Canon PowerShot G1 X MK III: Small is the Next Big
With the introduction of Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III, this APS-C sensor compact takes the top position in the company’s legendary G-series line-up. Shridhar Kunte reports.
This review was originally published in March 2018.
Over the years, the G series, placed as a premium line of small, high quality compact cameras from Canon, served photographers extremely well, with a large number of users becoming staunch loyalists. With the introduction of the new PowerShot G1 X Mark III, the company is making a foray into a whole new segment of users, while retaining older afficionados as well. The game changer here is the sensor. While earlier models of the G series flagships had large sensors, the Mark III supercedes them all. It has the same APS-C sensor found in the Canon EOS 80D and the newer mirrorless M series of cameras as well. The first thought that struck my mind was to see whether the performance of the new G1 X Mark III comes close to these cameras.
For a rather long time, Canon had stayed away from entering the mirrorles camera market, but the last year has shown them make steady progress. With the form factor of a compact camera, the company is trying to build a new parallel to mirrorless. Only time will tell if Canon will sustain this approach.
The G1 X Mark III is based on a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, which is about 36% larger than the 1.5-inch sensor of the Mark II. This sensor delivers an ISO range from 100 to 25,600 (same as the EOS 80D). The camera is equipped with a 3x lens with optical stabilisation, and covers a practical focal range of an equivalent of 24-72mm, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the wide-angle end to f/5.6 at the telephoto end. With larger sensors, this is always the trade-off between keeping a camera compact and sacrificing maximum apertures. The G1 X Mark II, for instance, had a 24-120mm equivalent lens, with a maximum aperture range of f/2 (wide) to f/3.9 (tele). The Mark III has five-axis Advanced Dynamic IS for video recording. It offers a close-focusing distance of just 10cm in the macro mode. A nine-bladed aperture helps maintaining pleasing bokeh.
For overall quicker operation, the camera uses the power of its latest DIGIC 7 image processor. This allows data to be processed faster than the older model, and also promises to reduce the need to edit images in several ways, thanks to an Auto Lighting Optimizer and Diffraction Correction.
One feature that is carried forward from G12 is the built-in ND filter. The 3-stop Neutral Density (ND) filter allows you to shoot at slower shutterspeeds in brighter conditions. You will find conventional P/A/S/M modes meant for more serious photographers, and there’s also the familiar number of Scene Modes, aimed at the novice user too.
The body is well crafted in metal and feels very sturdy. This also gives the camera a stout, proficient finish. The camera balances well with the lens extended or retracted, and is comfortable to hold. It weighs 399g including the battery and memory card. Despite the larger sensor, the Mark II is smaller and lighter than the Mark II it replaces. It can be easily carried in a coat pocket for the entire day without it adding to any fatigue. In fact Canon has made it very compact indeed, similar in size to the Micro Four Thirds sensor enabled Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100, which has no built-in flash.
The Mark III sports a pop-up flash placed above the centre of the lens at some distance. This probably will take care of red-eye issues. I was not particularly happy to see to see the knurled control dial perched above the grip, which is a difficult position to get to unless yiu get used to using your knuckle. The lens barrel is not large in diameter. Gripping over the control dial was more comfortable while shooting. To help the grip, there is a thumb rest with textured rubber surface on the back.
To control the functions of the camera there are not too many buttons and dials and things are minimalistic. I liked the addition of a separate exposure compensation dial. It can be easily reached with the right hand thumb. There is a separate mode dial with a locking mechanism, which ensures that modes cannot be shifted accidently.
The tripod socket is off-center from the lens axis. When the camera is mounted on the tripod, it becomes difficult to change the battery or the memory card. This arrangement of the tripod socket will make it difficult to shoot precise panoramas. When the camera is mounted on the tripod, the axis of movement will not be perfect.
The LCD on the back is connected to the camera body with the help of a single hinge at the side, which enables the screen to be pulled away from the body and rotated through 270-degrees. This offers plenty of flexibility for shooting at unusual angles, or for composing self-portraits. One additional benefit is that the screen can be folded back in towards the body to protect it from scratches when the camera is not in use and is being stored away. The electronic viewfinder is, unfortunately, quite small and is not particularly easy to use, especially for older people.
As expected from a premium camera, the G1 X performs very well when it comes to parameters like colours, tonality and white balance. In all these three fronts the camera did a splendid job. Out-of-the-box JPEGs shows excellent colour balance and accuracy. Under different light sources the white balance was spot on when AWB setting was used. The shutter response and the focusing speed was also really fast, thanks to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF. In continuous shooting mode, the camera runs at a speed of 9fps. While shooting in this mode I was able to capture about 24 JPEG images before the camera slows down. The camera exhibits excellent dynamic range, you can use the ALO (Auto Lighting Optimiser) to boost shadows and record additional dynamic range in images.
In addition to this, with the supplied DPP software, I could manage to recover details in shadows as well as blown highlights. The images captured shows excellent level of sharpness across the whole frame at wide position of the lens, with only a slight trace of purple fringing on high-contrast borders, when observed with 100% enlargement. At the telephoto end, there is a loss of sharpness at f/5.6. But this improves from f/8 onwards. Noise performance was very similar to the Canon EOS 80D. HD video capture is smooth, and even in low light, the camera delivers good-looking video footage. In the video mode, you can use the touch-screen to select the focus position and to activate AF. Face tracking does a good job of keeping people in focus.
This is the smallest G series camera Canon has ever introduced so far, and it boasts largest image sensor on any G-series camera before this. Within this small package comes the same APS-C sensor with Dual Pixel CMOS AF system as that of the EOS 80D and M5 cameras. This is a good feat of engineering. Priced at Rs. 79,995/-, one would automatically expect a similar performance to that of 80D or the M5. Unfortunately, the lens does not support the full potential of the sensor. It is also optically much slower at the telephoto end.
The welcome additions over its predecessor are dedicated exposure compensation dial, vari-angle LCD screen and EVF. Other positives are the logical layout of buttons/dials, build quality and the image quality that comes close to that of a DSLR.
APS-C sensor, extremely compact
Excellent dynamic range, good colours
Durable metal body, Very sturdy
Dedicated exposure compensation dial
|Warranty & Support
Two year warranty, Widely spread service network
|VALUE FOR MONEY||4.5/5|
|Who should buy it?||Nature and street photography enthusiast who want an extremely small, portable option that delivers excellent quality.|
|Why?||The PowerShot G1 X Mark III’s larger image sensor offers excellent dynamic range and noise free images till ISO 3200. There is no other camera that has a sensor this big, while still remaining so extremely pocketable.|