Introduction, Design and Handling
Canon used to be the compact camera manufacturer to beat, with many models in different segments of the compact camera market. With Olympus and Panasonic pushing the mirrorless system camera as well as smartphone photography on the rise, point-and-shoot compact cameras experienced a drop in demand over the last couple of years.
But while the general compact camera market is showing a downward trend, the premium compact segment is showing signs of growth. Many camera companies have been quick to capitalize on this trend, with Sony releasing the Cyber-shot RX100 and Panasonic with its Lumix LX7, to name a few. In response to this trend and the increasing threat from mirrorless system cameras, Canon released the original PowerShot G1 X back in 2012. With a 1.5-inch sensor, optical viewfinder and an articulating display, the PowerShot G1 X looked to be a major compact camera powerhouse that could rival a mirrorless system camera.
Unfortunately while the PowerShot G1 X looked good on paper, it did suffer from quite a few issues such as sluggish autofocus and an inability to focus close for macro shots. The result was a niche camera that was suitable for those who knew what they could get out of it.
Canon hasn’t rushed to release an update and it's only after two years that we finally see its successor: the PowerShot G1 X Mark II. But was the two-year wait worth it?
Design and Handling
The PowerShot G1 X Mark II is a semi-portable compact, so it’s still larger than your standard point-and-shoot camera. While it’s slightly smaller than its predecessor, it’s still more comfortable in a camera bag rather than in a pants pocket. Build quality is good, and it does not feel cheap or plasticky. However, its size and heft makes it difficult to shoot with one hand at times; this is a camera that shoots best with your left hand under the lens to stabilize it.
The PowerShot G1X Mark II also comes with step zoom, which just means that the camera features preset focal lengths (24, 28, 35, 50, 85, 100, 120 mm) which are useful if you want to shoot at any of these focal lengths without having to fiddle with the zoom lever.
The PowerShot G1 X Mark II loses the lens cover found on the original G1 X and comes with a retractable lens cover instead, which is better as there’s no need to worry about misplacing the lens cover anymore. As one can expect, the camera will appeal to those familiar with manual controls and it now comes with two control rings, a shortcut button and a scroll wheel. The scroll wheel and a shortcut button even allow you to assign functions to as well.
The two control rings are found on the lens barrel, and you can assign various functions to them such as adjusting aperture or exposure compensation. The two rings make it more convenient when shooting since it gives you the ability to adjust two shooting variables without having to access the menu system. One control ring turns smoothly, while the other has some tactile feedback (you know, the 'clicky' feel).
One example of how you would use them both would be to assign step zoom functionality to the smooth control ring, and assign aperture control to the clicky control ring. This lets you zoom and adjust aperture in aperture priority mode without having to even access any menu.
The optical viewfinder on the original PowerShot G1 X has been removed from the Mark II, though you do get the option to purchase an electronic viewfinder (EVF), which you can mount onto the hotshoe at the top of the camera. Beside the hotshoe is the pop-up flash, which can be tilted. This gives you a bit more leeway when it comes to using the flash instead of having it fire straight-ahead all the time.
The display on the PowerShot G1 X Mark II cannot be rotated out, unlike the one on the first G1 X. It can still be tilted up or down though, which lets you take selfies. The display is also touch-enabled, so you can tap to focus, or tap to snap a shot. In terms of connectivity, the PowerShot G1 X Mark II comes with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, with the NFC contact area found on the right of the camera.