Canon PowerShot G3 X

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      ‘Bridge’ style cameras with large sensors and integrated long-zoom lenses have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly for travellers looking for better imaging performance than their smartphones can deliver. Panasonic and Sony continue to set trends in this category, introducing larger sensors and better movie capabilities, and in the latter area they retain a lead.

      The PowerShot G3 X gives photographers a competing camera with DSLR-like controls, a large image sensor, touch-screen capabilities and a longer zoom range ““ all in a smaller and lighter, weatherproof body.

      Other than the requirement for an add-on EVF,  there’s little to complain about; image quality is excellent and movie footage shouldn’t disappoint purchasers.


      Full review

      Canon’s latest PowerShot G-Series camera, the PowerShot G3 X, is positioned as an alternative to the flagship PowerShot G1X Mark II and G7X models, with which it shares some features. Announced in mid-June, the G3X has the same 20-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor as the G7X but sports a 25x optical zoom lens with a range from 24-600mm (35mm equivalent). It’s also weatherproof and offers a wider range of movie options (although not 4K support).


       Angled front view of the Canon PowerShot G3X. (Source: Canon.)

      The G3X gives Canon a camera to compete with Panasonic’s FZ1000 and Sony’s RX10-series, which established the category of large-sensor digicams with extended-range zoom lenses. It has the longest zoom range (600mm equivalent, compared with 400mm and 200mm respectively) but the maximum aperture of f/2.8 contracts to f/5 mid-way along the zoom range and f/5.6 shortly after, whereas Sony’s cameras have a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range.

      The G3X lags its rivals when it comes to video; both the FZ1000 and RX10 Mark II support 4K video ““ at consumer-level standard.   But it does offer clean HDMI output for use with external recorders and, like the RX10 II, includes a headphone jack for monitoring audio recordings. The table below compares other features of the three cameras.


      PowerShot G3 X

      Panasonic FZ1000

      Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark II

      Body materials


      Polycarbonate plastic






      Sensor (effective resolution)

      20.2MP BSI-CMOS

      20.1MP High Sensitivity MOS Sensor

      20.2MP stacked CMOS sensor with DRAM chip

      Sensor size

      13.2 x 8.8mm

      Sensitivity range

      ISO 125-12800

      ISO 80-25600

      ISO 100-25600



      25-400mm f/2.8-4.0


      Zoom magnification




      Closest focus

      5 cm

      3 cm

      13 cm

      Max. Continuous shooting

      5.9 fps

      9.5 fps

      14 fps



      0.39-type EVF, 2,359,296 dots

      AF system


      Shutter speeds

      30 – 1/2000 sec + Bulb

      60 – 1/4000 sec + Bulb (mechanical); 1-16,000 sec (electronic)

      30 – 1/3200 sec + Bulb (mechanical);   1-32,000 sec (electronic)  


      Tilting 3.2-inch sRGB PureColor II G with 1,620,000 dots

      Free-angle 3-inch TFT with 921,000 dots

      Tilting 3-inch, Xtra Fine/ TFT LCD 1,228,800 dots

      Touch screen



      Video options

      MPEG-4 H.264
       1080/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p; 720/30p, VGA/30p

      MP4 – 4K /25p; FHD @ 50p/25p, HD @ 25p, VGA @ 25p; AVCHD – FHD @ 50p/50i,24p/25p

      XAVC – 4K/25p; FHD @ 100p/50p/25p; AVCHD – 1080p @ 50p/50I/25p; MP4 -1080p @ 50p/25p, 720p @ 25p


      USB, mini HDMI, DC-In, Wi-Fi/NFC, 3.5 mm jacks for mic and headphone

      USB, micro HDMI, DC-In, Wi-Fi/NFC 2.5 mm jack for remote, 3.5 mm jack for mic

      USB, micro HDMI, DC-In, Wi-Fi/NFC, mic and headphone jacks, remote control jack

      Battery capacity (CIPA rated)

      300 shots/charge

      360 shots/charge

      400 shots/charge

      Dimensions (wxhxd)

      123 x 77 x 105  mm

      136.8 x 98.5 x 130.7 mm

      129.0 x 88.1 x 102.2 mm

      Weight with battery

      733 grams

      831 grams

      813 grams

      MSRP ($AU)




      The G3X is supplied with a lens cap (with strap), a neck strap and a separate battery charger. Unlike the FZ1000 and RX10 Mark II (which come with integrated EVFs plus lens hoods that can be reversed for storage), the EVF and lens hood are optional extras.

      Who’s it For?
         ‘Bridge’ style cameras with large sensors and integrated long-zoom lenses have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly for travellers looking for better imaging performance than their smartphones can deliver. Panasonic and Sony continue to set trends in this category, introducing larger sensors and better movie capabilities and in the latter area they retain a lead.

      The G3X gives loyal Canon customers the option of a competing camera with DSLR-like controls, a large image sensor, touch-screen capabilities and a longer zoom range ““ all in a smaller and lighter, weatherproof body. However, it lacks its rivals’ scope for customisation and the requirement for an add-on EVF will put many potential buyers off.

      Build and Ergonomics
       If you ignore the lens, the body of the PowerShot G3 X is more DSLR-like than previous G-series models, although its control layout  retains many characteristics of the line. Made primarily from magnesium-alloy, the G3 X is dust- and drip-resistant, enabling it to be used in light rain or spray as well as blown dust.


      Front view of the PowerShot G3X with the pop-up flash raised. (Source: Canon.)
       The grip moulding is larger and more generous than the one on the G1X Mark II. (There’s no moulding on the G7X.) It has a relatively deep finger notch to improve stability and security.

      Aside from the lens, the only other features on the front panel are an LED that doubles as an AF-assist light and self-timer indicator and apair of tiny microphone slits just above the lens.  
       The 25x superzoom lens (24-600mm equivalent zoom range) dominates the front panel and protrudes roughly 70 mm, even when power is off. (Powering-up the camera extends the inner barrel by about 20 mm.) Its design is quite sophisticated, with 18 elements in six groups. UD (ultra-low dispersion) and aspherical elements were used  throughout, but Canon hasn’t revealed how many of each or where they’re positioned

      The Zoom Framing Assist button on the lens barrel makes it easy to re-locate subjects by momentarily zooming out and displaying a white frame around the selected area when it is pressed. Releasing the button restores the original view. The lens also carries a button for switching between auto and manual focusing.

      Five-axis image stabilisation is built-in to correct axial rotation,   horizontal rotation, vertical rotation as well as up/down and side-to-side jitter. The system provides enough stability to steady movie recordings made while the photographer is walking or travelling in a moving vehicle.


      Top view of the Canon PowerShot G3 X when the camera is powered-up. (Source: Canon.)

      The top view of the camera shows how big the lens actually is and reveals the main camera controls. The shutter button is located near the front of the grip and surrounded by a zoom lever. Behind is on the main top panel are the dedicated movie button, next to which is the semi-recessed front control dial.

      A dial for adjusting exposure compensation sits in the right rear corner of the panel, with a prominent mode dial (non-locking) juts right of the hot-shoe. Between them, the power on/off button lies flush with the top panel. A pop-up flash is embedded in the left hand end of the panel. It’s raised by pushing a lever switch on the adjacent side panel.  


      Rear view of the Canon PowerShot G3 X with the monitor flat on the camera body. (Source: Canon.)

      Most of the rear panel is covered by the 3.2-inch sRGB PureColor II G capacitive touchscreen LCD (TFT) monitor, which tilts up through 180 degrees for selfie shooters and pulls out through about 45 degrees for above-the-head shooting. It has a 3:2 aspect ratio plus a resolution of approximately 1,620,000 dots.


      Front view of the PowerShot G3 X with the monitor flipped up. (Source: Canon.)

      Right of the monitor is a standard collection of button controls, including an arrow pad with rotating control dial and directional buttons accessing the ISO/Wi-Fi, flash, AF/drive and macro settings. The remaining buttons cover playback, display, menu, erase and AF frame selection and there’s a ‘shortcut’ button which isn’t explained in the user manual ““ and which didn’t seem to do anything when pressed.

      The memory card and rechargeable battery share a compartment in the base of the camera; digicam style. There are two sockets beside it in the base plate, one being a standard metal-lined tripod socket. The other one’s purpose isn’t specified in the user manual.

      A pull-up flap on the right hand side panel covers the digital terminal and HDMI port. Jacks for the external microphone and headphones are located on the other side panel.

       All the in-camera adjustments for JPEG files provided by the G7X carry over to the G3 X. It has the same Creative Filter effects, Scene presets and shooting modes, too, the only difference being the addition of an extra C (Custom) memory position on the mode dial.

      Aside from the lens, there are no features in the G3X that haven’t already been used in other Canon cameras. Canon lists the following in its brochure and on its website:

      • 25x optical zoom lens,
      • 20.2 megapixel 1-inch type CMOS sensor,
      • Intelligent IS with 5-axis stabilisation,
      • 180-degree tilt-up monitor,
      • Zoom Framing Assist,
      • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC,
      • Dust and water resistance,
      • Headphone jack,
      • DIGIC 6 processor.

      There are downsides to some of these benefits. For starters, the maximum aperture of the lens contracts pretty quickly as focal length increases. In our tests, we found the following maximum aperture/focal length relationships:

      Focal length

      Maximum aperture







      31.7mm to 42.6mm


      95mm to 220 mm


      This means you’ve lost two full f-stops of exposure by the time you’re less than half-way along the zoom range. In effect, three quarters of the light reaching the sensor at the 8.8mm focal length is lost by around the 95mm position.

      This may not mean much to photographers shooting in bright ambient lighting. In fact, many will appreciate the provision of a built-in ND filter that reduces incoming light intensity by about three f-stops, allowing wide aperture settings and/or slow shutter speeds to be used in bright conditions.

      But it will matter a lot if you try photographing birds, animals or sports in low light levels and inclement weather. The integrated stabilisation system will be working hard if the camera is to produce sharp pictures.

      Sensor and Image Processing
       Both are the same as the G7X‘s and detailed in our review of that camera. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 125 to 12,800 equivalent, which is a slightly shorter range than competing cameras from Panasonic and Sony. However, both the G3X and G7X restrict long exposures at the highest ISO settings to a maximum of one second, limiting its low light versatility.

      In addition, the G3X’s fastest continuous shooting rate is 5.9 frames/second with focus locked on the first frame or 3.2 fps with AiServo AF, whereas the G7X can support a maximum continuous shooting rate of 6.5 frames/second (fps) with focus locked on the first frame or 4.4 fps with Live View and/or AF tracking.

       Movie options are the same as the G7X‘s but the G3 X comes with dedicated microphone and headphone jacks. It also supports a live HDMI output, so users can view recorded footage on external monitors as they shoot. Full HD movies can be recorded with variable frame rates from 24p up to 60p, and the G3 X supports manual control of the lens aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings.

      Wi-Fi and NFC
       Both have been carried across largely unchanged from the G7X  and are covered in our review of that camera.

      Playback and Software
       Playback settings are essentially the same as the G7X‘s. The review camera was supplied with a printed ‘Getting Started’ manual and we had to download the full manual from Canon’s website. It’s an 11.14MB PDF file that covers most functions, although some are lacking in important details.

      No software disk was provided with the camera but it’s easy enough to download Canon’s software from one of the company’s websites. Early purchasers should note that the G3X wasn’t covered by Adobe Camera Raw when we carried out our tests so we had to download Digital Photo Professional software for converting raw files from the camera into editable formats that could be used in our Imatest tests. (ACR 9.1.1, which supports the G3X was released just before this review was published.)

       Still images appeared sharp straight out of the camera but were improved slightly with a little unsharp masking in Photoshop. Colour saturation was well constrained and the overall colour balance in most shots was natural looking. Imatest showed a slight tendency to boost warm hues more than cool ones, which is typical of many cameras.

      Autofocusing was fast and accurate in most types of lighting, provided contrast was high enough for the system to find an edge. After dark, the camera sometimes had trouble finding an edge and the touch AF/shutter control tended to produce unsharp images, even when the camera indicated the subject was in focus.

      The zoom lens was quite impressive, producing sharp images throughout its range. Even the digital zoom setting delivered acceptable sharpness with minimal evidence of artefacts, suggesting the built-in stabilisation system was also an above average performer.

      Our Imatest results were better than those we obtained with the G7X, suggesting the lens plays an important role in imaging performance. JPEG CR2.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFFs with Digital Photo Professional matched expectations for the sensor’s resolution around the 22mm focal length setting roughly a stop down from the maximum aperture. CR2.RAW files shot at the same time were well above expectations.

      The usual difference in resolution between JPEG and CR2.RAW files from the camera persisted across the supported sensitivity range. Resolution held up well until about ISO 3200, where a gradual decline in sharpness became apparent. The graph below plots the results of our tests across the review camera’s sensitivity range.



      Edge softening was noticeable at the widest aperture settings with all focal lengths we tested. Diffraction began to take effect from about f/5.6 on, with a sharp drop between f/7.1 and the minimum aperture of f/11. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


       Lateral chromatic aberration ranged between borderline negligible at 8.8mm and low at the 13.2mm, 22mm and 95mm focal length settings, straying into the moderate range with the 31.7mm and 42.6mm focal lengths. Fortunately, there was no obvious coloured fringing in test shots taken with the review camera.The graph below shows the results of our tests, with the red line indicating the boundary between negligible and low CA and the green line separating low and moderate CA.


      Auto white balance performance was typical of many digicams, with close-to-neutral colours under fluorescent and flash lighting but insufficient correction of incandescent lighting.   The pre-sets over-corrected slightly, but  the camera provides plenty of scope for tweaking colours as you shoot. Manual measurement produced neutral colours under all three types of lighting.

      Our flash tests were shot with the 47mm focal length. Overall performance was good, with about a stop of under-exposure at ISO 125 but thereafter consistent exposure levels across the sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 12800. Shots taken with the three highest ISO settings appeared flatter and softer than those taken between ISO 200 and ISO 1600 (inclusive).

      Video performance was a step up from the footage we obtained with the G1X Mark II. Autofocusing was also snappier. We found only slight delays when the focus was locking onto the subject at the beginning of a clip and re-focusing on moving subjects was acceptably quick and accurate. Soundtracks were slightly better than average quality, although the stereo presence wasn’t strong.

      Our timing tests were carried out with a 16GB SanDisk Ultra SDHC UHS-1memory card, which claims write transfer speeds of 40MB/second. The review camera powered up ready for shooting in approximately 1.2 seconds, which is fast for a superzoom digicam. With the lens at medium zoom we measured an average capture lag of 0.25 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 second with pre-focusing. It took 0.8 seconds to process each high-resolution JPEG image, 1.1 seconds for a raw file and 1.2 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.8 seconds without flash and 2.1 seconds with.

      In the normal continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 42 Large/fine JPEG frames in 14.2 seconds without appearing to slow down. The last frame was processed within a second of its capture.   With raw files, capture rates slowed and we were able to record 10 frames in 11.4 seconds.   Processing appeared to be on-the-fly. Further slowing occurred with RAW+JPEG pairs, where recording 10 shots took 15 seconds. Processing this burst was also completed within a second of the last frame recorded.

       We concluded our reviews of the PowerShot G1X Mark II and G7X by stating The lack of a built-in viewfinder is always a deal-breaker for us and we’re still of that opinion. Particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, where skies are often clear, a viewfinder, no matter how basic, is better than none at all.


      The PowerShot G3 X shown with the optional EVF fitted. (Source: Canon.)

      Sure, Canon offers an add-on EVF that fits both the G1X Mark II and G3X ““ but it’s expensive (AU$299 as listed on Canon’s local store). It also compromises the otherwise clean lines of the camera body, as shown above, and makes it more awkward to pack the camera into a camera bag if it’s left in place. Fitting the EVF takes long enough to cause photographers to miss shots in many situations.

      Aside from that, there’s little to complain about; image quality is excellent and movie footage shouldn’t disappoint purchasers.

      It’s early days for this camera so there’s not much discounting locally ““ or through off-shore re-sellers.   We found a couple of local re-sellers who knocked between $100 and $200 off Canon’s listed price so it’s worth shopping around locally   as the camera will be cheaper in Australia once exchange rates and shipping are accounted for.



      Image sensor: 12.8 x 9.6 mm back-illuminated CMOS sensor with 20.9 million photosites (20.2 megapixels  effective)
       Image processor: DIGIC 6 with iSAPS technology
       A/D processing: 14-bit
       Lens: 8.8 to 220mm f/2.8-f/5.6 zoom lens (35 mm equivalent: 24 ““ 600 mm)    
       Zoom ratio: 25x optical, up to 4x digital
       Image formats: Stills – JPEG  (DCF / Exif 2.3), CR2.RAW; Movies – MP4 [Video: MPEG-4 AVC / H.264, Audio: MPEG-4 AAC-LC (stereo)], iFrame
       Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2: 5472 x 3648, 4320 x 2880, 2304 x 1536, 720 x 480; 4:3: 4864 x 3648, 3840 x 2880, 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480; 16:9: 5472 x 3080, 4320 x 2432, 1920 x 1080, 720 x 408; 1:1: 3648 x 3648, 2880 x 2880, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480; 4:5: 2912 x 3648, 2304 x 2880, 1232 x 1536, 384 x 480; Movies – 1920 x 1080 at 50, 30, 25 fps, 1280 x 720 at 30 fps, 640 x 480 at 30 fps, Star Time-Lapse Movie (Full HD) 30/15 fps, Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6 fps, 3 fps, 1.5 fps, Hybrid Auto (HD) 29.97/25 fps, iFrame Movie (Full HD) 29.97/25 fps
       Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/2000 seconds (total range varies by shooting mode) plus Bulb
       Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
       Image Stabilisation: Lens shift-type: approx. 3.5-stops plus Intelligent IS with 5-axis Advanced Dynamic IS
       Exposure Compensation: +/- 3 EV in 1/3 stop increments; manual and automatic dynamic range correction; automatic shadow correction; ND Filter (3-stops)
       Bracketing: AEB 1/3 to 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
       Focus system/range: Contrast-based TTL AF with AiAF (31-point, Face Detection or Touch AF with Object and Face Select and Track), 1-point AF (any position is available or fixed centre);   Single, Continuous, Servo AF/AE and Touch A modes; range:5 cm to infinity
       Exposure metering/control: Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre or linked to Touch AF frame)
       Shooting modes: Smart Auto (58 scenes detected), Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Custom 1, Custom 2, Hybrid Auto, Creative Shot, SCN (Sports, Portrait, Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), Star (Star Nightscape, Star Trails, Star Time-Lapse Movie), Handheld Night Scene, Snow, Fireworks), Creative Filters (High Dynamic Range, Nostalgic, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Background Defocus, Soft Focus, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect), Movie
       In-camera effects: My Colours (My Colours Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Colour)
       ISO range: Auto (ISO 125-6400), ISO 125 to 12800 in 1/3EV steps
       White balance: Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Custom 1, Custom 2; Multi-area WB correction available in Smart Auto White Balance; Compensation Colour adjustment in Star mode
       Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro; range 60 cm to 6.8 m (W) / 85 cm to 3.1 m (T)
       Sequence shooting: Max. 5.9 frames/second
       Buffer memory depth (based on tests): JPEGs, raw files, RAW+JPEG
       Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS Speed Class 1 compatible)
       Viewfinder: Optional electronic viewfinder EVF-DC1 (0.48 type), 4:3 aspect ratio, approx. 2,360,000 dots, 100% coverage
       LCD monitor: Tilting 3.2-inch sRGB PureColor II G capacitive touchscreen LCD (TFT). 3:2 aspect ratio. Approx. 1,620,000 dots
       Interface terminals/communications: Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) DIGITAL connector, HDMI Mini Connector, A/V output (PAL/NTSC) External microphone (3.5 mm Stereo mini jack) Headphone Output (3.5 mm jack)
       Wi-Fi: IEEE802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz only), with Dynamic NFC support  
       Power supply: NB-10L rechargeable Li-ion battery, CIPA rated for approx. 300 shots/charge (  Eco mode approx. 410 shots)
       Dimensions (wxhxd): 123.3 x 76.5 x 105.3 mm
       Weight: Approx. 733 grams (with battery and memory card)



      Based on JPEG files.




      Based on CR2.RAW files processed with Digital Photo Professional.








      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.  


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


       Auto white balance with flash lighting.


      ISO 125, 30-second exposure at f/4.5; 22mm focal length.


      ISO 800, 13-second exposure at f/5.6; 22mm focal length.


      ISO 3200, 6-second exposure at f/8; 22mm focal length.


      ISO 6400, 1-second exposure at f/7.1; 22mm focal length.


      ISO 12800, 1-second exposure at f/10; 22mm focal length.


      Flash exposure at ISO 125; 1/60 second at f/5; 47mm focal length.


      Flash exposure at ISO 800; 1/60 second at f/5; 47mm focal length.


      Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 1/60 second at f/5; 47mm focal length.


      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 1/80 second at f/5; 47mm focal length.


      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 1/60 second at f/8; 47mm focal length.


      8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/125 second at f/8.


      220mm  focal length, ISO 125, 1/100 second at f/5.6.


      Digital zoom; 220mm  focal length, ISO 125, 1/800 second at f/5.6.


      Close-up in Macro mode; 8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/320 second at f/4.


      Close-up in Macro mode; 220mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/250 second at f/5.6.


      Strong backlighting; 8.8mm  focal length, ISO 125, 1/500 second at f/8.


      193mm  focal length, ISO 200, 1/640 second at f/5.6.


      220mm focal length plus 2x digital zoom, ISO 125, 1/1250 second at f/8.


      76mm  focal length, ISO 800, 1/100 second at f/5.6.


      159mm  focal length, ISO 400, 1/160 second at f/5.6.


      50mm  focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/5.


      8.8mm  focal length, ISO 125, 1/1250 second at f/4.5.


      17mm  focal length, ISO 125, 1640 second at f/4.


      23mm  focal length, ISO 1600, 1/50 second at f/8.


      8.8mm  focal length, ISO 800, 1/125 second at f/5.


      Still frame from Full HD 1080/50p video clip.



       Still frame from Full HD 1080/25p video clip.


       Still frame from HD 720/25p video clip.


       Still frame from VGA/25p video clip.



      RRP: n/a  MSRP: AU$1299; US$999.99

      • Build: 8.8
      • Ease of use: 8.8
      • Autofocusing: 8.8
      • Image quality JPEG: 8.8
      • Image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality: 8.8