The Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III is a premium compact camera aimed at those who desire DSLR quality in a smaller, fixed lens body. Announced in October 2017, it comes three and a half years after its predecessor, the G1X Mark II, and now represents the flagship in the PowerShot G range. The previous G1X Mark II stood out in the series thanks to its larger 1.5in type sensor, which the Mark III now trumps with an even larger APS-C sensor. This is essentially the same sensor employed in the EOS 80D and Canon’s 24 Megapixel mirrorless cameras, featuring Dual Pixel CMOS AF for smooth and confident focusing in stills and movies.
The PowerShot G1X Mark III couples the 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with a 3x / 15-45mm zoom lens equivalent to 24-72mm, with an f2.8-5.6 focal ratio, closest focusing distance of 10cm at wide angle, four-stop optical stabilizer, and a built-in 3-stop ND filter. These are squeezed into a drip and dustproof body with a built-in 2.36 Million dot OLED electronic viewfinder and a fully-articulated 3in touchscreen. There’s no 4k video nor a microphone input, but the Mark III’s 1080p video (up to 60p) benefits from the confident focusing of Dual Pixel CMOS AF and the ability to tap the screen to pull-focus; the AF system also supports burst shooting at 7fps or with fixed focus at 9fps. There’s also built-in Wifi accompanied by NFC and Bluetooth to ease connectivity, while the latter allows your phone to remotely power-up the camera to browse and transfer images even when it’s switched off. The Mark III even becomes Canon’s first model to finally stitch panoramas in-camera.
Impressively Canon’s managed to pack all of this into a body that’s comfortably smaller and lighter than the previous G1X Mark II – indeed it’s virtually the same size – and design – as the PowerShot G5X, but with a much larger sensor boasting almost three times the total surface area, not to mention one with phase-detect autofocus. Of course by employing a larger sensor, the G1X Mark III’s lens range can’t help but be shorter and optically dimmer than other models, but the fact you’re essentially carrying EOS 80D quality and focusing in a body that weighs just under 400g including a lens makes it a highly compelling prospect, whether used as a standalone camera or a companion to a larger body. I had the chance to get my hands-on a PowerShot G1X Mark III for my preview below which includes a video overview filmed in 4k! In the meantime, expect the G1X Mark III in November for $1299 / 1149 GBP / 1399 EUR; pre-order the G1X Mark III from Amazon.com!
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Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III hands-on
Canon’s PowerShot G1X Mark III breaks from the design of its predecessor to share more of the mini-DSLR styling of more recent models like the PowerShot G5X; indeed at first glance the G1X Mark III could be mistaken for the G5X as both are virtually the same size and share essentially the same design and control layout.
Measuring 115x78x51.4mm and weighing 398g including battery, the Mark III is only a few grams heavier and fraction wider and taller than the G5X, with the only noticeable physical difference being a lens barrel that protrudes a little further. But even side-by-side, the similarity is striking, see below.
This makes the G1X Mark III comfortably thinner and noticeably lighter than its predecessor, the G1X Mark II, which measured 116x74x66.2mm and weighed 558g – an impressive feat considering the presence of a larger sensor, a built-in viewfinder and a fully-articulated screen on the new model.
I’m particularly pleased to report the G1X Mark III is weather-sealed, with a dust and drip proof construction similar to the G3X and EOS 80D – this already takes it beyond most compacts. If you literally want to make splash, Canon also offers an optional underwater housing that will protect it to depths of 40m.
Like the G5X, the Mark III also sports a small but comfortable rubber-coated grip, well-defined for your middle two fingers, leaving your index finger hovering above the front control dial or soft-touch shutter release; the latter is a classy touch inherited from higher-end EOS DSLRs.
The vertically-mounted front finger dial is one of several physical controls on the body. Like the G5X, the G1X Mark III also features a thumb wheel on the rear and a dedicated dial for exposure compensation. The mode dial on the G1X Mark III does however now feature a locking button which must be held down to allow rotation.
Which such a similar body, it’s not surprising to learn the G1X Mark III shares the same compositional options as the G5X, so you get the choice of a 2.36 Million dot OLED viewfinder and a fully-articulated 3in touch-sensitive screen. While both are available on the G5X, it’s important to remember they represent a big upgrade over the previous G1X Mark II who’s screen only tilted vertically and which didn’t include a viewfinder as standard. If we’re being picky, the viewfinder magnification is smaller than I’d like on the G1X Mark III, but there’s nothing wrong with the clarity, nor the flexibility of the articulated touchscreen.
In terms of connectivity, the G1X Mark III is equipped with USB and HDMI ports, the former used for in-body charging as well as data transfer. There’s a hotshoe for mounting external flashguns, as well as a popup flash. Infuriatingly there’s no microphone input though which reduces its usefulness for videographers and vloggers alike – a shame since the screen can flip to face the subject and the Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor is so good at autofocusing during video.
If you’re into remote control, you can use the optional RS-60E3 or timer remote TC-80N3, the latter with the RA-E3 adapter. Sadly the G1X Mark III doesn’t appear to be compatible with the recently announced Bluetooth remote control, but I’ll reconfirm.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the G1X Mark III is equipped with Wifi, complemented by NFC and Bluetooth to ease the initial negotiation. Bluetooth in particular works a treat on Canon’s latest bodies, able to maintain a low-power connection with your phone for seamless geo-tagging, and allowing the app to wake-up the camera to browse and transfer images at any time, as well as reconnecting the Wifi for remote control.
Finally in terms of battery, the NB-13L battery pack should be good for about 200 shots, and again you can charge it in-camera over USB.
Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III lens
The PowerShot G1X Mark III employs a 3x zoom lens with a 15-45mm focal length and f2.8-5.6 focal ratio; the 1.6x field-reduction of the APS-C sensor means it’s equivalent in coverage to 24-72mm.
The lens extends by about 2cm during power-up and is ready for action in less than two seconds. Like most compacts with larger sensors, the lens employs a removeable cap, as opposed to a sliding cover; so it’s a little slower and less convenient than smaller compacts with their automatic lens covers, but that seems to be the price you have to pay.
The lens features five axis optical stabilisation good for four stops of compensation and also features an optical 3-stop ND filter which can be set to On, Off or Auto for stills, or On or Off for movies. The closest focusing distance is 10cm when zoomed-wide or 30cm at the telephoto end. Meanwhile the aperture system employs nine blades.
Most compacts with smaller sensors sport longer zoom ranges and or brighter apertures – especially at the long end – and often closer focusing distances too. Canon’s PowerShot G1X Mark II has a smaller 1.5in sensor (18.7×12.5mm) with a 5x / 24-120mm equivalent range, f2-3.9 focal ratio and a closest focusing distance of 5cm at wide angle. Canon’s PowerShot G5X has an even smaller 1in sensor (13.2×8.8mm) with a 4.2x / 24-100mm equivalent range, f1.8-2.8 focal ratio and a closest focusing distance of 5cm at wide angle. Panasonic’s Lumix LX10 / LX15 has a 1in sensor with a 3x / 24-72mm equivalent range, f1.4-2.8 focal ratio and a closest focusing distance of 3cm at wide angle.
Compared to these three models, the G1X Mark III’s lens starts at the same 24mm equivalent, but is beaten in telephoto length by two of them. Meanwhile all three of the models above focus twice as close or closer still, and also boast focal ratios that are one to two stops brighter at the wide-end, not to mention one to two stops brighter at the long end too. So while the G1X Mark III’s sensor is larger than the 1.5in type in the G1X Mark II and the 1in type in the G5X and LX10 / LX15, you will need to deploy sensitivities one to two stops higher to match the shutter speed under the same light conditions.
Since the G1X Mark III employs an APS-C sized sensor, it’s completely fair to compare its built-in lens to Canon’s various EF-S and EF-M lenses for EOS bodies in terms of coverage, aperture, focusing, rendering and depth-of-field. Most obviously the ubiquitous EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 models for its DSLRs and in particular the EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 for its mirrorless cameras.
Compared to the EF-S 18-55mm, the G1X Mark III’s lens starts a little wider, but ends a little shorter, gathers two thirds of a stop more light at the wide-end but the same at the long-end, and focuses two and a half times closer. So apart from the slightly longer reach of the EF-S 18-55mm, I’d say the G1X Mark III’s lens is preferable, starting wider and brighter and focusing close; it’s also worth noting the 75.2mm length of the EF-S 18-55mm is thicker than the entire body of the G1X III.
Compared to the EF-M 15-45mm, the G1X Mark III’s lens shares exactly the same coverage, but is two thirds of a stop brighter at the wide-end, one third brighter at the long-end, and again focuses two and half times closer. And again the length of the EF-M lens alone is similar to the overall thickness of the G1X III body.
I can’t comment on their relative optical quality until I get a chance to test them side-by-side, but in terms of specification, the G1X Mark III lens compares quite favourably against the EF-S and EF-M kit zooms for EOS bodies – and remember it also boasts a built-in ND filter.
So how much background blurring can you expect from the PowerShot G1X Mark III? To find out I shot three examples with a pre-production model: one portrait at 72mm equivalent, and two macro shots at the closest focusing distance when set to the shortest and longest focal lengths; in each case the aperture was set to its maximum value.
But don’t assume having a bigger sensor means the G1X Mark III beats rival compacts in terms of potential for a shallow depth-of-field. Panasonic’s Lumix LX10 / LX15 may have a much smaller 1in sensor, but couples it with a very bright lens and closer focusing distance that, if you can exploit it, will deliver greater potential for background blurring at very close distances. But ultimately if you’re shooting at more common distances, such as for portraits, don’t expect much blurring from any of these compacts, nor indeed a DSLR or mirrorless with a kit zoom.
It’s always interesting to note where the aperture on a zoom lens begins to decrease throughout its range. The G1X Mark III’s lens starts at f2.8 when zoomed wide to 24mm equivalent, but like most compacts the aperture begins to close with the merest nudge of the zoom collar. It closes a notch to f3.2 at 26mm, then to f3.5 at 29mm, then to f4 at 33mm; so it loses a stop by the time you’re at 33mm. Then it closes to f4.5 at 39mm, f5 at 48mm and finally reaches the minimum value of f5.6 between 57mm and 72mm. So between 57 and 72mm, the lens is two stops dimmer than at 24mm. Note all these focal lengths are equivalent values, multiplied by 1.6 times over the actual focal lengths due to the sensor size.
Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III sensor
The (literally) big news about the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III is its sensor: the first model in the series to boast the same APS-C sensor as many of its most popular EOS DSLRs and mirrorless cameras; indeed the 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor in the G1X Mark III is almost certainly the same as found in the EOS 80D, with only minor unnamed modifications.
The use of an APS-C sensor places the G1X Mark III in an exclusive group of compacts, including the Fujifilm X70 and X100 series, Ricoh’s GR series and Nikon’s long-departed COOLPIX A. Canon’s G1X III is the only one to couple the large sensor with a zoom lens, and the only one to also offer phase-detect autofocus across most of the imaging area.
In the fixed-lens premium compact market, the smaller 1in-type sensor rules, but it’s revealing to compare the relative sensor sizes. The 1in-type used in Sony’s RX100 series, the Lumix LX10 / LX15 or Canon’s other current PowerShot G cameras measures 13.2×8.8mm. This gives the 1in sensor roughly four times the surface area of the 1/2.3in sensors commonly used in smartphones and more basic compact or super-zoom cameras. But in contrast, Canon’s APS-C sensors measure 22.3×14.9mm, giving them almost three times the surface area of 1in-type sensors. APS-C is also comfortably larger than the 1.5in-type sensor used in the earlier G1X Mark II which measured 18.7×12.5mm. It’s also worth remembering only Sony’s RX100 Mark V and RX10 IV feature embedded phase-detect AF on their 1in sensors, leaving all the other 1in models to rely on contrast-based AF only. So in terms of sensor size and broad coverage autofocus, the Canon G1X Mark III is pretty unique.
I’ll be updating this page with much more information and results as I proceed with my review of this unique camera.
Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III final thoughts
The Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III boasts nothing less than an APS-C sensor, one of the biggest in the premium compact market and is the only model to couple it with a zoom lens, electronic viewfinder, fully-articulated touch-screen and broad coverage phase-detect autofocus that provides confident focus-pulling in movies and tracking on stills at 7fps.
Unsurprisingly there’s no 4k video. Infuriatingly there’s no microphone input. Annoyingly the lens cap isn’t automatic. Inevitably it’s also one of the most expensive compacts to date. But there’s no denying the appeal of the overall feature-set and squeezing the photo and movie quality of models like the EOS 80D into a compact weatherproof body weighing less than 400g. It’s one of Canon’s most compelling cameras for a while and looks set to be as popular as a standalone camera as it will a companion to larger DSLRs.PS – if you find my work useful don’t forget you can support me when you shop for anything at B&H or Adorama by first clicking through to them using the links here – it works for anything you order at any time, or alternatively you could treat yourself to my treat me to a coffee! Thanks!