Canon PowerShot G1 X review By Sharif Sakr posted Feb 13 2012 at 04:00PM
Canon's G1 X boasts a beefy 14-megapixel resolution and a tank-load of ambition. Its mandate, no less, is to deliver the image quality and control of a DSLR inside the discreet body of a compact, aiming to attract serious photographers who want to travel light or supplement their main kit. That's why the G1 X houses a substantial 1.5-inch CMOS sensor, stretching to around 80 percent of the size of APS-C, along with an anti-minimalist array of dials, knobs and buttons to provide quick access to manual settings. It also explains why the G1 X is 30 percent heavier than both its evolutionary ancestor and some of its competitors, and why its price tag is equally hefty: $800, which is SLR-like in all the wrong ways. We've had this shooter long enough to gather our thoughts, but as to whether it deserves a smile or a snarl, you'll have to read on to find out.
For all its foibles, the G1 X still holds up well against its rivals. While the Nikon P7100 may look similar, it has a much smaller sensor and lower resolution -- as reflected by the fact that it's $300 cheaper.
At closer quarters sits the Olympus E-P3, which has similarly intuitive design and manual controls along with the added advantage of interchangeable lenses, but it has a slightly smaller sensor and it's $100 more expensive. Meanwhile, the Fujifilm X10 can be ruled out of this comparison because of its comparatively tiny sensor.
If you want interchangeable lenses and manual controls and a lovely huge sensor, then you need to seriously magnify your budget, since the Sony NEX-7 goes for $1,200, the Fujifilm X100 fetches $1,400 and the X-Pro 1 is expected to roll in with a $1,700 ransom demand. You could also check out Ricoh's GXR modular system.
Going the opposite way down budget highway brings us to the wonderful NEX-C3, which we've worshipped aplenty on this site. It's just $600 with an f/2.8 fixed lens, has a full APS-C sensor with greater resolution than the G1 X, and it has better battery life too. On the other hand, the C3 is more geared to automatic shooting and the lack of buttons and dials makes manual controls more fiddly in comparison. We actually tried switching to NEX-C3 after a day of manual shooting with the G1 X and it was an intensely frustrating experience.
One other option you have to consider is going right up to a full-blown DSLR. You may reject this notion out-of-hand if you're a seasoned shooter and the whole reason you're looking at the G1 X is because it's a compact. On the other hand, if you're just starting out with manual-mode photography and you're open to the idea of something three times bigger and heavier, then a camera like the Nikon D5100 offers a larger sensor, better controls, interchangeable lenses, the same flippable LCD, a far superior optical viewfinder, better low-light performance, and more shots per second, and all for just $900.
If you demand that an $800 camera contributes to your photography with "extras" like high ISO, interchangeable lenses or exceptional macro prowess, then the G1 X has rivals that are perhaps more worthy of your consideration. However, having used the G1 X heavily for a few days, we can look past its weaknesses --even its underwhleming battery life and uninformative OVF -- and admit we've become quite attached to it. Our affection has everything to do with the large sensor, fast lens and the overall physicality of the camera -- its design, feel, and the accessibility of its controls. If you want a tool for capturing high-impact images, and not necessarily for adding impact to your images, then the G1 X ought to suit you fine.