Sightseeing with the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III

December 12, 2017

When I first heard about the new PowerShot G1 X Mark III, I wanted to know a few things . . . What was different about it?  Why should someone consider this camera over another?  How does it solve problems? I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to test it out for myself, so I set out to find some answers during an excursion.  While this is not meant to be a “review” of the camera, I wanted to take it to the streets and see its capabilities firsthand.

Top ten impressions as I picked the camera up:

  1. Compact yet comfortable in my hand (great for discreet photographing)
  2. Beautiful electronic viewfinder (EVF) and Vari-angle LCD touchscreen
  3. Intuitive and ergonomic controls for automatic and manual shooting
  4. 24 million pixel RAW and JPEG files available
  5. Dual Pixel CMOS AF for great focusing during stills and video
  6. Hot shoe for accessory flash
  7. APS-C size sensor (same size as in the EOS 80D — largest sensor ever in a Canon PowerShot camera) for outstanding image quality
  8. Fun and very usable Scene Mode options like Panorama, Handheld Night Scene, Grainy Black and White, Soft focus, Fish-eye effect and HDR (High Dynamic Range) to name a few
  9. Image Stabilization to reduce blurry photos
  10. Dust and weather sealed, making it perfect for just about any conditions

The first day I had the camera I had to take a business trip to New York City, so I slid the G1 X Mark III into my jacket pocket and headed for the city.  Upon my arrival to the ferry in New Jersey I noticed a beautiful view of midtown Manhattan that begged for a panoramic photo, so I pulled the camera out and rather than set it for normal picture taking, I turned the Mode dial to Scene Mode (SCN).  

Once there, if you touch the “Q” button on the back of the camera, you’ll notice several options, from Portrait and Self Portrait Mode, Fish-eye effect, Panoramic Mode and even HDR Mode (High Dynamic Range) for high contrast scenes.  There are many interesting options but these are just some of them.  I chose the Panoramic option: the camera instructs you to pan in the direction of the arrow while holding down on the exposure button. You can change the direction of the arrow for a different direction if you like.  

The camera takes several photos during the process of you panning across the scene and stitches them together once it’s finished.  The results were stunning!  Okay so right out of the box I found a really cool feature that I can use regularly. So much detail was captured during the burst of shots and the camera processed the images in seconds to create a seamless panoramic shot of the city.

Panoramic Scene Mode — Series of images auto-stitched together in-camera: 1/500th sec. at f/8; ISO 100

The following morning while walking to my car, I stumbled upon this beautiful leaf with raindrops beading on top of it. This scene was perfect to test out the close-up features of the camera.  

The lens on the PowerShot G1 X Mark III is a compact, 24–72mm (equivalent), f/2.8–5.6 zoom.  Even with this camera’s large image sensor, the size of the lens has been kept very manageable.  It’s sharp, and that sharpness is helped by a strong, Dual Sensing optical Image Stabilization system.  And I found it delivers really nice close-ups!

I crouched down and moved the camera very close to the ground while tipping the Vari-angle screen upwards for easy viewing and control of the camera.

I took about 15 shots of the leaf from different angles to see how the light played with the water droplets.  Turns out the water drops magnified the leaf’s vein structure, which to me, made this photo even more interesting. While photographing, I changed apertures from f/5.6 through f/16 to change the depth-of-field (how much of the foreground to background is in sharp focus).

RAW image: Aperture Priority; Close-up Mode; 1/160th sec. at f/11; ISO 400

After arriving in Philadelphia, I walked around looking for interesting things to photograph and try out some features of the camera. I decided to start off with some simple shots from the street. For my first shot, the camera was set to RAW file format so I could get as much information as possible.  I was really impressed with the sharpness detail that the camera was able to retain in the image from the 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. Note the shadows and highlights are all represented well in this image. The 3x zoom lens (24-72mm) also held its own on sharpness evidenced by the image below.  There’s also a 4x digital zoom available on this camera.

RAW image: Aperture Priority; 1/400th sec. at f/8; ISO 400

Take a look at this crop at 100%. The clock tower’s Roman numerals are sharp, with plenty of resolution!

Crop at 100% — clock Roman numerals crisp and clear

Next, I wanted to check out the Grainy B/W mode in the SCN Mode of the camera.

The heavy grain effect is an interesting one and could be very useful in a number of situations.

Grainy B/W Scene Mode — 1/1250th sec. at f/5.6; ISO 100

Then I experimented with the Water Painting Effect and once again, another interesting effect was created by the simple turn of a dial.

Water Painting Effect Scene Mode — 1/1250th sec. at f/5.0; ISO 100

You never know what you’ll find when walking around.  I wound up on Elfreth’s Alley—the oldest street in the country—and found myself intrigued by the front doors on this street.  To make the composition more appealing, I cropped out about 40% of the original image, and the detail and resolution held up completely fine.

RAW image: Aperture Priority; 1/25th sec. at f/8; ISO 100 (40% of original image cropped out for more creative composition)

I also found a beautiful mail slot but after photographing it using natural daylight, I felt I could do a better job of bringing out the texture of the metal.  In order to do that I needed to create shadows by forcing the light to come from a steep angle, so I pulled out my Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and ST-E3-RT transmitter. I was now able to work wirelessly by holding the flash with my left hand directly above the mail slot.  Yet another reason I love this camera!  Here is the result:

RAW image: Manual Mode; 1/160th sec. at f/11; ISO 400 (600EX-RT controlled wirelessly from ST-E3-RT transmitter on camera)

As I walked around I had this feeling I was being watched. I looked up and there was a squirrel looking me square in the eyes.  I was under a canopy of trees, which made the lighting conditions very dark, so I didn’t even have time to check my settings when I took this photo.  I heard the shutter speed slow way down and I thought there’s no chance of this coming out sharp due to camera shake; of course the Image Stabilization saved the shot from being a throwaway.  This shot was taken at 1/10th sec. and I was pleased with the image quality based on how slow the shutter speed was.  The G1 X Mark III provides up to four stops of Image Stabilization.

RAW image: Aperture Priority; 1/10th sec. at f/9; ISO 400

And what’s a walk on the oldest street in the USA without seeing the likeness of Benjamin Franklin carved out on a pumpkin?

RAW image — 1/80th sec. at f/5.6; ISO 400

The daylight was rapidly coming to an end so I quickly ventured to my final location for a skyline image of Philadelphia at night, to see how the camera handled low light situations. While I was waiting for the sun to go down I tried the Art Bold Scene Mode.  

By its very nature, the color and contrast are exaggerated as seen in this image.

Art Bold Scene Mode — 1/60th sec. at f/4; ISO 100

While I had a little time left before it got dark, I tested out the Wi-Fi® feature of the camera using the Canon Camera Connect app. This allows me a great deal of camera control right from my device, including zoom, focus, exposure, white balance, recording video and much more.

Wi-Fi feature with camera control from a device with Canon Camera Connect app

For this final shot, I wanted a long exposure to see the movement of the vehicle lights and also properly expose the skyline. This shot is not an original idea and has been done numerous times, but I was curious how the G1 X Mark III would handle the low light.  The exposure was 10 seconds long at f/11, ISO 100 with the camera mounted on a tripod.  I’m very pleased with the result!

RAW image — Manual Mode; 10 sec. at f/11; ISO 100

During the brief time I had with the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, I put it through its paces.  For its small size, this camera packs a big punch in image quality and features, and travels well due to its weather and dust resistance.  The low light capabilities will allow you to shoot using ISOs up to 25,600. You can accessorize the camera with a larger flash like the 430EX III-RT and have a lot of options at your fingertips.  There’s also a waterproof housing available for diving up to 130 ft.  

While I didn’t showcase the video features of the camera in this article, the 1080p video is very nice. Couple that with the Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus and you have a camera that will maintain sharp focus while recording video, even on fast moving subjects. It’s a terrific travel camera for someone who doesn’t want to take a larger DSLR, all while providing similar image quality. Check it out at a photo retailer near you and give it a test ride!  

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.

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