Friday, March 2, 2012

Comparison: Canon G1X vs Fujifilm X10 vs Canon G12 (UPDATED: 3/16/12)

 

Canon PowerShot G1X
Canon PowerShot G1X

Yesterday among all of the anticipation of the 5D Mark III release I was jazzed to find that my order for the Canon PowerShot G1X from B&H had arrived. Until I fell in love with the magic of the Fujifilm X10, I had been a loyal G series user dating back to the G9. My G12 (click for review) had started to collect dust so it was good to see what its replacement would finally be.

First Impressions (vs the X10 & G12)

X10, G1X and G12 – Thickness Comparison
X10, G1X and G12 – Thickness Comparison

With a bigger sensor in the G1X comes bigger weight it seems as the already bulky G12 now gets super-sized to be come the heaviest “point and shoot” I’ve ever held. It’s heavier than the X100 and Nikon 1 V1, so right off the bat I was a little concerned about its bulk. I’ve defended the size of the G series for years because I liked the control layout and the weight was tolerable to me, but the new glass in this body definitely brings the bulk. In fact, the picture here makes them look close, but in your hands it seems to be in a weight/size class of its own compared to the other cameras here.

X10, G1X and G12 LCD Comparison
LCD’s seem roughly the same size and all perform about the same

From the rear screen the all look about the same when turned off. Performance-wise the X10 and G1X appear to be the same to my eyes with perhaps a little better contrast ratio for the G1X. The G12 is about the same but seems slightly less crisp, but in practice I’d call this an even draw.

X10, G1X, & G12 Front View
Head on you see the lens/sensor difference

Head-on is where you really notice the big lens and sensor that goes behind it for the G1X. The cool thing though is that this seems like a nice piece of glass compared to the others here, so it feels like the stud of the group. It certainly seems to have a more justified price compared to the other cameras.


At full zoom, the G1X feels like a mini-DSLR

Zooming in and out is where you notice that the G1X is a big boys toy designed for much better image quality than you typically get out of something this size. In fact, in my early testing I’ve been very impressed the with the ability for this camera to conjure up a shallow depth of field on command – something the others (especially the G12) have a little more challenge doing.

Ergonomics

As previously mentioned, this thing is heavy! Features-wise it feels like a s100 that needs a diet, but the image quality on the G1X is a ton better than the s100. The control layout is familiar for previous G series and S series owners, so only thing I found myself needing to get used to was the pop-up flash (the G12 has a built-in, but the X10 pops up too).

The biggest change I noticed was the addition of a lens cap instead of the self-enclosed design of the G12 and s100. The Fuji X10 and X100 have one and I keep losing them, so I’m bummed that there’s another cap to keep track of. The good news is that I can manage to get it work with my Hufa Lens Cap Holder, so hopefully I won’t lose it as easily as the X10’s which won’t fit in the clip.

In-Camera JPEG’s

This was unboxing day, but with all of the stuff related to launching the 5D Mark III, I really only had a chance to fire off a few frames with this camera. I decided to test it in a room that was nearly pitch black (only a trio of lights above the kitchen island were on) to see how it did. Here’s the results:


G1X 15mm f/2.8, 1/2 sec, ISO 3200 Custom White Balance (using an envelope)
Click for original unedited in-camera JPEG

I was pretty pleased with the result. The exposure is dark, but given the fact that this room was near pitch black this is a lot better than what I could see with my eyes. I did use the table as support and the timer to avoid shake, but overall it did ok here.

A quick test of the flash proved it was pretty powerful, but I didn’t tinker with flash exposure compensation which was sorely needed in this case:


G1X 15mm f/2.8 1/60 sec (handheld), ISO 12,800 Flash White Balance and Auto Flash
Click for original unedited in-camera JPEG

I was impressed that even with a flash I was able to clearly make out some OOF bokeh which is something you don’t typically see in a shot like this for a camera of this side. With more background separation you see that it’s actually a quite pleasing bokeh (something totally new for the G series!):


G1X 29mm f/4.5 1/5 sec ISO 1600 AWB
Click for original unedited in-camera JPEG

G1X 15mm f/2.8 1/20 sec ISO 1600 AWB
Click for original unedited in-camera JPEG

The G1X quite honestly sucks for close-up work. The shots you see above are literally the minimum focus distances for the respective zooms – BOOOOOOOO!

Overall the image quality was way better than the G12, but other than the pleasant bokeh I’m not feeling like I made a bad choice to get the X10. Granted these are crappy unboxing test shots so time will tell how I like it when I put it into practice for real shooting.

Here’s a shot from the X10 which has a great minimum focus distance (and it can get much closer than this but I wanted to show its bokeh by comparison):


X10 7mm f/2.0 1/15sec ISO-640 AWB Velvia Film Simulation
Click for original unedited in-camera JPEG

You definitely lose the sweet bokeh found from the bigger sensor in the G1X, but the dynamic range and out-of-camera result of the X10 still impresses the hell out of me. I also still think that Fujifilm’s EXR is the greatest thing since sliced bread – all cameras should have it!

Ron’s 2 Cents – First Day Takeaway

After doing some basic experiments I’ve got to say that my first quick impression is that I’m underwhelmed. Of course for me this is a secondary camera to complement my big glass, so if I want sweet bokeh I use the real cameras. However, if I want grab and go then this heavy monster seems a little too big for that. The X10 and G12 really do fit in my jeans pocket and are totally toteable, but the G1X just feels too big quite honestly. I never thought I’d say that either as I’m happy to haul a 1D Mark IV with a 70-200mm lens all day long and not complain about the weight. However, the quality of images I get from that pair justifies the bulk.

I’m extremely disappointed with the minimum focus distance and quite honestly I think there is a serious front-focus issue with the unit that I have (at least when using the user-selectable AF point). As a result I had to manual focus for the two shots of the X10 above to get the camera to do what I wanted, and again I had to be too far back to get the composition I wanted.

The good news is that the glass seems to be great and the weight makes you feel like you’ve really bought something special. The case material still seems to be the same as the G12 which makes me worry about what would happen if I dropped the G1X (something that the G12 and X10 experience regularly). The X10 definitely feels like it has a better case and is a more solid product, but it’s lens looks cheap compared to the nice glass on the G1X.

I’ve always loved the G series usability so this is much of the same. I’ve grown used to some of the features in the X10 (i.e., EXR mode and the best pano feature on the planet) so for the first time I’d say G series design feels dated.

Conclusion

After using the G1X for a while I’ve concluded that it’s a s100 in an overweight body (way more so than the G12) with a nice lens and a welcome bigger sensors. Sadly it’s weight is just too much as it feels like you are carrying Canon’s 24-105mm lens in your pocket rather than a point and shoot. I loved the G series so generally speaking I’m not one who needs tiny cameras because if I really want tiny I’ll just use my iPhone 4s. However this camera is a beast whose motorized zoom ruins the sound and picture what are otherwise good videos, and the benefits of the bigger sensor never really shine through. Here’s my other articles for this review:

My advice is to get a Fujifilm X10, unless you have a diehard loyalty to Canon. If you do then I’d say go for the s100 or G12.  If you really want the better image quality and are comfortable with the added weight, get a T3i. Sadly, I have to rule this camera as my disappointment of the year.

Order your G1X now from B&H where I got mine or if they are out of stock then consider Adorama too.

****** Fujifilm X10 & X100 Sale (limited time) ******

More Like This

If you liked this article, you might enjoy these:

Disclosure

I may make a commission if you make a purchase using links in this article.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

16 comments:

Azrin said...

Hi Ron,

Frankly I was totally dissapointed to read your review of the G1X. I was elated when Canon finally announced a big sensor in its powershot G series.

I was sure that the G1X would be a big hit and become THE camera, for me at least if not for others.

After reading your review I immediately took the chance to get out to the nearest shop to get my hands on one with hope of proving you wrong.

It felt good in my hands and I actually liked the weight as compared to the G12. Hah! I was halfway of proving you wrong, so I thought.

Once I got turned on the camera and started to test the AF, it became clear to me (pun intended) how spot on you were. The AF struggled especially at short distance. It wasn't even fast enough to focus on walking shoppers outside the shop, what more on my active kids.

I'm sure the image quality would be superb once I get around the sluggish AF but I foresee more misses than hits for what I intend to use the camera, which is for family vacations, outings and kids.

At the end I had the same underwhelming feeling. I hope Canon take notice of these issues in their next upgrade on the powershot G series. In the meantime, the Fuji X10 would do just fine for me.

Ron Martinsen said...

Azrin,

Thanks for your comment! I really wanted to like e G1X too, and I fully expected that it would replace my X10 (a camera that I didn't expect to love so much). As you discovered though, it's great glass with s100 internals that just comes up short in many areas. Seeing how great the 5D Mark iii is, I'm even more disappointed that it isn't better as the technology exists inside Canon to build the G1X we both were hoping for!

Ron

Bob Dole said...

Thank you for getting to the point and not sugar coating it, like so many others do.
How disappointing!
I think they made a mistake with the lens speed... they should have reduced the focal length, and increased the aperture.

24-70 equiv. f/2 should be do-able... that may have also helped autofocus.

G12 is really a G11.
5D.3 is ~ a full frame D7.
Canon really needs to lift their game.

The 70-200mm f2.8 II is awesome though :)

Mark said...

Ron

thanks for your review. I was looking for a prosumer point&shoot and I worked with a G7 before. When the G1X was announced I couldnt wait to get my hands on because I wanted to buy the G12 from the first day. After I "played" with G1X I decided to buy the G12 because of the weight and the price compared to the features. IMHO if you want a bigger sensor buy a DSLR for that price.
So thanks again for helping me with my decision.

Mark

Ron Martinsen said...

Glad I could help Mark!

I finally retired my G12 in favor of the Fuji X10 - love that camera!

Anonymous said...

I assumed that the X10, with a slightly larger sensor than the G12, would produce better pictures , but looking at the dpreview high iso jpegs comparison tool, at iso 3200, i seem to prefer the G12's output over the x10.
What is your experience with high iso jpegs comparisons of the 2 cameras ?

Ron Martinsen said...

Truth be told, no camera with a sensor this small is especially outstanding with HIGH ISO noise.

Overall though when you look at the final product and you consider dynamic range as well as the image itself I still prefer the X10 over the G12. I actually still own both cameras and use the G12 very rarely now.

Anonymous said...

I guess you are right about the overall final product, I was (pixel peeping) looking at just 1 or 2 % of the picture and probably missing the whole (big) picture.

Ryan Boggs said...

Hi Ron,
First I would like to say how much I enjoy your post. So informative! Thanks. Almost 6 months have passed since your review and I am in the market for this type of Camera. I am leaning towards the X10 but would like to know if you now know of any other options on the market that might be a better choice? I hate to give up Macro capability in the G1X but like the large sensor and low light capability. I am just so bummed that the G1X did not turn out to be the camera I was hoping for. Any thoughts on the next best non DSLR that I can take traveling? Thanks Ryan

Ron Martinsen said...

Ryan,

I still say the x10 is the best product for compact photography. The Sony NEX-7 that I reviewed on my blog was nice, but it's got many of the same pitfalls as the equally excellent (from an image standpoint) Fujifilm X-Pro1.

Until you hear otherwise, the X10 is my go to non DSLR camera. We use it almost daily in my household.

Ryan Boggs said...

Thanks very much for your reply. Looks like that helps me make up my mind. Will definitely continue to follow your blog. You do a great job. Keep up the good work! Cheers and happy shooting.
Ryan

marvel said...

Hey Ron,

Thanks for the detailed review. I felt differently about my G1x. It's an amazing camera IMO. I haven't really tested the X10 other than in the camera store but I much prefer the G1x image quality and handling. But If there's one thing I wish G1x had, it's the X10 VF.

I shot a few food styling comparison tests with my 7D with 17-55 f2.8 and found that it was hard to tell the difference with the G1x at iso 1600 and higher.

I agree that macro shooting is tough with the G1x but found that 20cm isn't too shabby on the wide end. It goes you some bokeh but it is a compromise.

AF doesn't seem that slow even for low light. Especially if subject are within 20 feet of the camera. The AF assist lamp is insanely strong. The problem I found is AF unpredictable with the back screen turned off (for battery life saving reasons). Thats because the OVF isn't exactly accurate (The G1X OVF is both a bad and good thing). It's great for sunny days and saving battery life but framing is something you need to get used to.

Here's a post that sums up my take on the G1x .

The sony RX100 is another camera I'd love to try.

Ron Martinsen said...

Marvel,

Thanks for your post, but I've used them both and I still stick with my conclusion. Sure, I can get bokeh out of my iPhone if I work at it, but the G1X's minimal focus distance is terrible so it makes it much more challenging.

Overall out of all the cameras I've reviewed over the last two years, the G1X is probably my biggest dissapointment. It's a bummer too because I was pretty excited about it when I heard it announced.

I'll be reviewing the EOS M and the RX100 so stay tuned.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Hey Ron,

I love my G1X as you love your X10. The image quality that comes out of my G1x more than justifies it's downsides. The autofocus is fast enough for the photography I do. Heck you can even use it forindoor sports photography but it'll be really difficult compared to shooting with a 7D with good glass. What I really like about the X10 though is the viewfinder and focal adjustment using lens barrel.

Considering what you get for the price ($700 CA as of this post) and weight (vs any camera with equivalent sensor size AND lens focal length/quality), I'd say the G1x is an exceptional camera IMHO.

Cheers,
Ken

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron


I just got on to your site and have to say you have a great, informative site.


I'm definitely about 95% sure I'm going for the x10 as a side camera for street shots and so forth. But I've been trying to get info and reviews on the Canon G15. I would love to hear any info you have on it and do you think the g15 would be a better buy or just stick with the x10?

Thank you

Ron Martinsen said...

I've got the G15 and s110 in my hands as we speak. Stay tuned to my blog for the upcoming review of both (as well as the EOS M in the near future as well).