Canon Powershot G7X review

Canon Powershot G7X is an advanced compact camera. It is small enough to fit entirely in an average palm but has almost all the bells and whistles demanding users might want. Most important – it uses one of the biggest sensors ever put in a camera this small; 1″ type (13.2 x 8.8 mm). This is probably the same sensor made by Sony and used in popular RX100 models that shook the market some time ago due to high image quality from a tiny camera. Therefore, I was very curious to see how Canon performs.

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: 2014.
  • Type: Advanced compact
  • Dimensions: 103 x 60 x 40 mm (4.06 x 2.36 x 1.57″)
  • Weight: 304g (with battery)
  • Sensor: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm), 20 MP (5472 x 3648 pixels)
  • ISO range: 125 – 12,800
  • Image stabilization: Yes, optical
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash: Pop-up
  • Continuous shooting: 6.5 fps
  • LCD screen: 3″, 1,040,000 dots, tilt-able, touch sensitive
  • Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Battery: Li-Ion NB-13L
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (60p, 30p), 1280 x 720 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, micro HDMI, Wi-Fi

CANON POWERSHOT G7X CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING


Build quality is pretty solid – G7X is from plastic but is heavy for its size and is extremely well assembled together.

Buttons on the back do feel a bit squishy but still have perceptible click when pressed. Mode dial and exposure compensation dial at the top are great, very precise and with good resistance when rotated. The dial around the lens is not that good in my opinion. It has steps but also noticeable resistance like it scrapes against something inside – this is not fault in my test camera, G1X Mark II had the same problem… it may be only me, but I really don’t like this dial.

Controlling the camera is easy: quick menu has familiar look and can also be remodeled to you personal liking. Main menu is the same as on any other Canon Powershots and still has a problem remembering last used option: each time you enter menu, it starts from the top what is quite irritating. At least you get the last tab called “My menu” setting in which you can assign often used features. G7X turns on in around a second.

Due to twin control dials, you can use front for aperture and back for shutter, or in mode other than manual assign front one to you personal taste. I used ISO. Two buttons can be customized – ring function and movie button – and you can choose between 25 options for each of them.

At the bottom, there is metal tripod mount which is too close to battery and memory card compartment so it makes exchanging them impossible when on a tripod.

Built-in flash has 7m (23feet) range and must be raised manually – it will not pop-up automatically even in full AUTO mode. You cannot tilt it up for bounce unlike some other cameras can.

LCD AND VIEWFINDER

LCD has 3 inch diagonal and pleasant 1,040,000 dots. It is detailed with good colors and excellent viewing angles. It is also articulated and has touch control. You can disable it completely, use it only for focus or also take a shot at the same time. There is no electronic viewfinder; main competitor Sony RX100 Mark 3 has electronic one.

CANON POWERSHOT G7X LENS

The lens has 4x optical zoom. It covers 24-100 mm in 35mm equivalent. Aperture is very good, F/1.8-2.8 what is great for low light shooting.  Lens is very sharp, but corners on wide angle have some blur. There are some traces of chromatic aberrations, but nothing that couldn’t be removed in post process. Optical stabilization is built-in.

SENSOR AND IQ

Sensor is very big – 13 x 9 mm and has 20 megapixels. Image quality is on a high level. By default, JPEG files have realistic and a bit muted colors and there is almost no smudging due to noise reduction. High ISO looks pretty clean up to ISO 1600 what is great performance. It’s only when you open RAW files, you realize how good this camera is. With some adjustments, G7X produces pretty much the same image quality like the 3-4 years old DSLR. It’s not quite there yet, but very close and that’s impressive.

Take a look at ISO series, pretty impressive result:

ISO 125 200 400 800 1600 3200 6400 12800

MEMORY, BATTERY AND CONNECTIVITY

G7X supports SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. Battery is a Li-Ion unit strong enough for around 200 shots what is average for this type of camera. It is recharged in external charger. This is my favorite solution – you can charge first battery at home while out shooting with the second one.

Small compartment on the right side hides mini USB 2.0 and micro HDMI connectors. Wi-Fi and NFC are also available.

AUTOFOCUS AND BURST PERFORMANCE

Auto focus is quite good; it focuses under a second in good light and is capable of focusing in really low light, almost darkness. I like the way you can get magnified section to check focus – it even works no matter where you put AF point. You can also select focus point size in two levels. If for some reason camera fails to focus, you will still be able to take a shot – quite important feature in my opinion. Some cameras lock down in such case.

Responsivity is quite good; SX60 turns on in around a second and it takes less than a second to take a shot, clear it from the buffer and be ready for the next shot. Burst shooting is available at 6.5 fps and the camera can fire around 13 shots until full buffer. When you switch to RAW format, it is noticeably slower; burst is only around a single frame per second and slows down even more after 2 or three shots.

VIDEO RECORDING

Video recording is available in Full HD at 60fps, this really ads to nice and fluent videos especially when you are recording moving object like animals or children. Recordings look quite good, without compression artifacts and with realistic colors.

CANON POWERSHOT G7X CONCLUSION 

After the last years’ not-so-special S120, G7X turned out to be a great little camera. There are many good things about it and only a few downsides. Most of everything, G7X impressed me how good the image quality can turn out compared to the cameras tiny physical size. It is mostly due to the excellent and big 20 megapixel sensor, but the lens and image processor also contribute.

Canon G7X is not cheap by far: $700 for a tiny compact might raise some (many) eyebrows but you need to understand what you are getting for your money. G7X delivers similar image quality compared to 3-4 years old huge DSLR cameras. If somebody told me then there would be compacts capable of such IQ, it would be hard for me to believe. Now, after Sony RX100, Canon has equally good camera.

As a downside, I can only list the lack of viewfinder (Sony RX100M3 has it), and some ergonomics issues like small controls or the front dial with too much resistance.

CANON POWERSHOT G7X PRO:

  • Image quality
  • Small and portable
  • RAW format
  • Tilt & touch LCD
  • Good Full HD video
  • Wi-Fi built-in

CANON POWERSHOT G7X CONS:

  • No viewfinder
  • Lens dial has too much resistance
  • Price (but you get what you pay)
  • Menu forgets last used option

PHOTO EXAMPLES

All from RAW, settings “to taste”:

ISO 125:

ISO 1600:

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3 thoughts on “Canon Powershot G7X review

  1. I am looking for a camera with which to travel and have narrowed it down to four options:

    CANON POWERSHOT G7X
    Sony RX100 miii
    Sony A6000
    Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

    I prefer a pocket camera and am familiar with Canon menus. But I see the high ISO performance and the great video coming out of the A6000 and think the extra size and weight are worth it. I read the rave reviews of the Sony RX100 miii but it feels very slippery in my hand. The Olympus has a great viewfinder but I think the future lies more with Sony than with micro 4/3.

    Dpreview states that AF on the Canon G7X is slow but when I tried the camera in a store I did not notice that and you seemed ok with AF as well.

    So I guess my two leading candidates are the A6000 and the G7X.

    I would really appreciate your thoughts as I love your reviews.

    I have also read rumors that the A6000 is about to be replaced.

    • Well, out of those four you can’t really go wrong with any, but they are not the same by any means. I haven’t tried E-M5 mk2 yet, but its performce should be close to E-M1 and that one is awesome: lightning fast AF, excelent IQ, big and detailed EVF, great selection of lenses, weather sealed. A6000 will probably be a bit better in low light (slightly bigger sensor) and I prefer EVF position to the left of the camera like A6000 has it. It also has built-in flash. Don’t worry about A6000 replacement, Sony makes new models at the insane rate, there is always a new one around the corner.

      Between G7X and RX100m3 I would go for Canon any time, take a look at my video comparison of them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq2tp6JsvOY
      RX100m3 has bad handling, way too small buttons, slippery body, no touch LCD, less optical zoom… this would be my last choice.

      I think A6000 and E-M5 are not that big, go for better image quality if you don’t mind a bit bigger camera. If it has to be really small, G7X all the way.

      • Thank you Ivan. I think I will buy the A6000. It doesn’t weigh much and I somehow think Sony will only grow as we progress. Given Sony’s great sensors I wonder if micro 4/3 has a long future. I think I will travel with A6000 and iPhone and see how that goes.’

        I love your reviews. Thanks so much.

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