Canon PowerShot G1 X Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

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:

  PowerShot G12 PowerShot G1 X
MSRP $499 $799
Sensor size / type 1/1.7" CCD 1.5" CMOS
Sensor resolution (effective) 10.0 MP 14.3 MP
Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 5
Lens max aperture range F2.8 - F4.5 F2.8 - F5.8
Lens focal range (zoom ratio) 28 - 140 mm (5X) 28 - 112 mm (4X)
Minimum focus distance 1 cm 20 cm
Intelligent IS No Yes
LCD size (type) 2.8" (rotating) 3.0" (rotating)
LCD resolution 461,000 px 922,000 px
ISO range (full res) 80 - 3200 100 - 12800
Dedicated ISO dial Yes No
Shutter speed range 15 - 1/4000 sec 60 - 1/4000 sec
Aperture range F2.8 - F8 F2.8 - F16
Burst rate (full res) 2.0 frames/sec 4.5 frames/sec
Flash working range (Auto ISO) 0.5 - 7.0 m (W)
0.5 - 4.0 m (T)
0.5 - 7.0 m (W)
1.0 - 3.1 m (T)
Creative Filters No Yes
Max movie resolution (frame rate) 1280 x 720 (24 fps) 1920 x 1080 (24 fps)
Movie Digest mode No Yes
Dedicated movie rec button No Yes
Battery used NB-7L NB-10L
Battery life (CIPA) 370 shots 250 shots
Dimensions 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in. 4.6 x 3.2 x 2.6 in.
Weight (empty) 351 g 492 g

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:

Camera Battery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot G1 X 250 shots NB-10L
Fujifilm X10 270 shots NP-50
Nikon Coolpix P7100 350 shots EN-EL14
Olympus XZ-1 320 shots LI-50B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 400 shots DMW-BCJ13

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturer

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:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Filter adapter FA-DC58C $30 Allows you to attach standard 58 mm filters to the G1 X.
Lens hood LH-DC70 $30 Reduces flare when shooting outdoors
External flash 270EX II
430EX II
580EX II

From $129
From $220
From $264
From $434

Boost the flash range, reduce redeye, and get high speed flash sync. The 320EX has a built-in video lamp. The three higher-end flashes can be wireless slaves, while the 580EX II can serve as a master, as well.
Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 From $224 This transmitter allows you to wirelessly fire a compatible Canon external flash.
Remote shutter release RS60-E3 From $19 Take a picture without touching the camera. Cable is 25 inches long.
Waterproof case WP-DC44 $399 Take your camera up to 40 meters (130 ft) underwater
AC adapter ACK-DC80 From $45 Power the camera without draining your batteries
A/V cable AVC-DC400ST $25 For connecting your camera to a old school television
Soft camera case SC-DC75 ?? A soft leather case for safely transporting your camera.
* Prices were accurate when review was published

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.