Not so close
The overall image quality is definitely helped by the build and optical quality of the 28-112mm zoom lens mounted on the G1 X. The lens suffers only negligible barrel distortion at 28mm and controls chromatic aberrations extremely well. The only complaint I have about the lens is its minimum close focusing distance. The zoom lens has a minimum focusing distance of 35cm in normal mode and a not-so-close 20cm in Macro mode.
Ahh viewfinders, doncha just love 'em?
Other noteworthy features that lend the G1 X a competitive edge are the 3-stop Neutral Density filter that allows you to use slower shutter speeds in equivalent lighting conditions, an HDR scene mode and Canon’s Intelligent Image Stabilisation system that analyses camera movements and distance from the subject to select one of seven different anti-shake options to best suit the scene.
The G1 X also offers a wide range of colour settings and creative filters to make the shooting experience more playful. Unfortunately though Canon has not taken a leaf from its competitors and upgraded its outdated Stitch-Assist panorama mode to the smooth fully automated panorama mode now becoming standard on this class of cameras.
Full HD video capture, but still no external mic input
If image quality is the G1 X’s strongest selling point speed performance certainly isn’t. A bit sluggish in almost every operation, the G1 X can’t quite compete with most CSCs when it comes to continuous shooting and autofocus speed. At a rate of 1.6 fps the G1 X is certainly below its competitors standards but the main problem is the slow and erratic response of its contrast detection autofocus system. Even in optimal lighting conditions the G1 X takes its own sweet time before the AF system locks onto its target, and in low light the delay can be quite unnerving.
The improved HD movie mode delivers some beautifully sharp and smooth footage and lets you use the full focal length of the lens if not all the camera’s manual controls. Sound is good too although it tends to record lens movement quite clearly and there is sadly no option for an external mic despite the hotshoe provided on the top plate.
Battery life was slightly disappointing with the 250 shots per charge not quite stretching to a full day of action.
CSC stop gap or a strategic offering? Either way, the G1 X is a class act
Admittedly, I’m still waiting for Canon to show its hand at the CSC game but should it decide to pass, I start thinking the company might actually be on a wise path. As a DSLR owner, and having tried the G1 X, I have to say that I would be much more tempted to invest into the new PowerShot G-series than into any of the CSCs out there. With the G1 X, Canon has shown that an advanced compact can deliver similar or better image quality than Micro Four Thirds with a zoom range flexible enough to cover most scenes.
Once the novelty of an interchangeable lens compact has worn off wouldn’t most enthusiast photographers be tempted to simply choose between a G1 X-style compact or a DSLR, rather than a Compact System Camera? I certainly feel the proposition is a valid one. As has been the case for years with the G-series, the G1 X would make an excellent back-up compact for DSLR owners as well as an exciting imaging tool for enthusiast photographers. I just wish that Canon would fix some of the performance issues that make this camera less than perfect. ®
More Camera Reviews…
Canon PowerShot G1 X compact camera
Re: "Once the novelty of an interchangeable lens compact has worn off"
I think that either you missed the poin that the author was trying to make, or I missed your point :)
I have a 5D, and three Sigma EXDG lenses for various uses, as my main camera and I am really very happy with it.
But... I go on special trips with it, or I set it up for photo shoots at home. It is not something that I can carry arround with me constantly.
Compact cameras on the other hand can be carried around with me, but the quality of the sensors is terrible. Good for web use or snaps but when you get up to poster sized prints you start to see too many artifacts (for me anyway - these things are subjective). And of course you have no control over the shot - it's point and click, exactly what it was designed for - and what my other half likes about their camera.
The new range of CSC provide a nice inbetween step. Small enough to be caried, versatile enough to make some nice shots. Well some of them at least (the Sony NEX range with their larger sensors look interesting, as does the Panasonic range. The Nikon on the other hand produces the same artifacts as the standard compact camera from the shots I have seen as it also uses an extremely small sensor).
But... Do you need the hassle of interchangable lenses on the CSC ranges in order to get the control or quality? If I can get a handbag sized camera with a good lens, sensor and manual controls do I care that I only have the one that it came with? 120mm seems a little short for some of the shots I like to take, but I wonder if I couldlive with it...
Re: "Once the novelty of an interchangeable lens compact has worn off"
Based on anecdotal evidence (ie friends who have bought them), I think the G-series is largely sold to people who like taking pictures and want to do it "more seriously" but are scared off buying a DSLR by the perceived "complexity" (or to some extent the cost). This is in contrast to EVIL which tends to be bought by people who would have bought a DSLR before EVIL existed but prefer the form-factor. That is a market which Canon does not serve at present.
I do agree about the S-series though. Awesome cameras - true compacts but with full exposure control and the ability to shoot RAW. The sensor size means quality will never be as good as a DSLR but then a DSLR will never be as good as medium format for the same reason - photography is always about compromises.
As a recent CSC purchaser...
...I say No to the final question in the article. One big reason is that compacts with the quality of CSCs seem to be more expensive than the CSCs for some reason. Also, even as a beginner, being able to select a brighter pancake lens instead of the zoom means I can take photos I wouldn't otherwise be able to.
As ever, it's horses for courses and I suspect that the (no longer very) new formats will at the very least force manufacturers to think more creatively about what they offer customers.
Does the lens cover still scratch the lens? [As it has done on several previous iterations of the G-series]
And do Canon still deny there's a problem [in spite of numerous internet articles about it] and refuse to repair affected cameras?
I think I'm the opposite. I thought this was the camera for me. The carry around when you don't want the SLR option. But the speed is the killer. Not the fps, but the focussing speed. Reminds me of other cameras I have that just don't make the grade - G9 being an example, although this would stomp all over it for ISO capability. Perhaps they'll update in a year or two to sort this issue. Until then I'm guessing it's a CSC or nothing.