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Test

Canon PowerShot G1X

Field test

I could take Canon’s PowerShot G1 X test camera in my hand thanks to Canon Hungary. Before I took it for a test Camera Ltd (a Canon service) refreshed the software of the camera. This camera is primarily made for travelling, so I tried it out on the Carnival of Venice.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Canon PowerShot G1 X, 1/400 sec f/5 ISO 100

Appearance

G1 X a thoroughly professional compact camera and its heavy enough not to be shaken during exposure. Its performance far superior to its predecessors, it cannot be compared to the previous G series machines. Its grip is much better and thanks to its metal casing it is sufficiently resistant to the rigours of the journey.
However, for extreme weather conditions and for underwater photography it is worth buying the WP-DC44 waterproof case which offers protection even until 40-meter depth and enables access to every basic camera functions.

Image quality and ISO sensitivity

Canon PowerShot G1 X is a new generation compact camera which similarly to Canon EOS 600D make exposure possible with 6.3 times more pixels than its predecessors (G12). This excellent image quality so far could have been achieved only through DSLR cameras. These are all nice data, but the point is that the ISO sensitivity it can produce has been unimaginable hitherto. Thanks to the new, fifth-generation Digic 5 processor it is the first compact camera which can provide an ISO range of 100 to 12,800. Wow, that’s really something, I thought to myself. I selected someone wearing a peacock-like mask in the Carnival of Venice and a captured him or her in the last rays of the sunset with ISO 800 sensitivity, I could use sufficient shutter speed to take a sharp picture. The result was amazing. I could not find any noise even at 100 percent blow-up, both the peacock feathers and the dress appeared in such richness of details I have never seen so far only in case of top-category DSLR cameras. The real ISO test was inside Murano glass workshop where so little light was available that I had to shoot at ISO 3200 to achieve the suitable exposure time and sharpness. Lo and behold, this was not that noisy as I would have thought at first. The camera filtered noises quite well, while we had been struggling for sharp pictures here with DSLR cameras.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Canon PowerShot G1 X, 1/80 sec f/5 ISO 800
I gained the following experiences during the test of ISO sensitivity. There is a tiny difference in quality between ISO 100 and ISO 400, some noise appears at ISO 800, but this is negligible. The little noise which appears at ISO 1600 can be corrected by the Digital Photo Professional software if you set Luminance Noise Reduction to 04 you will get perfect pictures in good quality. ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 can be used primarily for report or social photography. At such high ISO sensitivity noise reduction confuse the details but the image quality is good compared to the former compacts, we used to get such pictures at ISO 800 previously. Yes, it is a big jump in this category, the performance of the camera is better by 2 or 3 light values in terms of ISO sensitivity compared to its predecessors. ISO 12800 is noisy but it can make acceptable pictures for smaller, 10x15 cm prints.

Carnival in Venice

I tested G1 X in extreme conditions, I did not care about the fact that it was not a DSLR. I wanted to set conditions in which only a SLR camera has been able to cope so far. The results were very good, let’s see them now.
First I tried out the camera in higher ISO ranges. Thanks to the larger sensor and the four times bigger stabilizer the camera performed well as I mentioned above. But I was also curious about the opportunities of a shallower depth of field which can be achieved thanks to the size of the sensor.
I have never ever seen such nice blurred backgrounds made by compact cameras, at f/2.8 and f/5.6 apertures the sharpness of the background and the subject can be well distinguished.
Photo: © Tamás Imre

Canon PowerShot G1 X, 1/30 sec f/8 ISO 100
Thanks to the high quality lens, sharpness is perfect even at full aperture which has been the privilege of the L series cameras so far. To my greatest surprise, it was the first time I met with f/16 aperture option in this category, although it is understandable as thanks to the bigger sensor we can set it very finely what should be sharp or blurred in our picture. As for the shutter speed, I was astonished when I set the camera in shutter speed preselection: 60 second was the longest exposure time, even DSLR cameras cannot achieve that! Come on, let’s check it out! I photographed with long exposure times - up to 30 second - in an atmospheric Venetian island, Burano. To be honest, I did it at ISO 100 sensitivity but I was very curious how would G1 X perform. The result was awesome! I could take nice and sharp pictures of excellent quality and rich in details. These pictures even suitable for blowup to 70x100 cm. The last test was a TTL flashing. I take pictures with the little machine equipped with a Canon 580 EX II flash. The set looked rather strangely as the flash was bigger than the camera. But the body performed extremely well. I take shots in Av and Tv and M modes and it nicely brought the expected results

Summary

It was the first time I was tempted to buy a little machine like this as the numerous lenses and bodies can be uncomfortable and need so much space in the set bag. Often there is more than enough to go on holiday or for a trip with a G1 X, you will not be disappointed in the quality of the images. It is also worth buying this camera for a second one for those who own a more professional DSLR body. And it is a must for beginners.
The camera body was provided by Canon Hungary
Text and images: Tamás Imre
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