Canon PowerShot G3 X

20MP 1"-type BSI CMOS sensor | 24-600mm equiv. F2.8-5.6 lens | Tilting 3.2" LCD

What we like:

  • Well-built, weather-sealed body
  • Long zoom lens
  • Articulating touchscreen LCD
  • Mic and headphone jacks + live HDMI output

What we don't:

  • Soft lens
  • Continuous Raw shooting below 1 fps
  • Weak depth tracking performance and no subject tracking available
  • Lens ring can't be used for zoom

Of the various G-series models with a 1"-type sensor, the Canon PowerShot G3 X has by far the longest lens. With an equivalent focal length of 24-600mm, this lens is as 'powerful' as you'll find at this point. The maximum aperture of F2.8-5.6 is average - slow by comparison to nearly all 1"-type cameras, but any faster and the G3 X would be much larger than it already is. Other notable features include a 3.2" articulating LCD, hot shoe and Wi-Fi with NFC.

The G3 X is one of the largest cameras in the 1" sensor class and, like the FZ1000 and the even bulkier RX10 models, it definitely won't fit in your pocket. The sturdy body is sealed against dust and moisture (an uncommon feature in the 1" sensor class. It's unusual to want a camera to be larger, but the grip on the G3 X isn't tall enough, leaving your pinkie finger dangling. In addition to its twin control dials there's a ring around the lens which, bizarrely, cannot be assigned to control the zoom in either stills or video modes. The G3 X has a 3.2" LCD with 1.62M dots and a decent touchscreen implementation. While the camera doesn't have a built in EVF, a pricey but nice tilting model is an option.

As with Canon's other first-generation 1" cameras, the G3 X is mixed bag in terms of performance. Single AF acquisition times are very good, and continuous AF is fairly responsive. While the G3 X can track a subject with the shutter release half-pressed, tracking ends as soon as you fully depress the button. And, although the camera can shoot JPEGs continuously at about 6 fps, that number drops to just 1 fps when Raw files are involved, which is much worse than the G3 X's peers. The camera can take roughly 300 shots per charge which is well below average in the 1" long zoom class.

"The G3 X is a premium superzoom camera that sounds great on paper but, sadly, falls short in real-world use."

Image quality is good, though critical sharpness is somewhat hampered by a soft lens and JPEG noise reduction which can be heavy at times. As with most Canon cameras, the G3 X's colors are very pleasing to the eye. By shooting Raw you can pull detail out of the shadows (and this camera captures quite a bit) and also work around the heavy-handed noise reduction.

The PowerShot G3 X can record Full HD video at 60p or 24p. The fact that unlike several of its peers it cannot capture 4K video is disappointing, especially considering that it offers an external microphone and headphone jacks, audio level adjustment and live HDMI output. While focus peaking is available for focusing manually, a zebra pattern to judge overexposure is not. Video quality is very good, however.

The G3 X is a premium superzoom camera that sounds great on paper but, sadly, falls short in a few areas in real-world use. The well-built, weather-sealed body is very nice, as is the larger-than-average LCD. But, while the G3 X's lens range is impressive, its maximum aperture range is decidedly average. Its sensor is a known quantity, though it's hampered somewhat by a rather soft lens. What mostly keeps the G3 X from being best-in-class are its sluggish performance when shooting Raw images, lack of subject tracking autofocus, the lens ring that cannot be used for zoom and the lack of a built-in EVF. Ultimately, there are other similarly priced enthusiast superzooms that are better choices.

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