Canon PowerShot G7 X review

You can't fit more photo firepower in your pocket than Canon's PowerShot G7 X

Canon’s response to Sony’s RX100-series is the PowerShot G7 X, and this pocket rocket is one impressive challenger.
Canon’s response to Sony’s RX100-series is the PowerShot G7 X, and this pocket rocket is one impressive challenger.
Canon’s response to Sony’s RX100-series is the PowerShot G7 X, and this pocket rocket is one impressive challenger.

Highs

  • Excellent all-around pocket camera
  • Quality stills and movies
  • Bright 4.2x zoom

Lows

  • Weak battery life
  • Occasional focus miscues
  • No hot shoe

DT Editors' Rating

Canon recently added another PowerShot pocket camera to its lineup that’s clearly targeted to enthusiasts – given its features and hefty price. As sales of basic point-and-shoots continue to off, expect to see camera makers beef up their more advanced models, like the PowerShot G7 X. Although very compact, on paper it looks a winner, but let’s see how it performs in the real world.

Features and design

At first glance, the PowerShot G7 X ($700) has a style and form factor that’s similar to the popular Canon S-series, such as the lower-priced S120 and S110, but look closer and you’ll see touches of the classic G-series – like dedicated dials – and hints of red that are reminiscent of the company’s professional Cinema EOS products.

The camera is small yet feels solid, much like the S-series. During our review period, we found it easy to pocket and carry around all day. It measures 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.6 inches, and weighs 10.7 ounces. But, tech-wise, the G7 X leaves the S120 in the dust. The new camera has a 1-inch, 20.2-megapixel sensor – much like Sony’s Cyber-shot RX100-series cameras. It is a better sensor than the 1 /1.7-inch in the PowerShot G16, but not as big as the 1.5-inch 12.8MP sensor of the G1 X Mark II. The G7 X is in direct competition with the RX100 Mark II, but not the RX100 Mark III with its XAVC-S videos and amazing pop-up electronic viewfinder.

A key feature on the front is a 4.2x zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 24-100mm. Canon engineers made a big breakthrough by giving the lens an aperture range of f/1.8 (wide) and f/2.8 (tele) using a larger sensor. By comparison, the RX100 Mark II, which has a similar focal range, has an aperture range of f/1.8-f/4.9. This makes the G7 X a better choice – in theory – for those who like shooting in low light. (For the record, the newer RX100 Mark III has an aperture range of f/1.8-2.8, but the focal range is only 24-70mm.)

The PowerShot G7 X is without a doubt one of the best pocket cameras Canon has ever released.

The G7 X lens has a built-in cover and is surrounding by a customizable clicking ring that lets you quickly make adjustments for one of eight choices (white balance, manual focus, exposure compensation, etc.); the default is ISO. The ring is definitely noisy, letting you know it’s working but we liked the sound of it, in a retro sort of way.

Next to the shutter button/zoom lever are double-decker dials. The top level is a classic mode dial with 11 options, while the lower is for adjusting exposure compensation. There is no hot shoe for optional accessories such as a larger flash or electronic viewfinder, however. Rounding out the top-deck features are a pop-out flash, stereo microphone, and speaker.

Canon, like almost all camera manufacturers, has embraced selfies with abandon. With this PowerShot, the tilting 3-inch LCD flips to a full 180 degrees, even when the flash is popped out. The display is rated 1.04 million dots, and the touchscreen is responsive for tapping and swiping through various functions. The hinge is really solid, adding to the overall heft of the camera. We noticed some reflectivity issues when the sun is behind you, however, but generally it holds up to bright sunshine. Near the display is the usual assortment of buttons; hit the Function button and you’ll delve into Canon’s very logical and tried-and-true interface for changing parameters.

Canon G7x back screen on

On the right side are USB and HDMI connections, and a Mobile Device button to connect with a Wi-Fi network or smartphone. There’s also an NFC tag to use near-field communication to pair with a compatible mobile device (as of now, they are mainly Android devices). The G7 X is compatible with Canon’s CameraWindow app for iOS and Android, which you can use to review images and operate the camera remotely. The battery is rated only 210 shots, which isn’t superb; an Eco mode provides 310 shots, but it shuts down the camera too quickly to save power.

What’s in the box

The G7 X comes with a battery, plug-in charger, and wrist strap. There’s also a quick-start guide. Canon no longer provides software or documentation on a disc; you will need to download them from Canon’s support site (after entering your camera’s serial number). The lack of a USB cable was surprising. We’re sure most people have spare Mini USB cables lying around, and many people prefer using a memory card reader to download files, but for a camera that costs $700, is throwing in a cable that much to ask?

Optional accessories worth considering

  • SanDisk Extreme 32GB SD card (UHS-1 compatible)
  • Canon spare battery (NB-13L)
  • USB cable (IFC-400PCU)
  • HDMI cable (Type D connector)

Warranty

Canon provides the typical limited one-year warranty. More details can be found here.

Performance and use

The G7 X’s 1-inch 20.2MP sensor captures 5,472 x 3,648-pixel files (JPEG/RAW). It also takes 1080/60p videos, which we’re happy to see since Canon compact cameras have lagged behind the competition on the movie front. The G7 X uses the peppy DIGIC 6 image processor to move things along nicely – the top burst setting is 6.5 frames per second, and unlike many pocket cameras you can easily shoot continuously for 20 or 30 full-res JPEGs. It slows down if you’re shooting RAW+JPEG, but over this spec is quite impressive.

It has been awhile since we handled a quality PowerShot, and the G7 X brings back that Canon photo “feel” we like so much. In our sample shots, colors have the accuracy we’ve always enjoyed over the years. The overall impression was quite pleasing, and we doubt anyone but the fussiest pixel-peepers would take issue with the photos.

Thanks to that large sensor, the shots we took of Halloween trick-or-treaters, desert and ocean landscapes, and other subjects – with a few selfies thrown in for good measure – were really good. The camera responded quickly and the autofocus worked well for the most part, although there were a few occasions when it couldn’t immediately lock onto the subject.

Canon’s user interface has been around for a while now, but it’s simple to operate. Between the touchscreen and jog wheel, you’ll master this one very quickly (unlike the UI on the new Nikon 1 J4 and S2).

The G7 X records 1080/60p videos with stereo sound, using the MOV format. We shot a variety of clips and enjoyed what we saw on the big screen. Focus and exposure were good for the most part, but a nighttime Halloween video of banjo-playing skeletons didn’t pan out, due to low light. Even high ISOs and wide aperture lenses can’t do everything. With a bit more light, the camera did a fine job and in bright daylight, there were no issues at all.

This pocket camera handles ISOs very well and it has a range of 125-12,800. In our tests images were solid to ISO 800-1,000, then gradually deteriorated. Even the 6,400 setting was decent albeit at a small image size, but ISO 2,500 and 3,200 are the highest settings you should go. Still, it means you can crank up the ISO to get a faster shutter speed, especially when combined with the wide aperture lens. We predicted the camera would fall flat at ISO 12,800 (we were right, those images weren’t usable), since it takes a high-end DSLR to perform at those levels and beyond. But, overall, Canon is to be commended on the sensitivity front.

Canon was a little late dealing with issues of wireless connectivity but the G7 X is a solid performer. The Canon CameraWorks app (iOS and Android) is not the most advanced when you put it beside Samsung or Sony’s, but it handles the basic needs including transferring images between the camera and smartphone or tablet, and remote control. There were no issues pairing with a Samsung Galaxy S5, and we’ve had no problems using CameraWorks with iOS in the past. We are happy we no longer have to chastise Canon for being slow on its Wi-Fi implementation.

Conclusion

The PowerShot G7 X is without a doubt one of the best pocket cameras Canon has ever released. Good pictures, nice movies, a bright lens, and loads of adjustments make it an easy Editors’ Choice recommendation. It’s not perfect but it’s simply a great walking-around camera.

Is it better than the Sony RX100 Mark II or the Mark III – two cameras we have deemed the best pocket shooters out there? That’s a very subjective question since it boils down to what type of images you prefer. Canon’s image quality is accurate and realistic, whereas Sony tends to have a bit more vibrancy and pop –which we like, but you may not. Regardless, you can’t go wrong either way. We wish the G7 X (and the Sony models) weren’t so expensive, but Canon has indeed created a wonderful pocket rocket.

Highs

  • Excellent all-around pocket camera
  • Quality stills and movies
  • Bright 4.2x zoom

Lows

  • Weak battery life
  • Occasional focus miscues
  • No hot shoe
Product Review

LG's new V40 has 5 cameras, but ThinQ twice before you buy

The LG V40 ThinQ has five cameras -- three on the back and two on the front. This makes it one of the most versatile camera phones LG has released to date, and it’s creatively fun to use. Read on for more in-depth analysis.
Mobile

Verizon's newest deals can net you $500 off the LG V40 ThinQ

Looking for a new LG flagship? The LG V40 ThinQ is here, and it's bringing a familiar style, two more camera lenses, and upgraded specs. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the LG V40 ThinQ.
Photography

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.
Product Review

The design still says retro, but Fujifilm's X-T3 is all about the future

If the X-T2 brought Fujifilm into the modern era, the X-T3 is focused on the future. With a new sensor and processor, completely revamped autofocus, and vastly upgraded video, it's the new APS-C camera to beat.
Photography

Adobe’s Premiere Rush is a video-editing app designed for social media projects

At Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe unveiled updates across the board for all of its Creative Cloud apps, from the release of Premiere Rush CC, a social-focused video editor, to Project Gemini, a digital drawing and painting tool.
Photography

Sony crammed 28x zoom, 4K into a $450 camera that weighs as much as a smartphone

The Sony HX99 is a tiny compact camera that mixes 4K and fast burst speeds with a 28x optical zoom. The travel zoom camera upgrades the processor over the earlier model for better video and super-long-burst captures.
Computing

Adobe’s craziest new tools animate photos, convert recordings to music in a click

Adobe shared a glimpse behind the scenes at what's next and the Creative Cloud future is filled with crazy A.I.-powered tools, moving stills, and animation reacting to real-time tweets.
Photography

Remove photo bombs, other unwanted objects with Photoshop’s new Content-Aware Fill

Photoshop's newest A.I-powered tool helps remove objects or fill in gaps for a distraction-free photo in the new Adobe Photoshop CC 2019. Here's how to remove an object in Photoshop using the new Content-Aware Fill.
Photography

Adobe Premiere Rush CC is the cloud-based video editing app you've been waiting for

On stage at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe announced its cloud-centric, social video-editing application, Adobe Premiere Rush CC. We took some time to put it through its paces to see what it offers, how it works, and what's missing.
Photography

Adobe MAX 2018: What it is, why it matters, and what to expect

Each year, Adobe uses its Adobe MAX conference to show off its latest apps, technologies, and tools to help simplify and improve the workflow of creatives the world over. Here's what you should expect from this year's conference.
Social Media

Over selfies and an onslaught of ads? Here's how delete your Instagram account

Despite its outstanding popularity and photo-sharing dominance, Instagram isn't for everyone. Thankfully, deleting your account is as easy as logging into the site and clicking a few buttons. Here's what you need to do.
Mobile

Huawei and Leica’s monochrome lens is dead, so we celebrate its life

The Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro do not have a dedicated monochrome camera lens, unlike the P20 Pro, and various Huawei and Leica phones before it. It's the end of an era, and also the start of a new one, as Leica has worked on its…
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.