This week, Canon reinforced its commitment to not producing a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera by launching the PowerShot G1 X. The company's latest G-series camera is by far the most powerful, and most expensive model, ringing up at $799.99 -- approaching (and in some cases exceeding) DSLR territory. Its pricing and spec list imply that the G1 X could be a DSLR competitor, but is it? No, not by a long shot. Instead, the company's most powerful compact cam is designed to be a companion to cameras in Canon's DSLR line, acting as a second, third or fourth shooter to professional photographers. The G1 X includes a 1.5-inch (18.7 x 14mm) 14.3 megapixel sensor -- which puts it in almost the same class as APS-C models, but with a fixed 4x, 28-112mm optical zoom lens and a compact camera form factor, it's a completely different beast. So is the G1 X able to justify its nearly $800 price tag? Join us past the break to find out.
The G1 X is quite bulky for a compact fixed-lens digital camera, which is likely to be no surprise to those familiar with G-series cameras. Its size is necessary to accommodate the large sensor and zoom lens to match, but if you're looking for a camera that will let you be much more discrete than when using a full-size DSLR, this might not be the best choice -- instead, you might want to check out Canon's S100 or older S95. Still, it is in fact quite a bit smaller and lighter, and while you won't want to use it to shoot a sporting event or a wedding, it's definitely better than having no large-sensor camera at all. The G1 X includes most of the functionality you'll find in a DSLR, including a dedicated mode dial, full-size hot shoe, and a pop-up flash. What you don't get, however, is a through-the-lens (TTL) viewfinder, so you'll need to make due with the secondary rangefinder-like viewfinder that zooms with the main lens, but displays a preview at a slightly different angle, making framing a bit inaccurate. There's also no manual zoom ring, so you'll need to use motorized zoom instead.
The 3-inch 922k-dot LCD on the rear is very sharp and bright, with accurate color and a nifty articulating LCD that should be familiar to G-series users. Flip-out LCDs have come in handy for us many times in the past, and although they add a bit of bulk to the camera's width, they're absolutely a worthwhile addition. The user interface is identical to that on the G12, so there won't be any surprises there. Overall, the G1 X is a very powerful compact camera, and while we need to spend more time with a production model before evaluating image quality, battery life and general performance, it seems to be in line with what Canon has delivered in the past. The camera's nearly $800 price tag is likely to be its largest barrier to entry, and while the X may be a stellar choice as a pro backup, a DSLR or compact mirrorless ILC will offer more functionality for a much lower price.