Canon PowerShot G1 X Review
Originally Posted: March 11, 2012
Last Updated: October 29, 2012
The Canon PowerShot G1 X ($799) may look like "just another G-Series camera", but it's got one big trick up its sleeve (or should I say, its lens). The G1 X features a 1.5" (18.7 x 14.0 mm), 14.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor, which is 6.7 times bigger than the already larger-than-average sensor in the PowerShot G12. The G1 X's sensor is even larger than what's in the Nikon 1 System and Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens cameras. Larger sensors mean better quality photos -- especially at high sensitivities -- so I have high hopes for the G1 X in the image quality department.
A comparison of camera sensor sizes, with the G1 X in blue
Based on an illustration by Digital Photography Review, used with permission.
Aside from the sensor, the other big differences between the two cameras are zoom power, LCD size/resolution, movie resolution, and size/weight. The G1 X retains the same basic design and feature set of the G12 (which will remain in the Canon lineup), along with its optical viewfinder, loads of dials and buttons (many of which are customizable), RAW support, and plethora of accessories. The table below spells out exactly what's different between the two cameras:
As you can see, the PowerShot G1 X is better than the G12 in most respects. However, its lens is less powerful (and slower at the telephoto end), the flash is weaker, and battery life is considerably worse. That said, it has a lot going for it, too.
Can the PowerShot G1 X offer D-SLR quality photos in a (relatively) compact body? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
Despite its $799 price tag, the PowerShot G1 X has a rather unremarkable bundle. Here's what you'll find when you crack open the box:
- The 14.3 effective Megapixel PowerShot G1 X digital camera
- NB-10L lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger
- Lens cap w/retaining strap
- Neck strap
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
- 35 page Quick Start Guide (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM
As with all of their recent cameras, Canon neither builds memory into their cameras, nor includes a memory card in the box. So, unless you have one already (which you probably do), you'll need to buy yourself an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card right away. You're going to want a 4GB card at the very least, and larger if you plan on taking a lot of Full HD videos. A high speed (Class 6 or higher) card is recommended for best performance.
The PowerShot G1 X uses the NB-10L lithium-ion battery, which contains 6.8 Wh of energy. That's down from the 7.8 Wh battery used on the G12, and you know what that means. The PowerShot G1 X takes 250 shots per charge, which is an almost 50% drop compared to the G12. Why Canon downsized the battery on their flagship PowerShot is beyond me.
Anyhow, here's how the G1 X compares to other cameras with larger-than-average sensors:
As the table illustrates, the PowerShot G1 X's battery life is the lowest on this small list of cameras. Thus, you may want to pick up a spare battery, which will set you back around $60. You can only use the optical viewfinder instead of the LCD to save some juice.
When it's time to charge the NB-10L, just pop it into the included charger. This charger, which plugs directly into the wall, takes about 110 minutes to refill the battery.
The G1 X supports most of the accessories used by the G12, with the exception of conversion lenses. Here are the most interesting accessories for the G1 X:
In addition to those, the G1 X also supports a pair of macro lights, both of which require the MLA-DC1 adapter in order to attach to the camera.
Canon has one of the nicest software bundles out there. You'll first encounter CameraWindow, which will download photos from the camera onto your Mac or PC. The main photo organizing suite is called ZoomBrowser in Windows and ImageBrowser on Macs. The software lets you e-mail or print photos, upload videos to YouTube, and do some editing, as well. Available photo editing features include trimming, redeye removal, level/tone curve adjustment, and color tuning. While the Browser software can view RAW files, it cannot edit them -- see below for another option. Movie editing tools in Image/ZoomBrowser include trimming and frame grabs.
For editing RAW images you'll need to use Digital Photography Professional, which is a very capable product. Here you can adjust exposure, highlight and shadow detail, the tone curve, noise reduction, and white balance. There are also tools for reducing lens distortion, vignetting, and purple fringing. If you'd rather use Adobe Photoshop instead, just make sure that you have version 6.7 RC1 or newer of their Camera Raw plug-in.
Also included with the G1 X is PhotoStitch. PhotoStitch can take photos that you've lined up using the Stitch Assist feature on the camera, and combine them into a single panoramic image. The only thing easier is if the camera did it automatically, which the G1 X does not.
Unfortunately, Canon only supplies a 35 page "basic manual" in the box with the G1 X. It'll get you started, but for more details, you'll need to load up the full manual, which is in PDF format on an included CD-ROM. The manuals themselves aren't what I'd call pleasure reading, but they will certainly answer any question you may have about the camera. Instructions for the bundled software is installed onto your Mac or PC.