Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II review: The perfect little camera

Cameras come in all shapes and sizes. They are nowadays as compact as the smartphones in your hand, and as large as the behemoths like the Canon 1DX. They all serve a purpose for their specific users. However, for most people who have fairly basic needs, like shooting images during a family travel or clicking some personal photos in a wedding, the best cameras are those that are affordable, pack in good-enough performance and are small to carry. The Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II is one such camera. It is almost perfect.

Almost. But that is because no camera is perfect. It's not exactly a fault in the G7X Mark II's stars. It's more to do with the technology inside the cameras. There is no way to make a perfect, do-everything camera. It is only possible to reach closer to that ultimate goal, the way Sony's excellent RX 100 IV does or the way, again Sony's, RX 10 III can manage. The G7X Mark II is in the same league, but with one difference. It costs so less compared to other worthy shooters.

Metal body, impressive hardware

The G7X Mark II is not a new camera. Globally, it was announced in the beginning of 2016. Although the sale was supposed to start in India from April onwards, its availability has remained patchy, especially online where it is almost impossible to purchase it. That is rather surprising because even on paper, the G7X Mark II looks very impressive.

This is a small camera, very compact and built well. Although it is not as small or light as the Sony RX 100 IV, it is easy to carry the G7X Mark II in your palms. You can also slip it into a pocket if you are wearing a jeans or pants with comfort fitting or you can put it in a jacket or coat pocket. The sum of the matter is that this is a camera that is easy to carry.

This is a small camera, very compact and well built. Although it is not as small or light as the Sony RX 100 IV, it is easy to carry the G7X Mark II in your palms

Although, it does have some heft to it because of its metal body. Except the rubber grip on the right side of the camera, the whole body is made of metal. The finishing is top notch and no button or part of the camera, including the moveable screen and the flash that sits in a socket on the left part of the camera, feels flimsy or lose. This weight also helps you keep the camera steady when you are shooting with it.

The camera, as it happens with such compact cameras, has got retro looks with several dials and wheels, giving users ability to control things like aperture and zoom. But, just as it happens with cameras like this, the best way to use the G7X Mark II is by putting it on auto mode and then just shoot. Playing with aperture etc and toggling the manual mode will definitely give you better results but the difference is not significant enough to justify fiddling with small control wheels.

Talking of controls, there is one thing that is an absolute joy to use in the G7X Mark II. It's the touchscreen. It is very responsive. Touch is also a better way to navigate through the menu, or for that matter, select the focus point. Usually, the more expensive cameras have touchscreens so it's a pleasant surprise to find one in the G7X Mark II.

Also Read: Canon 5D Mark IV is a fine camera but not for everyone

But if the design, build quality and handling of the G7X Mark II is impressive, its camera hardware is equally good. The camera uses a 1-inch image sensor, similar to what Sony's RX 100 series cameras have. This sensor is not as big as what you get in a proper DSLR camera, but it is also not small compared to what most cheap compact cameras have. The size of the sensor means that in this age when smartphones like the iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel can click great photos, the G7X Mark II can offer something better. Then there is the lens. The camera comes with an attached lens that has a focal length of 24-100mm (in 35mm) and has an aperture of F1.8-F2.8.

Good all around performance

The good hardware inside the G7X Mark II translates into good performance. While using the camera I mostly shot on the auto mode, because that is how the camera is supposed to be used. And again and again I was surprised by the performance the camera put in as far as the image quality was concerned. The one-inch sensor, which clicks 20-megapixel images, shoots photos with a lot of detail. If the light is good (see the flower pot image), the camera clicks images where texture is crystal clear. In the lower light, the amount of detail goes down, also because the camera is very aggressive on noise reduction, but yet it is fair to say that the G7X Mark II will give manifold better images compared to anything that your super expensive smartphone will manage.

Also Read: Canon M3 review: Mirrorless camera for masses

But it is not exactly the amount of detail, and superbly clean images in low light, that I find most impressive about the G7X Mark II. What I love about this camera is the way it deals with varied lighting and colours. In fact, among all the Canon cameras I have tried so far, I find that this little shooter offers some of the best out-of-camera JPEG images. These images have vibrant colours and the exposure is mostly right. In low light the camera does tend to underexpose occasionally, but you can easily fix that in any basic image editor.

Also Read: Canon PowerShot G9X review: Punching above its weight

At the same time, the G7X Mark II shows strong performance while dealing with dynamic light. It is so much better than so many other Canon cameras on this account, largely because of the 1-inch sensor which is the same one from Sony that the Japanese company uses in its RX cameras. Only in scenes where the weather is truly gloomy (see the shopping mall and completely grey skies) that you wish the G7X Mark II could have squeezed out a little bit more dynamic light. But otherwise, in indoor scenes, or in brightly lit scenes with some shadows (see the close up of the dog), the G7X Mark II does a fine job.

Much of this good performance is because of the image sensor and a very good lens, which is bright enough to let you click good photos in low light. It is also wide enough to help you click portraits with creamy blurred background. Although, the lens does have a flaw. It's not edge-to-edge sharp and even with narrower apertures, corners are on the software side. But that is not -- and should not be -- deal breaker for you given the price of the camera.

The auto focus is never a strong point with the compact and cheap cameras, and even though G7X Mark II is an advanced compact camera, it can't track a moving subject

The auto focus is never a strong point with the compact and cheap cameras, and even though G7X Mark II is an advanced compact camera, it can't track a moving subject -- think of a hyperactive dog -- well enough to give you crystal clear shots. Sure, it is faster than your expensive iPhone at getting focus and freezing the frame, but if you are going to shoot wildlife or pets, there is still no substitute for a DSLR camera.

Should you buy it?

It is not easy to recommend a camera, irrespective however good it is. The reason is that different people get a camera for different purposes. So, if you are looking for a camera with which to shoot wildlife pictures next time your are on Safari or if you want a camera for the absolute best videos, or if you are going to do sports photography, the G7X Mark II is not a good option. But it is a perfect little camera for those who want a shooter for regular, casual photography. It is an ideal companion when you are on a holiday with your family. It is also a perfect camera when you want to occasionally shoot those cool hills or sunsets while visiting a hill station.

The G7X Mark II is compact, lightweight, has a very good lens with wide aperture of F1.8 and a decent enough reach of 100mm. It is also well built, comes with a fantastic image sensor and most of the time delivers impressive results. As a package, the G7X Mark II is one fantastic camera. The best bit, however, is that it is relatively affordable. In a market where the RX 100 IV still costs above Rs 60,000, the G7X Mark II sells for around Rs 35,000 (its MRP is closer to Rs 40,000). This price makes it one hell of a deal.

G7X II review8/10

  • canon-g7x-mark-ii-cam-1_305_020117112124
  • Good stuff
  • Very good image quality
  • Fantastic metal body
  • Sharp and wide lens
  • Bad stuff
  • Corners are soft
  • Noise reduction too aggressive
  • Auto focus not fast enough for pets

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