The Canon G7X - have Canon made a great mirrorless camera?

Despite all my prejudices about Canon and very small cameras I think that the answer to the question in the headline of this article is yes. Based around the Sony 1" sensor as in the RX100 series, Canon have added a 24-100mm (35mm 'equivalent') f/1.8-2.8 lens, a selfie friendly live view screen and HD video in a very small package that, for what it produces, can actually be described as cheap. Though it's point and shoot looks don't give much of a clue, this is a terrific little camera that shoots brilliant stills and video and provided you're not looking for something that handles low light extremely well will cover pretty much anything you want it to. It is a pocket powerhouse (and yes I do carry it there, much to my shame!!) and with apologies to John Inman, Kenneth Williams and Larry Grayson, I can whip it out at a moments notice!!

It is surprising that I find it so useful, because it's almost everything I hate in a camera. It's very small, it's got no viewfinder and it's a Canon. But, as you know, I'm happy to concede that things change and if I think something has merit, then I'll say so, no matter what I've thought and written in the past.

Yesterday, I had to attend an appointment at the Dental Anxiety Management Clinic. Now don't get any ideas that I'm a wimp at the dentist. In fact I have all my dental work done without anaesthetic (No I'm not Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors) but I am totally hypodermic needle phobic and have been known to faint at the sight of one! Unfortunately I have to have a tooth out and despite my protestations that I can take it (how tough is that!!), no dentist I can find will do an extraction without a local anaesthetic, so I've got to somehow tolerate that awful thing coming towards me and ending up in my mouth. So after an hour and a half of 'behaviour management' to prepare me for the horror that awaits me, I stopped at a rather scenic destination on the River Severn at Upton. Having pocketed my G7X before I left I did indeed whip it out and take a few pictures.

As before, I was very impressed with the image quality and the capability of the lens. 

I've published the following video link before to show what it can do for video.

Canon G7X HD Video

Now, this isn't the best camera I have for either stills or video, but taking into account the size, weight and price, this has to be one of the best value cameras ever released. The lens is excellent and according to Dpreview keeps a wider aperture at all focal lengths than the Sony RX100 III, which is very useful when the light isn't optimal. There is, as I indicated no EVF and the screen suffers like many in bright sunlight plus there isn't the excellent image stabilisation that the Sony has and it has pretty poor battery life. But all in all it's a terrific little camera and at the price it's currently on offer at in the UK, a steal. Because it's just so useful and of course inconspicuous in the extreme. No-one takes any notice of me using this and the assumption is that it's just another nasty little point and shoot with pretty poor image quality. But under the right circumstances it's just the right camera for what I want. It has that smartphone convenience and simplicity if I set it up right but with a much more versatile lens and of course many options that smartphones don't give me. Also for example my Panasonic CM1 has the same sensor, but with a fixed lens and at double the price.

The Canon app. is hopeless, so I'm not even bothering with that, but I've had the camera on a tripod and the video and stills I got from it are very impressive. I've made a couple of raw files and their jpgs. available here for you to have a look at.

Sample 1 (raw)

Sample 1 (jpg)

Sample 2 (raw)

Sample 2 (jpg)

So Canon can do mirrorless if they try. The EOS-M series has had an inauspicious and somewhat poorly received start, though it can obviously be improved. And to me this camera shows that Canon are slowly coming round to the view that people are actually very interested in high quality small cameras and aren't just interested in DSLR's. That they are prepared to use a Sony sensor is encouraging and allows them to concentrate on what they are good at i.e. the lens. And I have to say it, this lens is every bit as good to my eyes as the Leica optic in the LX100 / D-LUX (Typ 109) Now those cameras shoot astonishingly high quality video, including 4K, whereas the G7X turns out pretty run of the mill 1080 HD, but then that's useful as well and not to be sniffed at. The G7X is also genuinely a carry anywhere, under all circumstances, camera, that takes up very little room in whatever any of us might choose to carry it in. (Yes it's very sporran friendly!!) And that is it's overiding advantage.

To be honest I can't see the point of any other small sensor zoom compact after using the G7X. Why would I settle for anything less when I can have the 1" sensor? You won't save much money or get any significant size and weight advantages either from the smalle sensor options and in these days of a decreasing market, that's important. This camera does, because of the lens, offer something that smartphones don't and for the foreseeable future, probably won't offer and if cameras like this can fend off the phone camera juggernaut rolling over them for a while longer then this is what manufacturers need to come up with. It's quality, it's innovative and it's good value. And the fact that I'm writing those words about a camera like this astonishes me. But then that's the attraction of writing a blog like this, things DO move on and what was then isn't now. And that's exactly the way it should be.