Canon's Big, Pricey Point-and-Shoot Is Lost in a Mirrorless World

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    G1 X, the Sequel

    The Canon G1 X Mark II is a $799 high-end point-and-shoot camera. It succeeds the 2012 G1 X. It has 12.8-megapixels and a 1.5-inch sensor. It also has a 5X optical zoom with digital zoom that extends up to 20x.
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    Mission Control

    Just your general quick-access buttons for adjusting main settings and a instant-record button. For more advanced settings, you'll need to dive into the menus either using the touchscreen, the circle pad or the dual adjustable rings on the lens barrel.
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    Slightly Awkward Interface

    On the top of the camera are your standard set of buttons and shooting-mode wheel. There's a hot shoe, too, for adding on an electronic viewfinder or external flash. I'm not a fan of the playback button positioned on the top, though. It's an awkward place to reach for.
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    Selfies Only for the Strong

    The 3-inch touchscreen flips up 180 degrees so you can take selfies, but it's not a pleasant experience when the camera weighs so much. It might be time to hit the gym to build those arm muscles first.
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    Precision Flashing

    One of the really nice things about the pop-up flash is that you can pull it back, aim it upwards or at an angle, and create a "bounce." This makes the flash in pictures more distributed and less harsh.
  • It's a tough time for a camera company to sell anyone a point-and-shoot camera, let alone one for $799. Smartphones are stealing away the low end and affordable mirrorless cameras are eating away at the high end.
    Canon, a company that still makes its bread and butter from DSLR sales, apparently didn't get the memo. In spite of changing market trends — declining point-and-shoot sales and booming mirrorless sales — it's decided to release the PowerShot G1 X Mark II, a high-end point-and-shoot successor to the critically-panned G1 X released in 2012.

    As always, Canon is too busy playing catchup with itself instead of looking around and building a shooter fit for today's changed landscape.

    Still big and heavy

    Sony's fantastic RX100 (and RX100 II and RX100 III) is proof that it's possible to build a point-and-shoot with a big-ish sensor that's also small and light.
    The first G1 X was a big and heavy camera. Compared to the RX100 (7.5 ounces), the G1 X weighed more than twice as much (17 ounces). Not only that, but it was heavier than some mirrorless cameras.
    The G1 X Mark II has the same design flaws that doomed its predecessor
    The G1 X Mark II has the same design flaws that doomed its predecessor. It's slightly heavier and its bulky size is further highlighted by the honking lens protruding from its body. You'd be forgiven if you thought the big lens from the G1 X Mark II was an interchangeable one that could be removed — but it's not removable.
    Canon's PowerShot G-series cameras have always skewed on the heftier side compared to other point-and-shoot cameras, but it's time for a reality check. I know for a fact, a magnesium alloy camera with a large image sensor can be built like a tank and still be compact and comfortable to tote around.

    Fewer megapixels, better image quality

    It's now common knowledge that more megapixels does not mean better image quality. Image sensor size and faster aperture (lower f-stop number) are key specs to look out for, particularly in point-and-shoots.
    The G1 X Mark II retains the same 1.5-inch image sensor as the G1 X, but it has fewer megapixels — 12.8 versus 14.3. The camera also has the newer DIGIC 6 image processor, 5.2 frames per second continuous shooting (up from the G1 X's paltry 1.9 fps) and 1080p HD video recording at 30 frames per second. Nothing mind-blowing by today's standards, but it's a big improvement when compared to the old G1 X.
    Instead of getting larger resolution photos (that you'll probably never even bother looking at in full size), you get slightly smaller resolution ones that look sharper.
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    Colors are accurate and exposure is great right out of the box. There's also little image noise up to ISO 6400, which means it can handle low-light and nighttime shots with aplomb. Nighttime shots aren't quite what you'd get from a mirrorless or DSLR with a fast prime lens, but they're more than good enough for showing off on Facebook or Flickr at web-friendly resolutions.
    The faster aperture range of f/2.0-3.9 versus the previous f/2.8-5.8 certainly helps give the camera a speed boost in low-light situations.
    The G1 X Mark II also has a bit more optical zoom (5X) versus the G1 X's (4X), but the difference is negligible. Taking pictures with the G1 X Mark II's digital zoom from 6.5-20x is okay, but not great without a tripod or a flat surface to steady the camera. Frankly, I'd take an interchangeable telephoto lens over the digital zoom any day.

    Crummy continuous autofocus and macro

    Just as selfies exploded overnight, macro photography (taking photos of things at a really close distance, particularly small things) has really become something of a big deal, especially if you've spent any amount of time browsing Instagram.
    The G1 X Mark II is supposed to be able to focus on objects as close as 1.97 inches. Sadly, the camera failed to focus four out of five tries, and it even struggled somewhat frequently at three to five inches away. I often ran into the yellow-autofocus-rectangle-of-doom, which indicated the camera couldn't focus properly.
    Continuous autofocus is just as unpredictable. Here too, four out of five times, it was next to impossible to lock onto a moving target (i.e. a person riding a bike) and get a clear, in-focus picture.
    As a PowerShot G12 owner, I can honestly say I loved that camera's macro mode. It was so good at close range that I used it to take pictures of way too many bugs just to see them in microscopic detail. I was excited when I heard the G1 X Mark II had a macro range that was four times closer than the G1 X. I was truly disappointed to discover the opposite.
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    Goodbye crappy viewfinder, hello touchscreen

    I hate it when companies shoehorn a viewfinder into a camera just to say it has one. On the G1 X, looking through the viewfinder only lets you see 77 percent of the final picture, which is just terrible. And a portion of the viewfinder would be obscured by the camera's lens. To put it bluntly: the viewfinder sucked.
    Somebody wised up at Canon because the G1 X Mark II nixes the viewfinder. To compensate for its loss, Canon added touch to the 1.04 million dot 3-inch display. Tapping menus and buttons, and swiping through pictures and videos is fast and responsive. And it supports pinch-to-zoom, something Olympus still hasn't managed to include in its mirrorless cameras.
    Of course, if you desire a viewfinder, Canon sells an electronic one that attaches via the hot shoe for an additional $300.
    The touchscreen also has another trick: in addition to tilting down 45 degrees, it tilts upwards 180 degrees. The upside is that it's great for selfies. The downside is that taking selfies on a daily basis with this heavy shooter will destroy your arms, unless you've got muscles of steel.

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