Canon PowerShot G1 X review: Canon PowerShot G1 X

First, I'd expect a wider-than-f2.8 maximum aperture on an $800 camera. But more important, I expect it to be a lot faster than f5.8 at 112mm-equivalent. Not only does that compare poorly with similar focal ranges on the less-expensive XZ-1 and Fujifilm X10 , but it's worse in practice: it's only f2.8 at 28mm. By 31.5mm it's jumped to f3.2. Here's the progression of maximum apertures available at the crossover focal lengths:


  •    •  f2.8 at 28mm
  •    •  f3.2 at 31.5mm
  •    •  f3.5 at 34.5mm
  •    •  f4 at 37.5
  •    •  f4.5 at 44.7
  •    •  f5 at 56.2mm
  •    •  f5.6 at 75.7
  •    •  f5.8 at 112mm

This isn't a gripe about depth-of-field; the larger sensor size of the G1 X allows for shallower DOF at narrower apertures than the smaller sensors in the Olympus and Fujifilm cameras. It's about light constraints at reasonably short focal lengths.

And that's only one problem. The other is the lens' minimum focusing distance. First, it can only focus as close as 7.9 inches, and that's in macro mode; in standard focus, it's a more common 1.3 feet. Even the G12's lens focuses as close as 2 inches in normal mode. More annoying, the camera can only autoswitch between macro and standard focus modes in complete Auto. It means unlearning habits about lens settings and spending too much time jumping in and out of macro modes.

  Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot G1 X Fujifilm FinePix X10 Fujifilm FinePix X100 Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
Sensor (effective resolution) 10-megapixel CCD 14.3- megapixel CMOS 12-megapixel EXR CMOS 12.3 megapixel CMOS 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD
1/1.7-inch 1.5-inch
(18.7 x 14mm)
2/3-inch 23.6 x 15.8mm 1/1.63-inch 1/1.63-inch
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 100 - ISO 12,800 ISO 100 - ISO 3200 ISO 100 (expanded)/ 200 - ISO 6400/12,800 (expanded) ISO 100 - ISO 6400 ISO 80 - ISO 3200
Lens 28-140mm
f2.8-4.5
5x
28-112mm
f2.8-5.8
4x
28-112mm
f2-2.8
4x
35mm
f2
1x
28-112mm
f1.8-2.5
4x
24-90mm
f2-3.3
3.8x
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 7.9 0.4 3.9 0.4 0.4
Continuous shooting 1.1fps
frames n/a raw
4.5fps
6 JPEG
7fps
8 JPEG/n/a raw
5fps
10 JPEG/8 raw
2fps
23 JPEG/8 raw
2.5 fps
JPEG/n/a raw
Viewfinder Optical Optical Optical Optical/EVF switchable Optional EVF Optional OVF or EVF
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
49-area
Contrast AF
11 area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
Metering n/a n/a 256 zones 256 zones 324 area n/a
Shutter 15-1/4,000 sec 60-1/4,000 sec 30-1/4,000 sec 30-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 60 min 60-1/2,000 sec; bulb to 16 min 60-1/4,000 sec
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD 2.8-inch articulated
461,000 dots
3-inch articulated 922,000 dots 2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed OLED
610,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical None Sensor shift Optical
Video (best quality) 720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 720/30p Motion JPEG AVI 720/30p AVCHD Lite
Mono
Manual iris and shutter in video No No No Iris only No Yes
Zoom while recording No Yes Yes n/a No n/a
Mic input No No No No Yes No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 390 shots 250 shots 270 shots 300 shots 320 shots 400 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.4 x 3.0 x 2.0 4.6 x 3.2 x 2.6 4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2 5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7
Weight (ounces) 14.2 18.8 12.4 15.8 9.6 9.2
Mfr. price $499.99 $799 $599.99 $1,195.95 $499.99 $499.99
Availability October 2010 February 2012 November 2011 March 2011 January 2011 August 2010

Bigger, heavier, and boxier than the G12 and with a pop-up rather than front-mounted flash, the G1 X nevertheless looks and feels quite similar to its older sibling. Overall, I like the design, though the function button behavior can get a little frustrating: unlike other cameras, which automatically hide the menu when you press the shutter button, Canon's remains until you press the function button again. As a result, I frequently found myself scrolling around the options when I thought I was changing the shutter speed. Otherwise, I like the flip-and-twist LCD--it's bright and big--and though the optical viewfinder is quite small, it's useful to have. And the buttons and dials feel responsive and well laid out.

Many of the new features, like the multi-area white balance and Intelligent IS, which launched with the S100, work only in auto mode; Intelligent IS autodetects what type of stabilization is necessary in both still and video modes, and the updated white balance does better scene analysis. It also introduces face recognition, and can store up to 12 faces with some limited associated metadata. You'll find a bunch of multishot modes, including five-shot HDR, though I find Canon's implementations so-so. Like the G12, it has a built-in neutral-density filter.

Conclusion
A lot of people think that Canon's missing out by lagging in its ILC development--and it is. The G1 X targets a growing part of the market, composed of people who don't really care about changing lenses and just want better photo quality. But, ironically, its disappointing lens makes a better case for getting an ILC in this price segment than for buying this fixed-lens option.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Olympus E-PL3
1 
0.8 
0.7 
0.6 
0.3 
Fujifilm FinePix X10
0.9 
1.2 
1.1 
0.6 
0.3 
Canon PowerShot G12
2.1 
2.5 
2.2 
0.6 
0.4 
Olympus XZ-1
1 
1.4 
1.1 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot G1 X
1.9 
3.2 
2.4 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
1.6 
1.7 
1.4 
0.8 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar. 5, 2012
  • Optical Zoom 4 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 14.3 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (HYBRID O.I.S.)
  • Optical Sensor Size 1.5"
  • Lens 28 - 112mm F/2.8
About The Author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.