There is plenty to like about the PowerShot G3 X. First, it has a large one-inch image sensor, similar to that of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 series. Second, it has a 25x optical zoom lens with a range of 24mm to 600mm, which should cover most shooting occasions.
Also, unlike many cameras of its class, it does not have the bulk of a DSLR camera. Yet its metallic body feels sturdy and its rubberised contour grip is one of the best I have tried on a digital compact camera.
Button layout is well thought out and it makes the camera handle like a DSLR.
On the downside, the continuous ring on the lens barrel cannot be used for lens zooming. Instead, you have to use a tiny zoom lever at the power switch.
The G3 X lacks an electronic viewfinder (EVF) but has a 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD screen which can be flipped 180 degrees upwards for selfies, and 45 degrees downwards for over-the-head shots.
It does not have the bulk of a DSLR camera. Yet its metallic body feels sturdy and its rubberised contour grip is one of the best I have tried on a digital compact camera.
IMAGE SENSOR: 20.2-megapixel 1-inch CMOS
LENS: 24-600mm f/2.8-f/5.6
DISPLAY: Tiltable 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD with 1,620,000 dots
SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 5.9 frames a second
SENSITIVITY: ISO 125-12,800
CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication
WEIGHT: 733g (with battery and memory card)
BATTERY LIFE: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
If you prefer to compose your shots with an EVF, you can do so by getting Canon's EVF-DC1 ($379), which fits on the camera's hot shoe. The excellent EVF is almost as good as the optical viewfinder of a DSLR.
Canon should consider offering the EVF-DC1 as a bundle option as it improves the camera's composing capability considerably.
The camera starts up and shuts down quickly. I measured 1.1 and 1.6 seconds respectively. The lens takes about 2sec to zoom from 24mm to 600mm. Autofocusing (AF) is nearly instantaneous in bright sunlight. In dim lighting conditions, it can take around 2sec to get a sharp focus with the aid of the AF-assist light.
However, the AF may not be able to keep up with fast-moving subjects at long focal lengths - for instance, pigeons and squirrels, at 600mm.
Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 12MB per second, the camera captured 20 Jpeg images in 5.9sec before the buffer ran out.
The still images produced have vibrant colours with nice saturation. Auto white balance is spot on.
But images start to lose sharpness from 300mm focal length. They tend to be soft, even at the centre of the images. There were no chromatic aberrations, though.
The camera handles noise well. I hardly saw noise artefacts even at ISO 800. Noise artefacts are visible only at ISO 1,600, but details remain clear. At ISO 3,200, detail loss becomes more evident but the pictures are still good enough for Web use. Only at ISO 6,400 did the noise hamper and make images look "watercolour-ish".
Battery life is average at about 300 shots on a full charge.
•Verdict: The Canon PowerShot G3 X is great for vacations and a variety of shots, from landscape to close-ups.