Canon PowerShot G1 X review: Canon PowerShot G1 X

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13

The Good The Canon PowerShot G1 X delivers excellent photo quality and a nice shooting design.

The Bad Two flaws stand out: the camera's underperforming lens and sluggish shooting speed.

The Bottom Line A big camera capable of shooting some lovely photographs, the Canon PowerShot G1 X's slow lens disappoints given its high price.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 8

What you think about the Canon PowerShot G1 X depends upon whether you view it as a cheap alternative to the Fujifilm X100 or an expensive competitor to a lot of other fixed and interchangeable-lens models. That's because the price of the camera sets it apart from the crowd as much as the large-ish sensor does. But despite delivering on image quality and having a pretty nice shooting design, the lens, and to a lesser extent the shooting performance, hold it back from being worth the price.

The camera gets high marks for photo quality, though it's not significantly better than lower-priced ILCs like the Olympus E-PL3 or the Sony Alpha NEX-5N.

One advantage Canon retains over its rivals is the excellent JPEG processing and noise reduction, which allows it to produce extremely clean photos as high as ISO 400 and seriously usable ones up through ISO 3200. Color and exposure look great as well. The lens has good center sharpness, but not the greatest edge sharpness.

Movies look fine for casual shooting: decent sharpness and exposure with minimal rolling shutter, but quite a bit of aliasing (jaggies) and a relatively narrow tonal range. The lens does zoom and focus quietly while shooting, though. For the most part, it's comparable with fixed-lens competitors.

Unfortunately, the G1 X gets relatively low marks for performance, partly because of its sluggish shot-to-shot speed--even slower than the G12's--and partly because of some disappointing lens characteristics.

It powers on and shoots in 1.9 seconds, which is slow but typical for this type of camera. It takes 0.4 second to focus and shoot in good light, and 0.7 second in dim, both of which are par for this course as well. But time to shoot two sequential JPEGs is 2.4 seconds, rising to a seriously sad 3.2 seconds for raw.

I suspect this lag is because of poor buffer management, since it seems like the camera won't even attempt to focus for the second shot until it's cleared. That might explain why the flash shot-to-shot time is faster than raw, at 2.8 seconds. Its continuous-shooting speed sags as well at 2fps, but this isn't really a camera you'd want to burst with.

That said, the camera didn't feel as sluggish to shoot with as the data would imply. Perhaps I didn't notice because I spent a disproportionate amount of time dealing with the small-apertured lens and its bizarre focusing-distance constraints.

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:

Best Digital Cameras for 2020

All best cameras

More Best Products

All best products