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Cameras

Canon PowerShot G3 X: It's all about the zoom

The camera's 25x zoom is its only standout feature compared with competitors.

Canon

The latest camera Canon adds to its enthusiast G series leans more into megazoom territory than any previous model. The PowerShot G3 X incorporates the same 1-inch sensor as the G7 X , but pairs it with a 25x zoom lens in a body a bit bigger than the G1 X Mark II .

Canon plans to ship the camera in July for a whopping $1,000 or £799. No Australian pricing has been announced but some websites are suggesting it may be priced around AU$1200. While there are more expensive cameras, $1,000 is high for the features it offers.

The lens covers the 24-600mm focal-length range, but sadly, it's slow, with a maximum aperture range of f2.8-5.6. And usually Canon's lenses in these cameras get slow fast; in other words, the lens probably hits f5.6 as you zoom in a lot sooner than you'd like. In comparison, the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 's 16x lens runs f2.8 to f4, hitting f4 at 400mm where the Canon would be at f5.6, and the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II 's 8.3x lens can stay at f2.8 across the entire zoom range. Yes, those ranges are shorter, but I'd take the faster apertures in a heartbeat.

Especially since the rest of the camera's specs look so lacklustre in comparison, with the exception of a 3.2-inch LCD. Both the Panasonic and the Sony have built-in viewfinders -- the G3 X's optional EVF-DC1 viewfinder costs $250/£200/AU$250 (though it tilts, which is nice). They've got faster continuous shooting, and based on past history, I suspect their autofocus performance is better as well. They also can shoot 4K video, and the Sony has a dust- and weather-resistant design like the Canon.

The design looks pretty efficient, with a more substantial grip than usual and a pronounced thumb rest. The LCD tilts as well as flips up for selfies; frequently, the LCDs only flip up. It also looks like a similar popup flash as the G7 X, which I'm hoping tilts back to bounce as well.

It has a markedly different control layout than previous models, with a separate mode and exposure-compensation dials and a vertical adjustment dial on top. The back controls are less cluttered looking, though that's partly because the exposure lock and AF-area buttons are on the top next to the thumb rest which can sometimes be awkward.

The image quality of the G7 X is quite good, and the only reason I can think of why the G3 X might not match it is the lens; the G7 X's is faster and I suspect brighter. Plus, it will be really interesting to see how the G3 X fares compared to the RX10 II and its new stacked CMOS sensor.

Comparative specs

Canon PowerShot G3 X Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II
Sensor effective resolution 20.2MP HS CMOS 20.9MP MOS CMOS 20.2MP Exmor RS CMOS
Sensor size 1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8 mm)
1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8)
1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 2.7x 2.7x
Sensitivity range ISO 125 - ISO 12800/25600 (exp) ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800/ISO 25600 (exp) ISO 64 (exp)/ISO 125 - ISO 12800
Lens (35mm equivalent) 24-600
f2.8-5.6
25x
25-400mm
f2.8 - 4
16x
24-200mm
f2.8
8.3x
Closest focus 2.0 in/5cm 1.2 in/3cm 1.2 in/3 cm
Burst shooting 3.2fps
(5.9fps with fixed focus)
unlimited JPEG/n/a raw
7fps
(12fps with fixed exposure)
5fps
(14fps with fixed focus and exposure)
n/a
Viewfinder
(mag/ effective mag)
Optional EVF
Tilting TFT
(EVF-DC1, $250, £200, AU$250)
EVF
0.4-inch/10.2mm
2.4m dots
100% coverage
1.88/0.7x
OLED EVF
0.4 in/10.2 mm
2.36m dots
1.89x/0.7x
100 percent coverage
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 31-area
Contrast AF
49 area
Contrast AF
n/a
AF sensitivity n/a n/a n/a
Shutter speed 15 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb 60 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb 30 - 1/3,200 sec (1/32,000 sec electronic shutter); bulb
Metering n/a n/a n/a
Metering sensitivity n/a n/a n/a
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 30p
MP4 UHD/30p; AVCHD 1080/60p, 60i, 30p XAVC S 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps
Audio Stereo, mic input, headphone Stereo, mic input Stereo, mic input, headphone
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB/29:59 minutes
29:59 minutes 29 minutes
Optical zoom while recording n/a Yes Yes
IS Optical Optical Optical
LCD 3.2 in/8cm
Tilting, flip-up touchscreen
1.6m dots
3 in/7.5 cm
Articulated
921,000 dots
3 in/7.5cm
Tilting
921,600 dots
(plus another set of white dots for brightness)
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash No No Yes
Battery life (CIPA rating) 300 shots 360 shots 400 shots (LCD); 360 shots (viewfinder)
Size (WHD) 4.9 x 3.0 x 4.2 in
123.3 x 76.5 x 105.3mm
5.4 x 3.9 x 5.2 in
136.8 x 98.5 x 130.7mm
5.1 x 3.5 x 4.1 in
129 x 88.1 x 102.2 mm
Body operating weight 26 oz (est.)
733 g (est.)
13.3 oz
830 g
38.7 oz (est.)
813 g (est.)
Mfr. price $1,000
£800
$800
£650
AU$1,200
$1,300
Release date (US) July 2015 July 2014 July 2015

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