Quick look: Canon G1X: (crippled?)beast in sheep’s clothing:ISO performance

Quick look: Canon G1X: (crippled?)beast in sheep’s clothing:ISO performance


There are days when I just don’t want to think about cameras but still want to carry one. A compact camera with a larger sensor then M43, a silent shutter and a pancake zoom (similar to the Panasonic PZ 14-42mm, with a better range), the G1X had my attention! BH was kind enough to lend me one. more after the break

The last Canon G series camera was the G12 (still available), I pretty much liked everything about that camera, a great do-it-all compact as long as there was plenty of light.
The G1X dwarfs the G12 sensor and produced impressive results up to ISO 6400!- 100% crops below. Shot raw, AWB, neutral profile, converted in DPP, luminance and chrominance noise reduction set to 0.
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 1600
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 12800

The G1X is only the third camera after the Fuji X100 and the Ricoh GXR (with one of the A12 modules), with a large sensor and a silent shutter, ( there is also the Nikon 1 V1 and J1 , however the sensor is quite a bit smaller). This is the kind of camera I would take on epic road, mountain bike or snowboard trip, despite the 1.27 lbs on my digital scale (yes, I am a weight weenie), it fits in the back pocket of my jersey or jacket. A camera with a larger zoom won’t fit as easily and taking only one prime┬ájust won’t do it on those trips.

The Good:
The G1X is the most ruggedly built compact camera (by a huge margin) the new rubber grip surface feels secure and slip proof, and the metal body will survive a few tumbles.
Excellent sensor, rivals entry level DSLR’s, usable ISO up to 6400!
Articulated LCD, great range of motion, flips forward for self portraits and reversible towards the body for protection.
Very good pancake zoom f2.8/5.8, 28-112mm (35mm equiv.) , image stabilization.
Good to excellent battery life (no need for taking a second battery on a day trip)
External Retro Mode Dial and +- Dial.
Movie button well placed and I only triggered it by accident wearing full finger gloves.
Built in flash and a dedicated hot shoe, compatible with all EX flash units.
Controls are well placed and pretty much everything is accessible via direct buttons, practically no learning curve if you upgrade from a PowerShot G.
Free DPP raw converter included, one of the best.
The Not So Good:
Sluggish start up, due to the collapsing lens design, not really a problem, but should be mentioned.
Af and buffer clearing could be better, do yourself a favor and purchase the fastest SD card you can afford and shooting raw won’t be a problem.
LCD goes black for a second right after you press the shutter.
Needs filter adapter
The Ugly:
The optical viewfinder is terrible. Inaccurate, ~80% coverage, a peephole, nothing more.
Movie mode. There is absolutely no way to control your settings. Not even +-, forget about exposure lock and don’t even dream about PSAM.

Those few shortcomings immediately disqualify the G1X from being a serious competitor against Sony’s Nex and M43 offerings. I am pretty sure theG1X was never meant to compete with system cameras. The goal was to be King of compacts and it certainly is, for now :)

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7 thoughts on “Quick look: Canon G1X: (crippled?)beast in sheep’s clothing:ISO performance

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    of course! thanks for pointing it out Arjan. Yeah, I feel like we are at a stage where, if we would take the best features of a few different cameras, for instance, AF from the Nikon 1, sensor from the Fuji X Pro1, video from GH2, image stabilization from the new Olympus EM 5, we could pretty much built the perfect digital camera, obviously we have the technology, pity no one has put it together yet

  2. Arjan

    Hi Mike, thanks for updating your nice review. It’s a pity that Canon didn’t build in a proper optical viewfinder or evf. The one they put in now could just as easy have been left out. Without it they maybe could have left the iso-dial on top of the camera.

  3. mike.kobal Post author

    Hey Arjan, totally forgot a bout the GXR, of course! I didn’t consider the Nikon 1 because of the smallish sensor, but I might as well list it, since it performs a lot better then your standard compact.

  4. Arjan

    The Ricoh GXR with A12 and A16 modules also has a silent shutter and large sensor. Also the Nikon 1 system camera’s have a silent shutter and a larger sensor although not as large as m43 or aps-c. And the Canon basically has a m43 sized sensor with a 1,9 crop. (m43 has 2,0 crop so there’s not a big difference there.)

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