Canon might have got everything right with its latest prosumer compact camera, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III.
Its predecessors feature a 1.5-inch CMOS image sensor, but the Mark III sports a larger APS-C CMOS image sensor. That is the size of image sensors found in DSLR cameras like Canon EOS 7D Mark II.
The G1 X Mark III also uses the same Digic 7 image processor and Dual Pixel autofocusing (AF) system - found in Canon's latest DSLR and mirrorless cameras - for much faster processing and AF speed. Yet, the G1 X Mark III is 134g, or around 27 per cent, lighter than Mark II.
The Mark III does not look anything like the Mark II. Instead, it looks more like the G5 X, which is a good thing, as it means it is much more compact so you can put it into your bag or backpack.
On the downside, the G1 X Mark III's 24-72mm f/2.8-5.6 zoom lens is shorter than the Mark II's 24-120mm f/2.0-f/3.9 lens.
Perhaps the most glaring omission is the lack of 4K video recording. While I rarely shoot videos, I think many would prefer their camera to be able to record 4K videos, given that this function is found in many smartphones.
The most exciting feature in the Mark III to me is the built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). The Mark II does not have one, though you can buy an external EVF. In addition, the Mark III has a rotatable touchscreen display - the Mark II has a tiltable screen. The display supports Touch & Drag AF, which lets you use your thumb or finger to move the AF point using the display while using the EVF. This makes composing the photo and focusing on subjects more efficient.
Button layout on the G1 X Mark III is well thought out. There is a mode dial on the top left and an exposure compensation dial sits on the top right, just behind the shutter release button. There is a front command dial and a rear command for quick changing of settings.
Despite its compact size, the Mark III comes with a generous rear thumb rest and prominent front rubberised grip that allow for a sturdy and comfortable grasp of the camera.
Operation is above average for a prosumer compact. It starts up in 1.5sec, with shutdown clocking the same amount of time.
Using an SD card with a transfer speed rated at 95MB a second, I shot 20 RAW images in 2.3sec before the buffer ran out.
The AF performance is a tad mixed. It locks focus on a subject almost instantaneously under bright sunlight. But in dim lighting, it can take up to 2sec to get a focus with the aid of the AF-assist light.
The G1 X Mark III does not look anything like the Mark II. Instead, it looks more like the G5 X, which is a good thing, as it means it is much more compact so you can put it into your bag or backpack.
Images shot using this camera look fantastic, with sharp rendition of pixels and details. Colours are reproduced nicely without over-saturation. But sharpness suffers at the maximum focal length, especially at the lens' biggest aperture. I would recommend adjusting the aperture to f/8 at 72mm for sharper images.
The still image noise performance is average. At ISO 3,200, you start to notice loss in details but images are still usable. ISO 6,400 is the highest sensitivity I would recommend if you want to use a picture for print.
The G1 X Mark III's price has risen to $1,499, from its predecessor's $999. But considering inflation and the features added to the Mark III, I would say the Mark III is a steal at that price.
IMAGE SENSOR: 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS
LENS: 24-72mm f/2.8-f/5.6
DISPLAY: 3-inch rotatable touchscreen LCD with 1,040,000 dots; electronic viewfinder with 2,360,00 dots
SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 25,600
SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 9 frames per second
CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communications, Bluetooth LE
WEIGHT: 399g (body with battery and memory card)
BATTERY LIFE: 2/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
On the downside, battery life is below average. It takes only around 200 images on a full charge. But the good thing is you can charge the camera via its micro-USB port. Just carry a power bank with you on your photo walks.
•Verdict: The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is a superb compact prosumer camera with fantastic image quality and superb handling. It is a great compact camera to take along on travels. Just pack an extra battery or two.