Canon PowerShot G1X offers SLR features in a compact body

The Canon PowerShot G1X may come in a compact body, but it offers a dSLR-sized sensor, high ISO speeds and full manual controls.

The Canon PowerShot G1X comes in at the top of Canon's range of professional-level compact digital cameras, offering a dSLR-sized image sensor, ISO speeds up to 12,800 and full manual control packed inside a compact body.

Where most camera companies have blurred the line between compact and dSLR by making interchangeable lens compacts (such as Micro Four Thirds cameras), Canon's latest addition to its G-series cameras keeps the lens in place but offers features aimed squarely at the more serious photographer.

Canon has equipped this new beast with an APS-C sized CMOS sensor, which is only marginally smaller than some of the sensors used in its EOS range of cameras, and a whole heap bigger than sensors found in most compact digitals. This extra size allows for more light to be captured in a single scene, resulting in lower noise in low-light images and a more even exposure in brightly lit scenes.

Image processing is done by Canon's latest DIGIC 5 processor that allows images to be shot at ISO speeds up to 12,800 while keeping image noise to a minimum. How those images look at those ISO levels remains to be seen -- typically, the higher the number, the more image detail is lost, but the large sensor size should do a good job at reducing that.

The body may be on the chunkier side of 'compact', but it's considerably smaller than most dSLRs and it's made from stainless steel, so there's no need to worry about chucking it into your kit bag among your flashguns and filters. Although at 534g, you might want a bag with a decent shoulder strap.

The lens offers a 4x optical zoom and provides a maximum aperture of f/2.8 as well as optical image stabilisation and a 3-stop neutral density filter, which allows you to darken a scene to achieve more creative control without overexposing your image.

To keep the pro shooter happy, the G1X offers full manual control over all its features, but also packs in various scene modes, including an automatic HDR function. To help get that awkward shot, the 3-inch LCD display swivels out so you can get a good view if you're shooting low-level macros, or crowd shots above your head.

The Canon PowerShot G1X may not be as pocket-friendly as most compact digital cameras, but it packs in the sort of features we'd expect to see on most dSLRS. We're extremely excited to get a full hands-on when it lands in February -- although less keen about that £700 price tag.

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