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Preview: Canon PowerShot G1 X large sensor zoom compact

By dpreview staff on Jan 10, 2012 at 00:01 GMT
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Just Posted: Our hands-on preview of the Canon G1 X large sensor zoom compact. Canon is swimming against the tide somewhat with the G1 X - a camera that embraces the large-sensors used by most mirrorless cameras, but foregoing the interchangeable lenses to create a relatively compact all-rounder. The camera combines a 28-112mm equivalent, F2.8-5.8 stabilized zoom with a 14MP sensor just a fraction smaller than those in Canon's DSLRs. Could this be the photographers' compact that we always wanted the G series to be? Read our preview to find out.

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Press Release:

Canon unveils The Master Compact – the revolutionary PowerShot G1 X

London, UK, 9th January 2012 – Canon today introduces the PowerShot G1 X – a revolutionary new compact camera with a large CMOS sensor, designed to produce DSLR levels of image quality and control in a highly portable metal body. Created for professional and serious photographers, the PowerShot G1 X creates a prestigious new category at the top of Canon's legendary G-series line-up, and redefines the
performance achievable from a compact camera.

A high-quality camera in its own right or the perfect complement to a professional DSLR, the PowerShot G1 X combines EOS sensor technology with DIGIC 5 processing power, a new precision Canon lens and extensive manual control – creating the finest compact camera Canon has ever produced. Designed to be highly portable, the PowerShot G1 X features a zoom lens which retracts into a discreet, robust metal body, providing photographers with an unimposing camera that delivers high quality images and superior handling.

Professional levels of image quality

Incorporating Canon-developed technologies and expertise trusted by professionals worldwide, the PowerShot G1 X offers a level of image quality previously only possible with a Canon DSLR. It's Canon's first compact camera to feature a large, 4:3 aspect, 14.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor measuring 18.7mm x 14mm – similar in height to the APS-C sensors used within EOS DSLR models. Featuring the same pixel size and structure as the EOS 600D, and a surface area approximately 6.3 times larger than the sensor in the acclaimed PowerShot G12, it provides DSLR image quality in a body small enough to carry anywhere.

The increased sensor size allows photographers to have greater control over the depth of field, with increased potential to creatively and artistically isolate a subject from its background. Improved dynamic range enables users to accurately capture shadows and highlights within the same frame, while the 14.3 Megapixel resolution allows for the output of large-sized prints, or permits images to be cropped for more powerful compositions.

The PowerShot G1 X also features a range of benefits that result from the advanced CMOS sensor technology developed within Canon's EOS range. On-chip noise reduction ensures images are clear, even at high ISO speeds, while a 4-channel read-out provides high speed image capture – ensuring fast, responsive performance in all conditions.

Combining the large sensor with the DIGIC 5 image processor, the HS System in the PowerShot G1 X sets new standards for low-light performance, with a maximum fullresolution ISO range of 100 to 12800 – a level never before seen in a Canon compact. Photographers can shoot using the ambient light in even the darkest of conditions, capturing natural shots with incredible detail and low noise – providing a powerful basis for low-light photography.

Precision lens technology

Developed using the same design, manufacturing and quality processes as the world renowned EF lens range, the lens in the PowerShot G1 X is built to achieve professional levels of image quality. Utilising Ultra high refractive index Aspherical (UA) elements and precision glass moulding technology, the lens achieves both a compact size and pin-sharp clarity for the most discerning of photographers. The lens retracts compactly into the camera body while offering a flexible 4x optical zoom range of 28mm – 112mm, giving photographers the option to use the zoom creatively and change the framing and perspective of their shot. A 6 blade aperture also combines with the largesized sensor to produce beautiful background blur.

To help ensure optimum image and Full HD movie clarity, the lens features a 4-stop optical Image Stabilizer (IS), allowing photographers to shoot in darker conditions and use shutter speeds up to four stops slower than would be possible without IS. The optical Image Stabilizer is supported by Intelligent IS which analyses the focal length, focal distance and type of camera movement and applies the most appropriate Image Stabilizer mode1. For example, when a panning motion is detected, Panning IS is activated and stabilises in only one direction for more artistic capture of movement across the frame. Hybrid IS technology is also included to capture macro subjects without the blur associated with shift camera shake.

The lens also includes an in-built 3-stop Neutral Density (ND) Filter, permitting the use of wider apertures in bright light to achieve a shallower depth of field, or to use slower shutter speeds to intentionally blur motion.

Extensive control

Following on from the control historically offered by the PowerShot G-series, the PowerShot G1 X offers Full Manual Control with shooting mode and exposure compensation dials for quick and intuitive access to a range of settings. For maximum control over the final image, the PowerShot G1 X fits seamlessly into the EOS photographer's workflow, supporting 14-bit RAW capture for smooth gradations and natural colours which can be fine-tuned using the supplied Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software.

Giving photographers the option to capture split-second action, the PowerShot G1 X features High-speed Burst HQ, capturing bursts of six full-resolution shots at 4.5fps to freeze fast-moving action. Alternatively, users can shoot continuously at 1.9fps right up to card capacity in JPEG format – ensuring longer sequences of action are captured.

High quality, Full HD movies

The PowerShot G1 X supports Full HD (1080p) movie capture instantly at 24fps, via a dedicated movie button. Taking advantage of the camera's large CMOS sensor, users can experience high quality movies, even in low light conditions, with the shallow depth of field associated with a larger sensor. Additionally, the 4x optical zoom can be used whilst filming, offering versatility, while stereo sound is also captured.

Professional handling

With its robust, stainless steel chassis and compact design, the PowerShot G1 X offers professional-quality handling. A large vari-angle, 7.5cm (3.0") PureColor II VA LCD screen allows photographers to shoot from virtually any angle or position, to get the composition they desire. The bright, high-resolution, 920k dot LCD provides a sharp, detailed platform for image framing and review, while an optical viewfinder (OVF) with dioptre adjuster gives photographers the option to shoot according to their individual style. A newly-integrated manual pop-up flash provides the option to add additional light to a scene, and, using the hotshoe, external Canon Speedlite flashes can also be used.

Advanced shooting modes

A range of advanced shooting modes are provided to assist photographers in capturing challenging scenes and situations. When shooting in very dark conditions without a tripod for example, Handheld Night Scene captures a high-speed sequence of shots, combining the data to produce one well-exposed image with minimal blur.

Additionally, High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode captures scenes with a particularly high range of bright and dark tones, taking multiple exposures and combining them to deliver rich detail in shadows and highlights.

Expanded potential through accessories

Ideal for EOS DSLR users, the PowerShot G1 X is compatible with a range of EOS System accessories, allowing photographers to instantly expand the potential of the camera. Canon's EX Speedlite flash units can be used for creative lighting, while the WP-DC44 waterproof case provides protection to a depth of 40m – ideal for shooting in the heavy rain or taking shots underwater – with full access to all controls.

An optional lens Filter Adapter, FA-DC58C, also enables photographers to use a range of filters, such as a circular polariser to enhance blue skies or remove reflections. For more even lighting when shooting macro subjects, a Macro Ring Lite adapter (MLA-DC1) allows Canon's Macro Ring Lite or Twin Lite flash units from the EOS System to be used.

Offering truly advanced levels of professional control alongside unprecedented image quality, the PowerShot G1 X is the ideal camera for professional and serious photographers who demand DSLR flexibility and quality from a compact camera.

PowerShot G1 X – key features:

  • Large 14.3 MP CMOS, DIGIC 5, HS System
  • Compact 4x zoom; Intelligent IS
  • 7.5 cm (3.0") vari-angle LCD; OVF
  • Full Manual, RAW, DPP
  • Full HD, HDMI
  • High-speed Burst HQ
  • Smart Auto
  • Extensive accessories
  • HDR mode and ND filter
  • Optional 40m waterproof case

Canon PowerShot G1 X Specfications

MSRP$799, £699, €749
Body type
Body typeLarge sensor compact
Body materialMetal
Max resolution4352 x 3264
Other resolutions4352 x 2248, 4352 x 2904, 3264 x 3264, 3072 x 2304, 3072 x 1728, 3072 x 2048, 2608 x 3264, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1080, 1840 x 2304, 1600 x 1200, 1600 x 1064, 1200 x 1200, 960 x 1200, 640 x 480, 640 x 360, 640 x 424, 480 x 480, 384 x 480
Image ratio w:h1:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels14 megapixels
Sensor size1.5″ (18.7 x 14 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorDigic 5
Color filter arrayPrimary Color Filter
ISOAuto, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200, 4000, 5000, 6400, 8000, 10000, 12800
White balance presets7
Custom white balanceYes (2)
Image stabilizationOptical
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
File format
  • JPEG Exif 2.3
  • RAW
  • DPOF 1.1
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)28–112 mm
Optical zoom4×
Maximum apertureF2.8 - F5.8
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Digital zoomYes (4x)
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range40 cm (15.75)
Macro focus range20 cm (7.87)
Number of focus points9
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size3
Screen dots920,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT PureColor II LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (tunnel)
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Smart Auto
  • Program
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Manual
  • Scene
  • Creative Filter
  • Movie
Scene modes
  • Movie Digest
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Kids & Pets
  • Sports
  • Smart Shutter (Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer)
  • High-speed Burst HQ
  • Handheld Night Scene
  • Beach
  • Underwater
  • Foliage
  • Snow
  • Fireworks
  • Stitch Assist
Built-in flashYes
Flash range7.00 m (via hot shoe EX series Speedlites, Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX)
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, Fill-in
Drive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Continuous with AF
  • Self-timer
Continuous drive2 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec, custom)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Videography notesMiniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini)
Remote controlYes (Optional (RS60-E3))
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion NB-10L rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)250
Weight (inc. batteries)534 g (1.18 lb / 18.84 oz)
Dimensions117 x 81 x 65 mm (4.61 x 3.19 x 2.56)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

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Canon PowerShot G1 X


Total comments: 791
Anirban Banerjee
By Anirban Banerjee (Jan 9, 2012)

Lens is too slow at 60mm (120mm equivalent).

By aleksdat (Jan 9, 2012)

Too slow compare to what?

1 upvote
By tt321 (Jan 9, 2012)

Most M4/3 kit zooms are this speed approximately at the long end, which is usually shorter than 112 equivalent. It's getting less reasonable to get a M4/3 with only the kit lens...

1 upvote
By D1N0 (Jan 9, 2012)

I like it. Especially the sensor size. This could be as good as a SLC.

By ci-lee (Jan 9, 2012)

well they came thru with the larger sensor size but really messed up the rest of the camera. 1) lens is too slow...esp @ the long end. 2) it looks like an ergonomic nightmare...imagine trying to adjust settings using back wheel which is pushed all the way to the edge of the camera. 3) same old crap VF 4) macro distance of 20cm?!? 5) no manual a camera this size, a barrel zoom would fit and make operation much quicker! looks like I'll be keeping my X10...even with the smaller sensor, the considerably faster lens (throughout the zoom range) probably offers better DOF control and probably similar low light performance (smaller sensor but brighter lens). Just waiting for that firmware update now ;) To Canon's credit though, I love the flip screen & direct movie record button and frankly cameras like this and the X10 are better implemented real world solutions than the Nikon 1-Series...imo.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By Revenant (Jan 9, 2012)

1) The lens is comparable with m4/3 camera with kit zoom. Quite respectable, I think. 2) I'd like to hold one myself before commenting on the ergonomics. 3) I use the VF in G12 a lot, just took some getting used to. But I agree, it's much worse than the OVF in DSLRs. 4) Macro distance is calculated from the focal plane, isn't it? Since the sensor is larger, the lens extends farther, so the front element of the lens can be much closer to the subject than 20 cm. Or maybe I'm wrong, I'm a bit unsure :P 5) Manual zoom would be nice, but not essential IMO.
If the faster lens combined with smaller sensor of X10 will give better DOF control/low light capability than the slower lens and larger sensor of G1X, that's a question for the camera reviewers to answer. In any case, both cameras look promising to me :)

1 upvote
By SerKol (Jan 9, 2012)

I will keep my X10 too. High-speed continuos shooting is a must for me - I have 4 little kids, I always use continuos shooting, and almost everytime the best frame is not the first one.

Cannon had better used a slightly smaller sensor and made a faster lense and a faster cont. shooting.

By ci-lee (Jan 9, 2012)

Revenant -
All valid counter points...especially the macro part. i baited myself on that one. While my prior statement of keeping the X10 holds true (especially if the X PRO 1 is in my future as it's new stable mate ;P), I do look forward to playing with the Canon @ my local camera store. We need more cameras that encourage a better understanding of photography in general (amazing how having easy access to A/S/M modes helped my fiancee get to grips on taking a good photo!). Oh yeah, the Canon wins in the no LENS CAP department as well!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
joe galluzzi
By joe galluzzi (Jan 9, 2012)

Was hoping for 2.0 or faster lens, 24mm wide angle and a bit more zoom.

By kb2zuz (Jan 9, 2012)

All 3 of those equate to either a MUCH heavier and bigger lens, or VERY VERY bad image quality. Would you rather have an f/2 24-80, and f/4 28-210, or an f/2 24-180 that weighs 4 lbs and won't collapse enough to fit in even the biggest of jacket pockets?

joe galluzzi
By joe galluzzi (Jan 9, 2012)

Not talking about having a 180 or 210mm, but they really should have gone to a 24mm lens and at least a 2.0 lens.
Had they done that I would have gotten the camera, for the time being I'll keep my LX3.

1 upvote
By manthasfamily (Jan 9, 2012)

Plus a wireless remote and $200 cheaper then I *might* add it to my list.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
By tamras29 (Jan 9, 2012)

Oh Canon! Now 5 years I still can't find a decent replacement for my Ricoh GX100. All I want is a 24mm start and lots of buttons. Is it just too much to ask?

By azhestiga (Jan 9, 2012)


By JackM (Jan 9, 2012)

Hope this sensor ends up in the next S100.

By ci-lee (Jan 9, 2012)

that would be nice but doubt they could cram this sensor and comparable lens into such a tidy package. When I had the S90 and S95, I really thought they made the G-series unnecessary...guess Canon figured that too and decided to differentiate the two lines by a wide margin going forward.

By webfrasse (Jan 10, 2012)

Then the next S100 will look like...G1 X. If the sensor grows the lens grows and thus the camera...

Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (Jan 9, 2012)

If you just bought DSLR with kit lens and you think, you wouldn't need other lenses - you just dumped your money... Canon had you big time :D

By fuego6 (Jan 9, 2012)

Meh.. 2.8-5.8... 4x lens... ok with 4x - its an ok range.. but 5.8?!?

By JackM (Jan 9, 2012)

Exactly. I'd take a 3x zoom if it were f/2.0 to f/4. This sensor is going to have to be darn good for this camera to compete with the XZ-1 and LX-5.

1 upvote
By Revenant (Jan 9, 2012)

You forget that this camera has a MUCH larger sensor than other high-end compacts. It's comparable with Panasonic/Olympus m4/3 cameras with kit zoom, and they outdo LX5 and XZ-1 in low light.

By kb2zuz (Jan 9, 2012)

@JackM, then don't use it at the 112mm equivalent , as you get more telephoto the lens stops down more, so if you want you can only use it to the 70mm equivalent.

By Flashback (Jan 9, 2012)

I agree why not 3:2?

By aleksdat (Jan 9, 2012)

3/2 requires a larger lens with equal diagonal

1 upvote
By dmanthree (Jan 9, 2012)

What a curious camera. While it looks nice, why would I buy this instead of something with interchangeable lenses? The f2.8 aperture is nice, but it vanishes quickly as the zoom extends.

By jorg14 (Jan 9, 2012)

It would be more compact than an interchangeable lens camera, and with a 4/3 sensor, f5.8 would be fairly clean still.

1 upvote
By aleksdat (Jan 9, 2012)

Firstly,EVIL are not so small as this one except with prime pancake only; secondly, EVIL kit lens are not faster, but at most of focal lengths G1X's optics faster than most of the zoom lenses. As a second camera and/or the camera for constant carrying with myself, this one is far preferable (giving greater flexibility in use with the small size, which covers most of the typical cases)

By fenceSitter (Jan 9, 2012)

I don't know why *you* would buy it. Me, I can imagine buying it because portability is tantamount to me, and this Canon's picture quality may turn out to be peerless for a camera this size and weight. Time will tell whether that is the case.

1 upvote
By andersf (Jan 9, 2012)

Looks awesome. What I don't understand is why they decided on a 4:3 sensor? 3:2 or even 16:9 would have made more sense.

By Bahrd (Jan 9, 2012)

The more square sensor the smaller lens?

By emgee72 (Jan 9, 2012)

naaah ... now you gave away the secret... ;-)

1 upvote
By D1N0 (Jan 9, 2012)

It uses a micro 43 sensor which always is 4:3. Look it up on wikipedia.

By increments (Jan 9, 2012)

D1NO, No it doesn't!

1 upvote
By nixda (Jan 9, 2012)

In my opinion, all sensors should be square to make optimal use of the light. Everything else is just cropping, either in camera or during PP.

By Atlasman (Jan 9, 2012)

Unless then can make rectangular lenses!

1 upvote
By aleksdat (Jan 9, 2012)

Composition rarely requires a square frame, and cutting the top of the frame, we will use significantly less space than if the picture was originally a rectangular

By anchorite64 (Jan 9, 2012)

Why not round? People rarely want round or square pictures and would only use a crop from such sensor. So it would be a waste most of the time. Making even even slightly larger sensor is much more expensive.

By esplak (Jan 9, 2012)

There must be a mistake on the specs.
The 18,7mm X 14mm make for a diagonal of 23,36mm or
0,92inch !!!
A far cry from the advertised 1,5inch.
Can somebody clarify the discrepancy.

By netgarden (Jan 10, 2012)

a 20mm-100mm might be more desireable, but other than that, yes it would be a nice body to have. I expect canon decided most would want both the s100 and this. One for the pocket. One for everything else. This boils down to ISO ability for me.

By Zerg2905 (Jan 10, 2012)

Disclaimer note: I own a G10.

Now, I have noticed this quite frequently on this post:"it's ugly" - which was more beautiful, T-34 or P-IVG? Which was more "engineered"? Which one won the war?

Back in 2012: I think this G1 X is a sort of T-34 among the compact cameras... various 4:3 included. We'll see.

Comment edited 56 seconds after posting
By lolopasstrail (Jan 10, 2012)

What a nice camera, I'm glad people make things like this.

Too bad it won't do real good in the market. Other than niche marketers (Fuji), mainstream buyers have a hard stop at $400.

All-in-one compacts that try to enter at $500 don't last at that price too long. Panasonic FZ-150, Nikon P7100 quickly dropped sub $400, and the S100 is starting to fall through as well.

This is certainly worth a modest price increase over the G12, but I don't think the market will sustain their wish prices. I'm calling for heavy discounting off intro price by summer.

Total comments: 791