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Canon Powershot G3 X Review

Reviewed: The Canon Powershot G3 X with a 24-600mm equivalent lens and a larger than normal sensor, could this be the best ultra zoom available? Find out in our review.


|  Canon Powershot G3 X in Compact Cameras
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Canon Powershot G3 X (2)

The Canon Powershot G3 X is the latest ultra zoom camera from Canon that was previously announced as being in development, and features a 20 megapixel 1inch BSI CMOS sensor, with an impressive 25x optical zoom lens, 5-axis image stabilisation, a 3.2inch 1.6million dot touch-screen, plus built in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. 

Canon Powershot G3 X Features

Canon Powershot G3 X (4)

The Canon Powershot G3 X features an impressive 25x optical zoom lens, with a 20 megapixel 1inch BSI (Back Side Illuminated) CMOS sensor, along with fullHD video recording and a large 3.2inch touch-screen with a high resolution of 1.62 million dots.

The 25x optical zoom lens is the equivalent of 24-600mm in 35mm terms, and features a bright f/2.8 aperture at the wide-angle end of the lens which goes down to f/5.6 at the telephoto end. 5-axis optical image stabilisation is built in to ensure sharp photos when shooting in low light or when using a lot of optical zoom. The camera can focus on subjects as close as 5cm, making it well suited to macro photography.

Canon Powershot G3 X (10)

Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity make it easy to remotely control the camera with your smartphone or compatible tablet, or you can use this to transfer photos for sharing on social media sites such as Facebook. Another feature of this is simple image backup which can be run wirelessly.

FullHD video is recorded at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p and the camera features a microphone socket as well as a headphone socket for those serious about audio quality on videos. 

A weather sealed body means you can use the camera in less than ideal weather. 

Canon Powershot G3 X (5)
 

Key Features

  • 20.2 megapixel 1.0type BSI CMOS sensor
  • 25x optical zoom lens, f/2.8-5.6, 24-600mm equivalent
  • 5-axis Intelligent optical image stabilisation 
  • 3.2inch, 1,620k dot tilting touch-screen
  • Wi-Fi / NFC connectivity
  • FullHD video, stereo sound
  • ISO125-12800
  • 5cm macro focus
  • 5.9fps continuous shooting
  • Mic / Headphone sockets
  • Weather-sealed body
  • DIGIC 6 image processor

Canon Powershot G3 X Handling

Canon Powershot G3 X (8)

On top you'll find the pop-up flash, flash hot-shoe with accessory port, mode dial, exposure compensation dial, shutter release and zoom rocker, as well as the on/off and video record buttons. Underneath there is a metal tripod socket, with video lug hole, plus the battery and memory card compartment.  

The camera has a good sized rubber hand grip, a protruding rear rubber thumb grip, plus rubber on the left-hand side, making it easy to hold. The G3 X is weather sealed to the same standard as the Canon EOS 70D, according to Canon, making the camera feel well built.

The high-resolution touch-screen is responsive and tilts up 180degrees for "selfie" shots, and 145 degrees down, with good viewing angles. An optional electronic viewfinder (EVF DC1) can be attached to the flash hot-shoe for those that don't like using a screen outdoors in bright sunlight. The camera has an impressive macro focus, with the camera letting you focus on subjects 5cm away from the lens, even when you have zoomed into the equivalent of 100mm. 

The lens ring can be customised, although it can't be used to control the zoom. In addition, the top scroll dial, S (shortcut) button, video button, MF / Zoom frame assist buttons, plus the two buttons next to the thumb grip, can all be customised. 

The menus can be navigated and operated using the touch screen, and are clearly laid out. They are very similar to the Canon EOS menus so should be familiar to anyone who has used a recent Canon EOS camera. There is a Q button that can be used to bring up a quick on-screen overlay of some of the most commonly used options.

Canon Powershot G3 X (7)

Wi-Fi features - Canon Camera Connect is available for iOS and Android devices, and lets you remotely shoot, view and transfer images, as well as add location information to photos, based on the GPS data on your phone.

Canon Camera Connect App Canon Powershot G3x Playback Canon Powershot G3x Remote Shooting
Canon Camera Connect App Playback Remote Shooting

 

There are numerous options and settings available when using the remote shooting section of the app, and you can control the zoom position as well as other settings including exposure compensation. One issue we found when using the app was that the preview screen did not show the effect of exposure compensation on screen, although the photograph taken did show the changes. Hopefully, this is something that will be resolved with an updated version of the software. 

Canon Powershot G3 X (9)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 300 shots according to Canon / CIPA test results or 410 shots with ECO mode enabled, which is average for a compact class of camera - therefore we would recommend a spare battery or switching on ECO mode. Extended use of Wi-Fi is likely to drain this further, so a spare may be a requirement.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.325secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.1secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.8secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.2secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
7fps (9 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1.4secs
Continuous Shooting - RAW 0.8secs but often slower


Focus and shutter response are both quick, with the camera also offering a very quick continuous shooting speed of 7fps when shooting JPEGs, but much slower when shooting raw images. 

Canon Powershot G3 X (6)

Canon Powershot G3 X Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon Powershot G3 X Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Exposure is reliable, and images come out with quite neutral colours, and more vibrant images can be achieved by using -0.3 exposure compensation, or alternatively using the vivid colour setting. Unfortunately, colour options aren't available when shooting raw images. Dynamic range is good, although this can be extended by using the highlight and shadow options (when shooting JPEG only), or alternatively using the HDR shooting mode. Portraits with flash show now red-eye, although the bright AF assist lamp did cause some subjects to squint, and luckily this can be turned off.

Canon Powershot G3 X Lens test images

Lens Performance - It's possible to get photos with pleasing background blur (or Bokeh) when using the telephoto end of the lens. There is some purple fringing in areas with high contrast, such as leaves against a bright sky, although these are most noticeable towards the corners of the image. The lens is quite resistant to flare, even though there is no hood provided with the camera. Macro performance is impressive with the camera letting you focus on subjects just 5cm away from the camera, even when using up to roughly 105mm equivalent (39.2mm) zoom. There is minimal lens distortion at both ends of the lens, with the camera automatically correcting images in camera. Image stabilisation helps keep shots steady at slower shutter speeds, and when using the telephoto zoom.

Canon Powershot G3 X ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO125 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO3200 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO6400 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO12800 is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low.

Comparing JPEG images to the FZ1000 and RX10, the G3 X shows more noise at higher ISO settings, due to weaker noise reduction being applied. If you shoot raw images, then it's likely that there will be little real difference if you process the images in the same way. 

Canon Powershot G3 X White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm yellow colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a very similar result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta / yellow colour cast. For more accurate results we'd look at adjusting the white-balance on the camera, or using manual white balance. 

Canon Powershot G3 X Digital filters

Digital Filters - There is a creative shot mode that will take a number of photos with a (seemingly) randomly selected set of effects applied to it. You can also select from a number of creative effects, which can be customised. For example, the HDR mode has a number of different effects, some giving a natural looking image, others giving a more artistic interpretation of the scene. The camera does not feature an automatic panoramic mode. 

Video - Video options include FullHD video recording with optical zoom and stereo sound, with a number of frame rate options, including 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60p. You can manually control the aperture and shutter speeds in manual video mode. There are headphone and microphone sockets. Wind filter, attenuator options, plus mic level adjustment with fine adjustment possible. The tripod socket has a video lug hole next to it, for tripod video head compatibility. Quality is good, with the optical image stabilisation system doing a good job to steady the video even when using the camera handheld. Additional videos can be found on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.

Value For Money

The Canon Powershot G3 X is available for £799, with an electronic viewfinder, the EVF-DC1 available for £199, which increases the price to nearer £1000, making it quite expensive, although this is less than the RX10 Mark II. Alternative cameras with a 20 megapixel 1inch sensor and longer optical zoom lens include the following:

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, 16x optical zoom, f/2.8-4.0 (at 400mm), 12fps, 4K video, EVF, £620
Sony Cyber-shot RX10, 8.3x optical zoom, f/2.8, 8fps, FullHD video, EVF, £599
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II, 8.3x optical zoom, f/2.8, 14fps, 4K video, EVF, £1200 (RRP)

Alternatively, you could look at the following ultra-zoom cameras with more normal sensor sizes:

Panasonic Lumix FZ330, 24x optical zoom lens, f/2.8 constant, RRP £499
Fujifilm FinePix S-1, 50x optical zoom lens, weather-sealed, £265

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 G3 X Verdict

The Canon Powershot G3 X offers a large 1inch sensor and the longest optical zoom available with this size sensor, which makes the camera quite chunky, but also quite small in comparison to other cameras with the same sensor such as the FZ1000 and RX10. The Canon Powershot G3 X features a large 3.2inch touch-screen with a high resolution of 1.62 million dots, and the ability to tilt to multiple angles. The camera body has good handling with a good size rubber hand grip, and along with weather sealing, the camera will be well suited to shooting in a variety of conditions where you wouldn't normally want to be shooting. Whilst the camera does not offer a built in electronic viewfinder, this does allow it to be slightly smaller, and an optional electronic viewfinder can always be added if felt necessary. If you're looking for a camera capable of taking higher quality images than your standard compact camera, and you want as much optical zoom as possible, then the Canon Powershot G3 X certainly delivers.

Canon Powershot G3 X Pros

Longest optical zoom lens with a 1inch sensor
Very good noise performance
Weather-sealed body
Built in Wi-Fi and NFC
High resolution 3.2inch tilting touch screen 
7fps continuous shooting (JPEG images)
Mic / Headphone sockets
High build quality

Canon Powershot G3 X Cons

Aperture quickly drops to f/4.0 at 45mm equivalent
Alternatives offer built in electronic viewfinder
Slow raw recording in continuous shooting
Alternatives offer 4K video recording and quicker continuous shooting
Doesn't offer an automatic panoramic shooting mode

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Canon Powershot G3 X offers a unique combination of a large sensor along with a longer than normal optical zoom lens. 

 

Canon Powershot G3 X Specifications

ManufacturerCanon
Lens
Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/5.6
35mm equivalent24mm - 600mm
Optical Zoom25x
Image Sensor
Pixels20Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5472
Pixels (H)3648
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.2in
Screen resolution1.62million
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity125 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5.9fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)300shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera, Battery Charger, Battery, Lens Cap, Lens strap, Neck Strap, AC Cable
Dimensions
Weight733g
Width123.3mm
Height76.5mm
Depth105.3mm

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Photographs taken using the Canon Powershot G3 X

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Comments


Little Jo Plus
17 2.3k United Kingdom
19 Sep 2015 11:09AM
I've owned one of these now for two months and the image quality is rather good. It's also near silent in operation, so for discreet shots, it is idea. I have had some really nice images and to be fair, I'm not bothered by the lack of 4K video, HD video is more than adequate and I rarely use that due to the large file sizes.

I have purchased the lens hood and filter adapter - these are really neatly designed and conveniently allow me to use a size of filter that is already in my camera bag. No, it's not as quick to focus as my EOS 5D MkIII, but if I need performance, I take the other camera.

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