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Canon’s flagship PowerShot G1 X gets new large sensor, 5x zoom, wireless, and more

Check out our in-depth Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II review.

For the upcoming 2014 CP+ camera show, Canon is introducing the second-generation of its flagship PowerShot camera, the G1 X Mark II. Like its predecessor this high-end point-and-shoot uses a large 1.5-inch CMOS sensor, but there are some significant upgrades and downgrades made to this camera.

The G1 X Mark II uses a brand new, Canon-made 1.5-inch sensor (Canon does source components from other manufacturers), but it’s a 12.8-megapixel sensor as oppose to the previous model’s 14.3 megapixels (remember, it’s not all about megapixels). The image processor gets a boost with Canon’s new Digic 6. The two components make up what Canon calls its HS System, which promises bright, detailed images even in low light. The autofocus system has been improved. It now uses a 31-point instead of nine.

The camera has a new 5x optical zoom lens with Dual Control Rings that offer DSLR-like zooming and focusing. The lens is also faster, with an aperture range of f/2-3.9; the nine-blade aperture allows users to achieve the smooth, blurred background for portrait photography.

The camera now has a 3-inch LCD that tilts all the way upward to a selfie friendly 180-degrees, and down 45 degrees; it replaces the flip-out, vari-angle screen of the previous model. Unfortunately, the new design means the camera had to get rid of the optical viewfinder. Casual users who are used to framing their shots with the LCD may not care, but for advanced users who shoot with DSLRs, having a viewfinder is important. Canon offers an electronic viewfinder accessory that attaches via the hot shoe, but it’s optional. There’s also a new flash design that pops out farther from the camera. A minus: Canon has done away with the dial for adjusting exposure compensation that we found useful, although the new control ring replaces that function.

The G1 X Mark II now has both Wi-Fi and NFC. With Wi-Fi you can pair the camera with a smartphone or tablet to enable wireless transfers/sharing, as well as remote operation. NFC allows for easy pairing with devices that support the protocol, which are mainly select Android devices.

While the G1 X Mark II offers the advanced shooting modes of DSLRs, it also has some creative auto modes like a compact point-and-shoot. The camera has an Advanced Star Mode with four options that lets you capture the night sky including Star Portrait, Star Nightscape, Star Trails, and Star time Lapse Movie. If you’re looking for an easy way to shoot astrophotography, this camera has the means to do it – especially helpful with its larger sensor.

The G1 X Mark II goes on sale in April for $800, which is a bit pricey for a point-and-shoot. For that kind of money you could get yourself Sony’s new A6000, which has a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor. But for pros and enthusiasts looking for a secondary camera to pair with a DSLR, the G1 X Mark II has the specs to deliver a great image – on paper at least.