canon FA-DC58C filter adapter, which allows Canon’s range of 58mm filters to be used.