Canon G7X shooters impressions

Discussion in 'Canon G1X / G7X Forum' started by Ray Sachs, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    With all of the rumors that have been floating over the past months of the “serious compacts” that were anticipated at Photokina, and with all of the excitement over the “LX8” (which became the LX100), the camera I absolutely didn’t see coming AT ALL and wouldn’t have expected to be of any interest to me if I had, was the Canon G7X. But when the announcements were all out and I took a real honest look at my wants for a camera in this category (which I absolutely didn’t “NEED”), damned if the G7X wasn’t the one that grabbed my interest and just kept grabbing tighter and tighter and wouldn’t let go.

    15236379208_e657ed1266_h. Autumn Begins by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    The primary reason the G7X made more sense to me than the LX100 or RX100 m3 is because it has a zoom range of 24-100. As impressed as I was with the LX100, I couldn’t see adding an all in one compact if it didn’t venture well into the portrait range of focal lengths. Since I already have small fixed focal length cameras at 28 and 35mm and since I nearly never shoot between 35 and 80, a 24-75 just wasn't gonna give me anything I don't effectively already have. The Fuji X30 has the range but I wasn’t prepared to buy a camera with that 2/3” sensor with the new larger sensor compacts now appearing. The G1X mkII takes it out to 120mm, but I just personally wouldn’t get along well with the outdated sensor in that camera either, even though it’s the largest of the sensors in these various cameras at 1.5”. It's good in low light, but the lack of DR would be frustrating to me under heavy processing. That this G7X lens extends from f1.8 to f2.8 over that 24-100 range, and is about a stop faster than the RX100 m3 through much of their shared range, makes it both more enticing but a bit riskier that it could maintain good quality.

    Ever since the RX100 came out a couple of years ago, I’d been expecting a rash of new compact cameras using that 1” sensor but the G7X is the only one that has (not counting the RX10 and FZ1000, which aren’t compact). There’s still a chance that Olympus and/or Nikon may yet announce a compact built around this sensor, but with Fuji staying small and Panasonic going big, only Canon has so far. In addition to which, it seemed to have most of the features I’d want in a compact like this, with the exception of an EVF. But that was a weak “want” – I’ve never missed having one in my Nikon Coolpix A and rarely used them with the LX5 and LX7 I’ve had with them in the past.

    15243973148_3b3d59af4f_h. West Chester Walk-37-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    So earlier this week I decided to join the early adopters and bought one from Hong Kong via ebay and rationalized it because it cost $70 less than it’s gonna sell for in the States once it’s release here in a few weeks. I’ve had insanely good luck with electronics products not failing on me, so I figured I’d press that luck and take my chances with a very limited “tourist warranty”. It got here early Thursday (I love “free expedited shipping”!) and I’ve been giving it a pretty good workout over the last couple of days.

    I knew from the samples I’ve seen showing up that I’d be fine with the image quality. The lens is more aggressive than any Sony has used in any of the RX100 models so far, so I wasn’t expecting perfection, but the images I’ve seen have held up to anything but the most intensive pixel peeping. There’s some pretty notable softness in the corners wide open at the wide end, but that’s never bothered me and I wouldn’t let it bother me in a pocket camera. I'm sure the larger lens (and sensor) in the LX100 will do somewhat better, but again, not long enough zoom for me to benefit from it. And I took it on faith from having read through key parts of the manual that I was gonna like it reasonably well – certainly more than the RX100 that I never managed to like at all.

    15407501076_c7e7f3c845_b. West Chester Walk-14-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    15430564155_4b44cfb17c_h. West Chester Walk-61-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    But after a couple of days working with it, I’m surprised at how many really great shooter’s features it’s got. Things like a dedicated exposure comp dial. A clicky wheel step zoom (or aperture ring or any of a bunch of other things), a distance scale for the manual focus system, auto-ISO available in manual mode WITH functional exposure compensation, an imperfect but surprisingly functional approximation of a minimum shutter speed with auto ISO in aperture priority mode, and a “custom” setting on the mode dial that remembers ALL of these details, down to manual focus distance, and recalls them almost instantly when you switch to that mode. It even has a touch screen with touch-shutter release that will focus and shoot for you at the point you touch in AF mode or will just trigger the shutter regardless of where you touch it in MF. This latter option was something I really liked when I used to shoot with an EM5 on the street and I’m really enjoying getting re-acquainted with it.

    I don’t believe the RX100 has any of these features, or didn’t – maybe they’ve added one or two in the most recent versions. Not everyone would care about these details, but for me they’re the kind of features that make the difference between enjoying shooting with a camera, and being able to get it to do what I want quickly and easily, and always feeling like I’m fighting with my camera. I never got past feeling like I was fighting the RX100 no matter how much I customized it. I had the G7X set up to my liking within a couple of hours of playing with it.

    15430564475_42ca35fc97_h. West Chester Walk-13-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    15243974648_5a4ed15a21_b. West Chester Walk-11-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    I walked around my town this morning and shot a wide variety of stuff with it, switching often and seemlessly between my memorized street shooting settings (zone focus with a set MF distance and aperture, auto ISO with a fast minimum shutter speed, 24mm) and my more typical adjust-on-the fly settings for everything other than street.

    Because there’s no raw support yet, I’m shooting in raw and converting to TIFF files in Canon’s proprietary processing app and then opening them in Lightroom. I’m looking forward to Adobe adding raw support – it’ll make my life easier and may improved IQ at the margins. But the IQ is fine for me as is. I’ve worked enough with this sensor in the past to know that it’s got plenty of latitude for most of my rather heavy handed processing. It’s not up to the standard of my Df or Coolpix A, of course, but it’s surprisingly close to most APS and m43 sensors. In any case, it was a known quantity to me and more than I’d have ever expected to see in a pocket camera just a few years ago.

    15399920126_bf96479d4c_h. Autumn Begins by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    15236292300_a97623a890_h. Autumn Begins by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    The photos I’m showing here are nothing to write home about. They’re just sort of quick and dirty examples of the kind of stuff I do, with my usual emphasis on street work. I’m not surprised at how good a camera it is generally – I always thought the RX100 was too despite my antipathy toward it as a shooter. But I’m sort of shocked at what a good street shooter it is. Pleasantly shocked! I find it better for this shooting than even the LX5 or LX7, which I always found to be the best of the zoom compacts for street work. With this sort of capability and the ease of moving instantly between my highly specific street settings and my more general settings, this camera can easily be my ONLY camera on many days when I don’t feel like hassling with a bag or a lot of gear. I don’t know yet how well it will do in low-light street shooting, but I have a feeling it will do pretty well. With the huge amount of DOF that comes with this sensor size and lens, I should be able to shoot pretty close to wide open and limit the ISO to about 3200-4000, which this camera handles pretty well. With the Coolpix A I let it run up to 6400, which it handles well but the G7X wouldn’t. But the difference in aperture I can shoot at with the G7X should mostly if not totally compensate for the lesser sensor. I'll still take the Coolpix A for dedicated (or mostly) street shooting outings, but won't hesitate to use this for more varied shooting, even if it includes a lot of street work.

    15430225262_d0d7744d4d_b. West Chester Walk-7-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    15427377661_b8812850a2_b. West Chester Walk-45-Edit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    Very happily surprised with this camera. Kind of shocked actually - I didn't see it coming from Canon, but it did...

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 20
  2. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    As the days since Photokina went on, your posts - along with your history - made it clearer and clearer that this little camera would be getting its shutter fired by you sooner rather than later. Congrats! Some nice shots you got as well!

    It seems to me like a typical Canon product: nothing too innovative, but just really functional and well made. The only poor Canon I can remember was the Eos M, and they fixed much of that in firmware... As a technology enthusiast I don't like Canon as a company, for being painfully conservative and relying on their reputation to sell cameras, but you can't blame anyone for buying their products - they got the reputation for a reason.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I've never been too high on Canon either Bart. I was OK with the S90 I had a few years ago. But nothing else has impressed me all that much. I'd have probably bought the G1X mkII but for the outdated sensor. But with this one, at least they bought up to date tech, even if they weren't gonna develop it themselves. This was clearly a "me too" in response to the RX100, albeit over two years later, but for my money they did it so much better than Sony has in any of it's three tries. Of course, if you're really into video or if you've gotta have an EVF, you're gonna want the RX100 mk3. But it seems to me the G7X has got so many more shooter friendly advanced features that people have been asking Sony for since the first RX100 over two years ago. But with two more tries, they just didn't add them. Despite including a number of them in the RX10 and RX1, so it shouldn't have been that hard. Unless they just had a lower opinion of the needs of those who were gonna buy subsequent versions of the RX100. But for my tastes, Canon nailed this one. I'd have done a couple of small things slightly differently, but not much and nothing serious.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Judderman62

    Judderman62 SC Regular

    192
    Mar 24, 2013
    Greater Manchester, UK
    Mike
    some very nice shots there sir and esp liking the street stuff :thumbup:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Nice to see your review and photos:) I don't have too good luck with P&S's with Ricoh and Sony, but Canon S95 still lives with my sisters...

    I see that magical number is f4. Did you process those B&W shots more then LR, eg noise?

    LX100 looks like a nice camera too, but same size as GX7... Canon has a size advantage with similar dof at the long end... So I guess it is a keeper:)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, f4 seems like a good starting point with a camera like this - I'll open it up when I need to, but I can't imagine needing to go smaller. At 24mm equivalent focussed at 2 meters, f4 gets you to hyperfocal, so that's as deep as I need.

    I processed the B&W in Silver Efex Pro. I don't think I did any NR to any of these. The little bit of low light stuff I've done looks a lot like the RX100. 3200 just needs a touch of NR, if any, depending on the shot. 6400 would need a fair amount but is a little over the top with this sensor regardless...

    I'd be fine with the size of the LX100, and some of the controls I'd really like, but realistically I've got 'em on this. I usually have the aperture on the front click ring around the lens and I've got an exposure comp dial. No shutter speed dial, but I so rarely use shutter priority and if I do, the front lens ring switches from controlling aperture to shutter speed. But it's been a while since I've had a touch screen and a flip up screen and I'm kind of enjoying those more than I feel the need for an EVF...

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    A useful write-up - thanks Ray.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Ray.. can you send me link to where you ordered it? I want to do the same.. I can't wait. Your shots are Awesome..
    Thanks
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. swandy

    swandy SC Regular

    56
    Nov 16, 2013
    Want to thank you for taking the time to not only use the camera but give your impressions as a photographer/user. I have a keen interest in this camera - partially to get my wife when we travel away from her older Canon Powershot - and mainly to use myself when I don't want to carry my "larger" cameras. (Larger is in quotes because my "large" camera is the Olympus EM10, which is not exactly "large" by anyone's standards.)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    It was just ebay Doug. There are a bunch of them up there, ranging in price from a low of about $600 up to around $800. I don't see the vendor I got mine up there now, or if it is, it's at the normal $700 instead of the $630 I got if for. A lot of them offer free expedited shipping, which usually only takes a couple of days from when they ship it...

    -Ray
     
  11. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Thanks for the writeup, Ray, nice photographs and they look absolutely stunning on the ipad!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. wojconner

    wojconner SC Regular

    47
    Aug 20, 2014
    Woj
    Thanks for the review and I really like that it's coming from a street photography perspective. I think this answered my earlier question :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    Prices are going down, now they are selling from $590 w free shipping. When I checked it after first buyers posts, it was selling from $700 to $800 but I saw sb was saying real shop price is $580 (maybe in HK).

     
  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    So $580 in Hong Kong and $699 here? Leaves a lot of room for HK sellers to offer it for way below retail to US buyers and everyone comes out ahead. Unless you need the full warranty... Which I'm hoping I won't, obviously...

    -Ray
     
  15. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Great string, Ray. So here's the question I ask about any camera without a viewfinder - electronic or optical: How is the rear LCD in daylight? Any issues with seeing the image in bright sunlight or usability in terms of framing/focus? And how about battery life? I know what the early "hands-on" reviews have said. How are you doing in the real world, especially if you potentially have to crank up the LCD brightness when shooting outdoors?
     
  16. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Well, I was out shooting in broad daylight yesterday (quite sunny too for most of the time) and the brightness issue never occurred to me, so I guess it's good enough. Maybe not as good as some of Sony's rear displays, which I find quite amazingly good in bright light, but, again, I never thought about it so it's not bad. I haven't really checked on the battery capacity yet. It's rated for 210 or something pitiful, but I read reports of people getting closer to 400. I picked up an extra, which I do with pretty much any camera, so I'm not too worried about it. I'm gonna try to spend a day in Philly shooting with it sometime this week, so I should have a better idea after that. I assume I'll need that second battery...

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    That's almost exactly what I was hoping to read. :2thumbs:
     
  18. Ray.. Thanks.. I just ordered one..
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. ggweci

    ggweci SC Regular

    119
    Nov 9, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Craig
    Thanks for the great review and all the additional comments on this camera.

    I am also considering it as my compact alternative to my Canon 6D. I currently use a Ricoh GR, which is excellent, but the 28mm focal length is limiting in my uses. This new Canon as peaked my interest due to it's overall versatility.

    I LOVE the snap focus on my GR as it makes setting this up, just that, a snap.

    How do you go about setting it up with this Canon and your other cameras like the Nikon A? Do you just approximate 2 meters and then flip to manual focus or is their a distance scale in camera that can be used?

    EDIT: just re-read your original post, it it does in fact have a distance scale. Good news. Do you find it to be accurate?
     
  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I liked snap focus too, on the GR and on the Ricohs before that. But it's basically just a shortcut to zone focus and I found I like other methods of focussing just as much. Once Olympus put their "clutch" focus rings into the 12 and 17mm lenses, I liked those just as much - you'd switch from AF to MF just by flipping that ring back on the barrel and the MF distance would be right where you'd left it. Fuji now does the same thing with some of their lenses. On the Coolpix A, it has a very smooth focus ring and a distance scale with a clearly marked 2 meter distance, which is may starting point (and very often, ending point too - I find it works for almost anything I do on the street). The only downside of the Coolpix A for zone focus is that the manual focus distance reverts to infinity every time you turn the camera off and back on. So I have to reset the distance each time I turn the camera on, but it's only about 1/8 of a turn of the ring to get from infinity to 2 meters and I have it down to muscle memory that only takes me a second or so to do. I have this same situation with the RX1 too BTW, but it's not quite as quick or easy to get from infinity to 2 meters with that one - it's focus ring is really well damped for critical focus, but that makes it a bit slower for a quick move from infinity to two meters.

    The G7X is easier yet. It also has a distance scale with 2 meters very clearly marked. It's front ring is a "clicky" ring so it's not as smooth for manual focus, but you can also use the rear dial, which is really easy. But I basically only had to focus it one time when the camera was new. Then I saved all of my street settings to the "C" mode on the mode dial. So when I'm doing general shooting, I'm in "A" mode, or occasionally M or S, but then if I see some street opportunities coming up, I just turn the mode dial to "C" and everything is ready for street shooting in about a second or less, a little longer if I'm shooting at the long end of the zoom and it has to reset all the way back to the wide end. So the G7X isn't quite as easy to focus manually, but for zone focus at a single focus distance, you can set it once and never have to think about it again. And to the extent I very rarely change from 2 meters with the Coolpix A, with the vast DOF in the G7X, I can't imagine why I'd EVER change the focus distance for zone focus. At f4 it's into hyperfocal territory and it's still very workable at f2, where I still have a zone of focus from about 4 feet to about 13, which is where street shooting happens anyway.

    I suspect I may come to like the G7X as much as the Coolpix A for street work in good light. I haven't done any lower light work with it yet, though, so I'll reserve judgement on that, but I suspect it'll hold it's own. Where I might shoot at f3.5 with a max ISO of 6400 with the Coolpix in low light, I think I'll be able to shoot at f2 and a max ISO 3200 on the G7X. I'll have to see if there's much difference in the IQ in those situations.

    But the transition from a fully versatile setup for all sorts of shooting to my customized setup for street shooting takes me about a second to just turn the mode dial two positions. I've never shot with anything where it was easier than that.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 2