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Canon’s G7 X Mark II unveils improved processor, 40x zoom in compact SX720 HS

Canon’s PowerShot series has two new compact cameras, each targeting different users in the point-and-shoot market. The G7 X Mark II and SX720 HS are both successors to existing products (the G7 X and SX710 HS, respectively, which remain in the lineup).

PowerShot G7 X Mark II

A new model in the advanced PowerShot G-series, the compact G7 X Mark II retains the same form factor as its predecessor, however there is a new textured grip on the front. It uses the same 1-inch sensor (although 20.1 megapixels instead of 20.2, due to the image processing) and 4.2x f/1.8-2.8 stabilized lens, but the image stabilization has been enhanced to better detect panning motions.

The G7 X II is the first Canon camera to use the all-new Digic 7 image processor. Canon says the Digic 7 is more powerful, with better subject tracking performance (not just with human faces, but also things like pets) and detection of faces with similar tonality as the background, as well as noise reduction; it provides a one-stop increase in noise reduction in JPEGs or movies. ISO tops out at 12,800, expandable to 25,600.

Related: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II brings performance to pros working with photos and videos

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.

Continuous RAW shooting has increased to 8 frames per second (from 6.5), with in-camera RAW conversion. The G7 X II also has the Auto Lighting Optimizer, borrowed from the EOS DSLRs, which examines the overall scene and adjusts the dynamic range without blowing out the background while maintaining the foreground. As with the original G7 X, the Picture Style function lets you adjust color, contrast, and sharpness in-camera.

The 3-inch touchscreen LCD (1.04-million dots) has also been improved: In addition to tilting 180-degrees up for selfies, it now tilts down 45 degrees for overhead shots. The G7 X II shoots Full HD 1080 at 60p, but it can now easily make time-lapse movies. The control ring around the lens, one of our favorite features, can be adjusted for smooth movement or stepped (click stops).

Wi-Fi and NFC are onboard, but there is now a dedicated Wi-Fi button and NFC has been upgraded from passive to active (receive and send). Battery life has improved slightly, at 265 shots per charge (up from 210).

The camera will go on sale in May, at $700. It’s considerably more expensive than the G9 X, but you get a better lens and image processor, among other features. For $50 you can opt for the G5 X with an electronic viewfinder, but that also lacks some of the newer features in the G7 X II.

PowerShot SX720 HS

The SX720 HS is part of the SX-series of long-zoom compacts. The new design has more straight lines than its predecessor, but dimensions are roughly the same. Yet, Canon managed to squeeze in a longer lens (40x with optical image stabilization, versus 30x). An ideal travel camera, the SX720 HS offers casual users telephoto-zoom capability without stepping up to an interchangeable lens camera.

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS.

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS.

Besides a dedicated Wi-Fi button and upgraded NFC, the camera remains fairly identical in specs to the SX710 HS. It uses the same 20.3-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor and Digic 6 image processor; shoots movies up to Full HD 1080 at 60p; plays back on a 3-inch LCD (922k dots, non-touch); and has the useful Zoom Framing Assist function that lets you better keep track a moving a subject at full telephoto.

The camera will go on sale in March, for $380. If you don’t need the 40x zoom, the SX710 HS could be a better deal with its lower price.