Hands-on: Canon PowerShot G1 X
The new Canon PowerShot G1 X is the latest prosumer digital camera to succeed the PowerShot G12. Built upon the same look and feel as its predecessor, you'll find familiar looking controls as well as a slightly larger vari-angle 3-inch LCD screen.
However, the real draw lies with its large 1.5-inch Canon high-sensitivity CMOS sensor that is almost as large as an APS-C sized sensor used in most DSLR cameras. The bigger sensor is obviously more advantageous as each pixel will be larger, allowing more light to be captured at greater sensitivity and lower noise. Compared with the previous model which comes with a 10 Megapixel sensor, the G1 X sensor has approximately 14.3 million pixels.
In terms of signal processing, Canon improved the PowerShot G1 X with the capability to process 14-bit RAW images, bringing it a class above with the same processing rate as its range of EOS series cameras. They have also improved its video capturing from 720p in the G12 to 1080p in the G1 X.
For those who have always enjoyed the 5x optical zoom on the PowerShot G12, they'll be a little disappointed to find a 4x optical zoom lens system on the PowerShot G1 X. While the shorter zoom range may not affect most users, the higher sensitivity sensor should more than make up for this shortfall. Thanks to the new HS system, ISO settings on the PowerShot G1 X goes up all the way to ISO 12800, allowing you to capture under really low-light situations. However, noise levels do get pretty unbearable at such high ISO settings. We tested the camera's noise level at high ISO settings and found noise levels to be more acceptable at ISO 3200 while anything above that would produce rather grainy images. As it was just a hands-on test on a prototype, our initial impressions may not reflect the actual shipping unit.
As you can see above, the controls laid out at the back of the camera are all made within the reach of your thumb. Settings that you frequently need to access like macro focus, ISO setting as well as flash are found within the click wheel. The wheel also functions as a navigation control, giving you super quick access to the menu functions as well as previewing the photos you've taken. If you noticed here, they've completely moved the ISO selection wheel located on the top left of the camera in the PowerShot G12 to one of the selections in the click wheel. And in place of the ISO settings control in the older G12, Canon replaced it with exposure compensation.
With the exposure compensation wheel moved, Canon is now able to build a pop-up flash in its place along with a mechanical release button. Also new with the PowerShot G1 X is a wider selection of exposure compensation values, expanded from +/-2 stops in the PowerShot G12 to +/- 3 stops in the G1 X.
For those who can't wait to get your hands on this unique high performance compact shooter, you'll be glad to know that you won't have to wait much longer as Canon plans to ship this next month and it will be priced at US$799.99.