PROS / A lens with dual-control rings makes for natural shooting and adjustment.
CONS / This camera is significantly heavier than the other cameras we reviewed.
VERDICT / This camera is larger and heavier than most of the cameras in our lineup, but it doesn't offer significant improvements in other areas. It’s a great camera, but it isn't difficult to find smaller cameras that perform similarly.
The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is an enthusiast-oriented compact digital camera with a large sensor and a multitude of features. This camera allows for shooting in a wide variety of circumstances, but it fails to excel in any particular area. Despite its large sensor and overall size, it doesn't actually perform that much better than smaller competitors.
Thanks to its large 1.5" sensor, the G1 X has excellent low-light performance, surpassed only by models featuring even larger APS-C sensors. This camera's low-light performance is better than most, but it's not going to be like seeing in the dark. DxOMark.com rated it at ISO 581, which is still fairly close to the ISO 503 average.
Other laboratory sensor tests at DxOMark.com show that the G1 X actually falls below average in color depth and dynamic range. So while you may be able to maintain a higher level of image quality in waning light, its image quality in ideal conditions is slightly lower than the image quality in competing models.
Compact digital cameras typically have a long lens that you can use in a variety of situations, or a specialized lens, usually a prime that produces excellent images at one focal length. The G1 X is outfitted with the former – a long 24 to 120mm lens that you can use for wide landscapes or tight portraits.
Overall, the G1 X is a well-designed camera. It has nice controls, a comfortable grip and a good look. However, we found its size and weight to be quite baffling. It weighs in at nearly 20 ounces, about seven ounces more than our average, without offering any additional functionality.
Usually, when a compact is made larger or heavier than competitors, there is an obvious reason for it. And though it does feature a large sensor, we just didn't see any considerable benefits versus going with a more portable option. However, some shooters prefer a substantial and robust feel, and that’s something that the G1 X certainly has.
Its lens is large, the largest on our lineup, and it features two adjustment dials. One of these dials twists fluidly while the other features a series of stops in which the dial clicks solidly into place. Both of these dials are customizable and can be set to adjust zoom, focus or exposure settings.
The rear of the camera features an articulating touchscreen display, which we found to be incredibly convenient. Capturing candids becomes much easier when you no longer have to bring the camera to your eye and press the shutter to take a photograph. You can simply hold the camera by your side and tap your subject to capture a properly focused and exposed photo. Unfortunately, using the display to frame shots is mandatory, as the G1 X Mark II no longer features the built-in viewfinder found in its predecessor.
Battery life is an important factor in any camera, especially if you're buying a compact to keep with you all the time. The G1 X lags behind here more than anywhere else, offering only about 240 shots per charge. That's nearly 90 shots less than our category standard. If you do plan to do extensive shooting with this camera, it's a good idea to purchase an extra battery.
With Wi-Fi, NFC, HDR and focus peaking, the G1 X is a fully featured compact. The only major omission is panorama, which is strange considering that such features are now even standard in most smartphones.
Canon's support for the G1 X is standard. You'll get a one-year warranty and a user manual with your purchase, and you can use Canon's website for FAQs and other information. Like most manufacturers, Canon also offers email and phone support, although live chat is not available.
The G1 X Mark II is overall an above-average performer when it comes to image quality and zoom range, although none of its abilities are particularly outstanding. With this in mind, it becomes difficult to justify its large size and weight. If portability isn't your highest priority, however, you can enjoy the benefits of its comfortable grip, large and substantial lens, and excellent articulating screen.