Compact cameras are now getting more and more feature-packed that some already offer capabilities usually seen on bulky DSLRs. Such is the case with the Canon G3X by equipping its rather small body a zoom lens that is designed to be able to bring far away subjects nearer. Being a camera that is easily portable, is it a real travel buddy?
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Design and Construction
Being a compact shooter, the G3X is strict on maintaining its bulk to a minimum so we have a seemingly oversized lens attached to a timid body. It’s got an all black hue which pushes itself to look like a mini DSLR.
The body itself is made of metal alloy which is tough and weather-resistant so you could still use the camera and shoot during light rain showers or during any instance that the weather could be a bit harsh.
Up top, we have the hot shoe for an additional flash, the main control ring, wheel and physical dials lined up for navigating the shooting modes and different settings. At the leftmost corner we have the built-in flash that pops out when pushed from the back.
The G3X has a 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen display for live view and media playback. It unhinges itself from the body which you can then tilt up or down as it compensates for not having a viewfinder built-in.
As for the lens, it has a 25x optical zoom with wide angle capabilities at 24mm and goes all the way to 600mm for telephoto use.
At the back, we have additional navigation buttons and another wheel for adjusting the settings on the fly. It also has a plastic flap that hides the external microphone jack, headphone jack, and HDMI output terminal that all help when shooting videos.
At its base is the compartment that houses the removable battery and memory card slot.
Controls and Ergonomics
G3X’s grip area was inspired from the design used for EOS DSLRs so it’s a familiar feeling if you’re used to holding the bigger, bulkier ones. Plus, it also offers a secure grip so we had no problems carrying it around even without a strap.
The control dials up top are easily accessible by the right hand so that’s something commendable in terms of ergonomics. One thing we noticed, though, was that the single record button for videos is located at the very edge of the panel up top which could sometimes be a challenge to reach and feels unnatural to press, at least for us.
In general, holding the camera up when shooting offers a pretty steady balance thanks to the contoured grip on the right side and the kind of heft it packs. Speaking of heft, one would notice that the lens has more weight than the body itself.
As mentioned earlier, the G3X doesn’t have any viewfinder installed, so everything (from composing your shot and previewing it afterwards) will all be done on its 3.2-inch 1.62M-dot LCD.
The display is also touch-enabled so you can navigate by swiping on the images, press buttons on-screen, and tap to focus on subjects.
It can be tilted up to 180 degrees upwards for selfies and 45 degrees downwards which resulted to comfortable viewing either when we were shooting up or shooting down.
Autofocus, Noise, and ISO Performance
The company claims that it uses a powerful linear control mechanism that ensures speedy focusing and can handle moving objects. We put it to the test and we could say that it does focus well on normal shots, but when zooming in close to a distant subject, the camera experiences some difficulties with its autofocus when there are other details in the background. We brought this camera at a nearby park in London and tried looking for some moving subjects. Here are some shots:
As you can see, the photos with a solo subject has a pretty good focus to it considering we were zoomed all the way. Although the shot of the biker shows that the rider himself is a bit out of focus as the camera concentrated more on its background.
In terms of noise, you may also refer to the photo of the biker and notice the digital noise present on the dark areas. This is because the G3X’s aperture is at f/2.8 on its widest but could only go until f/5.6 when zoomed in and when there’s shortage of light coming in, the ISO goes up to compensate and produce an image with acceptable exposure — hence the presence of noise.
We also put its telephoto lens to the test to see how it would fare during real-life instances. Just to get a good idea of how far away its 600mm maximum focal length is in terms of zooming, check out the photo below that’s taken without zooming in:
See that bridge in the middle area of the photo? Here it is on full zoom:
Here’s one more sample shot using the maximum possible length the G3X can offer. It was shot on auto mode, with no tripod, and certainly no photoshop treatment.
In short, it’s pretty crazy how far away this lens could bring your subjects right at your face. Not only that, it could also quickly adjust the settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) to match what the subject needs — in this case, raise the shutter speed in order to make the details of the moon appear.
For people as subjects, it was also able to maintain a good exposure with clear details. The above photo was taken across a large hall when the Huawei P9 was launched. When Henry Cavill came out for a short talk, we were able to get a shot that makes it seem like he was just in front of us.
Image and Video Quality
As for the general quality of the shots the G3X produces, its 1-inch CMOS sensor comes into play and makes sure the photos remain detailed even when zoomed in. Colors are also lively enough while maintaining good contrast between light and dark shades.
In low light instances, the G3X still proved to keep the composure of its darks and minimized digital noise once we took over control and switched to manual mode.
Below are more samples from the G3X:
The following are photos using different focal lengths of its zoom:
Video-wise, it shoots a maximum resolution of Full HD or 1080p. Users can play around with how many frames it shoots per second and could go for a cinema-like feel at 24p or a more fluid movement at 60p.
The G3X also has a Manual Movie feature for adjusting the settings on the fly. Check out the following videos showing its performance during day time, night, and zooming capabilities. Be sure to switch the resolution to 1080p for best quality.
As for the battery life, Canon claims 300 shots. In our usage it was able to last for about two days of casually using it around London — taking pictures and videos of anything interesting before it required us to charge. We would say that we’re satisfied with how well it could stretch a single charge even when it always uses its LCD for both preview and live view.
Charging takes about 2 hours to fill up the battery.
From its compact build and weather-resistant body that makes it a good companion for traveling, to its superzoom capabilities in an instant, and down to its decent battery life, the Canon G3X is an effective consumer product for casual photographers looking for a compact camera with a good telephoto lens.
This camera can zoom farther in comparison to other cameras in the same range, although aperture is at its widest at f/5.6 during this operation. Digital noise is sometimes present on auto mode, but could be avoided by choosing a better camera setting. Autofocus is also generally swift, but still has room for improvement.
At Php41,998, it’s a bit pricey considering it lacks some functionalities present in its competitors (like 4K recording and a built-in viewfinder). It does have easy sharing capabilities like NFC and Wi-Fi so the company didn’t really skimp on the extra features.
Canon G3X specs:
20.2MP 1-inch high-sensitivity CMOS sensor
DIGIC 6 image processor
25x optical zoom f/2.8-5.6 IS lens
24-600mm (35mm equivalent)
3.2-inch 1.62M-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
High-speed AF with 31 focus points
Full HD Video at 60p with HDMI output
5.9 fps continuous shooting
What we liked about it:
- Compact, robust form factor
- Tilting display
- A real easy-to-use zoom camera
- Decent low light shots
What we didn’t like:
- No built-in viewfinder
- No 4K video recording