Rotterdam, Netherlands – October 20th 2014
Last week Canon (Netherlands) asked me if I wanted to check out their latest flagship compact camera. With the Amsterdam Dance Event, and the world’s leading electronic artists basically on my doorstep no better way than to test this promising camera in one of the hardest settings available: a night on the dance floor at the 30.000 people Amsterdam Music Festival during the crowning of the DJMag new number one DJ of the world.
Now to start with: I’m far from an objective reviewer – I’ve handled Canon camera’s for over 30 years and I love them. So don’t expect a fair and technical comparison with other brands: I just wanted to see what the leading manufacturer of digital cameras was able to put into a pocket sized piece of equipment of roughly €650.
Though small it is, you would still need a fair sized pocket but as soon as you pick it up it just feels solid and well thought off – as you’d expect from proper Japanese engineering it just slides into your hands and you quickly feel accustomed with all the buttons and dials.
There were a few things beforehand that I was interested in: the speed and handling of the camera, quality at higher ISO ranges (800), speed of burst shooting, lens quality and finally the manual operation of the camera. Let’s take them one by one:
The speed of the camera is simply amazing, press on and it fires up instantly. There’s hardly a wait before you can start. I was really not disappointed here. Besides that, the display is nice and clear and it has some nice folding abilities (great for selfies since it opens above the camera instead of next to it so you’ll always have your eyes at the lens). It’s also a touchscreen which came in handy for setting the focus point for instance. The layout seems much simpler and more practical than its predecessor, again: it just seemed so natural to use. Definitely no need to open a manual before using it. Finally, the autofocus just seemed to be so spot-on most of the time I was afraid of becoming lazy. Though it sometimes had trouble with the wall of lights during the show, a quick refocus by touching the screen was good enough to correct this.
The quality at higher ISO ranges (I tested at 800) was truly amazing. Straight out of the camera produces easily the best images I’ve ever seen from a compact camera. Very little noise (even in the notoriously difficult color blue) and still an amazing amount of detail to be found. For someone used to using ten times more expensive top of the bill cameras this was amazing to see. Sure, the quality at 100% is not that articulate but for a compact camera it is truly unbelievable. I really had to look twice at my first images, never thought this quality could be reached in this sort of equipment. The large sensor is a main contributor to this but the optics play a huge part as well. I love the f/2.0 at its widest (24mm) but even f/3.9 is damn impressive at a 120mm focal length. Though, at this range the images turned out to be less good than at the wide setting but shooting in an indoor foggy and smoky venue did not help much either. In any way, the quality has blown me away!
The other major bliss of this little wonder is the ridiculously fast burst mode that just simply doesn’t stop. Shooting dance events requires a good bit of fast shooting to capture DJ’s or lights perfectly. The G1X2 did not disappoint, on the contrary. In combination with the large display I found it even nice to use than my own expensive DSLR’s!
Another reason for that is the fantastic manual control. The lens has a ring that you can use to set aperture or shutter speed while shooting. This is just the best way to use the camera. It gives so much control over your photography while shooting at the same time. I found this (together with the fast burst) the major upside of working with this camera. It’s so easy and natural that it’s simply hard to stop taking photographs, it just too much fun! One little thing I noticed that sometimes the ring was slow to react, especially when the camera is still writing away the previous images (though it’s fast). This might be a software update away from being fixed, but it is basically the only minor point that I came across during the two nights of working with the camera.
So, is it worth buying? YES, absolutely no doubt about it: this camera is so quick and so much fun to use – especially if you know a bit about photography and would like to use as much of your own settings as you feel comfortable with. At this price it’s a steal, I would think it’s very hard to find a camera that is this fast, this much fun to handle and delivers this kind of quality at this price range (remember, the price usually comes down a bit within a few years). For me it’s simple: this one’s going to be my new non-DSLR choice for the next few years!