The split between Digital SLRs and digital compact cameras has long puzzled me. In the past, on the most part if you wanted excellent quality (especially in low-light) then you pretty much had to get a DSLR. The tide started to turn a little with the emergence of compact system cameras, but really these too were over-engineered for what many consumers wanted.
At last it appears it isn’t just me who thinks there is a market a compact digital camera, with a fixed zoom lens, but which can take exceptionally good photographs. Step forward then, the Canon PowerShot G1 X.
The headline ‘killer-feature’ of the G1 X is it’s image sensor. The 14.3 Megapixel resolution may not raise eyebrows these days, but the physical size of the sensor definitely does.
Typically compact digital cameras (including those at the high-end of the market) use very small image sensors.
By means of comparison the Canon PowerShot G12, which until today was the company’s flagship model, uses a 7.49 x 5.52mm sized sensor, whereas the G1 X has a comparatively massive 18.7mm x 14mm. This is approximately the same as what’s inside an APS-C Digital SLR, and somewhat larger than the sensor that the new Nikon 1 series models pack in.
- 14.3 Megapixel, 1.5″ Image Sensor
- DIGIC 5 Image Processor
- 3″ vari-ange LCD screen with 920,000 pixel resolution
- RAW file format support
- High ISO – up to ISO 12,800
- 1080p Video Recording
- 4 x Zoom Lens with Image Stabilisation
- Built-in HDR mode
- Built-in 3 stop ND Filter
- Up to 4.5 fps burst mode
Is this the Flagship Compact Camera we’ve been waiting for?
Ok, so you want us to qualify that a bit. Here’s the problem, the Canon G1 X is undoubtedly a very well equipped camera that has the potential to take excellent photos. The image sensor, on paper, far surpasses that of anything in any other compact camera on the market today.
There is a but though. This camera is extremely expensive for a compact camera, out pricing entry-level DSLRs by a considerable margin. As it goes on sale, the G1 X will have an RRP of £699/$799. That’s a lot of money, and would represent a considerable extra outlay over buying a Canon EOS 600D with an 18-55mm kit lens.
The best news for most of us is that this camera exists, and that hopefully before long physically larger image sensors could start to filter down to more affordable models.
So, who is the Canon G1 X for?
The market for the G1 X could actually end up being quite niche, despite the fact that on the surface it appears to be everything a good chunk of entry-level DSLR owners would be interested in. Sadly the price tag will ensure that only those enthusiasts with the deepest pockets will end up with a G1 X.
At the professional end of the market the flexibility of lenses and the availability of accessories that DSLRs offer will ensure that the G1 X has limited appeal. Perhaps there is an opening for those looking for a completely self-contained second camera, or specialist photographers in the travel or sports sectors who simply cannot afford the bulk of an SLR body.