The Canon PowerShot G7 X may look a lot like other fixed lens digital cameras on the market right now, thanks to its all-black color, boxy camera body shape, and typical collection of control buttons on the back.
Once you move beyond the G7 X's "cover" though, you're going to find that Canon included a large number of advanced features and capabilities that allow the manufacturer to justify a high MSRP of about $700.
The PowerShot G7 X includes:
- A 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS image sensor
- RAW and JPEG image formats
- A DIGIC 6 image processor
- 6.5 frames per second performance
- A fast f/1.8 lens
- A 3.0-inch high-resolution LCD
- A touch screen LCD that can tilt 180 degrees for self-portraits
- ISO settings up to 12,800
- Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC wireless capabilities
- Plenty of special effect options
That's a pretty impressive list for a fixed lens camera, even one with a price tag as high as the PowerShot G7 X. While this camera has a few features a photographer can nitpick, it's still a strong option for those intermediate photographers who want a camera that's easier to carry and use than a larger-sized DSLR, but one that can create high-quality images.
One of the primary drawbacks to the G7 X is its lack of a large zoom, as Canon only gave this camera a 4.2x optical zoom lens with a maximum focal length equivalent of 100mm. With so many thin ultra zoom cameras on the market with optical zoom measurements commonly set at 15x and larger, some beginning photographers looking to advance to an intermediate fixed lens camera such as the G7 X may be frustrated with such a small zoom lens.
Having such a small telephoto capability will limit the flexibility of this camera for users. It'll be difficult to shoot photos at your child's softball game or of animals in the forest without the large zoom lens, for example.
To be fair, the 4.2x optical zoom lens with this model is a bit larger than what's offered with some other advanced fixed lens cameras that are similar to the G7 X in terms of larger-than-normal image sensors and compact sizes. So if you're comparing the G7 X to those types of cameras, you may be pleased with its zoom lens capability.
If you're willing to handle the limited telephoto capability provided with the PowerShot G7 X, you'll find that the image quality is outstanding in nearly all shooting conditions. When bumping up the ISO setting to deal with a low light photo, you may notice a small amount of noise in images when shooting at mid-ISO ranges, such as around ISO 800. Excessive noise only really becomes a problem with this impressive model at around the 6400 ISO setting. The G7 X's image stabilization system is very successful in allowing you to shoot hand-held photos, even in low light situations.
Image quality is good throughout the zoom range of the lens. You may notice a few image quality problems in the extreme corners of images shot at the widest angle setting, but this is not a common issue.
You also can shoot in both RAW and JPEG at the same time if you want, which can be a handy feature. However the G7 X's performance does slow quite a bit when shooting in RAW. In JPEG this model can record at speeds up to 6.5 frames per second, which is a strong performance.
One advantage of this camera's lens is its ability to shoot at a wide open aperture, up to f/1.8 at the maximum wide angle setting. Very few cameras of this size can shoot with such a wide open aperture.
This model's autofocus feature works well the majority of the time, providing accurate and fast results. If you are shooting in a tricky situation though, Canon included a manual focus option with the G7 X. It's a little awkward to use, so you'll probably want to use manual focus sparingly, but it can help you dial in the focus in tricky spots.
The button and dial layout on this model represents a mixed level of success for Canon's designers. The control buttons on the back are of a good size, and the four-way button is a ring that you can spin to move through menu choices and stored photos more quickly.
There's a dial around the lens housing that you'll use to change some of the camera's settings in advanced shooting modes, such as the aperture setting. You can use the camera's menus to change the function associated with the lens housing ring.
Canon included an extra dial versus what you'd find on many small fixed-lens cameras, as the top panel contains an EV dial. The designers then stacked a smallish mode dial on top of the EV dial, leaving both dials a bit awkward to use comfortably. While it's nice to have an EV dial available, this stacked dial design leaves a bit to be desired.
The configuration of the PowerShot G7 X's on-screen menus also could be better. While I like the fact that Canon included touch screen capabilities with this model, the PowerShot menus have long been overdue for a redesign. Giving the menus more of the look of a smartphone's menus would make the touch screen far more valuable, although the touch screen LCD does work well with the popup menu icons with this camera and for selecting a focus point.
Canon also gave the G7 X a full set of automatic and manual control photography options. This camera is very easy to use in Auto mode with plenty of special effect features that will appeal to inexperienced photographers. And you can continue to use the PowerShot G7 X even after your photography skills improve, because of the manual control options included.
The 3-inch LCD is very sharp and bright, offering more than 1 million pixels of resolution. It's also a tiltable screen, meaning it rotates up to 180 degrees vertically on a hinge at the top of the screen, making it easier to use this camera to shoot self-portraits or to use on a tripod. Unfortunately, the LCD cannot rotate horizontally or twist. When shooting in bright sunlight, you'll probably need to increase the brightness of the screen to counteract screen glare.
The PowerShot G7 X is lacking a hot shoe, which means you cannot add an electronic viewfinder or an external flash. The built-in flash unit pops up when you press the flash switch, and it extends far enough above the camera body to give the flash a good angle to the subject. Flash photo results are of a good quality with this model.
This model's build quality is very good. The camera has no raised area for a right-hand grip, but the back has a thumbpad area. The PowerShot G7 X is thick enough that it's pretty easy to hold and use, even without a raised right-hand grip. It will fit in a large pocket, measuring about 1.5 inches in thickness when powered down.
Canon's designers included built-in wireless connectivity over both Wi-Fi and NFC technologies. It's pretty easy to set up the wireless connections with the G7 X, but sending photos wirelessly does drain the battery quickly. Even when not using Wi-Fi, the battery life should be better with this model, as the battery offers only about 200 shots per charge. Canon did not include a separate USB cable with this model, either, which is disappointing.
Finally, just for clarity's sake, the PowerShot G7 X is of no relation to Canon's release from nearly a decade ago, the PowerShot G7. The G7 X is not an upgrade to that older model. The similarity in model names is just a coincidence.
Bottom Line - For those photographers seeking a fixed lens camera with a lot of advanced and cutting-edge features, the Canon PowerShot G7 X delivers, although at a $700 price point. This model's image quality is very good in nearly all shooting conditions, and the camera's performance speed is high when shooting in JPEG. The fast f/1.8 lens gives you some interesting photographic options, and the G7 X's 4.2x optical zoom lens is a bit larger than other similar advanced fixed-lens models. Many other high-quality components are included, such as a tiltable, 3.0-inch high-resolution touch screen LCD, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities, a popup flash unit, and a good mix of automatic and advanced shooting features. When compared to the Canon G1 X Mark II that was released several months earlier, the G7 X has more resolution and faster performance levels, The G1 X Mark II's overall image quality is very similar to the G7 X, perhaps slightly better, but the G7 X is smaller and lighter ... and carries a lower starting price. With both cameras you'll have to deal with a small telephoto zoom lens capability, which will limit their flexibility in a few different shooting situations. I liked the PowerShot G7 X a bit better than the G1 X Mark II, and this camera will serve the advanced photographer well, if you can stomach the high starting price. Canon has created a really nice camera in the PowerShot G7 X, and it fits favorably near the top of the list of advanced fixed-lens cameras in a host of areas. If you're looking for a fixed lens camera that will serve as a nice complement to your DSLR model, the G7 X should be on your short list of contenders.