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Ziv Koren on the PowerShot G1 X Mark II

Ziv Koren on the PowerShot G1 X Mark II

© Ziv Koren

February 2014

Canon’s new flagship compact, the PowerShot G1 X Mark II, was recently given its first real-life test by photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Ziv Koren on the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel. As he explains to CPN Editor David Corfield, for such a small – but feature-packed – camera it put in a very mighty performance...

© Julian Love

Ziv Koren with the PowerShot G1 X Mark II.

Ziv Koren is used to sticky situations. As a photojournalist who is paid to get into trouble, the camera he chooses to accompany him on tricky assignments has got to be up to the task. So, when Canon gave him the brand-new PowerShot G1 X Mark II to use for its launch campaign, he was in for a very pleasant surprise.

“I was amazed by this little camera,” Ziv enthuses. “It is a small design that scores big. There is one thing as a photographer that I can never compromise on and that is quality. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. The real advantage of this camera is its size. It’s small and discreet and it can get you into places that – sometimes – a bigger DSLR might not. But that does not mean that the quality of the image suffers. It has a bigger sensor than normal compacts and this raises the quality to SLR-like levels.”

Customisable – have it your own way

When Canon engineers sat down to plan the new PowerShot G1 X Mark II, one of their first objectives – gleaned from two years’ worth of feedback from users of the previous G1 X – was to expand its customisable abilities. A Dual Control Ring was, for Ziv, one of the most impressive elements of the new PowerShot G1 X Mark II and offered him a new level of control in a compact that gave him the security and confidence gained from his usual DSLR workflow. “With the Dual Control Rings, it made the new G1 X [Mark II] very familiar to use,” he tells me. “You can adjust it to the way you regularly work – so, for me, I customised it to aperture and speed.”

An optional extra – sold separately from the G1 X Mark II body – is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that refreshes at a very high rate to provide a near-optical experience. Ziv was impressed. “I loved the EVF. It is very helpful and changed the whole characteristics of the camera to give me even more of a DSLR experience in terms of handling.”

Discreet, yet making a bold statement

© Julian Love

The optional electronic viewfinder (EVF) provides DSLR-like handling while a high refresh rate gives excellent optical clarity.

“A real advantage of this camera is its size,” admits Ziv. “It doesn’t look threatening to people you are trying to photograph. It looks like a normal amateur compact and yet delivers a totally professional performance.”

The size of the camera isn’t the only thing that impressed Ziv, however. “When I first picked it up, and set it for my usual preferred shooting method, I instantly felt at home as the menu structure on the LCD was very similar in terms of layout, look – even colours and typeface – to my usual DSLRs.”

Again, you can thank Canon engineers for that. They listened to feedback and redesigned the PowerShot G1 X Mark II from the base plate up, packing into its small dimensions a host of additional features such as WiFi connectivity, a totally new f/2.0-3.9 24mm 5x zoom lens (24-120mm equivalent) with nine aperture blades, and a redesigned focusing system with 31 AF points instead of the previous model’s nine.

A totally professional performance

“The G1 X Mark II allows you to work like a professional and look like an amateur,” states Ziv. “It doesn’t seem like a professional tool, but it is. It’s a good camera with a fast f/2.0 lens that does a great job with high ISOs – you still get a decent result. I was working at ISO 4000 at times and it was giving me incredibly good images. The zoom is very useful too, and you can shoot in low-light conditions with no flash. It was just wonderful.”

© Ziv Koren

Using the PowerShot G1 X Mark II's 5x zoom at its widest 24mm focal length, Ziv managed to create some stunning views.

The whole idea behind the shoot was to take the camera onto the busy streets of Tel Aviv in Israel and put it to the test in a mixture of urban environments. “We photographed street scenes such as markets and also different locations around the city,” Ziv recalls. “We shot everything from portraits to architecture and worked at night, too, in near darkness. Overall I must have shot about 2,000 frames.”

He adds: “In low-light the camera performed fantastically. The high ISO capability of the sensors in modern PowerShot compacts now are just unbelievable. Even over the last five years, with the way the files are processed, they are in a totally different league from images shot on pro DSLR cameras from just five years ago.”

“The size of this camera allowed me to move really freely, too, and I genuinely did start to think that I could easily use this camera as a professional tool in place of a DSLR. This is by far the most advanced compact camera I’ve seen in terms of functionality and ease of use, but best of all is the quality of image it delivers. It’s really impressive. Add to that the fantastic lens and I was really happy.”

A totally redesigned lens

© Ziv Koren

The widest 24mm focal length of the 5x zoom allowed Ziv Koren to get close in to subjects.

Three extra aperture blades (nine now, instead of six on the original G1 X) allow the photographer to get really creative with the zoom lens, adding in foreground blur even when the lens is completely zoomed in.

“I loved shooting at f/2.0 at the widest (24mm) setting,” Ziv remembers. “This is a focal length that really suits a photojournalist like me as I can get close to a subject and fill the frame with drama and information. I worked sometimes with it just in one hand, shooting on-the-fly and was impressed how quick the focusing was and how accurate it was, too.”

“The enhanced grip makes a real difference to the way this camera handles,” Ziv advises. “For my hand it could have been even bigger actually, but from the handling point of view it felt good.”

WiFi – connections without cables

© Julian Love

Canon Ambassador Ziv Koren used the iPad to control the new Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II remotely.

One of the new features on the new PowerShot G1 X Mark II is its full WiFi capability, allowing the photographer to work remotely using Canon’s CameraWindow app which is free to download for both Android or iOS systems. “I used a tablet to remotely control the camera and it worked brilliantly. I have never done that before and even I was learning something. You can teach an old dog new tricks, it seems!” he laughs.

One of the real advantages offered by WiFi, for a photographer like Ziv, is a little more subtle. “I could shoot to review on an iPhone, which means that if the camera was seized by a threatening subject, the images I chose to save on the phone would not be lost, because as well as being in the card they would have been saved on the phone too. To me, that is a real plus and perfect example of how a photojournalist can benefit from modern technology.”

© Ziv Koren

Even working in low-light conditions Ziv was able to enjoy the PowerShot G1 X Mark II's remarkable ability to capture stunning detail with very low noise.

In summary: a connected camera for the next generation

After five days and over 2,000 images, Ziv Koren had become a total convert to the PowerShot G1 X Mark II’s potential. “From the word go I became very familiar with it, very quickly,” he remembers. “It’s amazing how far Canon has come with this camera. From the wonderfully bright lens to the optional EVF, which I really loved using, to the fully customisable way you can make the Dual Control Rings set up perfectly for the way you shoot. It’s the most complete compact ever and I have already put my order in for one!”

PowerShot G1 X Mark II - key features

  • Large 1.5-type Canon CMOS sensor.
  • 12.8 Megapixel images (3:2) and multi-aspect shooting.
  • Fast f/2 aperture and a max ISO 12,800.
  • Ultra-wide 24mm, 5x zoom lens.
  • DIGIC 6 processing and Intelligent IS.
  • 31-point AiAF and MF Peaking.
  • Dual Control Rings and touch-screen operation.
  • WiFi with remote shooting and Image Sync.
  • Optional electronic viewfinder.
  • 14-bit RAW.

Biografie: Ziv Koren

Ziv Koren

In a career spanning over 20 years Canon Ambassador Ziv Koren has been a military photographer in the Israeli army, a newspaper photo editor and he is now a freelance photographer affiliated to Polaris Images. His work has won numerous awards around the world and has been published in leading publications in many countries. In 2000 one of his images was chosen by World Press Photo as one of the 200 best pictures from the previous 45 years.


Sample image shot by Ziv Koren with the PowerShot G1 X Mark II.