Features

Despite being a more advanced compact camera, the PowerShot G1 X Mark II has most of the features found on Canon's less-expensive point-and-shoots. These include a Hybrid Auto feature, which records a short video clip of the seconds before every still, as well as the more traditional Smart Auto mode, which selects a scene mode automatically.

The Creative Shot mode takes six photos in a row and applies various color effects to them (retro, monochrome, 'special', and natural). There are also special effects that are now commonplace, with the most notable being an HDR mode (see the Shooting Experience page for an example of that).

Star modes

One new feature found on the G1 X II is its four 'Starry Skies' modes. There are four modes available - three still and one video - which include:

  • Star Portrait: for taking a night portrait with an extra emphasis on the stars in the background. The camera takes three exposures (the first with the flash) and combines the results into a single image.
  • Star Nightscape: a simple long exposure mode that can optionally enhance the brightness of stars
  • Star Trails: the camera takes photos continuously for up to two hours, to track the movement of stars in the sky. Use of the optional AC adapter is a smart idea.
  • Star Time-Lapse Movie: the camera takes photos at an interval of 15 sec to 1 minute at 15 or 30 fps (for up to two hours) and saves the results as a movie. When played back, the movement of the stars is accelerated.

These modes are for JPEG shooting only - sorry, Raw fans. Also, the lens is fixed at full wide-angle for all four Starry Skies features.

Below are examples of the Star Nightscape and Star Trails features. Be sure to view them at full size to see what the G1 X II is capable of. These shots were taken on a tripod in Washington's Cascade mountains.

The camera got a decent photo of the stars using the Star Nightscape feature. There seems to be a planet, and maybe a meteor?
ISO 800, 15.0 sec, f/2.0
This impressive star trail was taken with the feature of the same name. There's a delay before the exposure is released, to reduce the risk of blur. ISO 400, 30.0 sec, f/2.0

For all of these star modes, you can fine-tune the white balance in the blue or amber direction. There's also a special 'night display' mode for the LCD, which switches to a dim, orange-colored view. One annoyance is that it's hard to compose photos, as the camera doesn't 'gain up' at all, so you have to point at something and hope for the best. The refresh rate is also very poor, which doesn't help matters.

Focusing tools

Canon makes it easy to get into manual focus mode on the G1 X II: just press the MF button located above the four-way controller. You can also have a 'direct manual focus' feature (listed in the menu as AF+MF) which lets you adjust the focus manually after AF has already run.

While somewhat difficult to see here, the giraffe in the back has a red outline, implying that it's in focus.

Once there you'll be able to use focus point enlargement and peaking - separately or at the same time. The focus peaking feature works as advertised, and users have a choice of both intensity (low/high) and color (red/yellow/blue).

Another tool is focus bracketing, which takes three shots in a row, with an interval of 1 or 2 steps. Canon doesn't give specifics on just how much distance is covered between each interval.

One baffling thing about the G1 X II is that while you can use focus peaking while recording video, you can't actually manually focus.

Video

The G1 X Mark II's movie mode isn't a whole lot different than that of its predecessor, probably because the sensor seems to be the same one. The G1 X II can record at 1080/30p, compared to 1080/24p on the G1 X (something the Mark II can't do). The bit rate on the G1 X II is roughly 24MBps. Both cameras record stereo sound and use the H.264 codec.

The real negative about the movie mode on the G1X II is its lack of manual control. You can adjust the 'brightness', aperture, and focus before you start, but once you hit that red button, everything is automatic. As mentioned above, while you can see focus peaking while you're recording, you can't actually manually focus. Speaking of which, the camera will focus continuously during video recording, and pressing AF lock (which must be assigned to a button) will not stop it. The autofocus does at least allow use of the touchscreen to prompt the camera to pull focus from one subject to another.

Other video modes on the G1 X II including Star Time Lapse, Digest Movie (created when using Hybrid Auto), and, Miniature Effect.

The quality of the G1 X Mark II's video is below average, as the comparison widget above illustrates. Resolution is very low and there's a lot of moiré and 'jaggies'. While not as bad as the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-E2, the G1 X II is a far cry from our benchmark camera, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10. The lack of manual controls doesn't help matters, which keeps the G1 X II away from the top of its class.

Sample 1

The first sample is a handheld video showing a seaplane taking off from Lake Union. While the video quality is 'okay', there are noticeable jaggie-like artifacts on the side of the plane.

1920x1080 30p 24Mbps, MP4, 36 sec, 102.8 MB  Click here to download original file

Sample 2

The next sample was taken on a tripod, and the up-and-down motion is caused by the pier on which it sat. Aside from some jaggies - which, as you'll see, is a common issue with video - but otherwise things look pretty good. The subjects in the clip appear a bit over-sharpened, which may be the cause of the artifacts.

1920x1080 30p 24Mbps, MP4, 14 sec, 39.8 MB  Click here to download original file

Sample 3

This video is a panning shot with the camera on a tripod. What you'll see here is a lot of moiré and some jaggies as well. Not terribly impressive.

1920x1080 30p 24Mbps, MP4, 10 sec, 27.4 MB  Click here to download original file

Sample 4

The final video is taken at night. You'll see some unusual artifacting on the Crate and Barrel building, with the sign appearing to sparkle. The wind filter is turned on automatically and if it was on in this sample, you sure can't tell.

1920x1080 30p 24Mbps, MP4, 14 sec, 39.3 MB  Click here to download original file