Day one: G1X III Initial Impressions (and samples)

Started Nov 22, 2017 | Discussions thread
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Day one: G1X III Initial Impressions (and samples)
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The G1X III arrived in one piece today, yay.

Some disclaimers for those that don't "follow" me; I just came from an EOS M5, and have owned every EF-M lens ever made; had a M3, and M2, and original M before it. Had a 5DIII before that (and a Rebel T3i and XTi before that), which is what (the 5DIII, that, and seeing a RX100 III on DPreview) originally started my journey for something that doesn't get left at home, but, doesn't stink. I did own a PowerShot S110 though, for those loyal Powershot owners on this forum, so my viewpoint is one coming from a crop mirrorless, and FF offerings.

First impressions, you should read the manual about those adapter straps. I'm not one for reading manuals, but I've had to pull it out, twice, thus far. Once for the straps, once for where is my drive mode option, even though there is an icon on the trash can, I missed it till I looked it up in the manual

I took my 256GB Sandisk Extreme Pro (UHS-I v90) that was still formatted from my former M5 in it. It didn't like it much, slow read/write. Interesting. Formatted it. Problem solved. Carry on...

Battery (uncharged), died after a few minutes of fiddling and like 5 pictures. Luckily I already had a spare on the charger (I bought a spare from Amazon and one-day'd it, 2 days ago IE the battery beat the camera; before I finished unboxing the camera it was on the charger).

One of the first things to hit me was how deathly fast and accurate the AF is, indoors, at 6'oclock at night (sun completely set). This is the same DIGIC7 and DPAF sensor as my former M5... (maybe not?). In my former lifetime with the M5 which is this guy's big brother, I had my AF selection mode assigned to my primary dial as "auto" would often red x in "tough" conditions; I lived on smooth zone AF for most things and single point for low light and AI servo tracking, I only used AI + live (Auto) for facial tracking. I don't know if it's the firmware, the IS, the inner focusing mechanism, or the AF illuminator, or all the above in conjunction, but this guy behaves night and day differently than my former M5 indoors. It's got more in common with my former 5D III in regards to indoor AF, that's pretty high praise, and I'm not exaggerating. Also, it would appear Canon has fixed the low light shutter lag issues of the M5/M6/M100, in case anyone is curious; I just shot in conditions that would totally create the scenario, and failed to do so. This is a preview of what's to come with Canon's upcoming mirrorless offerings in my opinion, both the rumored FF, and successor to the M100/M5/M6; that is it's forming up that Canon is going to have "serious" on sensor AF to go toe to toe with Sony, it looks like. I've said it before this day was coming, it's come. But, I've got some gripes about this too; why can't Canon pull out the old card of the original EOS M firmware update and pass these AF upgrades to the M100/M5/M6? More on that later...

Regarding handling: the camera's grip, although smaller than the M5, more like the size of the M3, is more comfortable than the M3 by a long shot. The camera itself is a pleasure to wear; I can run around with the kids now, no lenses, and it sticks to me well, and doesn't "get in the way" The M5, even with a 22 pancake, got in the way with keeping up with my fast paced kids. This camera gets a 5/5 for keeping up with the kids... Canon's got the handling right on this bad boy for it being so small, it's highly functional thus far with placement of things, weight equilibrium, and it's got the usual Canon UI and menus; the menus are more logical then my former M5 where customizability isn't buried, but, one of my gripes is it appears to be less customizable. I need to explore this further though and read that manual, the answer may be in there, what a thought. I'm still not acclimated to my new camera yet as I don't have all my buttons and dials and layouts setup at the time of this writing.

That said, it's been less necessary to set them up. Canon's "fixed" the loose shutter release on the M5/M6 where in continuous high speed drive, a slight tap would rattle off 3 shots. Problem appears to be largely solved; I can now rattle off a single, or multi shot with the new shutter release button, good. Another thing I had assigned on my M5 to the primary button, haven't had to touch it, except, to switch it from the default single shot to continuous high speed.

Regarding low light, as a frame of reference, the stellar EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is a good starting point of discussion; someone on the M forum once said, don't underestimate f/2 and IS. This is true, with 4-stops of IS and f/2, the EF 35mm at f/2, was a low light beast. This guy, although only 2/3 faster than most kit lenses that have IS, that 2/3 stop advantage coupled with 4-stops of IS (which most of those lenses have 3.5, which really is closer to 3 stops in reality) actually was most impressive in the harsh conditions of night shooting tonight. It excelled, leaving my old M5 rig in the dust. My former M5 had a 1-stop advantage with the 22mm f/2 mounted, which is useful for moving objects, however, having IS, and, f/2.8, is definitely superior, even with moving objects as I've learned tonight. IS is a good way to keep size/weight down, but improve low-light capability. Applies here. I'd say the G1X III is a solid low light performer, it's on par, and exceeds modern Rebels with EF-S glass and the EOS M5 with native EF-M glass available presently.

The G1X III has a (almost) silent shutter when you turn the sounds on mute. M5 folks have been crying about this, wish granted.

Night mode is quite handy, just shot at night, thank you Canon for it. My iPhone has had it for like a year now.

You have to mash down on that power button to get the G1X III to come on; perhaps that's due to weather sealing? Not a big deal. Also there is a lock on the battery door, not used to that, another probable weather sealing measure. No biggie.

They’ve change the picture styles, again, and not for the better. Colors are even more muted and even cooler then my M5 thus far, which I personally prefer the punchy more exaggerated colors of the Canon that have been traditionally present in my former 5DIII... Marco Nero's recommendations are needed more than ever here with this camera, I don’t know who they’ve got running the picture styles these days but as a millennial I am not impressed if they're trying to impress folks by being more like Sony or something. For those that don't know about Marco Nero's recommended regime, it's the following (and I'd highly advise it): Fine detail with +1 color saturation and +1 color tones. Makes quite a difference, I'm really glad we just had this discussion a few days ago as the results are pretty drastic in some cases.

The AF illumination light, which I always turn off, but haven't gotten around to it yet, actually, for once, appears to help. I may leave it on, but I also need to test with it off, maybe it's better/worse with it off.

Continuous AF, another "fix" here in firmware... On the M5, having it on would reduce responsiveness of menus and other items, they've fixed that. Moreover, continuous AF appears to no longer have any real downside either in regards to those like me that have their finger on the shutter to pre-focus anyways. Interesting. I may leave both (AF light and continuous AF) on.

I've discovered a bug in Tv mode... F-stop and ISO stays fixed leading to overexposure as you crank the shutter down in low-light tonight. It may be a low-light only thing, or maybe not. I'll test this further. It's definitely a "bug". Congrats Canon, first bug I've found in my years of shooting your stuff on the first day. I consider it a complement though, means perhaps Canon didn't take their sweet time getting this to the market, usually Canon products are so polished by the time they make it to the market (you could add some additional customizability when you fix the bug, Canon, hint hint. Not a big deal though).

I have no regrets about leaving my M5 thus far, that's pretty high praise coming from yours truly. That said, for most people that have an M100/M5/M6, unless you're a kit lens only shooter, or are chasing kids yourself and can drop the $$, you're going to get more interesting shots with interchangeable lenses and save alot of hard earned money. The G1X III, although it had a rocky start with figuring out some basics like the strap and where is the continuous drive button, it delivers. Wife was smiling at the RAWs I just chomped (she shoulder surfs when I open them in DPP4), I'm happy thus far with both the image quality coming off it and the performance and handling.

I have one large complaint, and it's levied against Canon, not the product:

Canon's firmware support...

Things like the shutter lag in low light, AF performance, and picture styles going "backwards"; Canon doesn't provide major performance firmware improvements generally speaking to existing models, instead, they roll them into the successor. Although I'm sure their rationale is one of additional value add, to quote my wife, who hasn't read a single DPR forum post of mine, or anyone else's, when I told her that, her words, "maybe you should boycott them (Canon)". Yeah, that's how I feel. I don't like getting the cold shoulder year after year product after product, and this product screams of fixes that could've been handed down to it's bigger EOS M brothers. At the end of the day I'm buying a product, not a brand, but I do take note, and perhaps my next DSLR purchase, whenever I go back to FF, won't be Canon... I may take my wife's advice since Canon won't do 4k, and won't pass down firmware enhancements, just bug fixes. It's very distasteful.

Now, that aside, I need to test this guy in the daytime to ascertain it's lens sharpness and quality, hard to do in ISO6400+ conditions, and wrangle the menus, options, tracking, etc etc etc. These are just initial impressions. More to come soon.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i / EOS Kiss X5) Canon EOS M3 Canon PowerShot S110 Sony RX100 III
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