Canon G3X Walkaround

by Mike Tomkins

Seen from the front, the magnesium alloy-bodied, weather-resistant Canon G3X shares a similarly-angular design aesthetic with the larger-sensored Canon G1X II and, to a lesser extent, the pocket-friendly Canon G7X. It's pretty clear that all three are from the same stable, even if their overall layout varies quite a bit.

Looking at the G3X's front deck, there are no controls on this surface, although you can easily see some of those adorning its top side, and especially those at the summit of its generously-chunky handgrip. There's an autofocus assist lamp above and just right of the lens (as seen from the rear), but otherwise the front of the camera is clean and featureless. All, that is, save for the powerful 25x optical zoom lens, the aforementioned grip, and a matching leatherette trim piece which wraps around from the left side of the body.

Jumping to the top deck, there's a whole lot more going on. Again, this viewpoint is dominated by the lens, and an interesting taper as it nears the camera body is apparent. (This gives just a little more room for your fingertips on either side of the body, and the taper begins immediately behind the generous, programmable lens ring.)

From left to right, the top of the Canon G3X offers up a popup internal flash, a hot shoe for external strobes, a mode dial, power button, front control dial, exposure compensation dial and movie record button. On top of the handgrip, the shutter button sits encircled by the zoom rocker.

The mode dial contains all of the same modes found on the G1X II, plus one addition -- a dedicated Sports mode. We're pleased to see two Custom modes, as well, rather than the single mode of the much smaller-bodied Canon G7X.

One last control visible from this angle is the framing assist button on the left side of the lens barrel. This will be immediately familiar to owners of certain recent PowerShot SX-series models, and it's very handy indeed. A simple press-and-hold of the button will immediately zoom the camera to the widest extent of its lens, allowing you to quickly locate and frame your desired subject.

The previous focal length is indicated with a white box on-screen, and the zoom control still functions, changing the area covered by this box. As soon as you release the framing assist button, the lens begins to return to the focal length indicated by the white box's coverage. It's a great way to deal with a common problem for cameras with such powerful zooms -- the fact that once you drift off your subject, it can be very difficult to recapture.

The back of the PowerShot G3X is dominated by its roomy 3.2-inch LCD monitor, which has a very high resolution of 1.62 million dots. (The pixel count isn't certain. Assuming three dots per color as in most LCD panels, that would be a 900 x 600 pixel array, but the same dot count could also be reached with a four dot-per-pixel 780 x 520 pixel array.)

Almost all of the controls are clustered just right of the screen, but one sits above the LCD monitor. That's the mobile device connect button, another feature inherited from smaller-sensored PowerShot-series models. As you'd expect, it'll help you get your photos from the camera onto your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.

Most of the controls right of the LCD monitor should be self-explanatory, but that alongside the very top right corner of the LCD monitor bears a little explanation if you're not familiar with Canon's cameras. It's the shortcut button, and in essence, it's a programmable button whose function you can tailor to your tastes. Enthusiasts will be pleased to note the presence of dedicated autoexposure lock and AF point selection buttons just right of the thumbgrip.

On the left side of the PowerShot G3X's body is but one control: You'll find the mechanical release switch for the popup flash here. Directly beneath it, a small flap covers both the microphone and headphone jacks, a location which means both can be used while shooting handheld since they won't significantly obstruct your grip.

A little further down, a white symbol marks the location of the NFC antenna. Android users can pair their smartphones or tablets quickly and easily by holding this a few millimeters from the similar marking on their mobile device. (If the smart device lacks the symbol, a little experimentation will usually locate the position of the antenna, and then you need only remember it in future.)

Finally, the Wi-Fi antenna sits beneath the NFC antenna, another smart location choice. Even if you're shooting two-handed, you'll most likely want your left hand wrapped around (or cupped beneath) the lens, leaving the antenna free to provide good range.

One more control we've not yet mentioned can be seen on the left side of the lens barrel. We already mentioned the framing assist button when we were looking at the top of the camera. A short way beneath it is the manual focus button.

The right side of the camera is free of controls. The only features you'll find here -- other than the strap lug which mirrors the one atop the left side of the body in the image above -- are those which you wouldn't want to use while holding the camera. Specifically, you'll find the high-definition HDMI video output, USB terminal and remote control terminal here.

From the bottom we can see the Canon G3X's battery/card compartment door beneath the handgrip. Next to it and offset from the optical axis is a metal tripod socket with a register pin hole, used to prevent the camera from twisting on tripod plates equipped with a video register pin. The location close to the battery/card door unfortunately means you'll probably have to remove the plate to access the compartment. An off-center tripod socket is also not ideal for shooting panoramas, but it's nice to see anti-twist video pin support on this class of camera.


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