Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
Canon has put a lot of technology into the PowerShot G1X Mark III, and it has a lot going for it thanks in part to its APS-C sized sensor. Its size gives it an advantage over an interchangeable-lens camera, few of which will fit comfortably into a jacket pocket or average-sized purse.
Excellent build quality and the weatherproofing, built-in EVF and touch-screen interface give the G1X Mark III an advantage over both its predecessor and rival cameras. Features like the DIGIC 7 processor, Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, capable image stabilisation, built-in flash, Auto Lighting Optimiser and Diffraction Correction provide DSLR-like capabilities in a compact camera body.
We’d like to have seen a larger buffer memory and the ability to shoot 4K video which most manufacturers include in cameras of this type. Nevertheless, the G1 X Mark III is likely to be popular with travellers and as a take-everywhere camera for serious photographers.
This review picks up where we left off in our First Look article, adding comments about our experiences using the new camera plus the results of our standard tests. Use the links to jump between the two reports. As discussed in our original report, the PowerShot G1X Mark III represents the first use of Canon’s now-standard the 24.2-megapixel APS-C sized sensor in a compact digicam with a non-interchangeable lens. It’s a significant improvement over its predecessor and sure to attract serious photographers who want a camera that is small, light and capable.
Angled front view of the PowerShot G1X Mark III with the vari-angle monitor extended. (Source: Canon.)
We’ve covered the key features of the G1X Mark III in the original report and looked at the kinds of photographers likely to be attracted to it. In this review we’ll concentrate upon the lens and the handling characteristics of the camera and its performance in our standard range of tests.
Introducing a larger APS-C sized sensor has required Canon to redesign the lens fitted to the G1X Mark III. With a focal length range of 15-45mm, this lens covers a 3x optical zoom range equivalent to 24-72mm on a 35mm camera.
The optical design contains nine elements in eight groups and includes three double-sided aspherical elements and one single-sided aspherical lens. Lens-shift stabilisation is included in the design.
It’s a challenge to design a lens that is small enough to fit on the camera’s very compact body and ensure it covers an acceptable zoom range, is fast enough and includes stabilisation. Similarities between the lens on the G1X Mark III and compact cameras with smaller sensors appear to be inevitable. But it’s worth highlighting the dramatic reduction in maximum aperture with focal length, which declines from f/2.8 at 15mm to f/5.6 at 45mm.
The lens has a nine-bladed iris diaphragm, which has potential to produce attractive bokeh and should allow some scope for differential focusing had the maximum apertures been wider at longer focal lengths. Its minimum focusing distance of 10 cm allows the camera to be used for close-ups when Macro focus is selected, although not with 1:1 reproduction.
The camera provides two ways to operate the zoom, via the zoom lever that surrounds the shutter button and by turning the continuous ring on the lens itself. The ring provides more accurate adjustments as well as faster zooming, although many potential users will find the lever more convenient.
Internal processing is available for digital zooming, with up to 6x magnification when you combine the maximum optical and digital zooms. The zoom bar, which is displayed on the monitor or EVF screens to indicate the zoom position is colour coded to indicate the effects of zooming on image quality. In the white and yellow positions, little or no degradation should occur, while in the blue range (which is not available with some settings) the image will appear grainy.
While you might expect the G1X Mark III to be larger and heavier than the G1X Mark II because of its larger sensor, in fact it is actually quite a bit lighter (54 grams to be precise). It’s also a little narrower and thinner but this is balanced out by a 3.9 mm increase in overall height. Although these may seem like minor differences, they do affect the way the camera feels in your hands. Even for those with average-sized hands the G1X Mark III is a small camera; small enough to slip easily into a jacket pocket.
Canon has done a great job of maintaining the consistency of the G1X design and, although all three models obviously come from the same ‘family’, the new model looks much more like a miniature SLR than its predecessors. Design consistency has also been modulated by the need for convenience when it comes to the positions of many of the controls.
Much of the design can also be found in the EOS M5, an interchangeable-lens model that targets the same potential purchasers and uses the same sensor. The mode and exposure compensation dials are in the same places on the top panels of the two cameras and the Menu and playback buttons are also the same.
Front views of the G1X Mark III and the EOS M5. (Source: Canon.)
Back views of the G1X Mark III and the EOS M5. (Source: Canon.)
Top views of the G1X Mark III and the EOS M5, the latter without a lens. (Source: Canon.)
We think the movie button is in a better position on the G1X Mark III but the power on/off switch is more sensibly located on the EOS M5, where it’s less likely to be tripped accidentally. There are a few more settings on the EOS M5’s mode dial as well as a programmable function button and a dedicated button for raising the built-in flash. The G1X III has no function button and the flash must be raised by pulling it up with your fingers, which is a bit dinky.
We would like to have seen the arrow pads offering links to the same functions, but only the horizontal buttons (which access the focus and flash settings) are the same. Drive/Delete functions have been allocated to the up button on the G1X III, while the M5 devotes that button to ISO settings. The down button on the G1X III accesses the Info. settings, while it’s the Delete button on the M5.
The small size of the camera’s thumb rest leaves no room for the AE lock and AF frame selector buttons, which are located just above the arrow pad on the rear panel of the G1X III. On the plus side, the vari-angle monitor provides plenty of shooting flexibility and its touchscreen interface is one of the best we’ve used. The EVF (which was absent from the Mark II model) is surprisingly big and bright for such a small camera. Well done, Canon!
Some potential buyers will be disappointed Canon didn’t include 4K video in the G1X III. But we think this camera is much more stills-focused and, as such, it will be appeal to more serious stills photographers, particularly as a travel and/or walkaround camera.
The limited battery capacity is more disappointing, with a CIPA rating of approximately 200 shots/charge, regardless of whether the monitor or EVF is used and up to 250 shots/charge available when the Eco Mode is switched on. Movie recording time ranges from 45 to 80 minutes, the latter with continuous shooting. Up to four hours of playback time is available when playing back a slideshow of still images.
Our Imatest tests showed the review camera to be a capable performer, particularly when shooting stills in the CR2.RAW format, where both resolution and dynamic range were measurably superior to similar shots taken as JPEGs. Still images were sharp straight out of the camera and the consistent under-sharpening we found with the G1X Mark II was no longer present in JPEG files. (Raw files were converted into 16-bit TIFFs with Adobe Camera Raw with no additional sharpening.)
Colour accuracy was good and saturation was well controlled in JPEGs, both factors confirmed by Imatest tests. The larger sensor yielded the expected improvements in low light performance and dynamic range.
Although the lens had the limitations of a compact camera’s lens, we found the camera produced decent results with 2x digital zoom when shooting stills, thanks in part to the larger sensor. However, it introduced visible artefacts when the maximum zoom was used for movie recordings, partly because resolution must be downsampled to 1920 x 1080 pixels as part of the recording process.
Exposure metering was consistently reliable with all three metering patterns, provided they were used appropriately. Autofocusing was fast and accurate for shooting stills in bright conditions but somewhat variable in movie mode, particularly when recordings of moving subjects were made from an unstable platform with the lens fully extended.
Low light autofocusing was also quite responsive. Close focusing with the Macro focus setting was mostly fast and accurate, although hunting could also occur in low light levels.
The differences in resolution between JPEG and CR2.RAW files from the camera were less than we found with the G1X Mark II, a probable consequence of the larger sensor in the new camera. The graph below plots the results of our tests across the review camera’s sensitivity range.
Slight edge softening was revealed with wider lens apertures across all focal length settings, although the differences between central zone and edge resolution diminished as the focal length was increased. The graph below is based upon JPEG files at four different focal lengths.
Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible at all lens apertures and focal length settings. The graph below shows the results of our tests, with the red line indicating the boundary between negligible and low CA.
Auto white balance performance was slightly better than the Mark II’s, with close-to-neutral colours under fluorescent and flash lighting but insufficient correction of warm-toned LED lighting and better than average correction of incandescent lighting. All of the pre-sets tended towards slight over-correction but manual measurement produced neutral colours under each type of lighting.
Flash performance was as good as we found with the Mark II with slight under-exposure at ISO 100 and consistent exposure levels from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The influence of ambient lighting at the highest ISO settings was very slight, enabling colour accuracy to be maintained throughout the camera’s sensitivity range. Slight softening was evident with the two highest ISO settings.
The large sensor made selective focusing easier than it was with the previous model and we were able to obtain soft out-of focus backgrounds with the widest aperture setting (f/5.6) at the 60mm focal length. Bokeh depended upon background illumination; bright highlights were often outlined.
Video is obviously a secondary feature (at best) of this camera and the recording options are very limited. As with the G1X Mark II, video performance was best classed as satisfactory, provided the digital zoom was avoided. Clips recorded at both Full HD and HD resolutions had acceptable colour and exposure levels and soundtracks were, if anything, slightly better than those we recorded with the previous camera. However, there are better cameras available for those for whom video is important.
Our timing tests were carried out with a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-1 memory card, which claims write transfer speeds of 45MB/second. The review camera took just under two seconds to power up ready for shooting, which is roughly the same as its predecessor and includes the time taken to extend the lens.
We measured an average capture lag of 0.25 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 second with pre-focusing. It took less than a second to process each high-resolution JPEG image, 2.2 seconds for a raw file and 2.8 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.6 seconds without flash and 3.2 seconds with, regardless of file format.
In the continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 31 Large/fine JPEG frames in 3.9 seconds before pausing. It took 4.7 seconds to process this burst. On swapping to shooting raw files, the camera recorded 18 frames in 1.8 seconds before slowing down. It took 13.4 seconds to complete the processing of this burst. With RAW+JPEG pairs, the buffer capacity was the same as for raw files alone, which were recorded in 1.9 seconds. Processing this burst took 16.1 seconds.
Canon has put a lot of technology into the PowerShot G1X Mark III, probably to make it competitive in the last sector of the fixed-lens compact camera that is still showing any kind of growth. AU$1629 is a lot to pay for a camera of this type but it competes with Sony’s RX100 V, which has a similar zoom range but is slightly more expensive and has a smaller sensor.
However, the G1X Mark III has a lot going for it, thanks in part to its APS-C sized sensor. Its size gives it an advantage over an interchangeable-lens camera, few of which will fit comfortably into a jacket pocket or average-sized purse.
Excellent build quality and the weatherproofing, built-in EVF and touch-screen interface give the G1X Mark III an advantage over both its predecessor and rival cameras from Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic. Features like the DIGIC 7 processor, Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, capable image stabilisation, built-in flash, Auto Lighting Optimiser and Diffraction Correction provide DSLR-like capabilities in a compact camera body that is particularly attractive to travellers who want better picture and video quality than their smartphones can provide.
We’d like to have seen a larger buffer memory and, maybe, the ability to shoot 4K video, which most manufacturers include in cameras of this type. But even as it is, the G1 X Mark III is likely to be popular with travellers and as a take-everywhere camera for serious photographers.
Although it has been on sale for a very short time, shopping at local re-sellers can save you between AU$100 and $140 on the listed price of the PowerShot G1 X Mark III. If you buy from Amazon or shop off-shore, you’ll be paying close to or a bit above Canon’s listed price, even without shipping, etc. added.
Image sensor: 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS sensor with 26 million photosites (24.2 megapixels effective)
Image processor: DIGIC 7
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens: 15-45 mm f/2.8-5.6 zoom (24-72mm in 35 mm format); 9 elements in 8 groups, incl. 3 double-sided aspherical elements and 1 single-sided aspherical lens
Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 4x digital teleconverter, 6x Zoom plus
Image formats: Stills – JPEG (DCF / Exif 2.3), CR2.RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies – MP4 (MPEG-1 AVC/H.264; audio – AAC-LC stereo)
Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 3984 x 2656, 2976 x 1984, 2400 x 1600; 4:3 aspect: 5328 x 4000, 3552 x 2664, 2656 x 1992, 2112 x 1600; 16:9 aspect: 6000 x 3368, 3984 x 2240, 2976 x 1680, 2400 x 1344; 1:1 aspect: 4000 x 4000, 2656 x 2656, 1984 x 1984, 1600 x 1600; Movies – (Full HD) 1920 x 1080 at 50 / 25 / 24 fps, (HD) 1280 x 720 at 25 fps, VGA at 25 fps; Time-Lapse Movie (Full HD)
Shutter speed range: Auto mode – 1 to 1/3200 seconds; Tv and M modes – 15 to 1/3200 seconds
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus Custom option
Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift; up to 3.5 f-stops compensation plus 5-axis Enhanced Dynamic IS for movies
Exposure Compensation: +/-3EV in 1/3 stop increments plus ND filter (3 stop) On / Auto / Off
Bracketing: AEB – 1/3 ““ 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments; focus bracketing
Focus system:Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 49 AF points; Single, Continuous, Servo AF/AE Touch AF with Touch and Drag available when EVF is in use; 9-point AF Zone focus or 1-point AF via manual selection; area size is customisable; MF peaking and AF+MF
AF range: 10 cm to infinity (w), 30 cm to infinity (t)
Exposure metering/control: Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot
Shooting modes: Smart Auto (58 scenes detected), Hybrid Auto, P, Tv, Av, M, C1, C2, Special Scene, Movie (Standard, Short Clip, Manual, Time-lapse movie)
Scene pre-sets: Self-Portrait, Portrait, Smooth Skin, Panoramic Shot, Panning, Star (Star Nightscape, Star Trails, Star Time-Lapse Movie), Handheld Night Scene, Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Fish-eye Effect, Art Bold effect, Water painting effect, Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect, HDR, Underwater, Fireworks
Picture Styles: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (x3)
ISO range: Auto, ISO 100 to 25600 in 1/3EV steps; max. ISO and rate of change selectable
White balance: TTL Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, Flash, Underwater, Colour Temperature (100K increments), WEB compensation of +/- 9 levels in B/A and M/G axes
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro; red-eye reduction and 2nd curtain synch available; range – 50 cm to 9.0 m (w) or 4.5 m (t)
Sequence shooting: Max. 5.2 frames/second
Buffer memory depth: 29 JPEGs, 7 raw files, 6 RAW+JPEG
Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS Speed Class 1 compatible) memory cards
Viewfinder: 0.39 type OLED EVF with approx. 2,360,000 dots; 100% coverage, 22mm eyepoint -3.0 to +1.0 dpt adjustment
LCD monitor: Vari-angle 3-inch Touchscreen TFT LCD with 1,040,000 dots; 3:2 aspect ratio, reinforced glass cover, electrostatic touch panel, 100% frame coverage, 5 levels of brightness adjustment
Interface terminals/communications: Hi-Speed USB dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible), HDMI Micro Connector , Remote Switch connector, Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11 b/g/n), (2.4 GHz only), with Dynamic NFC support, Bluetooth low energy technology (v. 4.1)
Power supply: NB-13L rechargeable battery; CIPA rated for approx. 200 shots/charge (250 shots/charge in Eco mode)
Dimensions (wxhxd): 115.0 x 77.9 x 51.4 mm
Weight: Approx. 399 grams (with battery and memory card)
Distributor:Canon Australia; 1800 021 167; www.canon.com.au
Based on JPEG files.
Based on CR2.RAW files processed with Adobe Camera Raw.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.
Auto white balance with flash lighting.
ISO 100, 30-second exposure at f/5.6; 30mm focal length.
ISO 800, 15-second exposure at f/8; 30mm focal length.
ISO 1600, 10-second exposure at f/7.1; 30mm focal length.
ISO 6400, 5-second exposure at f/5.6; 30mm focal length.
ISO 12800, 3.2-second exposure at f/6.3; 30mm focal length.
ISO 25600, 2-second exposure at f/7.1; 30mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 100; 1/60 second at f/5.6; 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 800; 1/60 second at f/5.6; 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 1600; 1/60 second at f/5.6; 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 1/60 second at f/7.1; 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 1/60 second at f/16; 45mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 25600; 1/60 second at f/16; 45mm focal length.
Vignetting in raw files at 15mm f/2.8.
Vignetting in raw files at 45mm f/5.6.
Rectilinear distortion in raw files at 15mm.
Rectilinear distortion in raw files at 45mm.
15mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/1000 second at f/9.
45mmfocal length, ISO 200, 1/1000 second at f/9.
1.6x digital zoom; 45mmfocal length, ISO 200, 1/1000 second at f/9.
2x digital zoom; 45mmfocal length, ISO 200, 1/800 second at f/9.
Close-up with macro focus setting; 45mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/80 second at f/5.6.
Close-up with macro focus setting and evenly-lit background; 45mm focal length, ISO 250, 1/320 second at f/5.6.
Close-up with macro focus setting and bright highlights in the background; 45mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/5.6.
Strong backlighting with JPEG file, ISO 200, 15mm focal length, 1/250 second at f/8.
Strong backlighting with CR2.RAW file and additional processing in Adobe Camera Raw, 15mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/400 second at f/8.
45mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/8.
15mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/13 second at f/8.
45mm focal length plus 2x digital zoom, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
16:9 aspect ratio; 34mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/1250 second at f/7.1.
15mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1.
Crop from the above image enlarged to 100%.
26mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/640 second at f/4.5.
45mm focal length plus 2x digital zoom, ISO 200, 1/200 second at f/8.
29mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/50 second at f/5.
Still frame from Full HD 50p video clip with full optical zoom.
Still frame from Full HD 50p video clip with maximum digital zoom.
Still frame from Full HD 25p video clip.
Still frame from HD 25p video clip.
Still frame from VGA 25p video clip.
RRP: n/a. MSRP: AU$1629; US$1299
- Build: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.6
- Autofocusing: 8.7
- Image quality JPEG: 8.8
- Image quality RAW: 9.0
- Video quality: 8.1