Review: Canon G1X Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon G1x product images (7 of 7)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 4.0

When we first had the chance to play with the Canon G1x Mk II back around CES 2014, we were quite impressed with the specs and the build quality. Its previous version, however, had both high ISO problems and autofocusing issues–which plagued the otherwise very good camera. Canon decided to give it another shot with very modest improvements where it counts. Their efforts created what we believe to be an almost perfect companion camera–almost a notebook for your life.

Pros and Cons

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Pros

– Great, portable size that makes you feel as if you have a true companion camera

– Slightly larger than 4/3rds size sensor in a fairly compact camera body.

– Sharp lens

– Great colors

– Not bad high ISO results

– Nice controls

Cons

– We wish that autofocus were a bit faster

– Using the Wifi transmission feature is a bit tough to do.

Gear Used

We tested the Canon G1x Mk II mostly by itself; but we tried to pair it with an iPad and a Nexus 5.

Tech Specs

Taken from the B&H Photo listing of the camera.

  • 12.8MP High-Sensitivity 1.5″ CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • Canon 5x Optical Zoom Lens
  • 24-120mm f/2-3.9 (35mm Equivalent)
  • 3.0″ 1,040k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • High Speed AF and 5.2 fps Shooting
  • HS SYSTEM and Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Dual Control Rings and 14-Bit RAW

Ergonomics

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Canon’s G1X Mk II is fairly minimal on the front. When you look at it straight on, you’ll notice a very slight grip and a big lens that dominates almost the entire camera’s face. This lens is a 5x IS zoom lens with an f2-3.9 aperture range from widest to longest.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon G1x product images (2 of 7)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 4.0

The top of the camera is where you’ll find some of the control deck: the hot shoe, shutter release, zooming functions, and the mode dial are all here. This is also where you can finally see around the lens. There are two rings here that can be programmed for aperture control, shutter control, or zoom control.

But for the most part, we left zooming to the dedicated lever around the shutter.

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Once you head to the back, you’ll find more controls mostly along the right hand side. The controls are for white balancing, video recording, WiFi enabling, display, etc. And the LCD screen is where you can control even more aspects of the camera directly.

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Of course, the LCD screen also articulates up and down–which is a nice touch for many various shooting situations. We prefer to use it when shooting from the hip.

Build Quality

The overall build quality of Canon’s G1x Mk II is solid all around. While there isn’t weather sealing, it feels like a true companion camera. The buttons, dials and settings are all in the right places–though we wish there were another frontal dial reminiscent of their DSLR cameras.

What we really liked is the clicking of the lens ring: which organically sets the camera to the according aperture. By that we mean that every single turn registered–and that’s not something that we can say with other companies’ offerings.

Ease of Use

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While someone can surely theoretically take this camera, put it in auto mode and go shoot, it’s mostly targeted at the user that will shoot in manual or aperture priority. Canon’s menu system for the G1x Mk II is simple, effective and to the point. We really couldn’t ask for anything more. Be warned though that some menus are a bit long.

Users that love touch screens can navigate through it all by using the screen–which is another really cool addition despite being around for a while.

Autofocus

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Here’s where we wish that the camera performed a bit better: in our tests we found the autofocusing to be a tad sluggish though not at all a slouch. For a sensor only slightly larger than 4/3rds, we expected to have almost no problems with focusing–but alas it surely happened every now and again.

What we do wish though is that if had more versatility with autofocus point/zone selection.

Metering

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According to our Sunny 16 metering tests, the Canon G1X Mk II meters perfectly with scenes–which is a great help to street photographers practicing in the classic ways of street capture.

Image Quality

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The G1X Mk II’s image quality is vivid, saturated, and beautiful. We really can’t complain about it very much at all. Anything you don’t particularly like about it can be changed when shooting RAW images. Most people traveling, shooting street photography, or even looking for a nice companion camera will enjoy the images that this camera can capture. Coupled with the fact that the attached lens is super sharp and can give you lots of nice bokeh in the right situations, it seems like this is a no brainer.

RAW File Versatility

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During our tests, we overexposed this image by around one and a half stops–but we were able to get back lots of the details albeit with color fringing in the corner. The fact that a point and shoot can pull that much detail though is awesome.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer canon g1x mk ii original (1 of 1)ISO 8001-2000 sec at f - 2.0

For reference, this was the original above. Granted this is a point and shoot camera–and we’re pretty positive that most folks won’t always be off that much.

High ISO Output

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ISO 6400

As far as high ISO performance goes, the Canon G1X Mk II seems to be about on par with Micro Four Thirds cameras. In essence, that means that it is pretty damned good. Sure, you’ll see grain at 100%–but you’ll see that with most cameras. When posting images to Facebook or your favorite sharing services, you won’t have much of an issue–so don’t worry about it too much.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

Likes

– Great color rendition and overall image quality

– Nice feel in the hands

– Very lightweight and simple to carry around

Dislikes

– We wish that the autofocus were a bit faster and more accurate

– Wifi implementation is a bit clunky

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

There is a lot to love about Canon’s new G1X Mk II: the image quality, the great punch it gives for a small package, the dials, the buttons, the LCD screen, the feel. Honestly, we’re very smitten with this camera. In fact, as a Canon customer for many years, it gives me faith again that the company may return to try to innovate again like they did years ago. Granted, the G1X Mk II isn’t really an innovative camera, but there is a lot to the design that should have Fujifilm and Sony looking at it. Years ago, Canon Powershot point and shoots were the best that you could come across. These days, said companies are eating into the sales. But maybe Canon may start to change their ways again.

Maybe…

Canon’s G1X Mk II receives four out of five stars; had the WiFi been easier to work with it would have been awarded an Editor’s Choice rating. You can gets yours for $799 at B&H Photo.

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