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 – Features
To capture images, the G3 X uses a 20.2MP, 1in BSI CMOS sensor, which is likely the same Sony unit as that used in cameras like the Panasonic FZ1000, Sony RX10 and Canon’s own G7 X. Like most of those cameras, the sensitivity range covers ISO 125-12,800. Shutter speeds run from 30secs-1/2000sec, which isn’t especially fast by modern standards, and continuous shooting is available at 5.9 frames per second, although this drops to 3.2fps if you want the camera to refocus between shots.
However, there’s no doubting the G3 X’s headline feature – its 24-600mm equivalent optically stabilised zoom lens covers a vast wideangle to ultra-telephoto range, making it suitable for a huge array of subjects from landscapes to wildlife. The minimum focus distance is a mere 5cm from the front of the lens at wideangle, extending to 85cm at full telephoto, so it’s quite handy for close-ups too. But while the maximum aperture starts at f/2.8 at wideangle, it drops off pretty quickly, to f/4 at 50mm equivalent, f/5 at 85mm equivalent and f/5.6 all the way from 200mm equivalent through to its full telephoto setting. Canon has limited the minimum aperture to f/11 throughout, which is perfectly sensible to avoid excessive diffraction softening on this sensor format.
Additional exposure control is provided by a built-in 3-stop neutral density filter, which allows shooting wide open in bright sunlight. This is fortunate, as the lens doesn’t have a filter thread itself, although it’s possible to use 67mm-threaded attachments via the optional FA-DC67B filter adapter. This costs £40 in a kit with the LH-DC100 hood.
A small built-in flash pops up from the top of the camera, which is released by a sliding switch on the side. Canon specifies an optimistic-sounding 6.8m range at wideangle and 3.1m at telephoto, but this likely assumes use of a high ISO setting. For more creative lighting, a hotshoe accepts Canon’s EX-series flashguns and third-party Canon-dedicated units, but sadly the internal flash can’t be used to control external units wirelessly.
Canon describes the G3 X as a ‘stills and video powerhouse’, and to this end it can record full HD 1,920×1,800-pixel movies at a full range of frame rates comrpsing 60, 50, 30, 25 and 24fps. Sound is recorded by a built-in stereo microphone, and the camera has a pair of 3.5mm stereo sockets for an external microphone and, more unusually, headphones. There’s a configurable peaking display to aid manual focus, but no overexposure warning. This counts as a quite respectable video specification, but it is easily trumped by the 4K-capable FZ1000 and Sony’s new but expensive RX10 II.
As we’d expect, the camera has built-in Wi-Fi, and as usual for Canon it has a wider range of applications than most. Images can be transferred between cameras, copied to a computer or output to a Wi-Fi-enabled printer. Naturally, the camera can also connect to a smartphone or tablet, with built-in NFC for easy pairing to a compatible device. Canon’s new Camera Connect app for iOS and Android allows both image sharing and remote operation of the camera, with plenty of manual control. A small button behind the mode dial activates Wi-Fi for connection to your smartphone or tablet.