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The PowerShot G1 X compact explained

The PowerShot G1 X compact explained

January 2012

The 14.3 Megapixel Canon PowerShot G1 X is a groundbreaking digital camera that boasts a potent combination of a large, high-sensitivity Canon CMOS sensor, a DIGIC 5 image processor, and a 4x optical zoom lens with a 4-stop Image Stabilizer to deliver DSLR levels of control and the highest level of image quality ever seen in a Canon compact camera.

The PowerShot G1 X is the most advanced G-series compact ever produced and it incorporates some of Canon’s key sensor, image processing and lens technologies to deliver a wide variety of shooting possibilities for both professional and advanced amateur photographers. CPN takes a closer look at what the PowerShot G1 X is capable of...

Large 14.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor


Diagram showing the relative size of the sensor unit of the PowerShot G1 X in comparison to the PowerShot G12 compact and APS-C based DSLR cameras. The sensor has an area approximately 6.3 times that of the sensor in the G12.

The PowerShot G1 X’s new large CMOS sensor has a similar height to the Canon APS-C format sensor used in the EOS 7D, EOS 60D and EOS 600D DSLRs and features the same pixel size and structure as the EOS 600D’s sensor. The sensor has been specially customised for the G1 X to a 4:3 aspect ratio in order to achieve the required balance between the camera size and the best possible image quality.

The PowerShot G1 X’s sensor measures 18.7x14mm and has a total sensor area approximately 6.3 times larger than the area of the 7.4x5.6mm sensor in Canon’s previous G-series flagship compact, the PowerShot G12, which is already a much trusted imaging tool amongst professional photographers.

This larger format sensor offers a number of benefits including giving photographers greater control over depth-of-field, so they can creatively isolate subjects from the background. The high resolution of the sensor also allows you to see more detail in images and gives the ability to crop images and still be able to print at large sizes.


The light-sensitive area per pixel in the PowerShot G1 X is approximately 4.5 times that of the light sensitive area per pixel in the G12 – this results in higher light sensitivity, a wider dynamic range, and a better signal-to-noise ratio.

The sensor’s light-sensitive area per pixel is approximately 4.5 times larger than in previous comparable G-series sensor – this makes it possible to capture 4.5 times more light than before. The benefits of deploying a sensor with a larger light-sensitive area include higher light sensitivity, a wider dynamic range (at both low and high ISO speeds), and a better signal-to-noise ratio.

An optimised microlens configuration on the sensor means the light collecting efficiency and light storage is improved dramatically with the new CMOS sensor. On-chip noise cancellation technology cuts out the fixed-pattern noise that can be caused by variations between pixel amplifiers.

High-speed, one-line, four-channel readout technology reads signals from multiple pixels simultaneously and provides high-speed image capture for fast, responsive performance in all conditions. This ability to instantly process large amounts of high-quality image data also enables a High-speed burst HQ rate of at 4.5 fps for six frames, or a 1.9fps continuous rate in JPEG format.

DIGIC 5-based HS System

The powerful DIGIC 5 processor in the PowerShot G1 X is able to process six times the amount of information compared to the DIGIC 4 processor used in the PowerShot G12 compact. With this vastly increased processing power advanced noise reduction is possible to provide even better image quality than the DIGIC 4-powered HS System.


The sensor unit of the PowerShot G1 X shown in situ. It features the same pixel size and structure as the EOS 600D DSLR’s sensor but has been specially customised for the G1 X to a 4:3 aspect ratio to achieve the necessary balance between the camera size and the best possible image quality.

The DIGIC 5 processor uses approximately four times as much information as before to resolve one pixel, with the aforementioned six times faster processing speed. For the total performance of noise and image clarity this has an effect of two stops at high ISOs compared to the PowerShot G12 compact at ISO 3200, and three stops at lower ISOs.

By combining the large sensor with the DIGIC 5 image processor the HS System in the PowerShot G1 X offers excellent low light performance with a maximum full-resolution ISO range of ISO 100 to 12,800; a level never been seen before in a Canon compact camera. By fully drawing out the power of the large format sensor and high performance processor in the G1 X colour information at high ISOs is consistently preserved, with high detail, for beautifully crisp images.

The camera’s high ISO also allows photographers to achieve faster shutter speeds to freeze the movement of subjects and achieve blur-free images. Additionally, photographers can shoot confidently without the use of flash, without the need for a tripod and, if flash is used, the flash range will reach further.


The PowerShot G1 X has a high-end DIGIC 5 processor that’s able to process six times the amount of information compared to the DIGIC 4 processor used in the PowerShot G12 and offers advanced noise reduction in images.

Precision 4x optical zoom lens with 4-stop Image Stabilizer

The PowerShot G1 X’s precision 4x (28-112mm equivalent in 35mm format) zoom lens is a completely new, high-precision lens that’s been designed to work in combination with the new large sensor for high resolution and high image quality. The lens combines outstanding wide-angle capabilities with the telephoto reach needed for flexible compositions in a wide range of shooting conditions.

The 4x zoom lens has been constructed using Ultra high refractive index Aspherical (UA) lens elements and precision Glass Molding (GMo) technology to achieve both a compact size and pin-sharp clarity. It has a 4-stop optical Image Stabilizer that means photographers can shoot at a shutter speed four stops lower than would otherwise be necessary for sharp results – this allows for handheld shooting at much slower shutter speeds and longer focal lengths.

In addition to 4-stop optical IS the camera’s Intelligent IS system analyses the focal length, focal distance and type of camera movement and automatically selects the optimum optical Image Stabilizer mode, from seven modes, to reduce camera shake and blur.


The lens construction of the 4x zoom lens in the PowerShot G1 X includes two aspheric Ultra high refractive index Aspherical (UA) lens elements to combat aberration and has a 4-stop optical Image Stabilizer.

The lens in the PowerShot G1 X also includes a built-in 3-stop Neutral Density (ND) Filter that gives you greater creative control by reducing the light reaching the sensor by around three stops. For example, to capture a free flowing waterfall, deploying the ND filter will allow you to shoot with a much slower shutter speed and give the effect of greater movement in the final image. With the PowerShot G1 X It is possible to use apertures as small as f/16 to capture a large depth-of-field in images – this is particularly useful for landscape photography where it’s best to capture everything in a scene (from front to back) in pin-sharp detail.

Full Manual Control, 14-bit RAW and DPP software, simultaneous RAW+JPEG

Many professional photographers prefer to shoot in RAW mode so that they can obtain image files with as much information as possible to allow for detailed post-processing. RAW shooting has long been an asset to the Canon G-series of compacts so it’s little surprise that the RAW function has stayed intact on the PowerShot G1 X. However, in a clear progression to the G-series’ RAW shooting capabilities the PowerShot G1 X is able to shoot 14-bit RAW image format files that, coupled with the large sensor, will deliver high dynamic range images with the ability to post-process the files to correct exposure and a range of image parameters.

By upgrading the RAW capabilities to 14-bit even more information can be preserved in RAW images and effective utilisation of this information means various correction processes such as image clarity of minute texture, better noise reduction capability, expanded dynamic range, and shadow correction are achieved. Because the RAW on the PowerShot G1 X records even more information with less noise it has increased the potential for image re-touching and post-processing.


The combination of the lens, large sensor, and DIGIC 5 processor in the PowerShot G1 X works together to deliver a number of benefits including outstanding noise reduction performance, high image quality, and the ability to blur backgrounds.

RAW shooting is fully compatible with the Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software that comes bundled with the camera for seamless workflow including minute control over white balance, exposure compensation, colour temperature, contrast, saturation, sharpness, tone curve, noise reduction and levels of edge emphasis. In addition, when using DPP with the PowerShot G1 X you can have control over lens correction to alter peripheral illumination, lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and colour blur.

Simultaneous RAW+JPEG shooting is also possible with the PowerShot G1 X so photographers can either review and use JPEGs quickly, or use RAW files for any detailed post-processing or to produce large prints.

Photographers who want full manual control of camera settings can do so via Manual, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Program and Custom shooting modes (C1 and C2). These are accessible via the traditional-style control dials on the top of the G1 X’s metal body.

The C1 and C2 Custom modes allow for your favourite combinations of shooting modes to be combined with settings (shutter speed/aperture, for instance), zoom location and even manual focus location. With two custom modes available on the main mode dial there is the potential for instant access to your most used shooting settings ready for particular shooting situations.

A manual exposure compensation dial allows you to set +/- 3 stops of exposure compensation in 1/3-stop intervals. This level of manual control puts the G1 X firmly in the professional domain, whilst also retaining a wide appeal for amateur photographers who wish to experiment and improve their photographic skills.

The Multi-Control Dial allows adjustment of many of the major settings and menu items such as ISO speeds (100 to 12,800), manual focus, flash, macro and drive mode. A custom setting within the camera’s user interface also allows photographers to select whether to use the Front Dial or the rear Multi-Control Dial as the main way of controlling the camera.


The PowerShot G1 X’s 7.5cm (3.0”) vari-angle Purecolor II VA 920k-dot LCD screen rotates through 175 degrees and has a ‘Quick-bright’ setting that allows for clear viewing in bright sunlight.

7.5cm (3.0”) vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD (920k) screen

The PowerShot G1 X has a large 7.5cm (3.0”) vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD screen that allows for easy composition and comfortable shooting from virtually any angle or position. The 920k-dot resolution with a wide viewing angle allows for easy sharing and reviewing of images and playback in low light, whilst the brightness of the LCD screen can be altered to one of five levels.

The PowerShot G1 X’s LCD screen includes a real time histogram display so you can easily view conditions and alter your shooting settings if required. Holding down the DISP button on the G1 X’s back plate allows you to activate the ‘Quick-bright’ setting that lets you view the LCD screen more clearly in bright sunlight.

The LCD screen offers 175 degrees of rotation so that you can view potential shots from both the front and the back of the G1 X. It greatly increases the viewing angle you have for potential images and offers 100% coverage.

Optical viewfinder

The PowerShot G1 X has a rugged metal body and stainless steel chassis along with an optical viewfinder that lets photographers shoot confidently and in their own style. The optical viewfinder is a real-image OVF with dioptre adjustment to allow for viewfinder clarity for differing types of eyesight.

Full HD movies (1080p) with stereo sound, movie record button and HDMI

The PowerShot G1 X features a dedicated movie record button to begin instant recording of Full HD 1080p movies, at 24fps, so there’s no delay in capturing an instantaneous moment. The camera’s large CMOS sensor helps for shooting high quality movies as it allows better low light performance, plus shallow depth-of-field capabilities for creative movie shooting.


The back of the PowerShot G1 X includes a Multi-Control Dial to control manual focus, macro, ISO settings, self-timer and flash. Instant recording of Full HD 1080p movies is available by pressing the red movie record button on the top right hand side.

The camera’s 4x optical zoom lens can be used whilst filming for versatile shooting possibilities and stereo sound can also be captured.

You can enjoy high quality playback of footage on an HDTV via the camera’s HDMI terminal. The Apple™ iFrame (720p) movie format is also available as an alternative movie-shooting mode for faster editing of footage on compatible Apple™ devices.

4.5 fps High-speed Burst HQ mode

The PowerShot G1 X can capture split-second action at 4.5 frames per second (fps) in a six-frame, full resolution, burst using its High-speed Burst HQ mode. Alternatively, photographers can shoot continuously at 1.9fps right up to the card capacity in JPEG format, thus ensuring that longer action sequences can be recorded.

Smart Auto with 32 scenes and Multi-area White Balance

For times when you want the camera to take full control the PowerShot G1 X includes Smart Auto mode, which automatically selects camera settings from 32 scenes to deliver optimum results for great quality photos and clips.

Multi-area White Balance correction in Smart Auto mode compensates for multiple light sources in the same scene for natural images. The DIGIC 5 processor is powerful enough to detect the presence of multiple light sources and make the appropriate corrections to the colour temperature so that a balanced result is achieved.

HDR mode


The controls on the top of the PowerShot G1 X include manual control of the camera’s pop-up flash unit, shooting mode and exposure compensation dials (exposure compensation can be set from +/-3EV in 1/3-stop increments), and a zoom lens rocker control.

When shooting on a tripod, the High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode takes multiple exposures of a scene and then combines them in-camera to deliver rich detail in shadow and highlight areas. In high contrast situations a conventional digital camera tends not to be able to capture the darkest shadows or the brightest of highlights so the use of the HDR mode allows for multiple exposures to be shot and combined to ensure the shadow and highlight detail is recorded.

Additional shooting possibilities

The PowerShot G1X has a number of additional features including Multi-Aspect Shooting so photographers can choose the composition and results they want from the camera without the need to post-process.

When shooting in dark conditions without a tripod a Handheld Night Scene mode captures a high-speed sequence of shots, combining the data to produce one well-exposed image with minimal blur.

For creative shooting a variety of Creative Filters allow photographers to select from a range of in-camera processing options to help to expand the creative options of photography.

Miniature Effect, for instance, gives the effect of a very narrow depth-of-field that can be applied to landscapes to make them appear miniature. Meanwhile, ‘Nostalgic Mode’ can be used to ‘age’ a photograph by progressively de-saturating the image and adding ‘film-like’ noise – photographers can choose the extent to which the effect is applied, via the Front Dial.

Shutter speed range and flash sync

The PowerShot G1 X has a shutter speed range of 60-1/4000sec so you have the options of recording anything from long exposures of night skies, to record movement, or freezing fast action with the top 1/4000sec shutter speed.


As well as offering DSLR-like performance the PowerShot G1 X is compatible with many EOS System accessories, such as Speedlite EX flashguns, whilst the FA-DC58C Lens Filter Adapter allows photographers to use 58mm filters with the camera.

The durability of the shutter unit is more than double that of the PowerShot G12 compact. With the full-size, 4.5fps high-speed continuous shooting capability of the PowerShot G1 X this improved durability was necessary for worry-free use.

The internal flash sync speed of the G1 X has been increased to 1/2000th of a second (1/250th of a second with external flash or 1/4000th of a second using high-speed sync), and flash exposure compensation is available from +/-2EV in 1/3-stop increments. Safety FE mode automatically syncs the shutter speed according to the scene and greatly reduces any possible overexposure of backlit scenes.

The manual pop-up flash unit of the G1 X extends higher than a traditional in-camera flash unit to deliver better flash photographs with no lens shadowing and reduced redeye. The flash only pops up if requested via the camera’s sliding flash control on the top plate.

Extensive compatibility with Canon accessories

The PowerShot G1 X is compatible with many Canon EOS System accessories including the Speedlite EX flashguns that fit onto the camera’s hotshoe to offer creative flash possibilities. The MLA-DC1 Macro Lite adapter allows you to use Canon’s Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX or the Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX flash units for even lighting when shooting close-up flash situations. Compatibility with 58mm filters is also available by using the FA-DC58C Lens Filter Adapter.

The specially designed Waterproof Case WP-DC44 allows photographers to have full manual control of the PowerShot G1 X for shooting in heavy rain or for underwater shooting down to a maximum depth of 40m.