Canon introduces a new sensor size into its product line with the enthusiast-targeted PowerShot G7 X: like Sony's RX series of advanced compacts, the G7 X features a 1-inch BSI (backside illuminated) sensor. At $700 (£580, approximately AU$775) the G7 X is only about $100 less than then its big brother, the -- even less in Australia -- and that gap will probably narrow as the months go on.
The G7 X has some features that are welcome in the G X line, most notably a fast 24-100mm f1.8-2.8 lens with a 9-blade aperture and a flip-up touchscreen display. With great photo quality for this class and a streamlined shooting design, the camera fares well against its Sony competitors. Unfortunately, weak performance holds it back.
Photos look excellent, and video quality is fine for most casual use. The G7 X uses a 1-inch Sony sensor -- apocryphally the same one as the-- and it's interesting to see what the photos looks like paired with a different lens and image-processing software. The answer: a bit sharper with better white balance and more detail in the shadow areas.
The G7 X's JPEGs look relatively clean through ISO 400, though at ISO 400 you can see the noise reduction kick in little; by ISO 800 noise and detail degradation starts. Still, the JPEGs, depending on scene content, are OK through ISO 3200. Using raw increases that to ISO 6400.
Canon's white balance is generally pretty accurate, though as frequently happens, I had to manually switch it from auto to Cloudy or Shade to get correct colors in those conditions. The defaults tend to push the color saturation a lot more than I like, and unfortunately, the Neutral color setting isn't available when shooting raw or raw+JPEG.
It has a decent tonal range for its class, delivering reasonable highlight detail and only clipping shadows a little. There's also a surprising (for this type of camera) amount of detail recoverable from highlights and shadows in the raw files without introducing artifacts.
Video quality, even in low light, is quite good; a little better than the's but not as good as the XAVC S-codec video out of the RX100 III.
Note: unless you view the samples at their full 770-pixel width they won't look right.
Note: We recently updated our testing methodology, so the results aren't comparable with previous testing. Where possible, I've retested cameras for comparison.
Unfortunately, the G7 X upholds one of the less admirable traditions of the G series: generally sluggish autofocus performance. Note that we test with continuous autofocus turned off for single shots because in real life leaving it on drains the battery -- I also personally find the constant lens movement irritating -- and the G7 X's battery life is pretty bad to start. The camera has an ECO mode, which turns off the screen almost immediately: too soon and too often. It's telling that the three-bar battery level goes straight from two bars to blinking red with no stops in between.
The only real bright spot in the camera's performance is continuous shooting with autofocus, where it's one of the faster cameras in its class (although we haven't yet tested the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100, which might be faster).
In all other respects the camera's speed ranges from typical to middling. It powers on and shoots in 1.5 seconds, which, alas is about average for this class of cameras. It takes between 0.5- and 0.8-second to lock focus and shoot, depending upon lighting conditions, and runs 1.1 seconds to shoot two sequential JPEGs or 1.4 seconds for raw; using flash raises that to 2.5 seconds.
Autofocus problems plagued me during testing, though. The camera bafflingly failed to focus frequently on single-point AF, for reasons I couldn't discern: well-lit, reasonably high-contrast scenes of unmoving subjects, at a distance within the appropriate focus range for the lens and regardless of the size of the AF area. Sometimes it would indicate trouble, but the image would be in focus. The touch AF comes in handy for moments like this. And the Servo continuous AF works pretty well for moderately moving objects, like a casual cyclist crossing the frame.