The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is a serious compact for serious photographers. Just take a look at that all-black colour scheme: your six-year-old nephew won’t want anything to do with it.
It’s the kind of thing you’re meant to grab when a DSLR is too much of a bother, but you still want to be able to take a great snap.
But is it good enough to claim the very top spot of the best premium compact camera, in our hearts and on our charts?
We love its chunky feel, which extends well beyond a sturdy 319g weight and cavalcade of manual controls and buttons. Even its lens ring has these lovely studs that make you want to play about and tweak your settings for the perfect shot.
Despite all this, and a new rubberised grip that’s pleasingly substantial, Canon hasn’t sacrificed anything in the way of portability. With a depth of 4.2cm, you can just about tuck the G7 X Mk II into a jacket pocket and it’ll easily slot into even the most jam-packed of rucksacks.
Its 3-inch tilting touchscreen is similarly useful if you’re in a tight spot, handing you the ability to capture photos at awkward angles without clambering all over the place. Unlike the original G7 X, this camera’s 1.04 million dot screen can tilt down as well as up down, although it won’t swing out to the side.
This added flexibility is especially important given Canon’s ongoing unwillingness to add a built-in electronic viewfinder to this series. Considering Panasonic’s similarly priced (though elusive) Lumix TZ100 gives you the best of both worlds, this is a bit of a shame.
It would have been even more of a problem if the screen wasn’t any good, but thankfully it is – you get excellent viewing angles and accurate colours.
GREAT, BUT NO 4K
Inside it there’s a 1in, 20.1MP sensor – so that’s smaller than the one on the Fuji X70 but the same size as that on the RX100. You also get a 4.2x optical zoom with a variable aperture of f/1.8 – f/2.8. That’s equivalent to a 24-100mm zoom range and is actually pretty good; the RX100 is only 24-70mm in comparison, and the Fuji doesn’t zoom at all.
Focusing is sharp – even in low light – and that wide aperture gives you the chance to create some sweet shallow-depth-of-field effects.
Running back through the snaps we took during testing, we rarely found a poor one. The Canon is able to deliver the good by capturing a huge amount of detail with interior static shots. Moving outdoors and when challenged with actual people, skin-tones were suitably accurate.
Where the G7 X Mark II is less impressive is in terms of video. Canon is stubbornly reserving 4K resolutions for its top-tier DSLRs at the moment, so that means you’re stuck with a full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution in pretty much all of its other cameras. While the footage is good enough here, and you do have the choice of shooting framerates of up to 60p, there are several better cameras for video kicking around right now.
HOW ABOUT A PANASONIC?
All told, the G7 X Mark II is a well-priced all-rounder at R8,800 – but it’s not alone in that niche. Panasonic’s Lumix TZ100 is a superior alternative with the same 1-inch sensor size, 4K video recording and an electronic viewfinder all bundled together. And its black and silver edition with red trim is pretty tasty too. Trouble is that it’s hard to find here. As in you’re ordering it from another country, at this point.
Don’t mind spending a little more locally? For R11,500 you can pick up the excellent Fujifilm X70 and revel in its sleek retro charms. It also packs in a bigger 16.3MP APS-C, than the Canon or Panasonic but skimps on a zoom.
If money is no concern, though, then you’ll want to look at Sony’s RX100 Mark V: it’s the best premium compact you can buy. Trouble is, you’d expect as much for an eye-watering R16,000, and that’s only once you’ve located an overseas supplier willing to ship to South Africa. So… even more expensive than just R16k, then.
CANON POWERSHOT G7 X MARK II VERDICT
It’s a tough time for compact cameras. Canon’s G7 X Mark II is good at pretty much everything, yet it’s still not the kind of device you should buy no questions asked. The competition at this kind of price is absolutely ferocious.
For sheer point-and-shoot convenience, this camera is almost untouchable. It’s lightweight, has a decent enough zoom and takes a great photo. If you’re not that fussed about 4K video – maybe you don’t have a 4K TV yet – then it’s only really the lack of a viewfinder that’s holding the G7 X Mark II back from a higher rating.
So while it’s frustrating that Canon doesn’t push the boat out a little bit more with its premium compacts, there’s still precious little to complain about with this effort.