Canon G1X has gorgeous auto white balance color
Recently I took the new Canon G1X out for some real-world shooting the way I would use this camera – with my family. I shot with it and my wife (who is your typical “mom” user) shot with it the way normal people would use this camera. I prefer to test this way because it always annoys me when I see a review of shots from a point and shoot camera that look like they belong in a magazine. When I hand a camera of to my wife it needs to “just work” and get great shots, and let’s face it – most cameras disappoint when you shoot this way. Shooting around the house without any aids beyond what the camera comes with is rarely impressive, so honestly I think it’s the best “real test” of what a camera can do.
These aren’t choreographed or staged shots that are designed to make the camera look it’s best. They are literally real-world shots where you live your life and say “hey honey, hand me the camera so I can get a shot of that”. They are in-camera JPEG’s that are shown as they came out of the camera with no edits, and in most cases are shot using the in-camera default settings. In short, these are shots anyone can get and if you put any effort into it you can probably do a lot better than this!
Click the images to view their originals or on my smugmug gallery. All images are copyright Ron Martinsen and may be viewed for personal use, but many not be used otherwise without expressed written permission.
HDR Mode – Support 100% Required
Newer cameras coming out with built-in HDR are hot, but you wonder if it really works. Well Canon Powershot shooters know that with support this feature works okay, but without it you’ll be frustrated by blurry shots. While the G1X has more dynamic range to give you a much better final result, the algorithm for blending the images remains unchanged from the s100 so you’ll need to check out my tripod recommendations or pick up a Flip Cage Pro if you want a usable end result. Without support the shots are unusable and sadly you can’t choose a shutter speed range that is fast enough to help compensate with this issue. Here’s an example:
You can click the image above to see the original, and it turned out quite nice. The shadows are a bit dark which the in-camera HDR addresses (hover over to view), but the resultant shot is blurry as you can see here.
Once again the HDR version gets the best exposure as you might expect, but it’s a totally useless image due to poor merging issues (click for the original HDR version).
Fujifilm X10 vs G1X Head to Head
These aren’t the only head-to-head shots I will do, but they are the only ones from this past weekend that are apples to apples enough to compare. If you compare my G1X gallery to my X10 gallery you’ll see other shots that seem similar, but they were done by two different shooters from points of view so they aren’t similar enough to draw a fair comparison.
I snapped a shot of my wife with my iPhone that I really liked, so I decided I’d try again using the point and shoots. While I got a horrible expression on my wife’s face here, this was the best technical result I could muster with the G1X. This camera hates being up close, so out of 6 attempts this was the only shot that was in focus:
The X10 allows me to get in as close as I want without any focusing issues (unlike the X100), so I got a more pleasing composition using the EXR Auto mode (which detected the portrait scenario and compensated for that). What you see by her head is good old fashion (and intentional) lens flare from the sun shooting directly into the camera. For those paranoid about white disks with the X10, look above or click here to see how the G1X handles a direct shot into the sun.If that’s the infamous “white disk”, then I think it’s sexy and I know it! <g>
The X10 just nailed this one. Now some may find the color wonderful and others may hate it, so the downside to the X10’s EXR mode is that you don’t get a RAW image so you’ve gotta live with the color it gives you. Sure you can adjust it some or go to B&W, but RAW is more flexible that way. However, I can totally live with X10 result without doing anything else to it. I’d delete the G1X shot even if the composition was better because I hate the up close distortion I got in that shot.
Extreme Exposure Example
Now this is an impossible exposure, so the results you see below from the G1X are about what you’d expect. The image itself is super crisp and it might be saved in RAW, but it’s going to be a lot of work. I also don’t think there’s going to be enough detail in the raw to bring back the blown areas, so odds are this is a lost cause.
G1X f/16 1/30 sec @ ISO 800 (Aperture Priority & AWB)
The X10’s EXR mode loves tough exposures, but this is a rare case where even EXR can’t fix this in one shot. Sure the grass in the back is way better but the rocks are still pretty blown. Since there is no RAW (in this mode – available in other modes) you’d be stuck with this:
The X10 EXR mode does a better job, but is still overblown in the back
F/11 1/10 sec @ ISO 100
The G1X’s HDR mode nails the exposure, but despite getting the identical support as the previous two shots the image is totally useless due to motion blur.
More “Real World” Photos
Go to my Canon G1X gallery to see more shots and check out my X10 gallery to see some shots taken the same day. Keep in mind that while some shots are similar they may have been shot from different lighting angles (i.e., glass sculptures) so a fair side by side comparison isn’t possible.
The G1X gallery contains some compositionally horrible personal shots (like the flash test shots), but hopefully you’ll get a feel what this camera is really like.
I updated the gallery of real world photos on 3/19/2012 - click here to see the latest shots (and be sure to read the captions).
Where things stand right now
So far my first impressions haven’t changed much. The G1X has great glass and a nice sensor, but it’s really an overweight regression from the G12’s size and feature wise is basically an s100 inside. I think point and shoot users and pros alike will find it too bulky & heavy. The minimal focus distance is horrible – simply unusable for close up scenarios like cross-table photos of dinner guests, so that’s a big regression from the s100 and G12 which had good minimum focus distances. The AI focus seems to be lacking and overall, I think the focus system is just messed up.
Despite the GX1 having a battery that is twice as thick as the s100 or X10, it suffers from the same problem as the s100 where it can’t survive the day without a recharge. If you get a G1X you must own a second (and charged) battery to get in a full day of shooting.
The bar for this class of camera has gone up quite a bit, and so far I personally think the Fujifilm X10 is a much more livable camera on a daily basis. Stay tuned though to see if I change my mind after more hours behind the G1X.
I’ve tinkered with video a bit and the G1X is awesome, but I have only taken personal videos of my son. Again, the AF system sucks but the IQ rivals a HDSLR.
More Like This
If you liked this article, you might enjoy these:
- Comparison: Canon G1X vs Fujifilm X10 vs Canon G12
- Using the Canon G1X in the Real World vs the Fujifilm X10 (Video)
- Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, & Canon s100 (plus Fuji x100 and Canon G12 & s95) Comparison
- Canon 5D Mark III and 600-EX-RT Announcement and Pre-Order info
- BlackRapid SnapR Camera Bag + Sling Strap
- Fujifilm X10 (2011 P&S of the Year)
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