Conclusion

The PowerShot G7 X is an exciting entry to the enthusiast compact that has, up until now, been dominated by Sony. Canon hasn't taken a lot of risks with the G7 X: its body is essentially a mash-up of the PowerShot S120 and G1 X Mark II, and its sensor is the same that's found in Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II and III. Canon has tried to separate itself from the very small crowd by giving the G7 X a longer lens, selfie-friendly LCD, and dedicated exposure compensation dial. On paper, the G7 X sounds like the camera to beat. In practice, that wasn't the case.

Pros

  • Excellent photo quality
  • Fast lens with longer zoom range than competition
  • Sensor/lens combination allows for very shallow depth-of-field
  • Customizable front dial
  • LCD can flip upward 180 degrees
  • Touchscreen display allows for easy focus point selection and image review
  • Exposure compensation dial on top plate
  • Built-in ND filter
  • 1080/60p video
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Slow continuous shooting and shot-to-shot speeds with Raw images
  • Focusing can be inconsistent
  • Manual focus has low quality preview, limited magnification, and requires a lot of dial-spinning
  • No 24p video option
  • Menu operation can be sluggish
  • Exposure compensation dial is hard to reach, difficult to turn
  • Small, cluttered controls on rear of camera
  • Lacks in-camera Raw processing
  • Smartphone app is very limited
  • Useful JPEG options such as DR correction unavailable when shooting Raw+JPEG

Handling

The highlights of the G7 X are undoubtedly its 1" 20MP BSI-CMOS (likely manufactured by Sony) and 24-100mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 lens. This combination allows for shallow depth-of-field only surpassed by larger cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. The G7 X's lens has a much longer reach than the LX100 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, though not quite as far as Canon's own PowerShot G1 X Mark II. The G7 X's sensor/lens combination also brings in more light, allowing for better low light image quality than your typical compact camera.

Despite having the 'G' in its name, the PowerShot G7 X has much more in common with Canon's S-series cameras than the G-series models. It has a compact body made almost entirely metal and for the most part feels solid. The only area that stands out as feeling cheap is the rear dial (and the four-way controller inside it). It's easy to shoot with one hand, though some may want a grip, as the body is a bit slippery.

Ergonomics are definitely a mixed bag. We really like having easy access to exposure compensation via the dial on the top plate, but it's set too far back and is difficult to turn. Given the size of the camera, it's not surprising that your finger sits on top of many buttons, including the rear dial.

Ellensburg Bull, Ellensburg, WA. ISO 125, 1/125 sec, f2.5, 39mm equiv.

The dial around the lens can have numerous functions assigned to it, ranging from ISO to white balance fine-tuning, though you'll probably not want to use it for manual focus, as it makes a rather pronounced click when rotated. For manual focusing you'll want to instead use the rear dial, though that's frustrating because of how much rotating you have to do to adjust the focus distance.

One nice feature on the camera is its 3" touchscreen LCD, which has 1.04 million dots. We found the screen to have good outdoor visibility, and it 'gains up' nicely in low light. The touchscreen comes in handy, allowing you to select a focus point without having to fiddle with the four-way controller. Naturally, it also lets you navigate menus and view photos just like on a smartphone.

There's no doubt that the G7 X is full-featured, but its performance is by far its biggest weak spot. Startup speeds are respectable, but focusing is sluggish compared to its peers, and the G7 X 'misses' more often than we'd like. While shot-to-shot and burst speeds are respectable for JPEG, they're downright slow when shooting Raw. In burst mode the G7 X shoots at roughly 1 fps, which indirectly makes bracketing a frustrating experience. The G7 X's battery life is rated at a paltry 210 shots which makes it considerably worse than its competitors.

Image Quality

Thankfully the PowerShot G7 X fares a lot better with regard to image quality. Exposure was accurate on most occasions, and if it wasn't, that dedicated dial is always close at hand. Sharpness will always be dependent on focal length and aperture, and we found it to be at its best between 35 and 85mm. Things are quite soft at full telephoto and you'll need to stop down to at least F4 to get that sharpness back. As is typical with compact cameras, the G7 X's colors 'pop'. The built-in neutral density filter extends the flexibility of the camera and allows a photographer to take photos like the one below in bright daylight.

North Fork Falls, Bellevue, WA. ISO 125, 1 sec, f/8, 24mm equiv.

Canon takes a conservative approach to noise reduction, leaving fine detail alone until the highest sensitivities. Once you reach that point, switching to Raw allows one to get detail back from the 'mush'. That's not the only reason to use Raw on the G7 X. The dynamic range of the sensor is good enough to let you pull quite a bit back from the shadows.

The PowerShot G7 X is capable of recording 1080/60p video, though both the Panasonic LX100 and Sony RX100 surpass it in terms of both features and quality. The G7 X offers manual exposure control, focus peaking, and a 35Mbps bit rate using the H.264 codec. The 3" touchscreen display makes rack focusing really easy, manual focusing is not available once you hit the record button. Something else that's strangely missing from the G7 X is support for 24p video.

The Competition

At this point in time, the G7 X has one direct competitor, and that's the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III (and arguably its predecessor). While both cameras do a great job at stills, the G7 X has a longer zoom and a bit more control over depth-of-field, so portrait and landscape photographers may find it to be the more appealing of the two. If capturing fast action is important to you, the Sony wins hands-down in all areas (it's vastly superior in terms of battery life, as well). Video shooters will also find the RX100 III to be the better of the two cameras. Handling is more subjective. Some photographers will like the exposure compensation and 'clicky' dial of the G7 X, while others will prefer the smooth dial and tilt-down LCD on the RX100 III.

Sunset over Seattle. ISO 250, 1/50 sec, f/2.5, 39mm.

If you want more physical controls and don't mind the extra bulk, there's the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. Unfortunately, aside from its additional physical controls and broader selection of accessories, the G1 X II doesn't really have any advantages over its smaller sibling. In fact, the G1 X II has less dynamic range and around the same high ISO performance as the G7 X.

The Panasonic LX100 is the newest entry to the enthusiast compact market and offers superior image quality and the best movie mode of the bunch (4K). It also has direct controls for shutter speed and aperture, and can blur backgrounds like nobody's business.

The Final Word

The PowerShot G7 X has stirred up a lot of excitement in the camera world, with Canon opening up the category that has been dominated by Sony. Canon went with the excellent Sony 20MP BSI-CMOS sensor and added a longer (yet still fast) lens that is great for portraiture. Sadly, where the G7 X falls apart is performance, usability, and battery life, as discussed above.

While the G7 X earns a silver award for its ambitious lens and image quality, Canon has a lot of work to do in the performance department in order to earn our top reward.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Canon PowerShot G7 X
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
With a time-tested 1" BSI-CMOS sensor and an impressive 24-100mm F1.8-2.8 lens, the PowerShot G7 X produces excellent quality photos. Although the ergonomics won't suit everyone and battery life isn't as good as some competitors, the G7X is well suited to low light and portrait photos, and its touchscreen display is handy for self-portraits and video.
Good for
Those seeking big sensor photo quality in your pocket. On-the-go portrait photographers. Self-portrait enthusiasts.
Not so good for
Those who don't want to carry around extra batteries. Raw shooters. Video enthusiasts.
77%
Overall score

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