On paper, experts say the Canon PowerShot G1 X looks fantastic. Its enormous image sensor promises to deliver that long-awaited holy grail of compact cameras: pro-quality photos in a carry-around package. Unfortunately, the G1 X is big, bulky and slow. "Astonishingly slow," various testers say. Reviewers overwhelmingly recommend the speedy, pocket-sized Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 (Est. $440) instead.
Big, but generally easy to handle. The Canon G1 X isn't small. At 19 ounces, it's as heavy as a small digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera, and nearly as big. But bulk does carry some advantages. Unlike its pocket-sized rivals, the Canon G1 X leaves ample room for your hands. Textured rubber grips make it comfortable to hold. There's plenty of space for physical buttons, too (although no lens ring), so you can adjust settings on the fly without any menu-diving. There's even an optical viewfinder. It disappoints testers, though. "If you can believe it, the lens barrel actually blocks your view," says David Pogue at The New York Times. PhotographyBlog.com's Mark Goldstein finds the viewfinder too small to be really useful for framing a shot, anyway. Testers and owners wind up ignoring the viewfinder and using the 3-inch, flip-out, swiveling LCD screen instead.
Pretty pictures, but "frustratingly slow." First, the good news: Images from the Canon G1 X look fabulous, reviews say. Even dim light -- the downfall of most pocket cameras -- proves no problem for the G1 X. Now, the bad news: Forget about photographing anything that moves. The G1 X is that slow, reviews say; the all-round slowness includes the autofocus and video. It's even a slow burst-shooter -- a "dead-slow" 1.9 frames per second (fps), according to DPReview.com -- though you can boost that to 4.5 fps, but only for six shots in a row. It's so slow that some owners say they simply miss moments. Others get blurry shots, including Pogue, who received advice from Canon that he switch to a different mode to shoot things that move. Battery life is 250 shots per charge with the LCD screen on -- "very low," Pogue says.
Strong metal body. The Canon G1 X feels very sturdy, reviewers say. "Featuring a metal body with a solid feel, tank-like construction, the G1 X feels very well made indeed," says Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com. DPReview.com praises the G1 X's "solid build quality," too. Owners agree. "When you pick up the Canon G1 X, your first thought will probably be 'Wow -- this thing is SOLID,'" writes one Amazon.com reviewer. Another says, "The body is metal and, as I've already managed to drop mine (long story), I can vouch for the fact that it is durable."
High-end features like a hot shoe -- but no in-camera panorama. Zoom is 4x, typical for this class. But the Canon G1 X comes loaded with goodies you'll usually only see on interchangeable-lens cameras. There's a hot shoe for an external flash (and a pop-up flash, too) plus the optical viewfinder and swiveling LCD screen. One glaring omission: There's no built-in panorama feature. Even cheap cameras these days give you a panorama photo option, but the G1 X makes you stitch your photos together later using supplied computer software (from 1996, DPReview.com points out). Like other cameras in its class, the G1 X has a USB port to hook up to a computer, and an HDMI port to attach to an HDTV.
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Packing "DSLR-like image quality" into a more compact body, the Canon PowerShot G1 X wins DPReview.com's Silver Award after a comprehensive test. However, the camera could use a speed boost, especially when it comes to continuous shooting and autofocus.
Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X Review, Lars Rehm, Richard Butler and Andy Westlake, March 2012
The Canon PowerShot G1 X delivers "DSLR-like pictures" in this test, earning a spot on PhotographyBlog.com's list of the best digital cameras. Mark Goldstein likes the intuitive menu interface and excellent LCD display, but he's disappointed with the G1 X's macro shooting.
Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X Review, Mark Goldstein, Feb. 14, 2012
CNET gives the Canon PowerShot G1 X a "very good" rating with high scores for design, features and image quality. Like many reviewers, however, Lori Grunin is disappointed with the camera's sluggishness.
Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X Review, Lori Grunin, Feb. 17, 2012
PCMag.com gives the Canon PowerShot G1 X a lower rating than most reviewers -- a 3 out of 5, or "good" rating. It falters when it comes to macro shooting and quick autofocus. Jim Fisher names several cameras that perform better for the price.
Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X, Jim Fisher, Feb. 9, 2012
5. The New York Times
The big sensor delivers beautiful image quality, but "frustratingly slow" autofocus, a lens barrel that blocks the viewfinder and other flaws ruin the Canon G1 X for tech columnist David Pogue.
Review: The Canon G1 X: Big Sensor, Major Disappointments, David Pogue, May 24, 2012
Owners come to many of the same conclusions as experts: The Canon G1 X can shoot outstanding photos, but it's so slow that several owners say it simply can't capture anything that moves. It averages a mediocre 3.9 out of 5 stars in over 100 reviews.
Review: Canon PowerShot G1 X 14.3 MP CMOS Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014