The point and shoot camera that photographers the world over have been waiting for since the start of the digital era has arrived: the Canon Powershot G1X large-sensor point and shoot, which combines the sensor of a dSLR, size of a P&S, and flexibility of a zoom lens (a photographic first). The G1X itself is just the latest big news to come out of CES 2012, following the Nikon D4 and the Fuji X-Pro1.
So, whats so great about the G1X?
For the entire digital era, photographers have faced a choice: buy a small sensor point ans shoot for its portability but at the cost of image quality or buy a dSLR for its image quality at the cost of portability. The common complaint: why wouldn’t a manufacturer stick a large, APS-C sized sensor into a compact camera body? Basically, the problem was one of logistics, namely that large sensors need large lenses, which would destroy the pocketability that many people love P& models for.
In 2006, Sigma, better known for its lenses, took the first step in making the wishes of many photographers come true when it announced its DP1, a large sensor compact with a fixed, 28mm film equivalent, prime lens. Unfortunately, the camera wouldn’t hit the market until early 2008 but, once it did, the slow to market Sigma earned itself a following. In the following years, Sigma updated its DP series and other manufacturers jumped on board the large sensor compact bandwagon. However, the Holy Grail of large sensor compacts, one with a zoom lens, remained a figment of the imagination.
The Canon G1X, while not revolutionary in that it crams a big sensor into a small body, is a photographic first in that it uses a zoom lens with a 28-112mm film equivalent, too. For all these years, the whole problem of trying to cram a zoom lens big enough to cover a large sensor, yet small enough to keep the camera from ballooning out of the pocket-size range, was the single issue keeping such a camera from the market. Well, Canon finally pulled off the feat, and others are sure to follow.
A for the G1X itself, it is, on paper, quite the imaging machine. To start with, it uses a 14Mp, 4:3 aspect ratio sensor (another Canon first) that measures 18.7 x 14mm in size, a total area that is over 6 times greater than is found on Canon’s top of the line small sensor P&S model, the G12. Thanks to the sensor size, photographers can enjoy all the benefits of big sensor dSLRs, including better high ISO performance, increased dynamic range, and better ability to blur backgrounds.
After the sensor, the lens is the other big feature. At an actual focal length of 15.1-60.4mm, with the crop factor, it produces the film equivalent field of view to that created by a traditional 28-112mm optic. The aperture? Well,that’s f2.8-5.8. While not nearly as fast as the lenses found on Canon’s small sensor compacts, the lens on the G1X closely matches specifications found on most manufacturers’ kit lenses while having a farther reach, though. As a last benefit, the lens features image stabilization, too.
As for more features, following the ‘G’ line’s tradition, the G1X allows for full manual control, in-camera HDR, RAW usage, 4.5fps, full HD video at 24fps, compatibility with EOS speedlights, compatibility with a waterproof housing tested to 40m deep, and the ability to use a lens filter adapter for enhanced creative options.
All in all, the Canon G1X is looking to be quite a camera.
Want to buy a Canon G1X? As for availability and pricing, the G1X will sell for $799.99 and should be available in February.
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