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Thread: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

  1. #1

    Default Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    This is my first attempt in doing a review. I will be slowly reviewing this camera in certain depth (more time needed as I am a little busy with work etc). Online reviews have mixed feelings on this model, until it's like a love or hate thing. This camera is not suited for everyone as I will explain the reasons as I build up this review.

    Hopefully my review can help fellow CS'er make a better decision as to buy or not buy.

    (I just bought it today)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    I was deciding which camera should I get: compact or upgrade to 5D3 from my trusty 500D. I realised I need a compact for daily purposes more than another DSLR to be used only on specific occasion. On top of my list of compacts are mainly two models: Nikon V1 and Canon G1X. In the end I chose G1X because of 2 main reasons: Image quality and tilt screen.

    Some pictures of G1X:

    For the specs please refer to the following link:
    There are a few 'surprises' in the specs which I will share at a later post.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 5th April 2012 at 01:41 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    It is not exactly pocketable nor slim compared to the likes of , say, s100 and many reviews said it is huge. However to me it is compact compared to dslr or maybe mirrorless interchangable lens systems with their lenses on (except Pentax Q). Some photos to have a gauge of its size.

    G1X compared to Canon 500D with 18-200 kit

    (Sorry for quality, taken using my mobile phone under poor lighting)

    G1X vs iphone 3GS in length

    Almost the same in length

    G1X vs my wallet (typical male's wallet)

    The protruding lens makes it thick but again this is due to big sensor, the need for more glass

  4. #4

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    G1X vs a 'real' compact: Fujifilm F300 EXR

    G1X with maximum zoom

    G1X has a good grip, though the grip might not be big compared to a dslr, but the rough texture provides sufficient friction for steady handling. There's also a thumb grip at the back beside the big red video recording button.

    At the back, the buttons layout is similar (not identical) to my 500D, so canon dslr users might find the layout familiar and not totally new. There is a circular dial at the back, which to my opinion is a little loose and you might accidentally rotate the dial while pressing the four buttons: Macro, flash, ISO and DISP. On the top left there is a 'S' button whereby you can customise a special function to it. The 'play' button is on top right, and while your camera is in off mode, press the play button to review the pictures without activating the lens into standby mode.

    From the top view on left is the flash button whereby the flash will pop out manually. On the right there's a dual dial, the bigger one is the exposure compensation and the smaller dial are various modes. These dials are tight and that's a good thing because you won't want to accidentally switch the dial to other modes. It is also easy to keep track how much have you turned the dials as the clicks while turning is very "well defined". Beside the dual dials is the on off button and the shutter release together with the electric zoom.

    At the front, there's another dial for adjusting aperture, shutter speed while in each's piority mode. This is similar to DSLR's dial, tight and clicky. There is this huge AF assist beam which is very bright. I remembered Digirev's review saying it can blind people. One can remove the outer ring cover with the wording "CANON ZOOM LENS..." and inside is the mount for lens hood and other accessories. There is a lens cap just like any DSLR lenses and one may be not careful and drop the lens cap somewhere.

    More updates on the review will be posted soon.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 7th April 2012 at 04:55 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Some sample pictures taken yesterday: Comparing ISO 800 (top) and ISO 1600 (bottom) indoor performance. Straight out of jpeg, just resize it to web resolution. Noise reduction is set as default : Standard

    ISO 800 f5.6 1/30s 51mm

    ISO 1600 f5.6 1/60s 54mm
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 6th April 2012 at 08:48 AM.

  6. #6
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    thank you for putting this up ! Thats looks like a very capable camera especially with the articulating LCD

    please advise on its ergonomics and feel-in-the-hand
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close

  7. #7
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    .... featuring your thread in the Clubsnap Photography Community FB page too
    ClubSNAP Photography Community | Facebook
    Last edited by ed9119; 7th April 2012 at 10:32 AM.
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close

  8. #8

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    A sample of the video mode

    I rarely take videos so I cannot do a in depth comparison. However I am fliming at 1/30s and my hands are actually shaking. So here comes the usefulness of the IS system, the output seems more stable than I thought. Pay attention to the sound of the piano (a more accurate gauge of the quality) as the choir's mike aren't that good. What's the best is the articulating screen, makes the framing alot easier. I am sitting at the last row and I had to hold the camera above my head, without the screen it is hard to frame nicely.

    Update: added one very short clip to demostrate zooming while taking video.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 8th April 2012 at 12:22 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Ergonomics + hands on feel

    Back view of how a person with middle to large hand size would hold the camera. Carrying it the usual way of holding a PnS and looking through the lcd screen, I would say it is more comfortable than smaller compacts (that's me). I can move my thumb to turn the dial and also the recording button while maintaining my index finger on the shutter button. Reaching for the other buttons would not be a problem except maybe the metering button and menu button right at the bottom using my thumb.

    From the front view, I would say Canon has designed this camera well. First the flash is well above my other index finger and blocking of flash would not happen. I have come across some compacts whereby my finger will block the flash most of the time (my style of handling). The af assist beam is below the mode dial which is not at the risk of being blocked by my fingers too. I can also use my right index finger to turn the dual dials on top easily.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Ergonomics + hands on feel (2)

    Comparison of the grip of G1X vs Canon 500D vs Fujifilm F300EXR

    Naturally G1X will have a grip less deep compared to 500D to maintain compactness, but it is way better than F300's grip. Also G1X's grip is made of plastic with rough texture vs 500D's rubber. I would say G1X's grip has more friction than 500D's.

    Also the build construction of G1X's body is made of tough plastic which is same as Canon 500D's. For a compact I don't expect it to be made of tough metal alloy so I would rate build construction as very good.

    Overall ergonomic + hands all feel : Excellent.

    **Extra: G1X and 500D's pic were taken using F300 using EXR mode, last one is from G1X. All straight from jpeg...look at the obvious difference in quality under same environment. **
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 7th April 2012 at 05:03 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Other physical features (1)

    1. Viewfinder which people are whining about
    Two pictures, one is what you get through sensor and the other is what you see through viewfinder.

    DSLR users will complain that the viewfinder is useless as it is inaccurate for framing unlike what we get from DSLR which is 95% and above coverage. For G1X I would give it a rough 65 - 70 %. But after some consideration, if you look from the point of view that the viewfinder is there not for framing purposes, but rather gives you an idea that where are you aiming under situations whereby you cannot use the lcd screen or the sensor cannot capture a bright enough image under low light situation. Then I would say putting such a viewfinder makes some sense not to take up too large a space yet provides form of assistance. I am shooting at the wide end, that's why you can see the lens protruding out. The viewfinder is "independent" of the sensor, that's why the angle of viewing from viewfinder is different from the angle which the lens and the sensor is capturing but at least it zooms in according when your lens is zooming in.

    Comment: Not too useful but no harm having it anyway.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 7th April 2012 at 05:16 PM.

  12. #12
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    with an articulating LCD there is little need for a ovf .... however ovf is useful generally for ANY camera in a low-battery juice situation

    this looks very sweet ..... it should fit into the pockets of a cargo pants, hiking shorts or cold storm jacket

    noticed that the sensor is a tad larger than a 4/3 sensor .... lol talk about Canon stubborness not wanting to join the 4/3 coalition
    Last edited by ed9119; 7th April 2012 at 05:57 PM.
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close

  13. #13

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Other features (2)

    The wire ports is covered by a solid plastic cover which is better than my 500D's filmsy rubber cover. I have to hold the G1X's cover as it will retract on its own which is good in case one forgets to close it at least you get some kind of semi protection. You get usb port, cable release port and HDMI port. Good news is that it uses the same cable release port as G11, G12, 500D so I don't need to get a separate set of acessories.

    G1X and my yongnuo wireless time lapse cable release. Useful for me if I want to do hip level shots while walking about streets randomly...I can just click the wireless remote.

    G1X and my yongnuo 565EX flash...the flash is bigger (even bigger with my dome diffuser) so it is really off balance to use such a big flash with a compact. BUT if you really need it, it is compatible with 3rd party flashes with ETTL support too. So you can use your compact to do product photography with external flashes/strobes setup.

    **gosh so much more to ventrue into and do a review....give me more time guys **
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 7th April 2012 at 05:45 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Other Features (3)

    If you notice the main dial of G1X, it is set in the middle of nowhere between C2 and movie mode. It shows that you can keep turning the dial 360 degrees. This is better than 500D's dial because for 500D if you reach one end of the modes you have to reverse the dial to reach the other end. This problem is eliminated for G1X where by if I want to go from C2 to movie I just need to continue to turn anticlockwise instead of going one big round in clockwise direction.

    Also note that there are less auto modes than entry level Canon DSLRs. There's only 'P' and 'Full AUTO' modes, with additional of HDR mode. The 'special' other auto modes such as 'SPORTS','PORTRAITS','LANDSCAPE','CREATIVE' modes that can be found in models such as 500D are hidden in SCN mode. We also have two custom modes C1 and C2. It shows that this camera is not designed solely for newbies who may rely on these auto modes, but designed for serious amateurs and beyond who wants more customisation.

    Now for something I feel can be improved. The selection of AF mode and shooting mode.
    To access to one shot or al servo I have to go to the main menu (Menu button is at bottom right). However say if I want to choose continuous shots or 1 shot I have to go through FUNCTION menu (button is centre of rotating dial at the back). Therefore if I need to adjust each settings to suit changing situation, it would be kind of slow and troublesome. Compare to 500D's layout:
    The focusing mode and shooting mode are just side by side so that I can adjust the combination of settings pretty quickly.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 24th April 2012 at 07:27 AM. Reason: Correct some of the error in info

  15. #15

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Some forums mentioned that toggling between macro mode and normal mode is very troublesome. This I agree if you toggle using the method: Press macro button -> rotate the dial to 'macro' -> press 'set'. However there is a slightly shorter and intuitive way which is : Press macro twice -> press shutter button to set. So toggling between the modes is not really an issue. Shall do test shots on macro mode soon.

    The so called "manual focusing" is kind of fail to me. Usually using DSLR we can manual focus by turning the focusing ring manually and we have control on how much to turn in order to focus. For G1X, the lens has no focusing ring, so everything is done electronically. From the picture above on the right there is a gauge "20 cm - 50cm", you rotate the dial to adjust how far you want the lens to focus. This way of focusing in my opinion will not be as precise as you turning the focusing ring yourself. Only the middle portion of the lcd will magnify unlike DSLR we can magnify 5x or 10x throughout the lcd screen for accuracy.

    So if one wants to go into semi serious macro photography using this camera, you need a high diopter magnifying filter, you would be better manual focusing using a macro rail.

    ISO setting can be done in 1/3 stops for G1X which is a pleasant surpise to me as my old 500D can only adjust ISO in full stops.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 8th April 2012 at 09:50 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    One of the major weaknesses of G1X is the slow focusing speed which many people complain. I agree that the focusing system is kind of weak against action shots. I tested it against my running baby nephews and didn't manage to nail a decent shot after testing for 5 - 10 times. My 500D's af system is significantly better even though it is not as good as say 7D's af system. In this area I believe many compact systems such as Nikon V1, EP3 will trash G1X.

    I went to the new JCube in the evening and do a simple comparison between G1X and 500D's af system on people skating. Shot at shutter priority mode (1/250s, ISO 800). I was able to nail shots of people skating with 500D at a significant higher rate compared to G1X. However that doesn't mean G1X is hopeless, you can still get some action shots if you are patient and keep on trying (LOL). Show a couple of skating photos (please ignore the IQ especially for G1X , it is cropped at 54% since its max focal length is nearly 1/2 the max focal length of my 18 -200 lens).

    nailed this in 1 or 2 tries using 500D

    got this after approx 5 tries using G1X

    Will do more al servo testing on G1X soon.

    Verdict on af speed: People with certain level of skills can live with it for some action shots. Otherwise you might be better off with the likes of Nikon V1.

    Update: Another feature of focusing I think can be improved.
    This is not really a weakness but how I think it can be improved. Usually for DSLR in live view mode, we can shift the area of focusing by just pressing the up down left right buttons (or rotate dial). For G1X, due to lack of buttons you have to press the focusing area selection button (circled in red) then you can shift the rectangle for camera to focus. Maybe I am used to DSLR so this is a bit troublesome for me.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 8th April 2012 at 10:39 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    Other Features (4)

    HDR mode
    Canon has built in HDR mode, which is interesting but there are flaws. You cannot adjust ISO, nor Aperture. It will automatically select the largest aperture given a particular focal length. You cannot adjust where to meter or focus either. Hope there will be a firmware to address this. Here's straight from jpeg picture of HDR mode.
    ISO 800, F4, 1/20s
    will do more of this test in the future if I remember.

    Aperture Priority mode
    This is pretty dumb "feature". I cannot set my exposure such that the exposure is slower than 1 second. If I want to go any slower, I have to go to Manual mode. Also the slowest you can go is 60sec but there is no bulb mode!!
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 8th April 2012 at 10:06 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    ISO test: G1X vs 500D
    G1X on left, 500D on right.
    ISO 100

    ISO 200

    ISO 400

  19. #19

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    ISO 800

    ISO 1600

    ISO 3200
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 8th April 2012 at 10:17 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Review of Canon G1X by a hobbyist

    ISO 6400

    ISO 12800

    I am pretty amazed how ISO 12800 can be usable, say, for small to medium web posting purposes. Clearly G1X is the winner in ISO performance from ISO 1600 onwards where the difference starts to be obvious. Canon 500D has signs of details being smuged at ISO 1600 onwards while G1X still retains the details pretty good.

    Forgot but there's a review (Dpreview) mentioned that G1X 's ISO performance is one of the best (or maybe the best) in the class of cropped sensors and I have no doubt about it.
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 8th April 2012 at 10:21 PM.

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