Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • 24MP APS-C sensor, good image quality
  • Abundant external controls
  • High level of build, claimed weather-sealing
  • Usefully small
  • Comfortable grip
  • Reliable Dual Pixel autofocus
  • Fully-articulating touchscreen
  • High quality electronic viewfinder
  • 9fps burst shooting (7fps with AF)
  • Built-in flash with high speed sync, external flash hotshoe
  • Good in-lens stabilization
  • 3-stop neutral density filter built in
  • Highly customizable touch-and-drag AF functionality
  • Default JPEG sharpening is improved
  • Supports in-camera charging
  • Good wireless connectivity options
  • Effective digital stabilization in video shooting
  • Expensive
  • Slow max aperture really limits image quality benefits of the bigger sensor
  • Battery life is dismal
  • Lens is somewhat soft, especially in comparison with ILC peers
  • Buttons are too flush with the body
  • Eye sensor for EVF is too sensitive, remains active with screen flipped out
  • Macro mode is basically vestigial
  • No 4K video
  • No microphone input
  • No option for lens control ring to be 'clicky', limiting its appeal for discrete settings
  • No high-speed sync using flash hotshoe
  • No option for full-resolution timelapse
  • No access to card or battery if working on a tripod

Overall conclusion

Canon's PowerShot G1 X Mark III exists in somewhat of a vacuum. It has a large APS-C sized sensor, is small enough to be considered pocketable, and has a permanently attached zoom lens with a versatile focal range. In other words, there have been plenty of cameras in the last few years that have checked off two of those three boxes, but the Canon is the only one to address them all.

And after a glance at the 'pros' list at the top of the page, you may note that Canon has really gone all-in on the G1 X III. The result is an impressively well-built and compact camera with a lot going for it. The controls are well thought-out, it's capable of fantastic image quality and the autofocus and overall performance are excellent. Yet, we have reservations. There are smaller cameras, such as the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V, which offer comparable image quality in a wide range of situations.

The lens contributes to the camera's impressive overall compactness. But compromises have been made

And indeed, with the simple consideration of 'pros' and 'cons', it can be difficult to communicate the ultimate weight of individual items on each list. This is particularly salient here because, unfortunately, it's the lens on the G1 X III is responsible for much of its undoing in our eyes. True, the lens contributes to the camera's impressive overall compactness. But compromises have been made, specifically in terms of maximum aperture, that cannot be ignored.

Let's dig in and see how the G1 X fares, overall.

Body, controls and features

The PowerShot G1 X III is the flagship of Canon's PowerShot range. It has a total of three control dials plus an exposure compensation dial, it comes with claimed weather sealing (find that on another large-sensor compact), and an fully articulating touch-sensitive LCD as well as an electronic viewfinder. It feels incredibly well-built and offers the seasoned photographer plenty of flexibility on how he or she would like to take control over their shooting.

The built-in flash will sync all the way up to the G1 X III's maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 sec

The fully-articulating screen is really handy, especially for placing your AF area, but the sensitive always-on eye sensor resulted in some missed shots with the screen flipped out. The shutter button feels great, but the other buttons are a little too flush for our tastes. The built-in flash will sync all the way up to the G1 X III's maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 sec, but when you attach an external flash, you're limited to 1/250 sec.

The G1 X III features in-camera Raw conversion, which pairs well with its robust wireless connectivity settings. You can create Full HD time-lapse movies in-camera, but you can't set the camera up to do the same with full-resolution JPEG or Raw files. There's a 'Macro' focus mode, but so far as we can tell, it doesn't actually let you focus any closer nor more quickly on a subject. In all, the G1 X III has a pretty broad feature set, but there are some strange limitations that have us scratching our heads.

Performance and autofocus

Out-of-camera JPEG.
24mm equiv. | ISO 800 | 1/125 sec | F2.8
Photo by Carey Rose

The PowerShot G1 X III will power on and fire off an image at around two seconds, which isn't too shabby for a camera needing to extend a built-in lens at startup. Battery life is pretty uninspiring at 200 shots (per CIPA), but at least there's both in-camera charging and an external wall charger included in the box. The spare batteries are small in size, but we must admit, we'd take a larger grip with a larger battery if given the option.

Overall performance is responsive - though if you manage to fill the buffer with a burst, you're locked out of menus until the data has been written to your card. With a reasonably fast card installed, it isn't a big concern.

Autofocus performance from Canon's Dual Pixel technology is impressive

Autofocus performance from Canon's Dual Pixel technology is impressive, as we've come to expect. A 24-72mm equivalent lens clearly isn't designed with sports in mind, but we've been impressed with the camera's face detection for more casual social interactions.

Image and video quality

Out-of-camera JPEG.
24mm equiv. | ISO 100 | 1/1000 sec | F3.5
Photo by Allison Johnson

The G1 X III is capable of outstanding image quality. Its latest-generation Canon APS-C 24MP sensor combines with Dual Pixel autofocus to produce detailed, accurately focused images with signature Canon color and great noise performance. Even better, default sharpening and noise reduction have been improved relative to previous Canon models with this sensor and processor, and so the G1 X III produces more impressive images right out of the box than some of its interchangeable lens cousins.

There are cameras based on 1"-type sensors that can offer both better noise performance and depth of field control

That said, the lens on our review sample proved a little softer than we would have expected considering the price tag, and there's no denying its middling maximum aperture values; F2.8 on the wide end, F5.6 on the long end. Depending on your shooting, there are cameras based on 1"-type sensors that can offer both better noise performance and depth of field control than the G1 X III based on light levels and chosen focal length. Even taking the sensor size into account, Canon's own (less-expensive) G7 X Mark II offers the user a similarly shallow depth of field at the wide end, and even shallower at 72mm and beyond.

For video, the G1 X III has a lot in common with the rest of its Canon stablemates. It can produce reasonably good-quality 1080/60p video, which is broadly competitive in terms of detail, but other options can capture impressive 4K footage if you so require. Additionally, the G1 X III's lens-based image stabilization is impressive, as is the additional digital stabilizer. There are layers to it, though, with a lower level of stabilization providing no crop to your footage, and the higher level cropping a little more extensively in the name of making everything a little smoother. Detail suffers extensively, as you'd expect, but it provides glidecam-like footage, and you can at least slow the 60p footage down to 24p for pseudo slow-motion capture.

The final word

Out of camera JPEG.
24mm equiv. | ISO 100 | 1/1000 sec | F3.5
Photo by Carey Rose

When we were first told about the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III, we were pretty excited. It is the only camera on the market with a zoom lens and an APS-C sensor that can fit in your pocket. Unfortunately, despite its premium pricing, the G1 X III is only about as capable as any of Canon's entry-level interchangeable lens cameras with a kit zoom. And on those cameras, if you want to swap the kit lens with something else, well...you can. On this PowerShot? You can't.

Sure, there's claims of weather sealing, as well as a neutral density filter and leaf shutter. And the camera comes with well-designed controls. Battery life is almost unforgivably short, but is part of the tradeoff for compactness. Also, that viewfinder 'hump' comes with not only a viewfinder, but also a hotshoe and a built-in flash.

And yet - I find it hard to imagine myself recommending the G1 X III to anyone in particular. Sony's options are less user-friendly, but offer far more speed and video options. Perhaps most crucially, Canon's own G7 X Mark II offers similar speed, smaller size, better battery life and comparable (if not better) image quality in most situations besides daylight landscapes. Also, it's considerably less expensive.

The PowerShot G1 X III is absolutely capable of fantastic photos, but the compromises that have been made - specifically regarding its lens and battery - hold it back too much for us to recommend it wholeheartedly over a number of competitors in the marketplace.


Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
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and what these numbers mean.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The G1 X Mark III is an impressively compact camera with a large APS-C sensor and a zoom lens with a versatile focal range. It has tons of direct controls and can produce great image quality, but is expensive and the permanently attached lens has a slow aperture range and hampers an otherwise capable, pocketable camera.
Good for
General photography, landscapes and world travelers who don't mind bringing along an extra battery or two.
Not so good for
Those who want to be able to photograph sports or work primarily in low light.
79%
Overall score