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Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III review

Canon has somehow shoehorned an APS-C-sized sensor into its flagship compact camera, but it’s come at a cost

Canon PowerShot G1 X III verdict

Great as it is, the image quality alone isn't enough to make the PowerShot G1 X Mark III stack up. It's forced a compromise in the lens design that you could accept in a DSLR or mirrorless camera's kit lens on account of being able to change lenses – but here, it’s not so easy. 

This comparison with interchangeable-lens cameras is worth a closer look, because some of these are pretty small too – and generally cheaper too. Canon's own EOS M5 is perhaps not the best example because of its price and the size of its retractable 15-45mm kit lens, but the body isn't that much bigger than the PowerShot G1 X Mark III's and it doesn't cost any more.

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III is small, powerful and tantalising, but, for different reasons, so are its rivals

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III is small, powerful and tantalising, but, for different reasons, so are its rivals

And then there's the Sony A6000 and 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS power zoom combination, now discounted to silly prices, or Olympus's super-cute OM-D E-M10 Mark III. True, it 'only' offers a Micro Four Thirds sensor, but it comes with a pocket-friendly super-slim 14-42mm pancake zoom, and it's cheaper. On top of that, it's a full system camera, with a range of lenses and accessories. 

The Fujifilm X-T20 and Fujifilm X-E3 aren't very big either, although Fujifilm doesn't currently make any retracting zooms. Or what about the PowerShot G5 X? You have to accept a smaller 1in sensor, but that’s still good. It’s half the price and you get a 4.2x optical zoom, with a f/1.8-2.8 aperture range.

So, the PowerShot G1 X III might be king of the hill amongst fixed-lens compact cameras, but its price, if not its size, edges it close to direct competition with much more versatile compact mirrorless models.

It does, however, make sense as a second, carry-anywhere camera for EOS DSLR fans, or indeed any photographers who have an existing camera system that's too bulky to keep with them for casual everyday shots. It's a very delicate balance of cost, size and compromise that might be perfect for some photographers but completely wrong for others.

Canon PowerShot G1 X III competition

Canon PowerShot G5 X

The 1in sensor in the PowerShot G5 X is a good deal smaller than the one inside the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, but it’s still far larger than the ones found in typical compact cameras and smartphones, and still delivers good quality. More to the point, it allows a longer zoom, faster maximum aperture and a much lower price.

Fujifilm X100F

Somewhat big and clunky next to the PowerShot G1 X Mark III and has a fixed focal length lens, rather than a zoom. Even so, the retro styling, manual controls and Fujifilm image quality make it highly desirable. It has a hybrid optical/digital viewfinder and its 35mm-equivalent f/2.0 is a classic street photography lens.

Olympus PEN-F

If you buy it with the Olympus 14-42mm pancake zoom, the PEN-F is not that much bigger than the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, and while it has a slightly smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor, it’s a full system camera with a wide range of lenses to choose from.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III specifications

Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C Dual Pixel CMOS

Focal length conversion: 1.6x

Memory: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC, UHS-I

Viewfinder: OLED EVF, 2.36 million dots

Max video resolution: Full HD 1080 at up to 60/50fps

ISO range: 100-25,600

Autofocus points: 49-point phase detection

Max burst: 9fps (24 JPEG, 19 Raw)

Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots

Shutter speeds: 30-1/2,000 sec, bulb

Weight: 399g (with battery and memory card)

Dimensions: 115.0 x 77.9 x 51.4mm

Power supply: NB-13L lithium-ion (supplied)