Here's my camera wishlist: I want it to be easy to use, not overly complicated, take great images that don't need a lot of post-processing in a range of environments, be portable (as in small enough to pop in my bag comfortably, rather than needing a bag of its own) and not — possibly most importantly — die immediately if I accidentally drop it.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II promises to deliver on this wishlist of mine — not only is it sturdy (read on to find out just how sturdy) and compact, it boasts Canon's new DIGIC 7 processor, coupled with a 1-inch 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor and 4.2x optical zoom lens — which makes for a photographic package that all but eliminates the need for anything but the most basic editing.
What Is It?
Retailing at $899, the G7 X Mark II is a compact point-and-shoot that still manages to boast in-depth manual and auto control. The DIGIC 7 enables super fast focus speeds and 8fps RAW continuous shooting, even in low light and low contrast situations. The Auto Lighting Optimiser can also provide smart lighting correction, while similar image stabilisation technology is on offer as in the Canon Powershot SX720.
The GX7 is geared towards those of us looking to get a little more hands-on, with a customisable Lens Control Ring for settings benefiting from incremental changes like aperture, shutter speed, ISO and focus. 14-bit RAW offers higher quality in the colours, but the camera also includes a number of colour pre-sets for simple shooting.
Canon is also pushing the movie-capturing abilities of its latest model, with the GX7 offering not only full HD video but also full manual control, image stabilisation and a time-lapse capture mode.
Oh, and it doesn't have a viewfinder, so the LCD tilt screen will become your new best friend.
What's It Good At?
It's essentially perfect if you want to be taking great quality images on the move, and the whole unit fits right in your pocket (if it's reasonably deep).
- Resolution: 20.1 Megapixels
- Screen: 3-inch, LCD Tilt Touchscreen
- ISO: 25-12800 (Auto)
- Storage: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS Speed Class 1 compatible)
- Warranty: 2 Years
The simplicity of the GX7 Mark II cannot be overstated. It's the kind of camera you could give to your Uncle who has not picked up a camera outside of an iPhone in the last 5 years, and he'll be able to work it out. There are simple dials on the top for manual settings (which you absolutely don't have to use at all), and the touch screen is responsive and intuitive. Even transferring images via NFC is a breeze, you just need to download the Canon app, and away you go.
Picture Styles lets you set image-controls previously only found on dSLRs, so you can adjust contrast and colour easier. Whilst obviously not the best option for all (or most, really) situations, auto mode is more than capable of producing images that need very little (if any) editing. The pictures I've included in this review are all taken in a range of lighting conditions on auto and unedited, so you can see what I mean.
The unit is all-metal and solid. I know this because I actually dropped it. After hearing an almighty thud, I was concerned I'd done some serious damage. Picking it up, I took this shot (in a dark, poorly lit museum) as a test. I call it "relief".
The risk of actually dropping the GX7 Mark II is low for non-clumsy humans, since the ergonomics is great. The grip is well placed and firm. Getting to the controls with confidence is simple — the compact size certainly helps with that — and as expected it comes with a handy wrist strap I obviously highly recommend.
The LCD touch screen is functional, responsive, can be flipped up for selfies and tilted down for those tougher angles.
Oh, and the battery life is fantastic. I shot intermittently for three whole days (7am until 9pm) without needing a recharge.
What's It Not Good At?
In all honestly, there's not a whole lot the GX7 Mark II promises that it doesn't deliver on.
Recharging can be a bit of an annoyance with the removable battery and separate dock (micro USB charging would be handy).
The flash pops out (rather dramatically) by way of a switch on the side of the camera. It's a noisy, clumsy move that feels out of sync with the rest of the camera's design.
It can be a bit slow when taking HDR images, and it's not the camera to reach for when you need to grab high-speed action shots — it struggled to grab a clear image of my son doing parkour at a reasonable speed.
It's to be expected, really, the images you see in back of the camera's LCD aren't exactly what you see when you export them — the contrast and sharpness aren't quite there yet.
Should You Buy It?
The $899 price tag is really the only thing that may be a little off-putting for the target market for this camera. It's a compact, after all. A travelling companion, a camera phone replacement, a super fancy Instagram assistant. Yes, it can be so much more — for anyone beyond enthusiast level this would be a "just in case" camera to keep on you at all times.
Price: from $899
- Solid, sturdy, compact design.
- Great quality straight-out-of-camera images.
- Image transference via Wi-Fi/app easy to use.
- Clumsy flash.
- Lack of charging options.
- The price.
So should you buy it? The best recommendation I can give is that I plan to, if I can ever afford it. With my lifestyle — travelling often and seeing cool things in all kinds of terrible lighting conditions — I need something I can slide into my pocket that's easy to use and takes reliably good images. Nothing professional, just good enough for social media. And after surviving that drop, I was sold.
It has just the right amount of features to keep those looking to use something a little nicer than your smartphone or current basic compact camera satisfied, without being overwhelming. The straightforward ease of use, and reliably good images and significant improvements from the previous model make the GX7 Mark II easy to recommend for anyone who wants a tough little traveller for your next getaway.