The best image quality we've seen from a compact camera, and a well-rounded package too
Sensor resolution: 12.6 megapixels, Focal length multiplier: 1.92x, Viewfinder: no, LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 5x (24-120mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/3.8-7.5, Weight: 557g, Size (HxWxD): 75x116x66mm
These impressive specs were borne out by some superb photos in our tests. Shots taken in bright light were hard to fault, except for a slight loss of sharpness at the long end of the zoom. The combination of a large sensor and a wide aperture gave lots of scope to experiment with depth-of-field effects. The same combination was even more valuable in low light. With the help of the modest 12-megapixel resolution, noise levels were remarkably low when shooting in gloomy conditions. Processing RAW files pushed visible noise down even further, while also giving greater control over dynamic range and a small boost to detail levels.
Click on images to see an enlarged version and then click the icon to see the full resolution
1/1000s, f/4, ISO 100, 58mm – The narrow depth of field blurs the background to make this swan appear pin sharp.
1/1000s, f/4, ISO 100, 58mm – Processing the same shot’s RAW file in Lightroom 5 gives a minimal boost to details and let us recover over-exposed highlights.
1/1250s, f/3.9, ISO 200, 120mm – Details aren’t quite as sharp at the long end of the zoom but it’s not much cause for concern.
1/25s, f/2, ISO 100, 24mm – The bright f/2 lens means indoor photos can be taken at ISO 100 for the best possible image quality.
1/20s, f/3.2, ISO 1600, 35mm – There’s a bit of noise here at ISO 1600, but still plenty of fine detail.
1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 27mm – Shooting at ISO 3200 makes smooth gradients look a bit scruffy but it’s fine for casual snaps.
1/60s, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 27mm – The same photo in RAW format (via Lightroom 5) displays remarkably little noise.
It reasonably performed well as a video camera, with superb colours indoors and out, although there was evidence of aliasing artefacts on fine details. It’s perfectly capable for casual use, but keen videographers will be put off by the lack of manual exposure control for videos.
It’s not often that you see a snake swimming past your lens.
When we reviewed the G1 X, we praised its image quality but hoped that its successor would resolve the significant performance issues. The G1 X Mark II successfully resolves those issues, and pushes image quality even higher. The redesigned controls, arrival of Wi-Fi and lack of a viewfinder makes it feel more like a consumer-oriented than an enthusiasts’ camera, but in practice there’s enough here to satisfy both camps.
Two years after the arrival of the G1 X, there isn’t much that’s directly comparable. The Sony RX100 Mk II and the new RX100 Mk III are closest. They use 1in sensors, which isn’t as big as the G1 X Mark II’s 1.5in sensor but bigger than most other premium compacts’ sensors. Both Sony models use wide-aperture lenses too, but their zooms are smaller than the G1 X Mark II’s, and their equivalent apertures (which takes into account both the aperture and sensor size) aren’t as wide. The Sony models are significantly smaller and lighter, though, and the RX100 Mark II is a good deal cheaper.
The Canon G1 X Mark II’s high price means it’s certainly not for everyone. Still, with such outstanding image quality, nippy performance, dependable controls and a handsome – if rather heavy – pocketable design, it has to be five stars.
|Focal length multiplier
|Viewfinder magnification (35m-equivalent), coverage
|3in (1,040,000 dots)
|Photo file formats
|JPEG, RAW (CR2)
|Maximum photo resolution
|Photo aspect ratios
|Video compression format
|MP4 (AVC) at up to 24Mbit/s
|1080p at 30fps, 720p at 30fps, VGA at 30fps
|Slow motion video modes
|Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)
|Program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
|Shutter speed range
|60 to 1/4,000 seconds
|ISO speed range
|100 to 12800
|Auto, 8 presets with fine tuning, manual
|Multi, centre, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
|Multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
|Auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction, flash exposure compensation
|Single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, focus bracket
|Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)
|Maximum aperture (wide-tele)
|Closest macro focus (wide)
|Closest macro focus (tele)
|USB, AV, micro HDMI, wired remote
|Via smartphone app
|USB cable, neck strap
|Price including VAT