Canon G1 X Mark II review

Canon seems to have returned to top premium compact form with the updated version of its G1 X camera.

Canon G1 X II
Although there's no viewfinder built-in, an optional EVF is available if you feel the need.

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The premium compact camera market is an interesting place to be right now.

The G1X II is a genuinely decent piece of kit which I can see a lot of photographers being tempted by it, especially those who are loyal to the Canon brand.

After taking its time to update the G1X range, we had pretty high hopes for its successor, and happily I have not been disappointed with what the camera is capable of. Bright and punchy colours, tons of detail and low noise in high sensitivity shooting situations, mixed with improved operation speeds and focusing all lead to a worthwhile upgrade.

On the other hand, the G1X II is bulky and heavy in comparison with other compact cameras – there's no getting away from that fact. Due to the large sensor, it has to be, but don't expect this to be something you can easily slip into a pocket. That may be a little offputting for somebody looking for something which is conveniently portable – in which case the Sony RX100 II still sits pretty at the top of the premium compact market.

If you can live with the large size, the G1X II is great to use – with the large touchscreen making it easy to set the autofocus point and the customisable buttons and rings around the lens allowing you to work however you want.

We liked

Rather than rushing out an upgrade to the G1X, Canon has taken its time to produce an upgrade which is actually an overhaul rather than a tweaked version of the old camera. The new Digic 6 processor makes for superb low light performance and super quick operation speeds.

We disliked

The G1X II has to be large to facilitate its very big sensor, but it results in a camera which is bulky – it's larger than some of the compact system cameras currently on the market, which means that it's not pocketable and, if that's what you need from a second camera, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, some will enjoy the camera's large size and weight, as it makes it feel like a 'serious' camera.

Final verdict

By keeping the same sensor but basically rebuilding the rest of the camera's key components around it, Canon has produced something which could potentially worry the likes of Sony and Fuji – it will be interesting to see how sales figures shape up.

For now, with its high price and bulky build, I can't see the G1X II taking too many sales from the current king of the compacts, the Sony RX100 II. However, image quality is better than from the Sony, so if you are looking for the ultimate in performance from something which is (relatively) pocketable, this is the camera for you – especially if you already have an affinity with the Canon brand.

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.