Canon Powershot G7X Review

Introduction

Initially released in the fall of 2014, Canon’s G7X is the previous high-end model of the G series range. And despite the Powershot name, it’s a compact point & shoot camera that aims to offer more advanced capabilities than its traditional counterparts. To date, it’s arguably their most popular vlogging camera ever released. On paper, it looks to be a serious powerhouse of a release and promises huge specifications. Most notably, it’s the first Canon camera to boast a large 1-inch CMOS sensor, yet remains small enough to tuck away into a pocket.

Canon aims the advanced compact camera at beginners and enthusiasts looking for an upgrade over a smartphone. And it comes to the market to prove that capturing better image quality than a smartphone doesn’t always require a big changeable lens camera. Targeted to compete with Sony’s RX100 Mark III and Panasonic’s LX100, can it compete with these manufacturing giants? Considering this is Canon’s first shot at a 1-inch sensor, can they compete with Sony, who’s now on their third iteration and design? Let’s find out.

Canon-Powershot-G7X-specs

 

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon G7X? 

Pros:

Image Quality

It features a brand new 20.2MP 1-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6 image processor. This is the same sensor found as Sony’s RX100 Mark III, but it’s the first Canon camera to obtain such a large sensor. In size, it’s even larger than the flagship of this lineup, the Powershot G1X. And compared to most compact cameras in this class, it’s nearly 4x the size, which gives it a distinct edge in image quality.

Like all compacts, this camera features a built-in lens. In this case, it features a Canon 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent lens. This lens also has a 3-stop neutral density (ND) filter built-in to reduce ambient light. And it’s also optically stabilized to reduce handshake while shooting. The lens also offers a minimum focus distance of 5 cm, allowing you to capture close-up macro shots, with excellent background blur. As expected, though, the lens isn’t perfect, and it does suffer from some distortions. But, in the grand scheme, it’s excellent. And its focal range provides enormous flexibility. Plus, an aperture of f/1.8 gives photographers a real chance of capturing shallow backgrounds with smooth defocusing. Compared to the Sony RX100, it also delivers an extra 30mm at the wide-end, which gives it superior telephoto capabilities, without needing to step into digital zoom territory. And, overall, this focal length is ideal for travel and day to day photography.

Pairing this fast-aperture lens with its large sensor produces excellent image quality, even more so if you shoot RAW. The images are quite sharp, with Canon’s pleasing and natural color rendering. Images offer a good amount of working dynamic range as well, and photos have plenty of contrast and detail. Overall, this camera’s image quality is mostly on par with APS-C cameras, be it DSLR or mirrorless.

The camera also offers continuous shooting speeds of 6.5 fps, and the buffer depth is excellent. And it can easily produce over 200 JPEGS before slowing, quite impressive.

Video Quality

It shoots 1080p full HD video up to 60 fps to the MP4 format via the MPEG-4 codec with a data rate of 33 MBps, a setup you wouldn’t have expected a few years before its release. It also provides full manual control over shutter, aperture, and ISO during video recording. And overall, the video quality is suitable for a compact camera. The footage is reasonably sharp with accurate but contrasty and vivid colors. And it lends itself for immediate use without color corrections, which is perfect for vlogging.

Like most cameras in this class, video recordings will stop at 29 minutes and 59 seconds.

The camera offers the Hybrid Auto Mode, which captures still during video recordings.

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is good for this class. It features a native ISO from ISO 125 to 12,800, and users can expect usable images up to ISO 3,200.

Focusing Performance

It uses a 31-point contrast-detect AF system, which while old, remains relatively quick and accurate. This system also offers Face Detection and tracking. And combined with the camera’s tap focus, subject tracking performance is quite good. The camera can even pull focus smoothly during video recordings, and tracking, in some respects, matches Canon’s mid-range 70D.

The camera also offers focus peaking and focus magnification, if you prefer manually focusing.

Display & Viewfinder

It features a 3.0-inch 180º flip-up touchscreen LCD with a resolution of 1.04M dots. The flip-up articulation works well for front-facing selfies, vlogging, and helps when shooting at low angles. And unlike the competition, which lacks this feature, its display offers excellent touch capabilities. It sports touch focus, drag focus, touch shutter, tracking, swiping in playback, menu navigation, and pinch to zoom. The display itself is also good. It’s reasonably sharp with good viewing angles. And it’s bright enough for viewing outdoors, though it can get washed out in extreme light.

User Interface

The camera uses a very streamlined and simple user interface and menu. The navigating experience on this camera is dead simple and perfect for beginners. They’re well laid out and clear. Existing shooters and newcomers will quickly master them.

The camera offers a single Custom bank, C, on the Mode Dial. This mode gives you quick access to recall a shooting preset, saving you time recreating it.

It obtains the customizable My Menu, giving quick access to the most frequently used main menu settings. And it also becomes the default once configured.

It obtains the customizable Quick Menu, which gives you quick access to the variety of settings it offers.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

At first glance, it looks almost identical to its main rival, the Sony RX100 Mark III. But that’s not a bad thing. The camera’s well designed and provides some key improvements over the Sony. Firstly, Canon’s constructed it from a robust metal alloy, which makes it quite durable and sturdy. This also gives the camera a more premium feeling, and the added weight makes it more balanced. Yet, at only 304g, it’s quite pocketable, and you can easily store it into a large jeans pocket. Its metal finish is also coated with a textured layer, which improves the grip and reduces slipperiness. Lastly, Canon’s also added a rear thumb rest, improving the grip.

The button layout is also excellent. The camera doesn’t have any unnecessary buttons, and the buttons present make sense. They’re also well defined, and protruded, making them easy to press. And the placement is where’d you’d expect them. The result is a camera that’s easy to navigate and control.

The camera has a dedicated video recording button on the rear panel near the d-pad.

The camera has a customizable Ring that surrounds the lens, which you can customize as a button to control aperture, shutter, white balance, ISO, among other settings. And combined with its rear control dial, it provides excellent manual control.

It has a dedicated zoom rocker that surrounds the shutter release for quick access to zoom control.

It has a dedicated Wi-Fi button, which gives you immediate access to the camera’s wireless controls for pairing.

It has a dedicated exposure compensation dial, which surrounds the Mode Dial for quick exposure changes—quite a rare feature for cameras of this class.

Niche Features/Extras

It has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for wirelessly transferring photos or videos to a smartphone. And you can also remotely control the camera with control over flash, zoom, and shutter release.

It has a built-in pop-up flash, though it doesn’t bounce like rivals.

It has a built-in 3-stop ND filter.

It has focus bracketing, with customization over the distance interval, which is helpful for focus stacking.

It has exposure bracketing.

It has built-in HDR.

It has a built-in time-lapse mode.

It offers in-camera editing, allowing you to crop, rotate, rate, and perform other changes.

Cons:

Video Capabilities

The camera lacks 4K video, and due to age, it doesn’t offer 120 fps recording at 1080p.

It also lacks zebras for highlight clipping indication.

Video recordings stop once the file size reaches 4 GB, roughly 16 minutes of video at the highest setting.

It doesn’t have a 10-bit, log profiles, waveforms or any advanced video features.

Low Light Capabilities

Since the camera only has a 1-inch sensor, it’s not the greatest in low light. Images can quickly become noisy following ISO 800. Thankfully, you won’t always need to shoot at higher ISOs, since the lens is stabilized and can reduce the shutter speed instead.

Autofocus Performance

While you can manually focus with this camera, the two methods for controlling focus aren’t ideal. You can either use the Ring Function dial, but it changes focusing in a clunky ratcheted way. Or you can use the rear d-pad, which isn’t intuitive. Overall, avoid manually focusing on this camera unless necessary.

Battery Life

Battery life is quite poor. Canon rates its NB-13L battery at only 210 shots or 310 with the ECO Mode, far below the industry standard of 350 shots. You’ll need extra batteries with this camera.

Display

The camera lacks a built-in electronic viewfinder. If you want this particular feature, consider Canon’s 1GX or G5X models instead.

Menus

Strangely the camera’s Auto Mode shoots only JPEG images, limiting its flexibility. If you want to shoot in the RAW format, you’ll have to do so in Program, Shutter, Aperture, or Manual modes.

The camera doesn’t offer much physical customization. The only customizable button is the Ring Function button. Otherwise, you’re stuck using the default layout.

Ergonomics

Since the camera’s rather small and compact, you’ll find it quite hard to grip and quite uncomfortable if you have long fingers or large hands. We highly recommend getting an external grip for this camera to increase comfort as the camera doesn’t offer one natively.

Canon’s placed the tripod socket directly next to the battery compartment. This placement means you’ll have to remove the camera from a tripod to change either the battery or the SD card. Always tedious.

Both the camera’s exposure compensation and control dials are stiff and painful to turn. And the EV dial also sits under the Mode Dial, making it even more difficult to change. Overall, they’re a bit tedious to use for this reason.

Lacking Features

The camera’s Micro HDMI port doesn’t output a live HDMI feed for use with external recorders.

It lacks a headphone output.

It lacks a microphone input.

It lacks a hot shoe.

It lacks a built-in panorama mode.

It lacks custom white balance control, in degree Kelvin. Strange to see this feature missing. And sadly, the camera’s automatic white balance does tend to shift slightly during video recordings, which can easily be problematic depending on your usage.

The camera lacks weather sealing.

It lacks USB charging.

It doesn’t have dual card slots or a full sized HDMI port.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

Canon’s designed this camera to have a very streamlined interface and a simple layout. Yet, they equipped the camera with manual control and a sophisticated feature set. Overall, considering its ease of use, it’s an excellent beginner’s camera that provides room for further development.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Canon G7X?

Extra Batteries:

Canon Battery Pack NB-13L

SD Cards:

SanDisk Extreme PRO 32GB
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB 
SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB

Tripods & Gimbals:

Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod
E-Image 2 Stage Aluminum Video Tripod
Zhiyun Weebill S Compact Gimbal Stabilizer

External Recorders:

Zoom H1n Portable Recorder

Front Grip Attachment:

Flipbac FBG3 Camera Grip

Is this a good camera for you?

Yes.

This camera is ideal for those wanting more versatility than a traditional point & shoot with a compact and pocketable form factor. Yet, given the manual shooting functionality, it provides a worthwhile option for enthusiasts that want added control. And it’s also an excellent upgrade over a smartphone.

It’s a solid option if you’re looking for a super budget-friendly vlogging camera. However, bear in mind it lacks a microphone input. With that, you’d have to use an external recorder to capture more professional sounding audio. Otherwise, the built-in microphones work reasonably well, giving you remain close to the camera.

In the end, Canon’s Powershot G7X remains a relevant option in today’s market, even though three generations have passed. And it’s a competent option for someone looking for a pocketable manual oriented point & shoot camera that offers a feature set that matches a full-sized DSLR. With its large 1-inch and fast 24-100mm, it quickly rivals traditional SLRs in image quality too. And for that reason, this advanced point & shoot is an excellent DSLR alternative given its price, versatility, and size. Overall, Canon’s released a genuinely compact camera here, yet it doesn’t skimp out on image quality and performance. And it delivers image quality that outpaces most rivals in this category. Yet remains slim enough to slip into a jeans pocket and discreet enough to shoot unnoticed. If you’re looking for something with the RAW format, manual control, 1080p 60 fps video, and a fast lens, this camera’s worth a look.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.6

Summary

Canon’s G7X remains a relevant contender in today’s market, even despite its age. And it’s a camera that delivers a strong feature set, despite its truly compact form factor.