With the rise of smartphone cameras, I had basically written off the point-and-shoot category of cameras. To a large part these smartphone cameras are so good, that even much of the DSLR market has been eaten up. Once I got my hands on the Canon PowerShot G7 Mark III, that all changed. My eyes were opened to what’s possible with a camera that yes, can fit in your pocket.
With cars that can unlock over Bluetooth, tap and pay in your phone and in some states, even digital licenses for ID, wallets are quickly becoming a thing of the past. That actually means you could carry a camera like this, with you, more often than ever before. While we haven’t been travelling much lately, the world is working how to open up for business safely and over the next couple of months, it looks like you’ll be able to capture the amazing world we live in, once again.
When that time comes you have an option to do that with a camera that offers great quality and versatility. The G7X Mark III has a long list of features and even gained a new one during my review period. Thanks to the recent release of the Canon EOS Webcam Utility beta, you can now throw this camera on a tripod and use it as a webcam. That enables you to achieve amazing video calls that’ll have your colleagues asking how you did it.
Comfortable in your hand.
The camera is all black, with white labelling which makes for a pretty clean look to the camera. The lens is fixed, unlike a DLSR or mirrorless camera that offers the flexibilty of interchangable lenses.
Design in the point and shoot market, is a lot less about the camera looking attractive and more about the design being functional. In this respect, the camera fits great in the hand, while also having the ability to flip around the display. This not only helps if you’re shooting at an angle, or even flip it up, to use it like a selfie cam.
What’s fun is how the flash pops up. While the mechanism looks a little flimsy, it does solve the issue of having a big bulky flash perminantly protruding from the body.
Most of the common functions are available from the array of buttons on the back of the camera, however one strange design choice was to use the adjusting ring around the lens to control exposure, but not zoom. Obivously this isn’t a DLSR, but anyone who’s used one before, would appreciate that’s a fairly normal method of controling zoom. Of course you can use your the index finger to toggle left and right to control zoom, but I did miss that familiar and frankly more precise zoom method.
Another thing that always confused me was why the shutter button doesn’t double as the video record button. This seem obvious and any chance Canon have to delete a button, they should absolutely take it. With a smartphone, you’re ability to rapidly switch between photo and video mode is as easy as a tap on screeen. On the PowerShot, you have to change modes, then reconfigure your brain to use the video record button.
Despite these mild issues, the reality is that using the camera feels great and it works to capture the world around you, incredibly well. The rear display is massive and takes up the entire rear of the camera save for the controls and a thumbrest.
FEATURES AND PERFORMANCE
What does it do and how does it perform?
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III offers Canon’s most recent processor, the DIGIC8, and includes a 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor with a 4.2x optical zoom lens. While you can’t switch out to a zoom lens, it seems this level of optical zoom will meet your photography needs in most circumstances.
The Mark III includes a f/1.8-2.8 lens which means shooting in dim environments, or even at night, will still deliver great black level in your photos. Shooting in the daylight is a breeze and it’s easy to produce great looking photos, leaving you with more time to be creative. Being compact, doesn’t mean you have to give up RAW quality, which allows those who want to perfect exposures in Photoshop during post, the detail necessary to do so.
In terms of shooting, the camera features single or continuous shooting modes which I found particularly helpful when taking photos of my fast-moving 2yo. Naturally there’s also all the regular dealyed capture options, making it easy to get in position if you’re flying solo and taking photos of yourself, or just want ot have the camera absolutely steady when the photo is taken.
When it comes to video, of course you can record, transfer and upload your content and you capture content in 4K at 30fps (with no crop) or if you want to, drop it back to 1080p for 120fps slow motion. There is also an option to go live, making it great for people who want to livestream straight to YouTube, although this does take some setup to achieve. There’s no Facebook Live, Twitch or support for any other platform, this is exclusively for YouTube, but given that’s where most of the video eyeballs are, it makes sense.
When it comes to connectivity, having a technique to connect the camera is important as the content you capture needs to be shared with the world, its 2020, so that’s just a rule now. Thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you can pair it with your phone and use the Canon app to share images to your favourite social network sites.
Now here’s some sample photos from the PowerShot G7 X Mark III.
Not everything’s perfect
My biggest issue with the PowerShot G7 X Mark III is the inability to charge the battery over the USB-C port. While I love the new capability to use it as a webcam, having to remove your batter and charge it, feels incredibly antiquated. Given you have the USB cable connected to transmit the video for the webcam, not being able to charge from that same cable seems like an incredibly bad missed opporutnity.
My other problem with this being pitched as a great camera for vloggers is the lack of any kind of hotshoe connection, typically found on Canon DLSRs or video cameras. While there’s the 3.5mm jack to support an external audio source, not having any kind of mounting system, leaves you with some, lets say, creative solutions to the problem. These are far from elegant. Given the on-board microphone is not directional, it catches much of the ambient noise, and pays no attention to the fact you’re speaking into the lens.
Finally my last frustration is that webcam feature works by using the USB-c port, but that isn’t used to provide power to the camera. This means after a couple of hours of use, you’re webcam will turn off as the camera runs out of battery. This seems like a massive lost opporutnity and it’s unclear if this is an issue that could be solved with a firmware update. Charging requires removal of the batter and if you have the camera on a tripod, the battery door can’t open.
This complaints should ceratinly provide Canon with some development ideas for Mark IV.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is available now from Canon online, or from a number of their retail partners.
The camera has a price tag of A$1,099 that includes free shipping if you buy from Canon directly. For that price, it definitely lands in the premium bracket for a compact camera range, but if you do in fact use it to power your YouTube career, I suspect you’ll make that back in no time.
Spending that kind of money, on top of what is probably a flagship phone in your pocket that cost as much as twice this price, could seem excessive, but for a camera that could be put to use when sitting on your desk, rather than in your drawer, this represents dramatically better value for money than most, thanks to that new webcam feature along with the Live streaming straight to YouTube option.
One positive with this camera is that you buy it and you’re essentially done. There’s no extra lenses or filters to buy. Potentially you could invest in a microphone or an additonal battery, but largely you could live with what comes in the box.
For more information, or to buy, head to Canon.com.au
Whether you’re looking for a small, light and portable camera in the traditional sense, or looking to get into vlogging, the the G7 X Mark III is a great fit and comes at a decent price. The featureset and quality available here is hard to find a comprable device, so it’s possible Canon can carve out a small nieche here.
For a camera that you’d normally think of as using for photography, Canon are really positioning this device as one that’s a friend of video makers. Not only can you do live streaming on YouTube, but even record in vertical video for different social media like snapchat or Instagram stories. Thanks to a microphone input port, your videos can also sound great, while looking great.
Instead of fighting the battle against the smartphone, it seem the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III works in harmony, or as an extension of your smartphone.