PowerShot G1 X Mark III

PowerShot G1 X Mark III

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III Review

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The Good. With a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor outfitted in a sleek, ultra-lightweight compact body, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is a great little tool that gives you beautiful, crisp images and good quality videos. It features an image and video stabilizer, a DIGIC 7 image processor for quicker data handling, and a Dual Pixel CMOS AF for smooth and fairly quick autofocusing. The touchscreen LCD, as well as its several connectivity options, allows for maximum flexibility. It's also a very intuitive camera, with controls that are easy to figure out and use, even for beginners and novice photographers. Plus, it boasts a few extras including the panoramic sweep mode that lets you capture 67MP images and a weather-sealing feature.

The Bad. Other than the fact that it costs more than you'd probably be willing to pay for a compact all-in-one, its aperture range of f/2.8 to f/5.6 and zoom range of 24-72mm are not impressive. The close-focusing distance is also limited at 10cm so forget macro shots. The battery life is disappointing. Lastly, 4K video capture is not an option.

The Bottom Line. It's definitely an intrepid attempt, putting a large sensor in a tiny body then outfitting it with a bunch of excellent features. If the G1 X Mark III was cheaper, it would probably be a great buy. But considering its limitations and the missing features, only invest if you've some got cash to spare.

Pick This Up If... you're a hobbyist looking for an ultralight camera, a vlogger, or a pro seeking to add a compact supplement to their main arsenal, and you've got deep pockets.

INTRO

Every time a manufacturer releases a new camera, you wonder if it's worth all the hype. Especially because either new releases are seldom worth the hype or in Canon's case, they give you one new feature, take away some obvious ones and expect you to pay lots of money for it.

One of Canon's latest compact release, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, has been a subject of some debate. Some love the fact that it's a compact fitted with an APS-C sensor along with other excellent features, while others are disappointed that it's missing some key details and it comes with a steep price tag.

There's no doubt that the G1 X Mark III has an impressive set of specs, and it's definitely an improvement over its predecessor. On the other hand, it also has a number of limitations that might be easier to swallow if it's a little below its current asking price.

But you be the judge.

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(For more samples, make sure check out our Sample Image Gallery HERE!)

LENS

First thing's first: the G1 X Mark III boasts a 24-72mm equivalent optical zoom lens with an aperture range of F2.8 - F5.6. The lens performance is great at 24mm, which starts off at F2.8 at its maximum aperture. At 72mm, you might notice that it gets softer at the wider focal lengths, especially at the widest at F5.6. But this is easily remedied by going down a stop or two.

The camera also controls distortion really well so you're guaranteed beautiful, straight edges even at 72mm. Plus, lens flare is minimal.

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Unfortunately, it doesn't handle chromatic aberration just as well. High contrast situations like shooting in snow on a bright day will result in some visible purple fringing. Can it be corrected by stopping down your aperture and/or zooming out a little? Maybe a little, but if you must shoot in high contrast, be prepared to do some tweaking in Photoshop to really fix it.

KEY FEATURES 

  • Camera: Canon PowerShot G1 X III
  • Image Sensor: APS-C CMOS Sensor 
  • Effective Pixels: 24.0 megapixels
  • Native Aspect Ratio: 3:2
  • Image Processor: DIGIC 7
  • Lens Mount: n/a
  • Maximum AF Points: 49 AF points via automatic selection
  • AF Modes: Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Phase Detect, Multi-area, Center, Selective single-point, Tracking, Single, Continuous, Touch, Face Detection, Live View
  • Exposure Compensation: +/- 3 EV in 1/3 stop increments
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100 - 25600
  • Shutter Speed Range: BULB, 30 - 1/2000 sec
  • Viewfinder: EVF (0.39 type), Approx. 2,360,000 dots
  • LCD Screen: Vari-angle 7.5 cm touchscreen LCD with reinforced glass
  • Flash: Built-in and shoe mount
  • Image Type: RAW, JPEG
  • Movie Type: MPEG-4 AVC / H.264, 1920x1080 and 1280x720 at 60p, 30p, 24p
  • Battery Life: Approximately 200 shots

WHAT'S IN THE BOX

  • Canon PowerShot G1 X III 
  • Lens Cap & Lens Cap Cord
  • Strap & Strap Adapter
  • Battery Charger
  • Battery Pack

BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN

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The first two things you'll simultaneously notice about the PowerShot G1 X Mark III are that it's very compact and incredibly light. The camera measures 4.5 x 3.1 x 2.0 in, around 16% smaller than the G1 X Mark II, and weighs 154 g less at 399 g. It's a beautiful thing if you need to travel as light as possible or just hate the burden of DSLRs in general. Though if you are used to the heft, you might initially find this tiny thing a bit odd in your hands.

The second thing is that it sports a silhouette closer to that of the PowerShot G5 X than its predecessors, except sleeker and only slightly bigger. This design makes it look more like a smaller mirrorless camera with its built-in flash and viewfinder sitting visibly atop the lens, as opposed to your typical, mostly rectangular point-and-shoots.

Though the G1 X Mark III is probably a lot pricier than most would be willing to spend on a compact camera, it's definitely built more like a pro's arsenal with its solid build and handsome textured matte, all-black finish. It's easy on the eyes as well as your grip.

It also boasts a weather sealing feature, similar to that of the EOS 80D according to Canon, making it resistant to dust, water, and other harsh weather elements. 

While we haven't used the camera long enough to test just how weather-resistant it is, we had taken it to the snowy slopes of Whistler where it toughed out icy wind and snow. The great news is that both the viewfinder AND the camera itself continued to work in the cold. 

The bad news is the LCD screen did freeze and the camera had to be warmed up for it to start working again. Obviously, it isn't such a big deal. That is, unless you're skiing or snowmobiling and have to look through the viewfinder with your helmet and goggles on. Then it's an inconvenience. 

Our biggest complaint about the design is that the battery life is disappointing at only 200 shots per full charge. If you intend to take a lot of photos and shoot videos with it, you'll need an extra battery. If you're going on a two or three-day trip, you should pack that charger, which is fortunately compact enough to be stuffed in a small pocket.

ERGONOMICS 

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Perhaps one of the best things about the G1 X Mark III is that it's such an intuitive camera. Most of the controls you need immediate and constant access to are strategically placed. The power button, zoom lever, exposure compensation dial, front dial (for adjusting your aperture and shutter speed as well as choosing your settings quickly), video record button, playback, and control dial (which you can either turn or press for navigation) are all on the right-hand section within easy reach.

In addition, the textured rubber finish is paired with a prominent front grip and a small thumb rest in the back to give you maximum hold as well as leverage for harder to reach controls.

These two features, coupled with the fact that the camera is small and lightweight, allow for one-hand operations when making setting adjustments, even for small-handed users.

Strangely enough, what's not intuitive is the flash. There is a flash button on the control dial, but the flash itself is not popup. It will only activate after you've manually raised it, then you can choose to turn it on and off. The only instruction you'll get for operating said flash, unless you've actually read the manual, is when the screen tells you to "Raise the flash" for scenes that are too dark. And that's only if you're in Auto mode.

Another thing we'd probably change is the placement of the WiFi button, which is located on the bottom right side under the flap that hides the remote flash trigger, USB and HDMI ports. It's tiny and tucked away, and not immediately noticeable or accessible.

We do appreciate the Vari-angle Touchscreen LCD, which allows for many applications. It can be tilted up and down for hard-to-reach angles, turned 180 degrees for vlogging, or merely flipped to function as a typical camera screen. It saves you the pain of craning your neck or positioning in weird angles just to get that perfect shot.

Also, its touchscreen feature is useful for selecting which subjects to focus on, especially when looking through the viewfinder. The camera's Touch and Drag AF capability allows you to use the LCD as your touchpad for adjusting focus while you're looking through the viewfinder.

There is a continuous ring around the lens base for manual zoom. It's a nice attempt to recreate that feature for the more experienced shoots. Unfortunately, since the camera is small and using the ring can feel a little claustrophobic--turn clockwise and you'll run into your right fingers at the front grip, counterclockwise and you'll hit the flash. You're much better off using the zoom lever, which is easily accessible and where you'll encounter zero obstruction.

MENUS & DISPLAYS

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There are two ways to access the menus on the G1 X Mark III. First is through the main MENU button located on the bottom right-hand section just below the control dial. The second is with the SET button right in the center of the control dial. The MENU button is obvious--it gives you access to the variety of camera functions and photo settings. 

The SET button, on the other hand, essentially gives you immediate access to the Quick Set Menu, which you can use to quickly adjust your most commonly used photo/video settings without the hassle of sorting through the main menu. This menu is customizable so you can personalize it according to your need and preference. However, the functions/settings available vary depending on the shooting mode. For example, while Auto mode may only have four settings available to add to the Quick Set Menu, the Manual, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority modes have 11.

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We found this menu extremely handy and used it often, as it allowed us to make ISO, white balance and metering mode changes as well as set the self-timer on the fly.

Another great feature is its function descriptions, which basically tell you what each function does in a few short words. It's perfect for newbies or hobbyists, especially if they're looking to up their photography game and experiment. It's also useful for experienced shooters who might find some icons unfamiliar. 

When on Playback, there are four info display options that you can select from using the INFO/Down button at the control dial.

SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE

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The G1 X Mark III can shoot at a fairly fast rate with burst shooting at up to 7fps (9fps with Single AF), better than many of its competitors. With the Dual Pixel CMOS AF that you'll find in the EOS 70D and all of Canon's other 2017 DLSRs, it offers exquisitely smooth focusing transitions when recording videos and a fairly fast autofocus when shooting stills with a moving subject. And with its Face ID feature, it's pretty incredible at locking on to your subject's face so that he/she stays in focus at all times.

That is, as long as you keep your action shots to the more laid-back, less erratic activities. The G1 X Mark III might be great for taking photos of your kids' soccer games (if you can get close enough), your friends at a picnic or your cats. But it's not going to be your new go-to camera for taking fast-action stills or even just shooting a video of your friends zip-lining.

It's a bit disappointing. Plus, considering that a couple of top compacts in the market offer more for less--Sony's RX100 V, for example, boasts a whopping 24fps--not to mention the fact that G1 X Mark III buffer performance isn't exactly impressive (the camera will slow down especially when you're continuously shooting in RAW with a slower card), it's $1300 price tag is a little hard to swallow.

Then again, potential users of this compact probably aren't looking to use it to shoot lightning fast action shots.

METERING

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Three types of real-time light metering options are available to the G1 X Mark III: Evaluative, Spot, and Center Weighted. 

You'll find that Evaluative does the best job capturing scenes in diverse lighting conditions, remaining pretty consistent in different situations and yielding very accurate images. However, for backlit situations where your subject doesn't occupy a large part of the frame and you want to avoid silhouettes, we found Spot metering to produce more pleasing results. 

Of course, it's best to experiment with the different systems or even with manual metering to get the creative effect you're looking for.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY

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(For more samples, make sure check out our Sample Image Gallery HERE!)

One of G1 X Mark III's main selling points is that it is outfitted with the APS-C CMOS sensor similar to that of Canon's EOS 80D SLR and EOS M5 mirrorless. That's a considerably large sensor in a tiny housing, which you can literally stow in a jacket pocket. 

While this isn't a particularly new concept and Canon certainly wasn't the first to furnish a compact with an APS-C, it's an innovative one that still is in its early days, which gives a lot of room for tweaks and enhancements. 

G1 X Mark III's 24-72mm equivalent zoom lens, while good, might not use the sensor to its full potential. But thanks to this 24.2MP sensor, the camera delivers good image performance, wide dynamic range, and great detail. For a compact, it produces sharp images and controls distortion at 72mm (maximum zoom) and noise even at higher ISOs (up to 1600) well. 

To compensate for camera shake, Canon also slapped on a Dual Sensing IS, which you can set to Low, Standard, and, for videos, High. Though we can't quite get over the aperture range, which is wide open at only f2.8 compared to G1 X Mark II's f2, making it a little challenging for indoor shots.

ISO PERFORMANCE

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While G1 X Mark III's ISO range is from 100 to 25,600 and it manages the noise factor well even at the fastest speeds, grain (luminance noise) is already visible at 3200, even at 1600 if you look very closely. The grain is pretty fine, however, and it doesn't distract from the image until 6400. Color noise becomes apparent at 12,000, but that's also well controlled. 

We give G1 X Mark III high points for noise handling, although we recommend not setting it to higher than 6400. Unless you absolutely have to... in which case, maybe find a solid surface to stand on first and use a slow shutter speed.

VIDEO QUALITY

G1 X Mark III allows users to record videos in Full HD at 24, 30 and 60 frames per second as well as in HD at 30fps and standard definition at 30fps. It stores them as MPEG-4 files using H.264 compression. Supplementing that is an Advance Dynamic IS available for the Full HD and HD videos, as well as a Wind Filter and an Attenuator to minimize unnecessary audio noise. That's pretty good for a compact, though many are wondering why a camera that sets you back $1300 doesn't offer 4K capture.

The video quality is definitely great, the electronic image stabilizer helps with some camera shake and the videos look good when played back on the LCD screen. But when viewed on a large screen, they are definitely lacking in detail and not as sharp. 

As far as how the autofocus fares with videos, let's just say that it struggles to seize focus when shooting fast-moving subjects such as snowmobilers and zip-liners even when they've slowed down. The focus transitions in slower videos, however, are pretty smooth and natural. Plus, the touchscreen LCD can help with honing in on that manually if the camera isn't able to fast enough. You just have to get in the habit of using it.

One feature we love is G1 X Mark III's time-lapse recording capability. It lets you set the interval and number of shots, as well as choose a fixed exposure or to let the camera determine it for each shot. It then tells you how long you need to shoot for and how long the actual video is after it's been stitched together.

WIRELESS PERFORMANCE

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(For more samples, make sure check out our Sample Image Gallery HERE!)

For convenience and on-the-fly photo/video transfers, G1 X Mark III features built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity, giving users several options for transmitting photos and data. Using the Wi-Fi features, you can send images and videos to your smartphone and tablet through the CameraConnect app, which is essentially a no-brainer.

The app also lets you control the camera remotely with its Live View Shooting feature. It's a fun and useful feature that offers plenty of applications. Just know that there's definitely a bit of delay and sometimes it even freezes, which is to be expected.

You can also connect to a computer and PictBridge-compatible printers, as well as upload photos to the Canon iMage Gateway web service, and send and receive photos with another compatible Canon camera. Connecting is a breeze, and the camera's wireless function will guide you through the process.

Accessing the Bluetooth function--essentially pairing devices--isn't as straightforward. You have to go to the camera's Menu to start the pairing, open the app on your smartphone to select the camera, and then confirm the connection on both your phone and the camera to complete the pairing. 

Once they're paired, however, you won't have to worry about pairing them again. You just open the app on your phone and it automatically connects to the camera.

We recommend pairing as soon as you've opened that box. The camera's Bluetooth connectivity opens you to a small world of flexibility. You can use your smartphone as a remote control to browse photos, take photos, record videos, and zoom in and out. It's useful for not only for controlling it from a distance (self-portraits, for example), but also to avoid camera shake in slow shutter speed/low light situations.

PROS & CONS

Pros

  • Large sensor for excellent image performance
  • Sleek, compact and lightweight 
  • Solid build and textured finish
  • Intuitive, ergonomic design
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Vari-angle touchscreen LCD
  • Great noise handling
  • Several connectivity options

Cons

  • Pricey at $1300
  • Largest aperture at only f2.8
  • Maximum zoom at 72mm equivalent
  • No 4K video capture
  • Battery life at only 200 shots
  • Close focusing at 10cm

BOTTOM LINE

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(For more samples, make sure check out our Sample Image Gallery HERE!)

We can't deny that the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is a powerful tool in a tiny body. The fact that it's got a large APS-C sensor as well as a Dual Pixel CMOS AF, a fast image processor, weather sealing capabilities, and more makes it an impressive camera you'd probably consider investing in. It definitely beats some of its currently leading competitors. 

The fact that it is lacking in essential features -- 4K video, a faster lens, a longer zoom, and good battery life -- and is wrapped in a pricier package might give some buyers pause. Not to mention it's also not the wisest options for sports/action shots.

Still, the question remains: is G1 X Mark III a sound investment? It might be if you're looking for a higher-end compact. Vloggers, casual users, and pros looking for a backup will get a lot of use from it. 

If you're on a limited budget, however, there are definitely other options that will set you back a few hundred dollars less.

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Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.