Canon G3 X review

A versatile, if bulky, compact camera with incredible reach and excellent picture quality

Canon G3 X

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

It wasn't love at first sight with the Canon G3X and I started from a slightly skeptical stance, being concerned about the lack of a viewfinder and suspecting that the 24-600mm was going to be too much of a compromise. To some extent I found ways to compensate for the absence of a viewfinder, and I'm sure many users will adjust. However, there's no doubt about what sold the camera to me: the superzoom lens.

The level of detail captured is remarkable when you consider the size of the lens, the range it covers and the fact that the sensor is just one inch in size. Canon seems to have got the balance just right here: a larger sensor would improve image quality but the lens and whole camera would need to be considerably larger, while a smaller sensor might have made for a genuinely compact camera, but to the detriment of image quality.

The Canon G3X is an enjoyable camera to use – it may not be stylish, but it is well designed and sits comfortably in the hand. The touchscreen is an excellent inclusion and makes navigating the menus much easier. The tilting screen is great for low-down and high-level shooting, although a vari-angle version would have been even better.

The zoom lens operates smoothly and one shot focus is responsive and accurate in all but the most difficult of conditions. It's a shame it struggles with continuous shooting but the excellent video functionality should help compensate.

With so many full auto and scene modes available, those wanting to use the camera as a simple point and shoot are well catered for, as are those who like to experiment with special effects. Equally, those users who like to take control of settings themselves will find more than enough features and functionality to keep them happy.

Raw and JPEG files can be recorded simultaneously, and several image ratio crops are available. The lack of a panorama shooting mode does seem an oversight and there's also no multiple exposure option, but overall there's very little that's missing.

In terms of competition at this time, the G3 X sits between the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 II, both in terms of cost and functionality, and it's big draw over both of those cameras is the extra zoom reach, which is considerable.

Panasonic's FZ1000 has a faster lens, fully articulating screen and 4K video, but it reaches only 400mm at the long end and is not as well built as the GX 3. The Sony RX10 II is very small yet has the same size sensor and a super-fast, constant f/2.8 aperture, but it has a even smaller zoom range of 24-200mm.

A more serious rival may be Panasonic's new FZ330, which boasts 4K video, a vari-angle screen and a constant f/2.8 aperture, and costs around £300 less, although we've yet to fully test that camera for image quality – you can see our first impressions here.

We like

A well made, reasonably rugged and extremely capable camera, with plenty of features, a high-quality tilting touchscreen and an extremely capable zoom lens. Image quality is very good indeed, particularly when you consider the generous focal range.

We dislike

The lack of an inbuilt viewfinder means the G3 X, out of the box, is not quite the complete camera that it might be, nor is it the most stylish looking. It's definitely not an action camera for tracking fast moving subjects, and the lack of a panorama function is disappointing.


The G3 X really won me over, despite its lack of a viewfinder, largely down to its superb 24-600mm lens. Image quality is much better than I would have expected, given the huge focal range and the relatively small one-inch sensor. A good level of detail is captured across its zoom range and the nine-bladed aperture creates a smooth and beautifully rendered bokeh. Colours are punchy but natural looking, and images (both JPEG and raw) look great.

The autofocus (AF) system works very well with static subjects, as does the face detection focus tracking. However, the AF servo mode for tracking fast moving subjects is a disappointment, and I can't see this camera being used to shoot fast-moving wildlife or children running around the playground, although you can make use of the excellent video functionality to capture such subjects.

It may not be the most stylish-looking camera out there, but the G3 X handles well, and is intuitive to use. It's quite bulky for a compact, although not unreasonably so when you consider the performance and functionality it packs in. By including a one-inch sensor Canon has been able to keep the long range zoom lens to a sensible size, while still achieving remarkably good image quality.