The short answer is: Yes it is. After one and a half year intensive testing I thing every photographer should have a camera like this (so called professional compact camera). Sure, it cannot compete with a Canon D1 X and a 600mm F4 Lens at a safari in Africa but I love this little cam sometimes more than my DSLR.
In this article you can read a long time review of the Canon G7x. It is not the newest model but the key features are the same as in the newer G7x Mark II. It is not a classical review, where different things are compared and specs be discussed and I cannot guarantee that it becomes a shameless ad for professional compact cameras.
The G7x is a few years old. In fact it came out in September 2014. I got mine on Christmas 2015 when it was a dinosaur and near to become extinct. Nevertheless I am still making great pictures with this camera.
Now more in the classical review style some of the specs of the G7x:
- 20 MP, 1 inch sensor (2.73 crop factor)
- 8-36.8mm Lens (24-100mm equivalent)
- 8 – 2.8 F-Numbers
- 3 inch touch tilt screen
- Dimensions 103 x 60 x 40 mm
- SD Card Slot
- ISO 125 to 12800
- 12 bit CR2 RAW
- Full HD 60/30 fps
There are also some other gimmicks like WIFI or NFC connectivity and some creative modes but I do not think this really matters. As you may have notice this are not nearly the specs that you expect from a DSLR or a camera for an advance photographer. This brings me to the next point, the cons.
You can bring here the usual points when it comes to cameras with a small sensor. The quality of the images is bad because the sensor is smaller, it has fewer megapixels than a DSLR, it has more pixels on a smaller sensor, the pictures are not as sharp as on a DSLR, and it cannot do 4k videos. You are limited to with the lens, the F-Numbers are higher because of the smaller sensor, there is no viewfinder and you make noisy images at night.
After more than 1 ¾ years with this camera I can say all this points do not really matter. The only really minus, I have found is the missing external mic input, but this is only interesting for vloggers. In the next part I am going to tell you, why it does not matter.
Why the cons do not matter
As you may remember this article is called: “Canon G7x Review: Good Enough for Advanced Photographers?”, and not: “Does a compact camera make technical better pictures than a DSLR”. It has not to compete with a DSLR, because the use is different. This small camera can make great pictures in so many different situations. Of course it has fewer megapixels than a Canon 5D Mark IV but it has over 20 MP and that is enough to print it 30×40” if you want to. Most time you compress pictures anyway to smaller sizes so the megapixels are not really relevant. You can make really good pictures even at difficult conditions like lower light or when you need faster shutter speed. The lens is not changeable but it has a wide range and when you want to have a wider angle you can make a panorama. I also do not think 4k is very important, because most people do not watch videos on a 4k monitor.
Why I love the G7x
When I was looking through my Lightroom catalogue and searching pictures for this article, I was surprised how many good pictures I have taken with this camera. Even some of my favorite and portfolio pictures are taken with it. When I have guests at home and they look at the big prints at the wall they always think I have taken them with my big DSLR, but 75% are taken with the small camera and nobody recognize it.
The main reason why I love the camera is because it is very compact (what a compact camera should be). I can take it everywhere in my pocket and it is ready to shoot in a short time. You can take in nearly every possible situation a picture. Great situations appear often when you do not have your DSLR with you. Now you can say you have your smartphone in your pocket, but the quality of the smartphone pictures are not nearly as good as the one from the G7x when you compare dynamic range or resolution, even if you shoot RAW on your smartphone. The quality gap between a smartphone and a compact camera is much bigger than from the compact camera to a DSLR. It is also good because the G7x can stand on its own and you do no need a tripod in every situation. You have also the same control options as on your DSLR (aperture, shutter speed, ISO).
My DSLR is also a Canon and it was really easy to switch to the small camera because the menu is similar to the DSLRs. It is also possible to make nice portrait without the fake computed bokeh effect. Because of the Range from 24-100 mm it is a good second cam, when I have a long or wide angle lens on your DSLR. The camera is also build very solid. It dropt a few times and the display has a crack but it works perfectly and you do not see anything in the image quality.
The smaller camera gives me more freedom to try different things. Maybe that is a problem that only I have but when I am out with my DSLR I make myself more pressure to take good pictures what can me limit some time. When I have my smaller G7x with me I am freer and try creative things because I make myself not the pressure to make great pictures. Because it is so light you can also try better different angles. It is easier to hold it down low or high above your head than a DSLR. You can hold it with one hand and make selfies our hold on something with one hand while photographing with the other hand. I am less careful with the gear because it is less that you can lose. When you drop a DSLR in the water you can easily loose over 2000.- $.
Less expansive and lighter gear
The camera itself is not really cheap. You can find the newer G7x Mark II on Amazon for about 670.00 $. This is the price you have to pay for a beginner Canon Rebel SL2 with an 18-55mm kit lens. But I think it is a fair price for what you get: a full equipped camera with a lens. It becomes interesting when you want to buy additional gear like an underwater case or a tripod. The underwater case for the G7x Mark II (original Canon DC55) is for about 400.00 $ on Amazon. This gives you a water proof camera up to 40m. You can find also cheaper underwater cases but I do know if I would trust them. For the cheaper DSLR it is hard to find an underwater housing and the prices are much higher than for the smaller compact cameras. Also other gear is also less expansive. You do not have to buy a big solid tripod, because the camera is lighter than a DSLR.
The gear is also lighter and smaller when you buy it for a compact camera. This makes it easier to bring your gear to a location. I sometimes bring my underwater case on longer hikes to take spilt pictures in mountain lakes or creeks. The weight and the size are also good for traveling when you have to pack light and should not have too big cabin luggage.
These are the most important features for me on the camera. They make the G7x to a very good camera in every situation.
The most important feature on the camera is the possibility to shoot in RAW. I had a cheaper compact camera before which could only shoot JPG and this limited me so much in post processing that I used it rarely. The RAW format gives you so many more options in post processing, that I think it is the most important feature in every camera.
The second thing is the small size (103 x 60 x 40 mm) and the light (304g) weight. You can put it nearly every time in your pocket and bring it everywhere, where you cannot bring a big DSLR. I bet every photographer has missed really good moments because he had no camera with him or could only make a smartphone pic. I have the camera always in my pocket and took over the years some great pictures because the situation was just right. The smaller size is also good when you not want to attract attention. When you are doing some street photography you do not want to attract attention. With the small camera it is less obvious that you are photographing other people.
The G7x has the shooting modes like a DSLR. You can choose between aperture priority, shutter priority, manual and some creative modes, like on every beginner DSLR. All settings can be controlled as on a DSLR. In manual mode it is possible to set all values (ISO, aperture and shutter speed). It is also possible to set a general ISO limit, so you do not have to deal with too grainy pictures. To change the aperture or the shutter speed there is a wheel at the lens which makes it really easy to control everything.
The tilt screen is a very valuable feature, it gives you more freedom to be creative. You can go easily very low without lying on the ground and get dirty. It is also good to get low over water, so you can capture reflections. When I compared cameras, I was thinking the tilt screen is not so important but nice to have. During the years I have used the tilt screen more than I have expected and I miss it on cameras where I do not have one. It is also nice for taking selfies.
These are some nice to have features but not essential. I use them from time to time but I could live without them.
The G7x and also the Mark II comes with a build in 3 Stops ND-Filter. It is nice to have when you want to have longer exposure times but it is not very important. I play with it from time to time but I do not use it regularly. Because the camera is light, it is easy to hold it still even for a longer exposure.
The screen is a touchscreen, what is standard in newer cameras. It is a nice to have but I use most times the buttons on the camera. The display is a bit small and the menu points are also too small that the use would be easy, but it is nice to set the focus points in live view.
Because the lens is fixed on the camera you will not collect dust on your sensor. I will not say it is impossible to get some dust in the system but it is more unlikely. This is good when you want to take pictures in a dusty environment where you do not want to bring your expansive DSLR. I bring my G7x regularly to the beach and never had problems.
What to consider when buying a compact camera?
Here are some features a compact camera for an advanced photographer should have and some things you should consider if you are thinking about buying one. I recommend going to a store and playing a bit with different cameras and seeing what you like the most. Sometimes an older version of a camera is also an option, the changes are usually not very big.
|RAW||The camera should make RAW images. It is, as I mentioned earlier the most important think for a advanced photographer|
|Small and Light||Buy something small and light. You already have a big heavy DSLR and you want something that you can have always with you.|
|Control||Check if you can control the camera like a DSLR (ISO, aperture, shutter speed).|
|Additional Gear||If you want to make special things like underwater photography, check if the gear is available before you buy the camera.|
|Same Brand as you main Camera||When you have a big camera you should look at a compact camera that from the same brand. The use is similar to the bigger cameras.|
|Big Aperture||You are losing light because the sensor is smaller. So be sure that you choose a camera with a big aperture.|
The most cameras have some other features but they do not really matter. These are things like a viewfinder, 4k, a flash, a hot shoe, or connectivity with Bluetooth or W-Lan. Do not look too much at these features because you will most time do not use them. Do also not care too much about the specs like megapixels or the zoom.
Professional compact camera from different brands
Here is a short list form actual compact cameras from different brands if you are interested. Canon, Sony and Panasonic are big in the game and it seems that Sony is at the moment in the first place.
Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70K (DMC-TZ101 in europe)
From other Brands like Nikon, Olympus or Fuji I did not find something that would fit in this camera class.
To come back to the topic, the G7x is a very good camera for every photographer no matter what skill level. Every photographer should have a professional compact camera. Smartphone cameras are nice and getting better but are not on the level of image quality and control possibilities that an advanced photographer need. The image quality is good enough and the camera is small and light so you can bring it always with you. By the way, nearly all photos in this article were made with the G7x.
What is your opinion? Let me hear it in the comments!