With a sensor pulled from DSLRs, Canon’s G1 X Mark III is as advanced as compacts get

It was April of 2014 that Canon launched the G1 X Mark II, an advanced compact camera built around a 1.5-inch-type sensor. That sensor was large for the type of camera, but three years later Canon decided to one-up itself in a big way: Announced Monday, the G1 X Mark III uses an APS-C sensor, the very same unit found in many of its DSLRs, including the EOS 80D .

The sensor isn’t the only thing borrowed from a DSLR. The controls also have a decidedly DSLR-like look and feel to them. Canon states the shutter button, in particular, offers a “sophisticated sense of operation” similar to EOS models. A built-in 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder completes the look. Given that DSLRs are Canon’s bread and butter, this all seems like a good move. (The camera actually looks somewhat similar to an EOS M5 , itself a mirrorless camera with a DSLR-like design).

An integrated 24-72mm (full-frame equivalent) f/2.8-5.6 lens rounds out the package, offering a good working range and a relatively fast aperture (at least at the wide end). Combined with the significantly larger sensor, the G1 X Mark III should be much better in low light than its predecessor.

By using the sensor from the 80D, the G1 X Mark III also becomes the first PowerShot camera with Dual Pixel autofocus (DPAF), Canon’s on-chip phase-detection AF system that drastically improves performance over traditional contrast-detection systems. As a live-view only camera, this is good news for both still photography and video. We have been very impressed  by DPAF in other cameras, and we’re happy to see the feature finally trickle down into an advanced compact model.

On the video front, we are a bit disappointed — if not all that surprised — to see that Canon decided not to grace the G1 X Mark II with 4K. Instead, it makes do with Full HD 1080p at up to 60 frames per second. For the casual videographer, the shallow depth of field of the large sensor and fast focus performance of DPAF will likely make a bigger difference than 4K would have, though.

Dynamic image stabilization, which is a 5-axis electronic system, is also available in video mode. As we saw on the EOS M5, Dynamic IS crops the image and thus reduces quality, but it can smooth out otherwise rough footage. It’s therefore not something you’ll always want to leave on, but it can make a positive difference in some circumstances.

While the G1 X Mark III sounds like a decently impressive machine, the price may bring some potential customers pause. At $1,299, it’s up there with the Fujifilm X100F, although it offers the flexibility of a zoom lens, which may seal the deal for some photographers. The camera is expected to be available in November.

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