Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II

12.8MP 1.5"-type CMOS sensor | 24-120mm equiv. F2.0-3.9 lens | 1080/30p video

What we like:

  • Large 1.5"-type sensor
  • Touchscreen
  • Hot shoe
  • Three dial operation

What we don't:

  • Dated sensor with average low light performance and poor dynamic range
  • Slow, unsophisticated continuous AF
  • Less than 1 fps Raw bursts with AF
  • Low resolution video with strong moiré

The PowerShot G1 X Mark II is Canon's flagship enthusiast compact. It offers a large 1.5" CMOS sensor and fast lens making it an appealing 'second camera' to an ILC. Extensive manual controls, 14-bit Raw, an articulating touchscreen display, dual control dials and both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity make the G1 X Mark II a strong choice for anyone in the compact market.

While the G1 X II has one of the largest sensors in this category (1.5"-type), the sensor itself is not new, but inherited from its predecessor the original G1 X. This means video quality is nearly class-trailing. The image processor is new though, and helps deliver impressive JPEG results, with very good performance up to ISO 8000. The Mark II always uses a crop of its sensor, allowing you to maintain the same angle of view at 3:2 and 4:3. Unfortunately, the dated sensor means the Raw files aren't quite as flexible as those coming from competitor cameras, with noise at high ISO sensitivities and banding in shadow areas of low ISO files being especially problematic. In fact, performance is not much better than smaller sensor compacts, meaning that, apart from better depth-of-field control, you don't get an image quality increase commensurate to sensor size.

Although dated in many respects, the combination of near APS-C image quality and depth-of-field control make the G1 X Mark II potentially compelling.

With a few exceptions, the G1 X II is a drastic improvement over its predecessor though. It's more compact, has a faster lens (24-120mm equivalent F2.0-3.9), a real macro mode, faster burst shooting and Wi-Fi with NFC. Two things lost relative to the G1X are an optical viewfinder (an attachable EVF is optional, and arguably more useful) and a fully articulating LCD (the Mark II's tilts up to 180° instead). The camera features twin dials around the lens, making it easy to adjust exposure settings, and there's also a slightly clumsy third dial on the back plate. Despite the size of the camera though, the rear controls are rather cluttered. Menus remain slow to operate, so the camera feels unresponsive at times.

The G1X II has some severe performance limitations. At only 1.5 fps continuous Raw shooting, which drops to ~0.8 fps with AF, continuous shooting ability falls to nearly the bottom of the pack. Continuous focus is equally unimpressive: while face detection and tracking itself functions well, the lens itself is slow to focus, and servo AF with subject tracking is even slower to refocus. Furthermore, only single point AF is available in continuous shooting.

If you're looking for a companion for your DSLR or mirrorless camera, or just a 'compact' you can take control over, the PowerShot G1 X Mark II is worth a look. It offers great control over depth-of-field though, sadly, that's about it. Image quality is closer to 1"-type sensors than APS-C, and AF performance is at the bottom of the pack. The G1X II is neither cheap nor very compact, either, so put simply: we'd suggest you consider one of the other very capable, smaller cameras in this roundup.

Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared

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