Welcome to my Canon G7X mark II review. First of all I want to apologize for the poor quality of the product shots. I sold my previous camera gear in order to buy this new G7X, so I had to take these with my smartphone. But no worries, you will find plenty of sample images in this hands-on review which are actually taken with the G7X mark II itself. Like I said, I bought the camera with my own money, so this will be an honest review of my personal experience with the camera. Telling you what I like and don’t like about it, accompanied by real-world photography instead of lab reviews and 100% crops. Let’s start!
Canon G7X Mark II Review
- Lens Design
- Body and Design
- Controls and Customization
- Handling the Camera
- Image Quality
- RAW Shooting
- Notable Features
- Battery Life
First I want to give you an introduction to the camera, as well as my reasons to buy one. Let’s start with the camera. To those of you who don’t know: The G7X mark II is the successor of the original Canon Powershot G7X. The camera will become available in the US the 26th of May for $699. This camera falls in the category of the so-called large sensor compacts. These cameras are aimed at professionals and bring the maximum of image quality and manual controls in a camera as small as possible. Sony is the one who started this category with the RX100 camera’s, and later Canon followed with the G7X whereas Nikon will follow with the Nikon DL24-85. Read here how these three camera’s compare.
The main improvement in the mark 2 lies in the implementation of a new processor, the DIGIC 7. This camera is actually the first Canon ever to include this sensor, and this alone should improve the mark II’s image quality, reduce noise, drastically improve the speed, and allow for better autofocus and object tracking. Read here what other improvements are made in the G7X mk2 over its predecessor.
As for me, I am mainly a photographer. This will also be the focus of this review. I will touch on video as well, but I am simply not that experienced in this field. My previous gear was a Canon EOS 40D, a fairly old beast. Nevertheless, to me it still felt perfectly capable. I had a nice set of three lenses, and could cover all my photography with it. The sheer size and weight of the set was a drawback I didn’t mind so much a few years back. This became however more important over the years, to the point I would almost always leave the set at home, and thus started to neglect photography all together.
At this point I decided I wanted to give it a try with something smaller, something I could put into my pocket and take with me any time there would be possibilities to use it. My research coincided with the announcement of the G7X mark II, and in the end this model seemed the best proposition for me. Except for very long and very wide focal lengths that I had available before (10mm and 300mm), and except for the background blurring capabilities of f2.8 lenses on crop, my hope was that the G7X would cover all my photographic requirements, and in several areas even surpass the capabilities of my 40D. After all that model is almost 9 year old, so advances over the years, especially in sensor technology must certainly have led to improvements in for instance low-light and ISO noise. Enough about me, let’s continue with the Canon G7X mark II review. In the next sections I will describe my experiences. But I hope it helps to know a little bit where I am coming from.
Below you find a list of the key specifications of this camera.
|Sensor||20.1 Megapixel*, 1.0-inch CMOS (sensor aspect ratio: 3:2)
* Image processing may cause a decrease in the number of pixels.
8.8 (W) – 36.8 (T) mm (35mm film equivalent: 24-100mm)
3.0-inch tilt-type TFT color liquid crystal, with biaxial tilt for low and high angle shooting. Approx 1.04 million dots
f/1.8 (W), f/2.8 (T)
1-1/2000 sec. (in Auto mode)
15 -1/2000 sec. (in all shooting modes)
BULB (in M mode only)
1/8 minimum in Manual Movie Mode
ISO 125-6400 (in Auto mode)
Max. ISO Speed in P mode is ISO 12800
One Shot H: Approx. 8.0 shots/sec. (max. 30 shots)
One Shot L: Approx. 4.0 shots/sec.
Servo H: Approx. 5.4 shots/sec. (max. 46 shots)
Servo L: Approx. 4.0 shots/sec.
SD/SDHC/SDXC and UHS-I Memory Cards
4.15 x 2.40 x 1.65 in. / 105.5 x 60.9 x 42.0mm
Approx. 11.3 oz. / 319g (including battery and memory card)
Approx. 10.4 oz. / 294g (camera body only)
One important note: On the Canon USA website it lists that the ISO is expandable to 25,600. I did not find this in the camera, and there is also no remark on this in the user manual. It is most likely a mistake on the website.
Even though the lens is the same as in its predecessor, I still want to go in a little bit of detail in this Canon G7X mark II review. The lens is equivalent to a 24-100mm lens and the aperture varies between F1.8 and F2.8. In the table below you can see how the aperture changes.
Comparison on howmuchblur.com of the background blur for the 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 100mm focal lengths
In the figure above you can see how blurry the background will be behind for instance a portrait for different focal lengths. As you can see, for backgrounds close by, each focal length will lead to similar results, the shorter ones actually achieving a tiny bit more background blur due to the larger aperture. For backgrounds several meters away, the best results are achieved at longer focal lengths.
How does it compare?
The lens is actually one of the strong points of this camera. Its main competitor, the RX100 mark IV has a maximum focal length of 70mm, and furthermore, the aperture drops much faster to F2.8 as compared to the Canon.Comparison on howmuchblur.com of the background blur for the G7X (green), RX100 (light blue), and a APS-C camera at 50mm f5.6 and f2.8.
In this figure the blurring capabilities of the G7X mark II are compared with that of the RX100, an entry level DSLR with a kit lens, and one with a bit brighter 50mm F2.8 lens. This is a very interesting comparison. As you can see the RX100 can generate slightly more blur than the kit lens set. However, due to its longer focal length the Canon G7X mark II easily tops that, and is almost half way to what a crop camera with a F2.8 lens can achieve.
What Canon has pulled off here in such a small camera is really impressive. A common critique online is that the Canon lens is softer however. Well, read on, and find out my view on that in the image quality section.
The Canon G7X mark II outside, showing the display in bright sunlight.
Personally I really like the design of this new camera. It looks very sharp and modern while at the same time having a bit of a retro look as well. But definitely more modern then retro. To me this is a great look. The camera feels like a high quality product in your hand, and the controls give great tactile feedback. Everything seems sturdy and well made, and the materials are nice. There is not a lot I would want to see different. I like the shape of the grip as well, the camera is pleasant to hold.
Coming from a camera with a viewfinder it takes some time to get used to using just a screen. However, it helps that the screen can be tilted 180 degrees upwards and 45 degrees down. The action of this feels also strong enough. If I were splitting hairs, I found that sometimes when you tilt the screen downwards and then close it back again, that the bottom hinge comes slightly loose during the movement. Nothing major though.
The screen is bright enough to be seen in bright sunlight, however it is best to put it at a higher brightness setting then. Of course if there are finger marks on the screen this will make the screen less easy to read under these conditions, but that is to be expected. One other thing I found is that when setting the brightness to its maximum value, the transitions from darker parts of your scene to the highlights sometimes get a little bit of a weird halo effect, as if the highlights are too bright. Luckily this is just on the screen, and is probably a trade-off that had to be made in order to have sufficient brightness under these conditions.
As for the size: It is definitely a small camera. But I wouldn’t call it pocketable. I am not brave enough to put it in my pocket without some kind of pouch. A small pouch already increases the size of the camera enough for it to no longer comfortably fit in my pockets. Maybe in my coat, but definitely not in my trousers.
In this section I will discuss the controls of the camera, and what the possibilities are to customize these.
From my perspective the G7X is the camera to choose over the RX100 for ergonomics. Controls are laid out well, the menus are intuitive, and to top it all the camera has a touch screen. During shooting, the camera has three dials which can be used at any time. The ring dial around the lens, a dedicated exposure compensation dial, and the dial on the back. All controls give a nice feedback, and are great to use. The exposure compensation dial can be used any time, even after half pressing the shutter, except when in auto mode.
The controls of the Canon G7X mark II
Obviously the camera has a mode dial, which can be set to movie, SCN (Canons term for special scene’s and effects), auto, hybrid auto (in this mode the camera takes a short video clip for each picture, and combines them in one movie for that day), P, Tv, Av, M and C a custom mode.
The lens ring can be switched between a clickwheel and smooth operation. This last mode is not completely smooth however, it has a little bit of a dry metallic feel to it. Nevertheless, it is still pleasant to operate, and I really like how Canon gave the user a choice.
The dial on the back normally does nothing during shooting, except when you set the lens ring to a different function as the standard one (such as aperture in Av, shutter speed in Tv). I therefore like to set the front ring to something else, such as step zoom, and set aperture/shutter speed using the rear dial. This effectively gives me one extra manual control.
With that we come to customization. The function for the lens ring can be customized as discussed just before, but that is not the only thing. The two topmost buttons on the back of the camera (ring fcn and movie record) can be set to any function you like as well. You can set these to ISO, AF-lock, white balance and numerous other settings. In this way you can customize the camera to have the functions you use most at your fingertips.
When you operate the set button of the camera you enter a quick menu to change a lot of settings (top left screenshot). This menu can be completely customized. You can indicate what settings should be in there, as well as put them in the exact order you like.
Next to that you can create a custom menu which you can access using the menu button (bottom left screenshot). With these customizations you can really setup the camera for your personal use case. One little drawback is the fact that you cannot put all settings from the menu on the custom pane. You can put photo-related settings there, but not camera-related settings such as the screen brightness.
Next to all this you can also use the touch screen, where most settings are just one or two taps away. I didn’t find myself using it a lot, but for some things such as setting the focus point it is actually very convenient. Some menus have a different appearance when using touch, such as in the example on the top right screenshot.
Finally on the bottom right screenshot the settings for a custom picture style are shown. Picture styles are Canon’s way to process your images. For this you can set the sharpening, micro-sharpening, which is probably somewhat similar to clarity in Lightroom, saturation, contrast and the lighting optimizer, which compresses the dynamic range. Several picture styles are already preset in the camera, but you can create three custom picture styles. Finally you can also put the picture style to auto, and let the camera decide.
The camera has a new grip compared to the old model, and I find it easy to hold. I have fairly big hands. For me it is most comfortable to hold the camera with my middle finger curled around the grip. I cannot really operate the camera one handed, because in order to do that I need to make awkward movements with my thumb in order to reach the controls.
Something else I really like is the electronic level. This tells you if the camera is tilted up/down and if the horizon is straight. I know this is fairly common nowadays, but I never had it in a camera, so it is definitely a useful feature to me.
I also like to set the lens ring to step zoom. For some reason it appeals to me to shoot in these predefined standard focal lengths. The camera operates from 24 to 28, 35, 50, 85 and 100mm. Something else, for which I don’t know yet if I like it or not, is that the camera stores this step zoom setting on shutdown, and immediately recalls the last focal length when you start the camera again.
One other thing I found is that it is not easy to operate the camera from a distance, for instance on a selfie stick. If you choose the self timer, the camera already locks focus as soon as it starts counting down, which can be a problem. I know the previous model could be put in SCN mode, and had functions like a smile shutter, and a wink detection shutter, but these are no longer there in the mark II. This is something to be aware of. I don’t think it is that common for manufacturers to actually remove functionality from new models. You can however operate the shutter from your smartphone, but this workaround is not suitable for all situations.
The last product shot, I promise. From here on only G7X Mark II results!
One critique on the original G7X was the handling of the manual focus. I am personally not interested in manual focus on this camera, so this is no issue for me. But I can tell you how the manual focus works now. There are two possible setups. Next to that you can set the camera to manual focus override, such that the lens ring gets a manual focus override function after you half-press the shutter. This is a smart implementation resembling what most DSLR lenses do as well.
Possibility 1: You have not set the lens ring to manual focus. In this case you can select manual focus in the menu, and at that moment adjust the focus in one of three ways. With the physical up down buttons, with the up down buttons on the touch screen, and with the rear dial.
The up down buttons operate fairly fast, increasing speed the longer you hold them. The rear dial takes a lot of spinning, but it seems somewhat speed dependent. If you spin very slowly, the dial will take more then 20 rotations, if you speed it up, you can bring it closer to 10. What is a little bit strange to me is that as soon as you leave the manual focus screen, there is no way to directly influence the focus, even though the camera is still in manual focus mode. What you have to do then is reselect manual focus from the menu in order to make adjustments again.
Possibility 2: You have set the lens ring to MF. In this case the behaviour of the controls mentioned under possibility 1 is still the same, but you can now use the lens ring as well. Note that you must explicitly set the lens ring to MF for it to be used for focussing. If you do not do that as in possibility 1, turning the lens ring will exit manual focussing and set, for instance, the aperture.
The control of the lens ring is definitely speed dependent. From what I have read, this did not seem to be the case with the original G7X. With the mark II, if you spin the wheel very slowly it will take several full rotations to zoom from the minimum focus distance to infinity. However, if you give fast spins to the dial I estimate that all together it can be done in less then one rotation (3 or 4 fast flicks of a quarter rotation each).
The implementation of this seems to be a bit crude however. I have had it several times that I was spinning at a fairly slow rate and the camera would make big jumps on the focus scale, sometimes even from 20cm to infinity. For both the lens ring and the rear dial it seems to take slightly more rotations to focus from infinity to macro than the other way around. Operation for clicking and clickless mode of the ring seems to be the same.
Okay, now we have come to the more interesting part of this Canon G7X mark II review, focusing more on the results than on the camera itself. All images you will see from here are taken by the G7X mark II, and all images are directly transferred from the camera. I allowed myself to do editing operations in the camera itself, but no post-processing in Lightroom and co. I hope this helps you to get a good insight into the capabilities of the camera. Let’s kick off with a couple of images. All images link back to their large size original files.
I really like the great color rendition of the camera, and I also like how the Canon G7X mark II can create smooth bokeh backgrounds, despite being such a small camera. I am really amazed by that. Remember, no post-processing here. All these images are straight results from the Powershot G7X mark II. I find that the images look pleasant, sharp and crisp.
HIGH ISO results
Something else I am really impressed with is the ISO performance. Okay, fair enough, my last camera was over 8 years old, and barely usable at ISO 1600. But if it is up to me this camera with its 1″ sensor can easily be used at ISO 6400, and personally I wouldn’t be afraid to use ISO 12,800 if the situation asks for it. This is much better than I anticipated.
I am getting used to using auto ISO with this camera, and have the limit at ISO 6400. I was a bit concerned with this feature, because, just as in the previous model the auto ISO is a little too eager to my taste to crank up the ISO. However, with such a great ISO performance, this does not scare me that much anymore.
That being said, the auto ISO is weirdly inconsistent. You can set the rate of change to slow, normal or fast. What happens then to the shutter speed can be seen in the table below.
|Auto||Auto ISO settings are not available. Camera seems to choose 1/FL if possible, but does in general not go higher than ISO 800.|
1 FL=Focal length
2 In P the camera detects if the scene is dark, and puts the shutter speed fixed to 1/20, even if the ISO is not yet at 6400
As you can see auto ISO has some strange inconsistent behaviour. I use the camera myself in Av most of the time, with the normal rate of change. I would have liked to have shutter speeds at 1/FL, and it is a pity that this widely accepted rule is not implemented correctly.
Personally I am used to shoot RAW, and this camera has a lot to offer in this area. RAW dynamic range is expected to be good. However, at the moment of writing, this camera is not yet supported by Adobe Lightroom. So for now I am using the JPEG’s of the camera. And I have to say that I am pleasantly suprised. I could see myself using this camera in JPEG mode as well.
Improvements over its predecessor are that RAW files are now 14-bit, and that it is now also possible to shoot RAW files in auto mode. This was not possible with the original Canon G7X.
In-camera RAW processing
The camera is capable of processing RAW files inside the camera. This can be done for a single RAW file, or for a batch of RAW files at the same time. In the latter case these RAW files must follow each other, so you cannot nitpick photos from your complete card.
Screens for in-camera RAW processing and editing a picture style
You can change several settings, but not too much. First you can set the brightness between -1 and 1 (not sure if these are stops). Next you can set the picture style as discussed before, the dynamic lighting optimizer, which compresses the dynamic range in your photograph, and finally noise reduction. These last two can be set either to low, medium or full.
The autofocus is in general very good. In normal light conditions the focus is fast and accurate, and object tracking works reasonably well.
You can set the focus to tracking an object, which should be improved with the new DIGIC 7 processor, or to a focus point fixed somewhere in the frame. What I really like is to be able to tap an object, which will then be tracked, or to tap somewhere in the frame in order to set the focus point there. You can even setup the camera for touch shutter, meaning you tap somewhere, the camera focuses, and immediately takes the shot.
Next to these two modes, you can set the camera to one shot AF, or to servo AF. If you want to track something, and use burst to generate a series of shots, you want to put it in servo AF of course. However, in this case you have to put the camera in focus point mode, and cannot use the object tracking, which kind of defeats the purpose. If the camera is in tracking mode, the camera will not refocus between shots. If you have a focus point in a fixed position the camera will refocus between each burst shot.
Something else that I would have liked to see is to be able to set one of the rear buttons to AF stop to have intermitted servo AF control. This is however not possible on this camera.
Continuous focus worked really well for the panning shots shown here. The focus is good resulting in sharp images, I had no problems whatsoever. The images of the dog above also turned out pretty good as well. However, I have to be honest, these were the lucky shots. If this dog came running to me at full speed, the camera could not keep up. It would continue shooting, but the dog would be out of focus in most of the shots. Maybe my dog is just too fast, but I can imagine other cameras doing a better job at this.
I also found the AF struggling a bit in low light situations. The camera acquired focus, partly thanks to the AF light, but it took more time then usual. However, as I said before, the autofocus is in general very good. In normal light conditions the focus is fast and accurate, and object tracking works reasonably well. It’s just that you have to be aware of its limitations.
You might wonder if I used the new panning mode for these panning shots. I should have tested it out, but instead I put the camera in manual mode and set the shutter to 1/50s. The IS seems to work really well during panning. A quick check of the dedicated panning mode seems to indicate that the shutter speed is a function of the speed with which you are panning, which is quite smart.
As said, I am not much of a video guy. There are already several sample videos available on youtube from people who do a better job than me. Please check them out if you are interested. The Canon G7X mark II is capable of full HD video with a maximum of 60FPS, but can also shoot at 24FPS. In order to do this make sure the camera is set at NTSC instead of PAL. PAL is the standard setting for Europe, but this will only give you 25FPS and 50FPS options.
Obviously the camera is capable of manual exposure in video as well, allowing you to set shutter speed, aperture and ISO yourself. Nevertheless, I think the Canon is mostly aimed at photographers, which is kind of ironic if you look at the cult following its predecessor has among vloggers. I think the RX100 should be the better camera for video, but is of course also more expensive.
One thing I did like about video in my initial testing is the fact that you can touch focus. This is definitely an added value. One thing that I disliked is that sometimes you can hear the camera ‘rattling’ a bit as if continuously adjusting the focus in small steps. In itself this is not too bad, except for the fact that the sound can play up in your video as well.
Another new feature in the Canon G7X mark II is timelapse video. Personally I am disappointed that this timelapse can only be used for video. I would have liked to see an intervalometer that can be used for photography as well. But if your target is a timelapse video, this feature can definitely be useful.
Some random bits and pieces:
- The WIFI connectivity of the camera is a nice feature. You can control your camera from your smartphone using your personal network, or the camera can act as a hotspot to accomodate a device to device connection. Great stuff.
- The dynamic lighting optimizer is a new feature of the mark II over the original. This is a feature I really like for the JPEG shooting. In case you have strong highlights and dark shadows, this function will try its best to expose everything correctly using the higher dynamic range that is captured by the sensor. This function works really wel as far as I could see.
- The speed of course. The original G7X was notably slow, to the point of only being capable to shoot continuously in RAW mode at 1FPS. The mark II is greatly improved with continuous speeds around 6FPS. I don’t see any use in something faster than that.
- The flash is now tiltable in order to bounce it off something. The flash can tilt 45 degrees up, and 45 degrees down.
- The ND filter can now be set to operate automatically, this is a useful feature, because the camera can obtain your desired exposure and decide for itself whether or not the ND filter needs to be put in place.
I am actually suprised by the battery life. At one charge I have achieved 400 shots on one battery. To be fair, this was in a short amount of time, with a lot of burst shots. But still, this was using continous AF, and keeping the camera on all the time. This is better than my expectations were at first. Another nice feature is that the camera can be charged over USB.
One thing that annoys me is that original batteries are 60 dollars, way to expensive. I bought a third party battery with the camera, which claimed to be compatible, but it turned out this is not yet the case. The camera detects if a battery is third party, and then shows a warning and no battery percentage information anymore. Hopefully it will not take long before truly compatible 3rd party batteries become available.
Update: After completing this Canon G7X mark II review I received an e-mail from the reseller where I bought the accu. They expect it to take at least three months before the accu will be fully compatible with the mark 2.
I hope you enjoyed this Canon G7X mark II review. So, what to say about this camera? I am really positive. Image quality is great, I like the look, build quality, handling, controls and customization options. If you have read everything above you have noticed several small annoyances, or things I would have designed differently myself, but these are by no means real disadvantages, and would not put me off in buying this camera.
If there is one fundamental area which could improve for me it would be autofocus. But that is not to say that it is bad as it is, but during my short time with the camera I already met some of its limitations. But nothing I could not live with. For most purposes the autofocus is perfectly adequate and fast. It is when you put it to the test in extreme situations that its limitations will show up.
The notable G7X softness is something that I did not notice at all, but to be honest I am not of the pixel peeping kind. I found images at all focal lengths and apertures of great quality, and would not feel the need to stop down in order to improve sharpness.
In the end, I would definitely buy this camera again. I am really happy so far, and I highly recommend it to everybody. The camera will become available in the US the 26th of May. You can Pre-order now on Amazon for $699.
I tried to be as complete as possible, because I was one of the first to do a full Canon G7X mark II review. Nevertheless, if you have any remaining questions about the camera, please drop them in the comments below. I will try to answer them, and if there are enough interesting questions I will do a follow-up post with questions and answers. Go on and like our page or subscribe to keep yourself up to date.