Body & Design

The PowerShot G1 X Mark II is relatively bulky for a compact. It's about the size of a mid-size mirrorless camera fitted with a pancake lens. Build quality is very good. The camera is made mostly of magnesium alloy and feels well put together, especially the lens barrel with its twin dials. The dual-hinged plate that allows the LCD to tilt is quite impressive.

Controls are tightly packed on the rear of the camera, with a typical Canon PowerShot G-series layout. The dial that surrounds the four-way controller is one of three on the camera, with the other two being around the lens. The functions of each can be customized, with the available options listed at the bottom of this page.

In your hand

The G1 X II's large sensor and fast, wide-ranging lens make for a large camera. Despite that, Canon has designed the camera in such a way that it can be operated with one hand - though the front dials encourage a two-handed approach.

Nearly all of the G1 X II's buttons are on the rear of the camera, to the right of the LCD. That makes things pretty cluttered, though the thumb rest should keep you from accidentally bumping something. The grip isn't terribly large but it works well enough. Those with large hands may prefer the optional 'custom grip' shown earlier.

Compared to PowerShot G1 X

The design of the G1 X II has changed considerably compared to its predecessor. The G1 X 's 'two level' top plate - used to house the optical finder - is reduced to a styling flourish on the G1 X II, which gives the camera a more traditional rectangular shape. The grip on the G1 X II is smaller than on the original, though the optional 'custom grip' closes the gap. Also note that the front dial on the G1 X is gone on the G1 X II, replaced instead by twin control rings around the lens.

On top you'll notice that the G1 X's stacked 'double dial' which combined the mode and exposure comp dials has been transformed into a more traditional mode dial. The hot shoe on the G1 X II offers an accessory port (for the optional EVF) that was not available on its predecessor.

The back of the cameras hasn't changed too much, aside from the obvious removal of the optical viewfinder. While the controls were tight on the G1 X, they're even more crowded on the G1 X II.

Tilting touchscreen LCD

While the G1 X Mark II's 3" LCD can't flip out to the side and rotate like on its predecessors, it does have some tricks up its sleeve, one of which you won't find on any other enthusiast compact.

The LCD can be tilted in the usual up and down positions. Note how the camera can stay flat even while the LCD is tilted downward.
The LCD can be tilted all the way to 180 degrees, allowing for 'selfies'.

For better or worse, you can now take 'selfies' on a large sensor compact. As for the display itself, there are 1.04 million dots and 3:2 aspect ratio (720 x 480 pixels). Outdoor visibility was average - meaning not great - which may get some folks to pony up the $300 for the EVF.

Touchscreen features include the usual suspects. You can touch to focus and take a shot, navigate through menus, and flip through photos you've taken. The touchscreen is responsive and the actions (especially in playback mode) feel very smartphone-like.

Body elements

Aside from its 1.5"-type sensor, the other 'big deal' on the G1 X II is its 24-120mm equivalent F2.0-3.9 lens. This is a significant improvement over the 28-112mm F2.8-5.8 lens on the G1 X, at least in terms of spec.

The lens isn't threaded, but Canon sells an adapter (FA-DC58E), which allows you to use 58mm filters.
The controls on the rear of the G1 X should look familiar to anyone who's picked up a G-series camera in recent years. A scroll dial surrounds the four-way controller and by default serves as the sub-dial for adjusting exposure.

In playback mode, pressing 'up' on the four-way controller opens up the Wi-Fi menu, a feature which will be described later in the review.
At the top-right of the camera's rear plate are buttons for Wi-Fi, movie recording, and 'Shortcut'. The Shortcut button function can be defined to your liking - see below for a list.

The phone-like button is a quick way to connecting to a previously paired smartphone or tablet.
On the G1 X, there was an exposure compensation dial under the mode dial. On its successor, there's just a mode dial.

In addition to the usual exposure modes, there are also Smart Auto (which selects a scene mode for you), Hybrid Auto (shoots a short movie with each still), and several 'creative' modes.
The G1 X II's pop-up flash, which is released manually, has a maximum range of 6.8m at wide-angle and 3.5m at telephoto.
Deep within the recesses of the hot shoe are connectors for the optional electronic viewfinder. At this point, that's the only accessory that takes advantage of this connector.
On the left side of the G1 X II is the flash release, speaker, and 'contact area' for tapping NFC devices.
The I/O ports on the camera include remote control in, USB + composite out, and micro-HDMI. The G1 X does not have microphone or headphone jacks.
Under a plastic door you'll find the battery and memory card compartment. The NB-12L lithium-ion battery packs 6.8Wh of energy, which translates into a disappointing 240 shots per charge.

Due to the proximity of the tripod mount, you cannot access this compartment when the camera is attached to one.