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Canon Powershot G1 X Review

The Canon Powershot G1 X is the latest serious compact from Canon and features a large 14.3 megapixel sensor. Find out how it performs in our review.

| Canon PowerShot G1 X in Compact Cameras

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon PowerShot G1 X

The Canon Powershot G1 X is the update to the Canon Powershot G12 and uses a large 14.3 megapixel CMOS sensor that is slightly larger than the Micro Four Thirds sensor (not to be confused with the similarly named Panasonic Lumix GX1). It offers a fairly standard 28mm wide angle 4x optical zoom lens with an aperture of f/2.8 to f/5.8 at the telephoto end.

Canon Powershot G1 X Features

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon PowerShot G1 X

The styling of the Canon Powershot G1 X owes a lot to its predecessor, the Canon Powershot G12, although instead of a 5x optical zoom lens, this new camera has a 4x optical zoom lens. The biggest change is the introduction of a large 1.5inch sensor measuring 18.7mm by 14mm, compared to the 1/1.7inch (7.6mm x 5.7mm) sensor in the G12.

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X Lens Extended
Canon PowerShot G1 X Lens Extended

Key Features

  • 14.3 megapixel 1.5inch CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom lens, f/2.8 - f/5.8,
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3inch tilting screen, 920k dots
  • Manual Controls, 14bit RAW
  • ISO100 - 12800
  • Optical viewfinder
  • Metal body
  • Full HD video, stereo sound
  • 1.9fps continuous shooting / 5fps High Speed Burst
  • 20cm macro mode

Canon Powershot G1 X Handling

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X Top
Canon PowerShot G1 X Top

Handling - The front of the camera has a large rubber grip with a rubber grip on the back for your thumb and the camera is quite a large and chunky. The camera gives a good number of buttons and controls on the exterior of the camera including a dedicated exposure compensation dial, front scroll wheel, customisable shortcut button, focus, metering, star, rear scroll wheel and 4-way buttons. The front and rear scroll wheels can be customised, or in manual mode used for aperture and shutter speed. The camera is quite east to use when you get used to the controls and being able to customise what the buttons and dials do should certainly help make it easier to use. The optical viewfinders view is obscured by the lens until you zoom to around 85mm.

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon PowerShot G1 X

Menus - The camera gives quick access to most options using the buttons and dials on the camera, with more options available in the Func/Set button overlay. The menus are clear and well laid out with large text and a brief explanation of each option at the bottom of the screen. This makes the camera easy to use with a good menu system.

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X Bottom
Canon PowerShot G1 X Bottom

Battery - Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to CIPA standards. We were able to take over 250 shots before the battery went flat. I was expecting better battery life considering the battery is quite large, although limiting your use of flash and the rear LCD screen should extend battery life.

Canon Powershot G1 X Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon PowerShot G1 X

Speed - We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

  Canon G1 X Sony A77
Shutter Response 0.1 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.45 0.1
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.45 0.15
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.2 0.7
Shot to Shot (without flash) 2.5 0.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 3.8 0.8
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 1.8fps
5fps (6 shots)*
7.5fps (14 shots)
12fps (14 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) 1.8 0.6
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 0.9fps 7.5fps (13 shots)
12fps (14 shots)

Focus speed was slow in comparison to other cameras, with most other compact cameras focusing quicker. Switch on time is a little slow with shot to shot time slow at 2.5 seconds between shots or 3.8 seconds with flash on. At under 2fps continuous shooting is a little slow when shooting JPEG, but becomes even slower with RAW and under 1fps. *High speed shooting at 5fps for up to 6 shots is available in the scene mode as JPEG only.

Canon Powershot G1 X Performance

Here we've taken a number of sample photos taken in a variety of situations, including real world as well as studio test photos. Additional sample photos and information can be found in the Equipment Database.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Sample Photos

Sample photos - The camera takes detailed and colourful photos. Photos with flash appear to have very little red-eye in the portrait photo.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Lens test images

Lens Test images - Lots of detail, could be ideal for landscape photography. Poor macro performance with the closest focusing distance with macro mode enabled being 20cm.

Canon PowerShot G1 X ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - ISO100 shows very low noise, with good detail. Again at ISO100. At ISO200 noise starts to become apparent in the darker areas, but is very clean in the brighter colours. At ISO400 there is a slight increase in the noise in dark / shadow areas. At ISO800 noise increases but the camera is still capable of producing clean noise free areas especially in the bright colours. At ISO1600 noise increases and there is a slight drop in detail. ISO3200 sees similar results with slightly more noise, but extremely usable results. Noise increases at ISO6400 with grain in most areas, but results are still usable. At ISO12800 noise becomes much more noticeable and colour and detail suffer, but resized or converted to black and white and the image should provide good results.

Canon PowerShot G1 X White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white balance under tungsten lighting gives a strong yellow cast, and using the tungsten preset produces good results. Auto white balance performs very well under fluorescent lighting. Again using the fluorescent preset produces good results. 

Panoramic - Panoramic stitch assist is built in to the camera, this helps align the shots, but does not combine them in the camera. Instead you need to use the provided software to create the panoramic photo on your computer.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a large number of digital filters and effects available, some more useful than others, including HDR, miniature, monochrome, as well as handheld nightscene (not shown).

Video - The camera records full HD video with stereo sound, wind filter and optical zoom, although there are not many other options available.

Value For Money

The Canon Powershot G1 X is available for around £649-699 although this is the RRP so this could drop. However, it puts it into competition with mid-range Digital SLRs and premium mirrorless cameras such as the Olympus PEN E-P3, Nikon 1 V1, Sony NEX-5N, Samsung NX200, Panasonic Lumix GX1 and a number of these are available for much less, for example the Panasonic Lumix GX1 is available for around £479 with kit lens, 16 megapixel sensor and interchangeable lenses. Other serious compact cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix LX5 and Fujifilm FinePix X10 are available from around £349. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon Powershot G1 X Verdict

The Canon Powershot G1 X is an interesting camera, simply because it has a large 14.3 megapixel CMOS sensor that is capable of producing high quality images with lots of detail. ISO noise performance is impressive with low noise right up to high ISO settings. The optical viewfinder is quite small and shows a cropped and obscured view at wide-angle. Compared to compact system cameras the Canon Powershot G1 X comes in at a fairly high price although the optically stabilised lens is better than most kit lenses starting at f/2.8 and providing 4x optical zoom. If image quality is of a high importance to you then the Canon Powershot G1 X is recommended, it would be nice if the 5fps shooting mode was available in all modes, rather than in just one of the scene modes.

  Canon Powershot G1 X Review:
  The Canon Powershot G1 X is capable of producing some excellent photos however, we do wish it was a little quicker.

Canon Powershot G1 X Pros

Colourful detailed images
Large 1.5inch sensor
Great ISO performance
5fps high speed shooting mode
Tilting, rotating screen
Optical viewfinder (however, see below)

Canon Powershot G1 X Cons

Optical view through finder blocked by lens
20cm minimum focus distance
Name - very similar to other cameras
Sluggish performance


Canon PowerShot G1 X Specifications

Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/5.8
35mm equivalent28mm - 112mm
Optical Zoom4x
Image Sensor
Pixels14.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4352
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1.5 inch
Sensor Size (width)18.7mm
Sensor Size (height)14mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
  • 4:5
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution920,000
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus20cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting1.9fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS24
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-10L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)250shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsDigital Camera, Neck Strap, Battery Charger, Battery Pack, Interface Cable (USB), Software (CD-ROM), Quick Start Guide

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot G1 X

Pushkar sunsetamong the the market.........PorticoGentleman JoeI Nearly Caught One This Big !wandering pilgrim........stranger from strange land.........the master weaver at work..........plight of the homeless...........the calm......reflecting on my life.........smiling's very cold out there........I'll keep my eye on you.........

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Ricky37 15 12
14 Mar 2012 7:40PM
Over priced ! what planet are cannon on ??
johnlw 16 1 10 United Kingdom
14 Mar 2012 9:13PM
I am still using a canon G9 and there is no way I would purchase the G1X until canon make the shutter speed and focusing faster.
Rees 15 14 Wales
15 Mar 2012 12:01PM
Like johnlw I use a Cannon G9 and was impressed when I first saw the G1X, then the priced was announced and like Ricky 37 I feel it is over priced and with an inferior zoom to the G12, a back-ward step I feel.
I have used Canon G canon for about 5 Years. I brought the G7 when it can out & then the G9 on release.
Both to be use as a quality compact when I did not wish to travel or take my Canon SLR kit.

They have both given very good results over the years. However you do have to know how to get the best from them. RAW & Low ISO's.

By doing this I have even got Alamy to take several photo's from them over the years. However I always had a feeling when I just had a G camera with me that if a once in a lift time shoot came up I could not do it justice. Or could not print it large enough.

However an advantage of the small sensor was good macro's.

I got my G1X about one month ago to go with a EOS1DX still on order.

What I have found with the G1X is that it is so much more like a baby SLR in use.

The RAW images will match any £1200 Body only SLR up to 6400 ISO.

If you now how to handle the RAW files.

So it opens up a hold list of other uses I can use the camera for, making it great value for money.

I do agree it's a bit slow in general operation, but lets face it it's not meant to be a sports camera.
It's far more a home taking candid Portraits or Landscapes. In fact with a baby tripod & the HDR mode set to 2 stops each way. I'm finding the jpeg HDR are coming out great. Plus it's so easy & quick as I don't have to use Photomatix Pro with RAWS.

I have already in the first month of having it. Sold several portraits from it, some printed upto A2. Plus Alamy have taken several Landscapes.

For a small travel camera I could not really ask for more. Also in five years my G camera have never faulted.

Basically if you are a good enough photograph to now what this camera is capable of plus how to use it best. Then you will be very very happy with it.

Just do expect I to match a fully fledged SLR & lens in every way.

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