Canon PowerShot G7 X Review

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Canon

Advanced fixed lens cameras are growing in popularity for photographers looking to add a companion camera to their DSLR models. Such fixed lens cameras are a bit smaller than their DSLR counterparts, but they still offer a lot of great features that make them ideal for shooting high-quality photos at a slightly lower price versus a mid-range DSLR camera and lens kit.

One of Canon's offerings in this category is the PowerShot G7 X.

While this model carries the PowerShot moniker, it doesn't have much in common with the thin point and shoot, beginner-level models that populate the PowerShot family.

The G7 X offers outstanding image quality with its 1-inch CMOS image sensor. It also has an f/1.8 lens, which is great for shooting photos with a shallow depth of field, making this model a terrific option for shooting portraits. And Canon has given this model a high-resolution LCD screen that tilts 180 degrees, giving you an easy option for shooting self-portraits.

At several hundred dollars the Canon G7 X is a pricey model, as you could pick up an entry-level DSLR camera with a couple of basic lenses for a similar cost. And while the 4.2X optical zoom lens with this model is quite a bit smaller than most fixed lens cameras, when compared to other advanced fixed lens models, the 4.2X zoom measurement is above average. As long as you understand this camera has some limitations because of the small zoom lens, everything else about this model is outstanding, and you'll love the images you can create with it.

Specifications

  • Resolution: 20.2 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: 4.2X
  • LCD: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 pixels
  • Maximum image size: 5472 x 3648 pixels
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Dimensions: 4.06 x 2.38 x 1.59 inches
  • Weight: 9.84 ounces (without battery and memory card)
  • Image sensor: 1-inch CMOS
  • Movie mode: Full HD

Pros

  • Outstanding image quality 
  • Both RAW and JPEG formats are available
  • Camera has a sturdy feel
  • Can tilt high-resolution LCD 180 degrees for self-portraits
  • Fast performing camera with good response times in JPEG
  • Fast f/1.8 lens

Cons

  • Camera is a little too thick for carrying in a pocket
  • Optical zoom could be larger
  • When shooting in RAW, camera's performance slows significantly
  • No viewfinder
  • Battery life could be better

Image Quality

The combination of a large image sensor and 20.2 megapixels of resolution give the Canon PowerShot G7 X very impressive image quality. This model isn't quite able to match the image quality level of a DSLR camera, but it's very close, especially when compared to entry-level DSLRs.

The primary area where the G7 X can't quite match DSLR image quality is when shooting in low light conditions where you have to bump up the ISO setting. While most DSLRs can handle ISOs of 1600 or 3200 while keeping noise very low, you'll begin to notice noise with the PowerShot G7 X at around ISO 800. 

Where the G7 X is at its best is when shooting portrait photos. You can use the wide open aperture settings of up to f/1.8 to create images with a very shallow depth of field. By blurring the background in this manner, you'll be able to create some very impressive looking images when shooting portraits.

To create even better images, Canon has given this model the ability to create RAW and JPEG photos at the same time. 

Performance

The G7 X is a very fast performing camera, creating images at a speed up to 6.5 frames per second, which is outstanding burst mode performance. However, it's worth noting that these impressive speeds are only available in JPEG photography. If you're shooting RAW, you can expect the camera to slow down noticeably.

You can use this model in fully automatic mode, fully manual mode, or anything in between, which means this camera can help you hone your photography skills slowly, adding more manual control as you learn more.

The camera's autofocus mechanism is impressive, recording fast and accurate results in nearly all shooting conditions. You do have a manual focus option with this Canon camera, but it's a little awkward to use. I didn't feel much of a need to use manual focus during my tests with the G7 X because the autofocus mechanism was so good.

The 3.0-inch LCD with this model is bright and sharp. Canon gave the PowerShot G7 X's LCD touch screen capabilities, but this option isn't as powerful as it could be because Canon cameras of all types are long overdue for a redesign of its menus and on-screen operational system. 

Battery longevity could be better with this camera, as my tests showed the G7 X only recorded 200 to 225 photos per charge.

Design

Canon gave the G7 X quite a few buttons and dials, making it easy to change the camera's settings in a hurry. You also can twist the lens housing ring to make a change to a particular setting -- which you can specify through the on-screen menu -- much like what you'd do with a DSLR camera. 

The G7 X does have a hot shoe, allowing for addition of various accessories, including an external flash unit. Both Wi-Fi and NFC technologies are built into this camera, giving you numerous options for sharing photos. Unfortunately, the G7 X does not have a viewfinder.

The lack of a large zoom lens with this model will frustrate some photographers, especially those that may be considering migrating from a basic ultra-zoom camera with a 25X or better zoom. So don't expect to take the Canon G7 X on your next hike, hoping to shoot clear photos of birds or other wildlife in the distance.

Still, many cameras in this class offer a smaller zoom or no zoom at all, so the 4.2X measurement compares favorably.

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