Canon PowerShot G3 X vs G7 X vs G1 X Mark II

June 21, 2015

Canon G3 X vs G1X Mark II vs G7X side by side

In this article I’ll be comparing the brand new Canon PowerShot G3 X, which was announced on June 18, 2015, versus the PowerShot G7 X and G1 X Mark II (also written as G1X). All three are among Canon’s premium compact cameras’ lineup. The G3 X sits above the G7 X. It’s more expensive but brings exciting new features and capabilities, which I’m sure many of you will find useful. I’ll start this article with a short introduction about G3 X and move on to the comparison section.

Canon PowerShot G3 X

The G3 X was designed from the ground up to appeal to a large audience of enthusiast photographers. It boasts Canon’s latest digital imaging technology innovation. It’s a camera for those of you who found mobile cameras and compact cameras limiting your creative possibilities. A camera that can, for some, replace the need for a DSLR or mirrorless camera.  For such camera to be attractive to consumers, it had to offer a wide range of advanced features, large sensor, versatile zoom range, manual controls and produce high-quality images that are superior to what you can get with a conventional compact camera or a mobile phone camera.

At the heart of the G3X you can find a 1.0-inch 20.2 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor. This sensor is significantly larger than that of most mobile phone cameras and compact cameras. Although it’s smaller than the Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensors which can be found in almost all DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

A larger sensor brings numerous advantages over smaller sensors, including better control over the depth of field (with the accompanied lens and variable aperture settings), better image quality in general, better high ISO / Low-light performance and less image noise in most part. This sensor also uses BSI technology, which further enhanced its sensitivity compared to front-illuminated CMOS sensors.

Just so you get the hand of it, here are some of the popular sensor sizes with the corresponding width and height in mm.

  • 1/3.2″ (iPhone 5) – 4.54 x 3.42 mm
  • 1/3″ (iPhone 5S) – 4.80 x 3.60 mm
  • 1/2.3″ (Sony Xperia Z1) – 6.17 x 4.55 mm
  • 2/3″ (Nokia Lumia 1020) – 8.80 x 6.60 mm
  • 1/1.2″ (Nokia 808 PureView) 10.67 x 8.00 mm
  • 1″ – 13.20 x 8.80 mm

You can see that the 1.0-type sensor is even larger than the Nokia 808 PureView sensor, which is known to have a very large sensor compared to all mobile phones cameras.

The second bust not less important is the optics. The Canon PowerShot G3 X features a 24-600 mm (equivalent) 25x optical zoom lens with variable aperture of f/2.8-5.6.  “Equivalent” means that this lens will produce a field of view equivalent to that of a 24-600mm lens in 35mm format. This is used to make it easier to compare focal lengths between different cameras that uses different sensor sizes and actual focal lengths. The actual non-equivalent focal legnth of the lens is 8.8-220mm, but the focal length is multiplied by the sensor’s crop factor which is 2.72x.

In more simpler words, this lens boats a vary versatile zoom range, starting with a 24mm wide angle lens, which is good for landscapes, groups shots and interiors, and ends with 600mm which is great for shooting subjects far away from the camera.  At the widest angle, the G3X can shoot at a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is very fast, but it’s slower at the tele-end. This means that in order to have the highest amount of light captured by the lens, you’ll have to shoot at the widest angle. The different between f/2.8 and f/5.6 is 2-stops, which means the lens consumes four times more light at f/2.8 than f/5.6 (exposure ratio of 4:1). The lens does extend when you zoom in.

G3X tiltable LCD flipped up for selfie shooting

G3X tiltable LCD flipped up for selfie shooting

Also because the G3 X uses a large sensor, you’ll have more control over the depth of field and enjoy that beautiful defocused background effect. This was a big issue with conventional compact digital cameras, but a large sensor helps to overcome many of the issues that older generation cameras had.

There is one downside to having such lens, it’s much larger compared to the G7 X and G1 X Mark II lenses.  So it might not be so comfortable to carry in a small bag compared to the G7 X and G1 X Mark II, but that’s the price that you pay that versatility. Between us, that what’s separates the G3 X from all the other low-zoom compacts and mobile phone cameras. If you already invest your money in a good camera, you should invest in a camera with a larger optical zoom.  I’m not talking about digital zoom which is just a software crop-and-enlarge feature, but a non-destructive real magnification that doesn’t effect image quality.

The G3 X does feature ZoomPlus digital zoom feature, which is an optimized digital zoom features. It will give you a digital enlargement with less impact on image quality, but it’s still a digital zoom nevertheless. So you won’t get the same amount of detail which you get with the optical zoom that covers that same reach.

Other features include Weather-sealing equivalent to that of the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, Digic 6 image processor, Multi-aspect RAW shooting, manual control ring on the lens, manual exposure controls for both still sand video recording (ie. aperture, shutter speed and ISO), Full HD video recording at 24p,30p and 60p (progressive), mic input and headphone jack,  5-axis (approx. 3.5-stops) lens-shift image stabilization, 31-point AF system, manual focus with peaking, 5 cm macro minimum shooting distance, 3.2-inch 1,620K-dots tilting display (can be rotated 180-degrees for easy selfie photos), built-in flash, 5.9 fps burst, lots of image capture modes and built-in image effects and built-in WiFi and NFC.

The G1 X is quite expensive. In that price range consumers might seriously consider buying an interchangeable lens camera. If you aren’t familiar with the cons and pros of each one, check my large-sensor compacts vs mirrorless comparison article. It talks about the cons and pros of each camera type. So if you are still not sure whether to buy a compact camera or a ILC, this article can help you out.

The G3 X doesn’t have a built-in electronic viewfinder, but you can attach  the optional EVF-DC1 external tillable EVF (2.36MP, ~$250).

OK, now that you’ve for a good overall understanding what the Canon G3 X is all about, let’s see how it compared to the G7X and G1X.

G3 X vs G7 X vs G1 X Mark II

We can’t really know how attractive the new G3 X camera is unless we compared it to to other models. The things is that the G3 X is quite expensive (~$999 via amazon as of 6/21/2015) compared to the G7 X (~$650) and G1 X Mark II (~$750). It’s interesting to see how it differ from these two cameras and whether it’s worth paying that extra price for it.

At the end of the day, for most people the value is what matters the most.  You can buy the most expensive camera, but are not assured to get the features that you want or there might be some features that you won’t even take advantage of. In this section you’ll get to understand the key differences between those three cameras. This will help you out understand what camera has to offer versus the others and it will help you make a smarter buying decision — so let’s roll!

G3X vs G1X Mark II vs G7X camera size comparison

G3X vs G1X Mark II vs G7X camera size comparison (via camerasize.com)

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Conclusion

The Canon PowerShot G3X stands out from the other two cameras in various ways: it’s weather-sealed, has much bigger zoom, better video options and more intuitive physical controls in most part.  I should certainly appeal to those who like its lens specs. Indeed, carrying a camera like the G3 X makes more sens if you use it as a travel camera or a an alternative to a DSLR camera. The zoom certainly makes it more favorable compared to the G7X and G1X II.  It is larger than the other two, but I think you’ll carry either cameras in a small camera bag anyways, so I don’t see the size as a big issue.  The G7X is pocketable, but I’m no sure that anyone would carry it in their pocket.

I think that the lens and the more advanced 5-axis IBIS and  are the main reason why you should consider grabbing the G3X over the G7X and G1X Mark II, but I have to admit that the G7X f/1.8-2.8 fast lens does seem very tempting, especially if you mainly shoot in low-light situations. It’s also considerably cheaper.

The G1 X Mark II main selling point is its 1.5-inch large sensor and its amazing high-ISO performance. I’m not sure whether I was convinced by the image-quality difference. I mean the G1X Mark II high ISO performance is excellent ,but the G7X (and G3X considering the same sensor) wasn’t that far behind.

If you don’t see a urgent need for that long-zoom range, I think that the G1X Mark II might a better offering than the G7X because of its better high ISO and optical performance (e.g. less color fringing per-pixel sharpness),  the ability to attach and external EVF and flash, double control ring and better ergonomic design. The G7 X is more pocketable, but I think that if you don’t mind that compromise, the G1X MKII is a more advanced tool for serious photographers.

If I had to pick one, I would probably would had picked up the G3 X because I really love having that range available at my disposal. For some of you, this might be a very good alternative to an ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera). So there you have it. Now it’s your move, which one you prefer based on this comparison? Having trouble to decide? – drop your questions in the comment section below and I would be glad to answer any of your questions. Thanks and please don’t forget to LIKE and share this article if you found it useful, cheers.

Buy Canon PowerShot G3 X from B&H Photo Video
Buy Canon PowerShot G7 X from B&H Photo Video
Buy Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II



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