The new Canon PowerShot G1 X - commonly shortened to Canon G1 X, or even Canon G1X - occupies the top spot in Canon's prestigious G-series compact camera range, offering a truly impressive array of high-end features.

Launched at CES in January 2012, the new digital camera is aimed at advanced photographers in search of a high-quality, take-anywhere primary camera and/or backup for their DSLR.

To that end, the Canon G1 X is packed with advanced technologies designed to deliver the very best performance.

Canon G1 X review

It may not be the compact system camera (CSC) that everyone was expecting to see from Canon, nor is it a direct replacement for the highly popular Canon G12 (that is the Canon G15) - rather, it's something in between.

As such, it's difficult to slot the Canon G1 X into any one particular category and so - as Canon is keen to point out - it's just as tricky to determine natural rivals for this new camera.

The Canon PowerShot G1 X's specifications make for very impressive reading. It boasts a 14.3MP CMOS sensor that's almost the same size as an EOS DSLR's, sporting a pixel structure and size that's equivalent to that on the entry-level Canon EOS 600D's CMOS device.

Canon G1 X review

The latest generation Digic 5 image processor drives this camera's performance and promises to deliver richly-detailed shots with well-controlled noise, while the Canon G1X's fast, 4x optical image stabilisation (IS) zoom lens incorporates a new design using Ultra High Refractive Index Aspherical (UA) elements for supreme image quality.

Factor in a 3-inch, high-resolution, articulated LCD, built-in flash, optical viewfinder and an impressive ISO sensitivity range that tops out at an unprecedented (among G-series cameras) ISO 12800, and you can appreciate why we were incredibly keen to take the Canon G1 X out for a spin the minute it arrived.

You can also begin to appreciate why its recommended retail price is £699 in the UK and $799.99 in the US.

Features

Canon G1 X review

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At the heart of the Canon PowerShot G1 X beats a large 4:3 aspect 14.3MP CMOS sensor and the latest Digic 5 image processor.

The sensor size - measuring 18.7mm x 14mm - is just over six times bigger than the one featured in the Canon PowerShot G12, and is just a shade smaller than the APS-C sensors used in entry and enthusiast-level EOS DSLRs. This ensures top-notch image quality and - potentially - lower levels of noise at high ISOs.

The latter point is reinforced by the integration of Canon's latest-generation Digic 5 processor, which - as we've seen with PowerShot S100, PowerShot SX40 HS and Canon EOS 1DX - is very capable of handling large volumes of data at speed, as well as keeping noise under tight control.

Canon G1 X review

Canon's latest-generation Digic 5 image processor determines the speed at which data is processed, enabling the Canon G1 X to shoot 1080p movies at 24fps and keep up with the action in its High Speed Burst HQ mode. It's also responsible for the way in which noise is handled and JPEGs and moving images are compressed.

Like many of the latest cameras we've seen recently, Canon has chosen to equip the PowerShot G1 X with an articulated screen, which proves useful when shooting movies, macro subjects and from high/low perspectives, for instance.

The 3-inch LCD screen - which boasts a pleasing resolution of 920,000-dots - is bright and detailed, with a wide viewing angle and effective anti-reflective coating that means it remains usable in all but the very brightest of conditions.

Canon G1 X review

The Canon G1X also offers a small, but nonetheless useful optical viewfinder as an alternative means of composition.

A first for a G-series compact, the Canon G1 X boasts a comprehensive sensitivity range that spans ISO 100-12800, with on-chip noise reduction promising a clean performance in low light.

Full HD (1080p) movie recording capability at 24fps is another key item in the Canon G1 X's feature-set, bettering the lower-resolution modes seen on some other potential rivals' spec sheets.

Canon G1 X review

With a 4x optical zoom that offers a range equivalent to 28mm-112mm on a 35mm camera, the Canon G1 X covers you for most everyday shooting situations.

And its new design - developed specifically to marry with the larger sensor - shows off Canon's impressive level of expertise when it comes to optical performance.

Canon G1 X review

Additional features including full manual control, raw file shooting capability and innovative technologies such as Canon's Intelligent IS all help to bolster the Canon PowerShot G1 X's impressive set of functions.

The latter option is able to analyse the focal length, distance to the subject and to interpret any form of camera movement before selecting one of seven different IS modes - including Macro and Panning, for example - to suit the situation.