Canon G1X Review

Canon G1X Review: High-end digital camera with large sensor

The G1 X compact camera has a CMOS sensor measuring 18.7 x 14.3 millimetres and a resolution of 14 megapixels. This is a little bigger than Micro Four Thirds. The lens with an aperture of 2.8-5.8 and a three-stage gray filter zooms in four times optically from 28-112 millimeters (KB).


Short evaluation


  • Built-in ND filter
  • Quiet release
  • Excellent image quality
  • Well manufactured, ergonomic housing
  • Optical viewfinder combined with high-resolution rotating/tilting screen


  • FullHD videos only with 24 fps and without external audio connection
  • Relatively slow autofocus
  • Short battery life

The Canon PowerShot G1 X can be rightly described as the compact camera highlight of CES 2012. Canon is thus offering something to counter both the mirrorless system cameras and the high-end devices such as the Sigma DP series or the Fujifilm X100, because the image quality should be on DSLR level. The sensor size that Canon has chosen is interesting: 18.7 x 14.3 millimetres with an aspect ratio of 4:3. This is slightly larger than Micro Four Thirds but smaller than APS-C, the crop factor is 1.85. The fixed 15.1-60.4 millimetre quadruple zoom thus becomes a 28-112 millimetre lens. On the other hand, you have to make a compromise with F2.8 at wide-angle and F5.8 at telephoto – just to avoid making the camera too big and expensive. It is not without reason that other compact cameras with such a large sensor have a fixed focal length, which can then be more intense. With the CMOS sensor of the G1 X, which incidentally has a resolution of 14.3 megapixels, one can speculate whether it will also serve as the basis for a possible mirrorless system from Canon.


Only an optical quadruple zoom, which has neither an extreme wide angle nor an extreme telephoto focal length and is not particularly fast with F5.8 in telescope position. Only 14.3 megapixels resolution, plus a bulky, not exactly compact case. What should one think of such a camera in the age of high resolutions and huge zooms with 24 millimeters wide angle? The true strength of the Canon PowerShot G1 X, however, lies precisely in the fact that it does without superlatives and is a normal everyday camera that promises high image quality with its almost APS-C-sized sensor.

The G1 X’s other features are basically the same as those of the Powershot G series. The unmistakable metal housing has a rubberized handle and many practical controls, such as the front control wheel or the two-storey rotary wheel on the top of the camera, with which you can adjust the exposure correction and shooting program. This of course includes the classic recording programs P, A, S and M as well as the option of saving images as 14-bit RAW. An optical viewfinder with diopter correction and a system flash shoe are also installed. The rear screen measures 7.5 centimetres (three inches) and can be folded up, down, left and right thanks to the lateral double joint. Its resolution is fine 920,000 pixels.

The image processor Digic 5 is at the centre of image quality and speed. Noise is already suppressed on the sensor with fast four-channel readout. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 12,800. The G1 X takes 4.5 continuous shots per second at full resolution for six consecutive shots. Longer series are possible in JPEG mode at 1.9 frames per second, which are then stored simultaneously on the SD memory card (or SDHC or SDXC). The lens has particularly high-quality glass elements, an iris diaphragm with six lamellas, a three-stage gray filter and a particularly sophisticated optical image stabilizer. It guarantees up to four light value levels longer, blur-free exposure times and offers seven different modes that are automatically selected. The camera recognizes if you are panning, then it only corrects the camera shake in one direction, if you are shooting a macro, then it also corrects lateral movements, which are more important for macros than usual, or if the camera is on a tripod.

The G1 X records movies in a maximum Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at 24 frames per second and with stereo sound, the optical zoom can be used and the large image sensor allows playing with the depth of field. Helpful functions such as HDR with up to three images or night shooting without a tripod, where the G1 X combines several shots to a blur-free end result, are also offered by the flagship compact camera. The accessories include compatible system flash units, a lens filter adapter and the WP-DC44 underwater housing: it is designed for diving depths of up to 40 metres.



Ergonomics and workmanship

The Canon PowerShot G1 X looks like it’s carved out of stone. Its design fits perfectly into the G-series of compact camera sensors, but the G1 X is even bigger and a little chunkier. However, this means that the case, which is made entirely of metal shells, has a good grip and is large enough to hold it securely. Rubber coatings on the handle and thumb recess further contribute to this. The camera is operated almost completely with the right hand, which has two control wheels, a four-weigher and four buttons, the zoom lever and the program and exposure correction wheel within reach. The wheel is well corrugated, but could use a rubber coating to get a better grip.

The battery and memory card compartment is located on the underside. The latter accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC cards and thus offers enough storage space when choosing a correspondingly large card. The battery, on the other hand, with its capacity of 6.8 Wh, is only sufficient for almost 250 shots according to the CIPA standard, which is probably a bit more with a camera like the G1 X. More annoying, however, is the fact that the metal tripod thread borders directly on the battery compartment. With the removable disk attached, the cover for removing the memory card or the battery is blocked, even a small removable disk has to be unscrewed. In addition, the tripod thread is not in the optical axis. After all, anyone who wants to use the G1 X in the studio on a tripod can connect a power supply. A dummy is pushed into the battery compartment and its cable is led out sideways. As one of the few compact cameras, the PowerShot G1 X has a cable remote release connection with a 2.5 mm jack plug. In addition, a combined USB/AV output and an HDMI mini connector are concealed behind the connection flap on the handle side of the camera.

The three inch (approx. 7.5 centimeters) display on the back of the camera can be rotated and swivelled, the back of the frame is even made of metal, so that a display folded over to the camera for protection looks well protected. The screen has a good anti-reflective coating and, with 920,000 pixels, shows a picture rich in detail, which also lacks brightness and contrast as well as color brilliance. The rotation and swivel mechanism allows flexible shooting positions close to the ground, overhead or even for self-portraits. Those who don’t like to take pictures with the screen will get their money’s worth with the G1 X: The camera has an optical viewfinder that can already be regarded as exotic. However, this covers only a small part of the later image, is quite small and is covered by the lens barrel in the lower left corner. After all, Canon has equipped the viewfinder with a diopter compensation, the two signal lamps for flash readiness (orange) and focus confirmation (green) arranged next to the viewfinder are also perceptible with the eye on the viewfinder.

The operation of the PowerShot does not leave any big puzzles. The menu is clearly structured and easy to read. It offers the necessary settings without running the risk of getting bogged down. In addition, there are some individual functions, such as two user programs on the selector wheel, an individually combinable menu and assignable buttons. Many important functions such as the ISO setting, the exposure and focus methods or the flash settings can be called up via direct selection keys, and others via a clearly arranged function menu. Even with an AE lock button camera come up.


In principle, the PowerShot G1 X can be operated carefree in the automatic mode or with scene mode programs, which makes it really good. It delivers excellent pictures, in appropriate lighting conditions it even displays a message on the screen that you should switch on the flash, because unfortunately it doesn’t go out on its own. The PowerShot also offers the HDR automatic, which is becoming more and more the standard, at the touch of a button. It hides as a filter setting together with the miniature effect, monochrome and sepia mode etc. in the corresponding mode on the program dial.

However, the G1 X is designed for photographers who like to make their own settings and need control over exposure parameters and other settings. The on-board flash also offers a number of adjustment options, such as flash output correction, shutter sync at the beginning or end of the exposure to achieve creative wipe effects together with longer exposure times, or functions to prevent red-eye. If the flash output with a guide number of 8.8 measured by us isn’t enough for you, you can use an external flash from Canon, as the G1 X has a fully-fledged system flash shoe. With the appropriate control unit, even wireless flash is possible, but unfortunately not with the internal flash as the control unit and with Canon, due to the system, wireless not even on the second shutter curtain.


With its slow focus speed, the camera is also less suitable for fast moving subjects. With 0.6 seconds in wide-angle and about 0.75 seconds in telescopic position, the G1 X takes quite a long time to focus compared to other current compact cameras. For normal everyday shooting, however, the autofocus is still fast enough. Pre-focused, the PowerShot still takes almost 0.1 seconds to release. This value is also not necessarily record-breaking.

The zoom lens of the Canon PowerShot G1 X offers 28 millimetres (KB) wide-angle and, with a maximum aperture of F2.8, is also reasonably bright. However, the lens only zooms four times and thus ends at 112 millimeters (KB), but with F5.8 at the telephoto end it’s not exactly fast. The release of portrait shots, for example, is only possible to a limited extent despite the relatively large sensor. With the zoom lever arranged in a ring around the shutter release button, the zoom can be controlled quite precisely and quickly; the respective focus limits are conveniently displayed on the screen. The zoom progress, on the other hand, only appears as a bar on the display, so the G1 X neither informs about the zoom factor nor the focal length. Interestingly, the zoom factor is displayed again during a running video recording, but the zoom bar and the focus limits are missing here.

The Canon is manually focussed via the rear rotary knob, with the help of a focus magnifier and a focus bar, which, however, does not show an exact focus setting as a numerical value. The close-up limits are somewhat disappointing, half a meter distance has to be kept in the wide angle, when zooming this value increases to up to 1.5 metres before it drops again to 1.3 metres at the tele end. Even the macro setting with 20 centimetres close-up limit in wide angle and 85 centimetres in telescopic position provides little macro feeling. A macro attachment is recommended here. To connect optical accessories, however, a special adapter tube is required, which then offers a 58 mm filter thread. The G1 X itself does not have a filter thread, the ribbing at the front of the lens only serves to fix the snap-in lens cap. The PowerShot expands the creative scope with its integrated ND filter, which extends the exposure time by three f-stops. This allows the aperture to be opened or the exposure time to be extended, even if the aperture is already completely closed with F16. Almost obligatory is the built-in optical and very effective image stabilizer.

Basically, the G1 X also records videos with the now obligatory FullHD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. However, the frame rate is rather meager 24 frames per second, 30 frames per second are only available at reduced resolution. The sound is recorded via the integrated stereo microphone with optional switchable electronic wind filter. The G1 X adjusts the focus inaudibly and very gently. Zooming during recording is also possible, while focal length adjustment is much slower and smoother and is hardly audible on the soundtrack or quieter than the zoom lever noise when pressed. Sensitivity, exposure and aperture cannot be adjusted during video recording, and are overridden even in manual mode. After all, thanks to a dedicated video recording button, filming is possible at any time, and the PowerShot offers a rudimentary editing function in playback mode.

There are also a few editing options for photos in playback mode. For example, the intelligent contrast that brings out more drawing from shadows and lights. Or an image trimming function, a size reduction or the digital retouching of red eyes. The My Colors function offers color matching options such as strong colors,sepia, black and white, different skin tones and soft focus, and emphasis on specific colors only. However, the editing functions are only available for JPEG images, not for RAW images. An integrated RAW converter is missing.

The Canon offers exposure bracketing as well as focus bracketing. However, the continuous shooting function works quite sluggishly. In JPEG, the G1 X achieves just 3.4 frames per second and, due to the limited buffer memory, only holds out for two frames, after which the rate drops to 1.6 frames per second. In RAW, the camera only manages one frame per second. Fast action and sports scene modes are therefore less among the strengths of this camera. Only in HQ continuous shooting does the G1 X take six consecutive pictures at 4.5 frames per second. But the screen stays black and the photographer has no control over aperture and exposure time.

Picture quality

To anticipate my evaluation: Rarely has a camera been so balanced and convincing (without major weaknesses) with all measured values in regards to picture quality. Canon has tuned the G1 X perfectly, which is also confirmed in practice. The photos offer good sharpness with balanced details, but without appearing oversharp or artificial.

In the laboratory test, the G1 X proves a high resolution with all focal lengths and apertures (down to F16!), which drops only slightly towards the edge of the picture. These are extremely good values for a zoom lens. Hardly any other camera or its zoom lens achieves at least 80 percent of the resolution of the image center like the Canon itself at the edge of the image, in some cases it is even on the same level depending on the aperture. According to our laboratory test, the reference sharpness on a fume cupboard about DIN A4 is impeccable, diffraction is irrelevant. The edge darkening with a maximum of half an aperture is also hardly worth mentioning. Interestingly, the distortion is barrel-shaped at all measured focal lengths. But this in a frame that is hardly noticeable subjectively, it is strongest at medium focal length (46 millimeters corresponding to 35mm) with 1.5 percent, at 28 and 112 millimeters it is about one percent. Even the chromatic aberrations are generally low, only in the wide angle there can be a little more extreme values of about 1.5 pixels width, which can then become weakly visible on an A4 large print, if one looks for it. Canon has therefore given the G1 X an excellent lens, which is probably not least due to the fact that the Japanese manufacturer dispenses with a large zoom range, extreme focal length and high speed.

But the camera can also shine in measurements where sensor and image processing play the main role. The ISO sensitivity settings are maintained almost exactly. The signal-to-noise ratio is very good from ISO 100 to 400 with over 40 decibels (dB) and remains within the acceptable range of over 35 dB up to ISO 3,200. Color noise plays no role at all, brightness noise is only slightly visible at the highest ISO level of 12,800, up to ISO 3,200 it is even outstandingly low. The grain size is even small over the entire sensitivity range. The G1 X to ISO 3.200 shows fine details with practically no losses, only above this do the images become visibly softer. The best values for detail reproduction are achieved up to ISO 800. Although the G1 X doesn’t set any records for input dynamics, which is probably due to a somewhat more restrained tonal processing, it is also at a high level of over ten f-stops up to ISO 3,200. Only then does the camera visibly degrade, one f-stop per ISO level at a time. The Canon even reproduces colours on average with only a slight deviation, only a few colours such as yellow or blue beat a little more over the strands. But above all, the camera doesn’t show any colors that seem to be strongly supersaturated, which is probably due to a more reserved treatment. The camera is clearly geared to the requirements of professional photographers and thus also fully meets the needs of demanding amateur photographers – even in JPEG mode, in which the laboratory test was carried out.

Bottom line

The Canon PowerShot G1 X’s supposedly biggest weakness is also its biggest strength. By dispensing with extreme resolution and the lens without extreme wide angle, speed and large zoom range, the camera convinces with an outstanding image quality. Although the housing size plays a role in the area of mirrorless system cameras, the housing is robustly built and offers well-designed operation. It is not only a suitable secondary camera for SLR photographers, but is also suitable for all those who value high image quality, but do not want to tow themselves off with large equipment or change lenses and still need a zoom lens and manual control.


Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Canon
Model PowerShot G1 X
Price approx. 750 EUR
Sensor Resolution 14.3 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.352 x 3.264
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2,8-5,8/28-112mm
Filter threads optional
Viewfinder optical
Diopter correction yes
LCD monitor 3″
Disbandment 920.000
rotatable yes
swivelling yes
as viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI (each PAL and NTSC)
as viewfinder yes
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/Babies yes
Countryside yes
Sports/Action yes
more 10
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Guide number 8.8 (measurement)
Flash connection TTL system flash shoe
Remote release yes
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Size MOV
Codec H.264
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
at frame rate 24 images/s
automatic ISO 200-1.600
manually ISO 100-12.800
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Light bulb yes
Other Lightning, Underwater
Manual yes
Number of measuring fields 9
AF auxiliary light whitely
Speed approx. 0.6-0.8 s
Languages Yes
more 26 languages (28 according to the company)
Switch-on time 1,5 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
540 g
Continuous shooting function*
Number of series images
2 (JPEG)
1 (RAW)
3.4 (JPEG)
1 (RAW)
Endurance run
1.6 (JPEG)
1 (RAW)
with flash yes
Zoom adjustment motorised via ring rocker
Zoom levels 17
Time WW to Tele 1,5 s
Memory speeds*
JPEG 1.2 s (3.6 MByte)
RAW 2.6 s (17.6 MByte)
Triggering during
.Save as possible.
Battery life approx. 250 images (according to CIPA)

4 GByte Panasonic Gold Class 10 SDHC memory card

Short evaluation


  • Built-in ND filter
  • Quiet release
  • Excellent image quality
  • Well manufactured, ergonomic housing
  • Optical viewfinder combined with high-resolution rotating/tilting screen


  • FullHD videos only with 24 fps and without external audio connection
  • Relatively slow autofocus
  • Short battery life

Canon PowerShot G1 X Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor 1.5″ 18.7 x 14.0 mm (crop factor 1.9
)14.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 4.3 µm
Photo resolution
4.352 x 3.264 pixels (4:3)
3.072 x 1.728 pixels (16:9)
1.600 x 1.200 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Color depth Not available
Metadata Exif (version 2.2), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
Maximum recording time 60 min
Video format
MOV (Codec H.264)
Audio format (video) WAV


Focal length 28 to 112 mm (35mm equivalent
)4x ZoomDigital Zoom
Focus range 20 cm to infinity (wide angle)
Apertures F2.8 (wide-angle
)F5.8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus Functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter threads 58 mm

Viewfinder and Monitor

Viewfinder Optical viewfinder
Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 920,000 pixels
Video viewfinder Diopter compensation


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 60 s (automatic)
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function HDR function
Exposure compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Fireworks, high sensitivity, indoor shooting, children, foliage, night scene, portrait, sports/action, beach/snow, underwater, fully automatic, no other scene modes present.
Picture effects “My colors” function with a total of 9 settings
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp with 2 presets, Incandescent lamp, Manual
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 4.5 fps at highest resolution and max. 6 stored photos
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash shoe
: Canon, standard center contact
Flash range 0.5 to 7.0 m at wide-angle1
.0 to 3.1 m at telephoto flash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction


Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Canon NB-10L (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V
)250 images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Red eye retouching, playback histogram, image index
Voice memo Voice memo (WAV format)
Face recognition Face recognition
Picture parameters Contrast, Noise Reduction
Special functions Orientation sensor
Ports Data interfaces: USB USB Type
: USB 2.0 High Speed Video Output
: yes (HDMI Output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods Canon Direct Print, PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous DIGIC-5 Signal Processor Dual
Anti-Noise SystemISO
6.400 and 12.8

00 at 2.5 Megapixels ResolutionSAPS-Intelligent
Scene Analysis TechnologyFace
Detection AFiContrastSelf-timer

with Face Detection AF mode
switchable (single-frame focusing, focus tracking,

Face Detection)
Noise Reduction in Long ExposuresPlayback Zoom
(2 to 10x)
Automatic Image AlignmentMy-Camera Mode
for Personalizable Welcome Screens and Camera Tone User-Defined
SettingID PhotoPrint Function
for Direct Printing of Portraits/Passport Photos with 28 Different Picture Size TemplatesMovie-Print


unction for direct printing of individual images from a video sequenceEnergy-saving switchingAutomatic

bracketingPTP image transmission protocolCustom timer
with adjustable lead time from 0 to 30 s and adjustable number of releases from 1 to 10 Image optical
image stabilizerIntegrated
ND neutral density filter (3 steps


Size and weight

Weight 534 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 117 x 80 x 65 mm


included accessories Canon CB-2LCE Charger for Special BatteriesCanon
NB-10L Special BatteryUSB Connecting CableAV-CableHelp StrapCamera Software
optional accessory Canon ACK-DC80 Power Supply UnitCanon
FA-DC58C Lens AdapterCanon
NB-10L Special BatteryCanon
RS-60E3 Cable Remote ControlRemovable Memory CardUnderwater HousingWP-DX44Bags
SC-DC75, DCC-1650
USB 2.0 High Speed


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