Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II Review
One of the most exciting cameras that debuted in 2012 was Canon's PowerShot G1 X. It featured a 1.5" sensor (which is only 20% smaller than APS-C), 28-112mm lens (albeit a moderately slow one), fully articulating LCD, and optical viewfinder (a rarity at the time). The result was one of the first semi-pocketable cameras to offer image quality that rivaled that of interchangeable lens cameras. The G1 X was far from perfect: the lens' maximum aperture range of F2.8-5.8 wasn't great, AF performance and minimum focus distance were disappointing, continuous shooting rates were poor, and battery life was downright lousy.
With the 'Mark II' version of the PowerShot G1 X, Canon has addressed many of the shortcomings of its predecessor. For a start, the G1 X II has a faster lens that covers a wider focal range and can shoot much closer to a subject. It also promises a faster, more sophisticated AF system, improved continuous shooting, dual control dials around the lens, and Wi-Fi with NFC. The LCD has also been redesigned: it now tilts upward 180° and downward 45° - instead of flipping out to the side - and touch functionality has been added, as well. The camera is also significantly smaller than its forebear, now looking more like an over-grown S-series, rather than an out-sized G12. Something that got sacrificed in all this was the optical viewfinder, but fear not, you can buy a tilting XGA EVF for $300.
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II key features
- 12.8 megapixel 1.5"-type CMOS sensor
- Digic 6 processor
- 24-120mm equivalent F2.0-3.9 lens with optical IS
- Dual (customizable) control rings
- Tilting 3", 1.04M dot touchscreen LCD
- 5.2 fps continuous shooting
- Maintains same angle-of-view at 4:3 and 3:2
- Wi-Fi with NFC with remote control via smartphone
- 1080/30p video recording
- Optional XGA electronic viewfinder
The big story remains the G1 X II's 1.5"-type sensor which is around 5.6 times larger than the one found in Canon's own PowerShot G16. The result is still a fair bit smaller than the APS-C-sized sensors used in Canon's DSLRs, but then the camera is quite a bit smaller, too. It's interesting to compare the EOS-M, which is similar in body size, to the G1 X II: the built-in lens and smaller sensor allow the PowerShot to remain much smaller than the 'M' would be, were there an equivalent lens available.
While the total pixel count of 15 million is the same as on the G1 X, the G1 X Mark II only uses around 13 million (versus 14.3).
The G1 X Mark II's pixel dimensions show that it's cropping from a sensor that's larger than the imaging area, allowing it to offer the same angle-of-view for both the 3:2 and 4:3 aspect ratios - something that the original G1 X could not do.
The 18.7 x 12.4 mm sensor size that Canon has been quoting appears to refer to the 3:2 crop area - the sensor itself is the same size as the one in the original G1 X. To find out more, read our original first look article.
Another significant change on the G1 X II is in the lens department. Gone is the comparatively slow 28-112 equiv. F2.8-5.8 lens on the G1 X - replaced by a much more appealing 24-120mm equivalent F2.0-3.9 lens. The use of a smaller sensor area means these numbers aren't directly comparable, but the new lens is certainly brighter. Where the minimum focus distance on the G1 X was an unhelpful 20cm (and 40cm in most modes), the new lens can be just 5cm away from its subject. Canon has also improved the autofocus system, and claims that the G1 X has the 'the fastest in Canon compact camera history.'
The combination of the camera's fast lens and 1.5" sensor pays big dividends, as illustrated below:
The above chart shows the changes in 35mm equivalent aperture as the equivalent focal length increases. This chart allows you to see the effect of the different aperture and lens ranges, taking into account the different sensor sizes. The G1 X II starts off very well, and bumps into three other cameras (the original G1 X, Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, and Canon Rebel with kit lens) at 28mm. That doesn't last long, as the G1 X quickly pulls away from all but the Rebel until you reach 50mm, at which point the G1 X Mark II is in a class by itself.
So what does this all mean? Simply put, it means that the G1 X II allows for shallower depth-of-field than the cameras that are 'above it' on the chart. One could also make the assumption that the G1 X Mark II has the potential for better low light performance than the other cameras shown.
Getting back to new features: the LCD has been redesigned and can flip up by 180 degrees (you know, for selfies) and down by 45 degrees. It's also touch-enabled, which allows for all of the controls that you'd expect from such a feature. However, this is a step backwards from the hinged, fully articulated screen on the original G1 X, that made it much more flexible.
While the optical viewfinder from the G1 X is gone (and to be honest, it wasn't very good), Canon offers an XGA (1024 x768 pixel) EVF that attaches to a special connector on the hot shoe and can tilt upward 90 degrees. The bad news is that the EVF costs $300.
One final feature of note shouldn't be surprising in this day and age, and that's Wi-Fi. You can control the camera remotely and send photos to social networking sites, cloud storage, or a computer. NFC (near-field communication) is also supported, which allows you to pair the camera with compatible smartphones by tapping them together.
As you've probably gathered by now, there are quite a few differences between the G1 X Mark II and its predecessor. The chart below lists the more significant ones:
|PowerShot G1 X||PowerShot G1 X Mark II|
|Effective resolution||14.3 megapixel||12.8 megapixel|
|Processor||Digic 5||Digic 6|
|Multi-aspect||No||Yes (3:2, 4:3)|
|Lens focal range||28-112mm equiv.||24-120mm equiv.|
|Lens maximum aperture||F2.8-5.8||F2.0-3.9|
|Minimum focus distance (Normal mode)||40cm (W), 1.3m (T)||5cm (W), 40cm (T)|
|Minimum focus distance (Macro mode)||20cm (W), 85cm (T)||5cm (W), 40cm (T)|
|Control rings||None (front control dial)||2|
|LCD design||Fully articulating||Tilting (180 up/45 down)|
|Viewfinder||Optical||No (optional EVF)|
|Continuous shooting||2 fps||5 fps|
|Max video resolution||1080/24p||1080/30p|
|Wi-Fi||No||Yes (with NFC)|
|Battery life (CIPA)||250 shots||240 shots|
With the exception of battery life and degree of LCD movement (and, for some people, the optical viewfinder), the G1 X II has much more impressive specs than its predecessor. You can see the cosmetic changes on the Body & Design page.
There's no shortage of extras available for the G1 X Mark II. The most notable are the electronic viewfinder and custom grip.
The EVF-DC1 ($299) is an XGA electronic viewfinder with 2.36 million dots (a 1024x 768 pixel display). As shown above, the viewfinder can tilt upward by 90 degrees. It has a built-in eye sensor, or you can turn it on via the button on its left side. While the resolution of the viewfinder is quite high, the refresh rate isn't nearly as nice as the main LCD.
There will be some people who decry the loss of the G1 X's built-in viewfinder but, given how small and imprecise it was, we feel the option to include of a considerably better finder (or not, if you don't want to spend the extra), is a reasonable alternative. It does, of course, mean that you need to spend more money to get a camera with a viewfinder, but that effective price increase over the G1 X also gains the faster, more versatile lens, smaller form factor and all the camera's other improvements.
|Standard grip||Custom grip|
Those with large hands may find the G1 X Mark II's grip a bit lacking. Canon offers the GR-DC1A custom grip ($29), which is more substantial. Switching the grip out just involves removing a pair of screws, swapping the pieces, and then screwing the new one back in.
Other accessories include an underwater housing (WP-DC53), 58mm filter adapter (FA-DC58E), lens hood (LH-DC80), and remote shutter release (RS-60E3).