Canon PowerShot G1X camera

An advanced compact camera with extensive manual features, capable of capturing super-clear images

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Canon PowerShot G1X camera
  • Canon PowerShot G1X camera
  • Canon PowerShot G1X camera
  • Canon PowerShot G1X camera
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5


  • Excellent image quality
  • Comfortable to use with extensive manual controls


  • Not great for macros
  • Only 4x zoom

Bottom Line

Canon's PowerShot G1X is a high-level performer. Its image quality in our tests was excellent, as was its overall performance. It's a camera that's well built, it features manual controls and it's comfortable to use for the most part. It's not ideal for macros and it doesn't have a huge zoom, but it's nevertheless a great all-rounder.

Would you buy this?

The Canon PowerShot G1X is a bulky little compact camera that has capabilities beyond a typical compact camera. It's designed appeal to those of you want to take control of your exposures easily, and extensively. It's not an interchangeable lens camera, but its fixed, 4x lens allows the camera to shoot from a range of 28mm to 112mm. Best of all though, the camera's relatively large-sized sensor, which contains 14.3 megapixels, captures fine detail and produces results that are clearer than most other compact cameras on the market.

Physical features, controls

With a body size that barely fits into the hand, the PowerShot G1X is the type of compact camera that needs to be carried in its own bag or in a backpack. It will have trouble fitting into a typical pants pocket thanks to the protruding lens and you'll get tired when carrying it long distances in your hand — and if you strap it around your neck you'll just look more like a tourist. It's the type of camera that's great to have around in a pinch though. It exposes pictures almost perfectly every time when set to semi-manual modes, but if you want to adjust the exposure up or down to make your photos look a little more dramatic, or to lighten them, all you have to do is move the exposure dial that sits under the mode dial.

The controls for this camera are positioned to make wrangling with aperture, shutter, ISO and exposure bias as simple as possible. There is a dedicated dial on the front for your index finger to change the aperture, while the dial for your thumb on the back of the camera can be used to manipulate the shutter speed. At the press of a button you can enter the ISO setting, focus mode and focus point position settings, and the quick menu allows you to adjust the white balance, file type (JPEG or 14-bit RAW file types) and most of the camera's other features.

The G1X has a hefty grip on it that makes it comfortable to hold, but the control buttons on the back take up space almost to the edge of the case, and they can be very easy to press accidentally. It has a 3in LCD screen through which you can frame your photos and it's a fairly accurate screen when playing back what you've taken. That said, it's not great for viewing during bright sunlight, but luckily there is a built-in rangefinder so that you can find what you're looking for a little easier. It's a hinged screen, too, so you can try positioning it at different angles to improve your view in addition to trying out creative perspectives.

Changes that are made to the exposure will show up on the LCD screen when you press the shutter button half way down to focus, and this is another feature that makes this camera so convenient to use. However, the shutter button is a little too soft and there is very little resistance before you reach the halfway point to focus — this means it's very easy to fire off shots without meaning to. An on-screen level is present so that you can make sure your shots are not slightly tilted, and it's a feature that can come in handy when you don't have an obvious reference.

Image quality

The performance of the camera was very good during our tests. Its shot-to-shot speed was swift and it captured 1.8 frames per second in burst mode. The lens has a maximum aperture size of f/2.8, which, in combination with a fast ISO speed, allows the G1X to be useful in low-light situations. Closely scrutinising the results from ISO 100 all the way up to the maximum supported ISO 12800, noise starts to creep in at around ISO 400 to ISO 800 and only really becomes noticeable at ISO 1600. If you're not cropping your photos closely, then ISO speeds up to ISO 1600 should not pose too many problems.

ISO comparison.

What's really impressive about the G1X is its image clarity, which is perhaps the best we've seen from a compact camera to date. You can closely crop photos to accentuate details, and as long as those details are in focus, they will still look well defined. Furthermore, chromatic aberration was not an issue and colour reproduction using the camera's default settings was accurate. The only thing that was bothersome was the slight lens distortion that was visible at the widest angle.

The camera did try to overexpose when it was in an auto mode and shooting in shadows, but with a quick tweak of the exposure compensation, we quickly got the look we were looking for. It really is a camera that can get you excited about photography because of how easily the settings can be changed, and by showing you on the screen the effects of those changes before you take the shot.

Like most cameras out there today, the PowerSHot G1X can also shoot Full HD video and its results in this area are decent. However, best results will be attained when the camera is not moving around while its shooting; try not to touch the controls while recording either, because they will be audible during playback.

Sample images

Colour reproduction and clarity are excellent.

Exposure can be adjusted on-the-fly to let you get the results you're after in challenging lighting situations.

The camera's dynamic range is excellent, making it capable of capturing subtle shades with ease.

The zoom isn't great though, so you can't really get that close to nature without scaring it away.

Macro mode is also not great as you can't get up close and personal with your subject, but you can crop images closely without losing too much definition.


Overall, the G1X is a superb advanced compact camera that's great for hobbyists and tourists. It's not ideal for macros (you can't get too close to objects) and its zoom is only 4x, but if those things don't bother you, you'll be rewarded by a camera that take breathtakingly clear shots exhibiting accurate colours and details.

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