Autofocus and Video

Key takeaways

  • The G7 X III focuses quickly and does a reasonably good job at tracking faces and subjects you've selected via the touchscreen prior to taking a still photo
  • Frustratingly, you cannot shoot bursts with subject tracking.
  • The camera can capture 4K/30 video with no crop, although there's a 10 minute limit and and no 24p support. The latter will be added via a firmware update.
  • 4K video quality is good, but not as detailed as competitors like the Sony RX100 V
  • Continuous AF in video is just okay, with noticeable 'hunting' at times
  • Video capture tools are minimal, though we appreciate the 3-stop ND filter

Autofocus for stills

Like most of its non-Sony peers, the G7 X III uses a contrast-detect autofocus system. It's not as robust as the phase-detect system found on cameras like the Sony RX100 VA, and it has some frustrating quirks, but it is responsive.

There are three AF area modes on the camera: Face + Tracking, Spot and 1-point (essentially a larger 'spot'). Face detection works well, with rapid acquisition and good 'stickiness'. When there are no faces, the AF system operates in multi-area mode.

ISO 125 | 1/160 sec | F4 | 24mm equiv.
Photo by Barney Britton

You can switch between faces, though this requires reassigning a button to handle AF point selection. Once that's done that you just press the button to cycle through faces. The G7 X III does not support eye detection: at least, not yet.

The G7 X III offers both single and continuous (Servo) AF modes. The former does just as you'd expect; acquiring and locking focus a single time, while the latter keeps both subjects you've tapped and detected faces in focus well, though it may 'hunt' at times. If you're hoping to shoot bursts with continuous autofocus and subject tracking, we have bad news: you can't.

To see how the G7 X III performed in Servo mode with center-point AF, check out the bike test in our G5 X II review: the system is exactly the same. Since we can't track in burst mode, the 'weave' portion of the test could not be performed.


Video

While the G7 X III is well-suited for vlogging, thanks to its live streaming (discussed in more detail here), vertical video support and and mic socket, its overall video capabilities aren't amazing. It can capture 4K/30p video using the full width of the sensor, with no crop (assuming movie IS is set to off or low). There is a time limit of 10 minutes, and some G7 X III owners have complained of overheating, but we never ran into that issue.

One thing the camera doesn't offer at time of publication is 24p support, which is a must for many video shooters. However, Canon has promised that it will be releasing a firmware update toward the end of 2019 that will add 24p support.

This video was put together from an hour of shooting using the camera's star time-lapse mode

In addition to 4K, the G7 X III can capture 1080/60p and 30p video (and their PAL equivalents), and there's a high speed 120p mode (manual focus only), as well. It offers several time-lapse modes, including one for capturing stars.

Video quality and autofocus

Since they're essentially the same camera (aside from their lenses), we're going to use samples from the G5 X II to describe the video quality and performance on the G7 X III.

Video captures of our studio scene clearly show that the G5 X II (and thus the G7 X III) simply can't match the Sony RX100 V's detail capture. This is due mostly to how the G7 X III samples its sensor for video, as well as the softness of the camera's lens.

Enabling the subsequent increasing levels of image stabilization on the Canon soften the footage further, with the 'high' mode looking truly awful. Reducing the resolution to 1080p doesn't look terribly impressive on the Canon, either.

View our G5 X II vs. Sony RX100 V video quality comparison

Just like for stills shooting, the G7 X III uses contrast-detect autofocus in video, which puts it at a disadvantage to cameras like the Sony RX100 V that use phase-detection. Initial reviews of the camera's video AF performance were quite critical, and Canon released a firmware upgrade to improve how well it keeps subjects in-focus. We put the camera running the new firmware through a common vlogging scenerio to see how it performs:

Overall, the G7 X III does a fair job, but the CDAF system hunts frequently, which is distracting. The best place to see this is right at the beginning: watch the yellow-wrapped columns or ceiling lights on the right side. There's also quite a bit of a 'jello' effect here, with the camera on the 'Standard' IS setting.

The audio was captured using the built-in mic, and sounds good considering how noisy the surroundings were.

Video stabilization

In addition to using its own in-lens stabilization, several digital IS modes are also available, with options of off, low, standard and high. As mentioned above, there's no additional crop when using the low setting, but standard and high have crops of 1.11x and 1.43x, respectively.

Here's a quick look at how the various IS modes performed on the G7 X III's sister model, the G5 X II:

Capture tools

The G7 X III offers manual exposure control during video capture, and you can use exposure compensation with Auto ISO to adjust brightness without affecting your aperture or shutter speed. The built-in 3-stop neutral density filter permits using video-friendly shutter speeds in bright light.

If you're looking for things like zebra patterns or Log output, we have bad news: they're not on this camera. About the only tool of note is focus peaking - you are left with only the camera's metering scale to assess exposure.