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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

First Impressions: Canon G7X Mk 2

I've been wanting to replace the Sony RX100 for a long time. Roberto owned and recommended the Canon G7X Mark II, and it ticked all the right boxes: 24mm wide angle, 4X zoom (the 24-100mm range is easily my favorite range), fast (f/2.8 at maximum zoom, f/1.8 at minimum), 1" sensor, image stabilization, fast continuous shooting (missing from the RX100) and a flip up screen. Retail price is a nose bleeding $679. But Canon had a refurbished sale for $450 (Canon refurb'd cameras come with a year warranty), so I jumped on it. You might be tempted by the G9X Mark II, which often sells for cheaper and is a newer camera, but don't. That camera has a much slower lens and does not get to 24mm (the wide angle side of the lens only goes to 28mm)

The G7X Mark II is heavy (11.1oz vs RX100's 8.55oz). Most of the reason is the tilt screen. It still fits in a cycling jersey pocket (important for my use case), and the start up time feels a little faster than the RX100's was (2.2s vs 2.8). But most important of all, it has physical controls, which makes shooting with it while riding much better than with most phones (the Moto series is a notable exception, with twist to shoot and the volume buttons as shutter buttons, as is the Sony).
Continuous mode was great. You could hold down the shutter button and just twist the camera, letting you get a guaranteed good shot of your son on a tandem while riding. The penalty, however, is an astonishingly long 15 seconds after that it'll take for the buffer to clear before you're allowed to close the camera and put it back into your pocket! So that makes continuous shooting a bike path or easy riding feature only. Fortunately, the shutter button is correctly calibrated, and I never took a continuous sequence of shots when my intention was to shoot a single shot instead.
At 21 mega pixel, I could crop 80% of the pixels and still get usable images. That makes it a good choice for shooting from a moving bicycle.
When stopped, you can get great images, and the fact that you're shooting RAW files means that even when you forget to turn on fill flash,  you can recover shadow detail in Lightroom. As a relatively old camera, this is supported even in the pre-subscription-only version of Lightroom.

One of the great practical features of this camera for bike touring is that it will charge either via the included charger or via micro USB port. No more carrying a dedicated charger while on tour, but if you do carry the dedicated charger the charge time is significantly less. The other good feature is that you can use a wireless connection from your phone to download photos from the camera to the phone and also geotag the photos from the camera's GPS log. Again, very useful when touring, but I still wished the camera geotagged itself like the Canon S90/95 series did.

It's a great camera, and at a discounted price, well worth the money (and extra weight). Recommended.

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