The point and shoot compact camera market may have taken a bit of a hammering from the rise of camera phones, but there’s one sector of the compact camera market that’s doing rather well. Larger sensor premium compact cameras like the new PowerShot G7 X Mark III offer much of the control and image quality of a DSLR or mirrorless models, but in a much smaller, more fuss-free package.
The PowerShot G7 X Mark III uses the popular 1-inch sensor format, used in many of the best compact cameras, which gives a big step up in image quality from most point and shoot cameras, action cams and camera phones, and is half way towards the sensor size of DSLR and mirrorless cameras. With its bigger-than-usual sensor, 20.1 megapixel resolution and a handy 4x zoom lens which retracts into the body, the G7 X Mark III can capture high-quality stills and video but still slip into a jacket pocket when you’re not using it.
Its predecessor, the G7 X Mark II, has proved a big hit with bloggers, vloggers and influencers especially, and Canon has designed the new camera to build on these qualities.
The key new features are a new ‘stacked’ sensor design for faster image capture and data readout and, thanks to Canon’s latest DIGIC 8 image processor, higher ISO speed settings. The G7 X Mark III can now to up to ISO 25,600 in expanded ISO mode, which is practically DSLR territory.
Vloggers will be very happy. The new model can capture 4K movies with no crop factor (the angle of view stays the same when you swap to video mode) and can record slow motion at up to 120fps in full HD. And, for the first time time in a Canon compact, you can live stream straight to YouTube (via your smartphone).
Stills photographers aren’t neglected either. The G7 X III gets a focus stacking mode, for the first time in a Canon compact camera, an in-camera full-resolution panorama mode and a fully automatic high-speed mode that captures CR3 RAW files at 30fps.
Sensor: 20.1MP 1-in stacked CMOS
Image processor: DIGIC 8
AF points: 31-point contrast AF
ISO range: 125 to 12,800 (exp. 25,600)
Max image size: 5,472 x 3,648
Metering modes: Evaluative, centre-weighted, spot
Video: 4K UHD at 30p, 25p
Memory card: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS I)
LCD: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Max burst: 30fps (full auto)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Size: 105.5 x 60.9 x 41.4mm
Weight: 304g (body only, with battery and SD card)
Build and handling
The PowerShot G7 X Mark III has a neat, rectangular shape that’s not slim, exactly, but with its fully retracting lens and no viewfinder housing to get in the way, it’s very pocketable.
It’s also almost indistinguishable from the older G7 X Mark II model, even when you put them both side by side as we did. The new camera has a slightly larger grip to make it easier to hold, but it uses the same 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens and the key differences are on the inside – the higher ISO rating, 4K video and 30fps burst mode, amongst others.
You don’t get a viewfinder in this camera (you need the new G5 X Mark II for that), but for anyone upgrading from a camera phone or a point and shoot compact, you won’t miss what you’ve never had. You get a tilting touchscreen display on the back, not a fully vari-angle display, but its flip-over 180-degree movement is perfect for selfies and vlogging.
The G7 X Mark III really does represent a big step up in video features, with an external mic socket and clean HDMI output to an external recorder if required. It doesn’t offer the log modes you get with professional cameras, but it can shoot ‘flat’ video using Canon’s in-built Picture Styles, which will be suited to colour grading later.
The customisable control ring, carried over from the Mark II version, is handy to have and the stacked mode dial and EV compensation controls feel reassuringly firm, though the control wheel on the back feels quite small and cramped up against the edge of the screen.
Canon has stuck with contrast autofocus, which is normal on smaller-sensor cameras. In our brief tests it felt very fast and responsive at normal focal lengths and subject distances, though it did slow down markedly when zoomed in on objects closer to the camera.
We were shooting with a pre-production camera so our results may not be representative of the final image quality, but our sample shots were crisp, saturated and well exposed, even in the slightly challenging indoor lighting at the launch event.
For a small camera, the G7 X Mark III feels pretty secure in the hand, and the slightly size increase in the grip does seem to have made a significant difference.
We’d need to run the G7 X Mark III through our usual lab tests and real-worth shooting situations to get a proper idea of its performance, but the early signs are very good. The previous G7 X Mark II was a great camera, and we expect this one to meet the same standards. There’s not likely to be much difference in the still image quality, but the video capabilities are a big step up.
Unfortunately, this is reflected in the price. The PowerShot G7 X Mark III is an impressive bit of kit, but as an initial asking price of £699.99 it’s a pretty expensive one too, especially for a camera with no viewfinder. You can get some decent mirrorless cameras or DSLRs for this money, even if they are aimed at a different market.
Interestingly, Canon intends to keep the older PowerShot G7 X Mark II on sale alongside the new model, and if stills are your main interest, this older model will give you almost the same capabilities but for a lot less money.