Finally, my new camera (G1 X II) - pics and review

Started May 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
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MinAZ Senior Member • Posts: 3,925
Finally, my new camera (G1 X II) - pics and review

DISCLAIMER: I am writing the mini-review on the basis that many people would like to know how this relatively new camera performs from someone who has owned many cameras. However, please bear in mind that this camera is new to me too, as it is to everyone unless they somehow had access to a beta. So, my opinion of the camera may change SIGNIFICANTLY over time. This is a limitation I have to accept, otherwise it would not be possible for me to post this early. I will accept that I may be in error in judgement for some or all of my conclusions, yet I have tried my best to be fair and honest.

My new G1 X Mark II has finally arrived, and I just spent an afternoon shooting under some relatively TOUGH conditions - think full blazing sunlight in the early - late afternoon in the southwestern desert. Ouch. That being said, I have promised everyone that I will add to the "literature" on the G1 X II and post sample photos. First, the mini-review, then the photos with commentary. All photos will be STRAIGHT OUT OF CAMERA meaning zero retouching not even white balance or exposure comp. Also, not exposure comp was used in camera, and WB was always AWB. Focal length varies as did ISO and aperture, so check the EXIF if necessary. Shooting was done RAW + JPG but I will only post SOOC JPG. All at highest resolution. Although I always try to get good composition etc... the purpose of this shoot was a field test, so pardon me for the boring duck/tree/flower pictures. At least you can compare my ducks with everyone elses!

Okay I am going to say right here that most everything everyone said about the G1 X II is true, both good and bad. To sum it up, it truly is the DSLR experience in a compact form. Unfortunately, you get both the good and bad from the DSLR! And also the DSLR is still superior in a few ways which should surprise no one.

The first thing I noticed is that the camera is indeed heavy. It is made of some solid metal and it has heft. I read all the reviews about the heft of this thing and it still caught me a little off guard when I first picked it up. In one afternoon, the weight did not affect my shooting ability, so it is acceptable, but if this matters to you, I would definitely try to pick a model up in person first hand.

Battery consumption is as everyone says, quite bad. I used the whole battery from fully charged to almost zero in about 2 hours without flash.

The image quality is quite good, and far superior to your ordinary P&S. Noise is there but tolerable - in camera sharpening and noise reduction are both obvious and present. However, I personally am quite pleased with the overall rendition. It really does give a "DSLR look" to the images - which is exactly what I wanted, so no complaints here. Just be aware that if you have not shot with a DSLR before, DSLRs are not exactly a panacea - they have their own problems with IQ and so forth, and these translate directly to the G1 X II. Put it this way - the first few pictures I took with the camera reminded me strongly of the first few pictures I took with my Canon Rebel 400D years back with the starter kit lens. In fact, if not for the post processing in camera, I would have thought that was how the pictures were made. So yeah, this really is a Rebel with kit lens in your pocket (the lens of the G1 X II is faster than the Rebel kit lens of course).

Also another thing: the instruction manual is terrible and that is a pity because this camera is one in which I actually had to read the whole thing cover to cover. The camera is complex and deviates from the industry standard way of doing things (although I believe previous G series have preceded the G1 X II in this regard). Suffice it to say, I expected to plop the battery and SD card in and go shooting, and ended up spending all night reading the manual instead.

The biggest drawback of this camera is the oft-cited inconsistent focusing, and I hate to admit that this is indeed a real problem when shooting certain subjects; most annoying to me, this seems to include portraits. The facial detection is simply not up to par with other cameras I have used and the focusing accuracy is quite bad actually. Often it would simply focus on the wrong thing, or not focus at all. This has been discussed at length on this forum and in reviews, and I am now confirming this problem. This compact camera is as bad as, if not slightly worse, than any other P&S when it comes to autofocusing esp. in regards to moving objects and especially in regards to faces. That is not to say it is unusable - I got a number of good shots, but the keeper rate is low. I would say the G1 X II is almost the mirror opposite to the J1 (excuse the pun) in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. The J1 has a subliminally fast autofocus but rather poor IQ and struggles to get even moderately shallow DOF. The G1 X II has a modest at best autofocus but excellent IQ and excels at bokeh and shallow DOF. If only the two cameras could be merged into one!

One tip: I found that the facial detection focusing problem could be partially alleviated by turning off the facial ID. I suspect this may have something to do with the fact that I haven't registered any faces and thus the processor maybe attempting to match faces to an empty database? Anyway this is somewhat anecdotal but try it and let me know if it helps you.

Color reproduction is good, and I haven't noticed the halo problem so far.

The interface is cumbersome, but once I got used to it was acceptable.

A really nice feature is full time manual focus and especially focus peaking. This is a feature I really wish they had implemented in my 70D. Since this camera suffers like all cameras from the inability to focus on a distant subject, almost always preferring to focus on the foreground, manual focusing is a very much appreciated feature.

One thing that I use as an informal gauge of how "great" a camera is, is the keeper rate from a photo shoot. I have done enough of these to know how the difficulty of the subject and environment is likely to affect this, so if I get a much higher/lower keeper rate than expected, this influences my opinion of the camera. The G1 X II has an average keeper rate IMO. It has the problem of struggling with AF so I have to discard many shots. But the shots that are in focus, I tend to like, so if the AF works, I get to keep most of the pictures I take. Again this is the flip of the J1, whose amazing autofocus means I get a 80-90% keeper rate, only the problem is most of the "keepers" have only meh quality so I have to do significant PP or simply accept the pictures as somewhat dull. Clearly though, if I was doing street photography, I would take the J1, while for deliberate shots like portraiture or landscape, I would take the G1 X II.

In the end though, I still think that this camera has no competition out there. If you want a 5x zoom jacket-pocketable camera with decent ability to do background blur/bokeh and a fast lens, there simply isn't another camera that does this (at least to my knowledge). My old Panasonic LX7 had a much faster lens and more accurate/quicker autofocus, but it fell far short in image quality and specifically it lacked the DSLR-look. That being said if you do not like or want the DSLR-look then I can totally understand why some would not like this camera. It is expensive and the negatives are significant so if you do not value the pluses, the minuses are likely to vote this camera out of consideration for most people.

I have omitted certain things that I do not care about, such as the self-timer option, various creative modes, flash, high-iso shooting, burst shooting, etc... I think there are many people who do care about such things and they have already reviewed these, and I won't add anything by doing a half-hearted testing attempt.

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