(Pocket-lint) - Over the last five years Canon has been refining its G7 X series, cumulating in the third release in the series: the G7 X Mark III. This latest model continues the form set by its two predecessors, pairing an all-new 1-inch sensor - which is larger than typical in most cameras, designed for better image quality - with a tried-and-tested 24-100mm zoom lens.
But where the G7 X III differs compared to its previous duo is with the introduction of a 3.5mm microphone input. Because Canon has the vlogging community in its sights with this camera; a niche yet sensible move given the camera's flip-forward self-facing screen feature to make recording - even in 4K Ultra-HD quality - a cinch.
G7 X 3: What's new?
- New stacked construction CMOS sensor
- Adds 3.5mm mic jack and 4K video
- EOS-like menu system
Unlike the G5 X II, which is announced in tandem, the G7 X III doesn't really change the base make-up of what it's all about. The Mark III has the same footprint, screen, lens and physical layout of the Mark II model from before it. There is new DSLR-style menu system, though, which will feel familiar to Canon users looking for a pocketable carry-around camera.
Where the G7 X III really differs is in two key areas, which we've already touched upon: the introduction of a new 20.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, which has a stacked construction rather than back-side illuminated form, said to allow for cleaner signal and better quality than before; and the arrival of that 3.5mm microphone input jack, which makes recording audio via a wired or wireless mic pickup far easier when capturing those (also new) 4K Ultra-HD clips.
G7X III: Design & Performance
- 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 lens with physical rotating control ring
- 20fps burst shooting (30fps to 70 frames in CR3 format)
- 3.2-inch tilt-angle LCD touchscreen to rear
- USB-C charging option (charger included)
- Built-in neutral density filter (3 stops)
- Bluetooth & Wi-Fi
As a small-scale package, the G7 X III has a strong specification. That lens offers a wide aperture throughout - it's f/1.8 at the widest angle 24mm equivalent, dropping to a still wide f/2.8 at the fullest 100mm equivalent - meaning lots of light can enter to keep quality up and helping to keep background blur more pronounced, if that's the look you wish to achieve.
Thing is, Canon has hoiked the price of the Mark III up to far higher levels than before. It enters stores at £700, a near 50 per cent increase over the Mark II model from before. That's a lot to pay for a 3.5mm headphone jack, 4K video and some potential quality improvements. It sounds really expensive when considering a Panasonic LX100 Mark II - which has an even larger Micro Four Thirds sensor and includes a viewfinder too - can be picked up for around £60 more. That said, the Panasonic has a fixed screen, so is less versatile than the Canon in that regard. And, of course, the Panasonic has no 3.5mm input either.
The Canon G7 X III is quick to focus and has an almost silly burst mode up to 20 frames per second, so there's no doubting its speed credentials. But, just as we so often say of PowerShot cameras, there's not much complexity to the autofocus system: its 1-Area focus in either larger or less-large points, or a subject tracking option, can't trump the more detailed Pinpoint mode of the Panasonic LX100 II. Given that Canon has gifted the G7 X III that EOS-style menu system, it's a shame to not see a more diverse focus system.
In terms of design, we find the physical dials really useful, especially the quick access to exposure compensation. Whether you're looking for point-and-shoot or full control over shutter and aperture, it's all available here with relative ease - including a physical control ring to assist quick adjustments. There's no viewfinder to be found here, so you'll be dependent on the screen, but if a finder is of key importance than the G5 X II can be picked up for not too much more cash.
G7X Mark III: Image Quality
- New 20.1MP 1-inch CMOS sensor
- Stacked construction, not BSI
- ISO 125 to 12,800 standard
- Digic 8 processor
- 3.5mm mic in
- 4K to 30fps
Under the hood the G7 X features an all new 1-inch CMOS sensor with a stacked design. This isn't back-side illuminated (BSI), it's a step up from that, if you will, with a new construction that keeps all the components out of the way of the photo diodes for an even cleaner signal. That, theoretically, means a cleaner final image with less image noise.
The Mark III model doesn't up the resolution compared to its predecessor, see, it's sat in that 20-megapixel sweetspot and isn't playing the megapixel race - which we think can only be a good thing in a camera such as this.
Now, we've not played with this camera extensively so can't give a full in and out of what the quality is like, but there are some obvious benefits. First, depth of field. With that f/1.8 aperture it's possible to focus on some close-up subjects, or when fully zoomed in (admittedly then at f/2.8), to achieve that melty background look.
Quality is decent. Even at ISO 6400 the full detail and colour of paint tubes is clearly visible, with little disruptive grain in the image. The lower ISO sensitivities do better still at retaining a smoother, sharper image. From a 1-inch sensor this is impressive stuff.
Problem is, as we pointed out above, the control over focus areas isn't quite precise enough, so we've had a few imperfect focus situations - which is tricky to counter when shooting with a wide open aperture, as offered here.
But you might not be buying this camera for its still features anyway. And now Canon has upped the video capture prowess, it's a strong reason to consider the G7 X III. There's 4K UHD capture available at up to 30fps, or you can shoot Full HD (1080p) at up to 100/120fps for half-time slow-motion editing. Pair that with the Picture Styles, 3.5mm input and some personal creativity and you'll be able to grab some great video clips when using this camera.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X III is a camera with clear intentions: it's aimed at vloggers, with its 4K Ultra-HD capture, 3.5mm microphone input and tilt-angle screen that's able to face forward, all making that clear. The larger-than-typical 1-inch sensor and wide-aperture zoom lens will also aid with taking more pro-looking shots with blurred backgrounds.
Where the G7 X III stumbles somewhat, however, is with its price point. At £700 it's a lot more than the outgoing Mark II model. There are obviously the benefits as outlined above, which will be great for some, but if you're in the market for stills camera only then the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II offers a larger sensor still, more autofocus options, plus a built-in viewfinder - and costs barely any more cash.
Overall, the G7 X III carves out its own unique position, straddling both stills and video with a leaning towards the latter. If a pocketable, hand-holdable stills camera with a mic input is precisely what you want then you won't find anything else on the market to cater for your needs.