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July 26, 2014

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II Review

Two years after Canon released their critically-acclaimed PowerShot G1X, the Japanese camera maker announced its successor, the PowerShot G1X Mark II which boasts the same 1.5-inch sensor that’s now paired with a faster lens with a wider coverage area. We’ll take a closer look at this prosumer-level camera on our in-depth right after the break.

Design, Constuction and Ergonomics

Before we dive right in into the actual review, here’s a look at the PowerShot G1X Mark II’s redesigned body and a quick tour of its external components.

Lens

Apart from the design overhaul that Canon did on the G1X Mark II, the company has also outfitted their latest flagship camera with a new and improved optics. Not only is the new lens significantly faster than the old one, particularly in the telephoto end, it also has a wider zoom range that goes from 24mm at the widest, all the way up to 120mm at the long end.

Furthermore, Canon has also improved the minimum focus distance of their new flagship camera. From 40cm on the old model, it was cut down to only 5cm, allowing users to get really close to their subject for decent Macro shots.

As mentioned in the video above, there’s an additional ring found right below the focus ring that can be customized to control various functions of the camera. The addition of this ring is meant to compensate for the omission of the control dial which was originally placed above the thumb grip on the previous model.

Display and Wireless Functions

Another thing we mentioned during our short hands-on video is that the G1X Mark II’s screen can no longer be flipped, but can still be tilted downwards (45 degrees) for above eye-level framing, as well as upwards all the way up to 180 degrees, making it easier to take selfies.

Furthermore, Canon also added touchscreen functionality to their flagship’s display, as well as the improving the display quality by squeezing in more pixels into the camera’s 3-inch display. It’s not a huge upgrade as users can easily live without these added features, but it’s still an upgrade nonetheless.

Nowadays, wireless connectivity has slowly become a must-have for new cameras, and the new PowerShot G1X Mark II is no exception. It is equipped with Wi-Fi chip allowing it to be paired with Android and iOS devices, and the addition of an NFC chip will make it much easier for users to connect this camera to their mobile device.

With the wireless chip in place, users can control the camera remotely and transfer photos to their mobile device with the help of a free downloadable app, as well as instantly upload photos to social media, Google Drive or to Canon’s own cloud service over Wi-Fi network.

Autofocus and Metering

Backed by Canon’s new DIGIC 6 processor, there is a very noticeable improvement on the G1X Mark II’s ability to quickly lock in on a subject compared to its predecessor. The autofocus system is fast and spot for the majority of the time. The AF performance was truly impressive that it even fared well when used the camera during a runway shoot.

Here are some of the pictures we took during that event:

But not only is this camera quick to recognize subject, it also did a superb job of adjusting to some tricky lighting condition, allowing it to produce shots with well-balanced exposures and white balance. In fact the G1X Mark II was so good in adapting to different shooting conditions that we rarely have to adjust the Exposure Compensation when shooting under semi-automatic modes (Av, TV and P).

Noise and Image Quality

One of the advantages of having a big sensor on a compact camera is the image quality and, thanks to its 1.5-inch sensor together with its revamped optics and improved image processor, the PowerShot G1X Mark II delivered impressive image quality with great detail and good all-around color reproduction.

Another thing about this camera that impressed us the most is how well-controlled the noise level is even when shooting at high ISO. The unedited pictures above were all shot at ISO 800 using Manual settings and, as you can see, the pictures seem like they were shot at lower ISO.

Ok, some would argue that this kind of noise performance at ISO 800 is nothing really exceptional in this day and age. For the non-believers, you can check out this picture, which was claimed to be shot at ISO 8000, to get a good feel of how well this camera handles noise even at high ISO.

Here are more pictures we took using the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II:

Video Recording

Recording videos was not exactly strong suit of the PowerShot G1X and sadly the same can be said for its successor. At an era when even smartphones can already shoot 4K videos, the G1X Mark II can only shoot 1920×1080 clips at 30 frames-per-second which is rather underwhelming for a camera in this price point.

As if adding insult to injury, the camera also can’t go beyond 30fps even at lower resolution, an option that’s already available in most cameras and other devices that has a snapper. Needless to say, consumers are better off looking elsewhere if they’re in the market for a camera with above-average video capabilities.

Conclusion

Much has changed in the fixed-lens camera segment since Canon introduced the original G1X. We saw the rise of cameras with all sorts of added features like Wi-Fi and NFC which allow them to play nicely with smart devices that many consumers have grown fond of.

At the same time, Canon’s competitors, particularly Sony, has introduced their own enthusiast compact cameras with relatively large sensor (like the RX 100), and has since been improving its feature set to cope with the market’s “needs”. And although Canon has done the same with their other G-Series cameras, like the PowerShot G16, their then flagship compact camera became less and less appealing to the tech-conscious crowd.

With the introduction of the PowerShot G1X Mark II back in February of this year, Canon is looking to get back on track and reaffirm its place at the top of the heap in the enthusiast compact camera segment. And based on our experience with Canon latest flagship compact camera, the Japanese camera maker is well under way in doing just that.

Canon already had a good thing going with the first G1X, and all they had to with its successor is to address most of the things that prevented the first iteration from being the top choice of photography enthusiasts. Overall, the company did a good job in fixing these missteps by adding a faster lens, as well as significantly improving the camera’s autofocus and High ISO performance through a revamped image sensor and processor.

Unfortunately, Canon still missed out on some of the key features that would’ve made this camera almost unbeatable. The video recording is still stuck at 1080p @30fps making it difficult for videographers to snatch this camera off the shelf. Then there’s also the battery life which has the same rating (240 shots CIPA standards) as the one found on the older model.

Lastly, the camera’s rather expensive price tag. Being sold for USD799, it’s inevitable for consumers to think twice before getting this pricey fixed-lens camera instead of opting for an entry-level dSLR camera like the new EOS 1200D which is even $200 cheaper.

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II specs:
12.8MP CMOS sensor
Sensor Type: 1.5-inch
DIGIC 6 image processor
Contrast-detect AF system
24-120mm f/2.0-f/3.9 fixed lens
Minimum Focusing Distance: 5cm
ISO 100 – 12800
3fps continuous drive (5fps in Fixed Focus mode)
Built-in Flash (Tilting)
Optional External Flash via Hot shoe
3” Tilting LCD panel
1080p video recording @30p
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
NFC
SD / SDHC / SDXC
RAW + JPEG file format
Battery: NB-12L Li-Ion battery (240 shots CIPA)
Dimension: 116 x 74 x 66 mm
Weight: 553g

To conclude, the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II is a good all-around compact camera that can take pictures with impressive quality and the addition of wireless functionalities further expands its capability beyond photography. However, we still think that users deserve something more for their money, particularly better battery life and improved video recording capabilities.

What we liked about it:

* Robust and durable build
* Faster lens with wider zoom range
* Significantly improved AF performance
* Impressive Noise performance at High ISO
* Respectable Image Quality
* Faster Burst Rate
* Optional EVF
* Better Focus Assist Lamp
* Improved display panel with touchscreen
* Responsive

What we didn’t like about it:

* Play/Preview button placement
* Wi-Fi button is prone to accidental presses
* Subpar video recording capabilities
* Underwhelming battery life
* Poor AF performance at close distance

The Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II is not yet officially released in the Philippines but is available in stores like One Stop Shop Gadgets for Php31,000. You can check them out on their FB page or Twitter/Instagram (@ossgadgets) or call them at 09175405663/09322305208.


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This article was written by Ronnie Bulaong, a special features contributor and correspondent for YugaTech. Follow him on Twitter @turonbulaong.

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