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[Part 1] A Dust- and Drip-proof Body and 25x Superzoom Lens

New on the market, the PowerShot G3 X is a premium compact camera powered by a 1.0-inch type sensor and equipped with a 25x optical superzoom lens. Here in this two-part article, we test and provide a hands-on review of this much-hyped model. In this week’s first part, we closely examine its external build and zoom function. (Report by: Masakatsu Nagayama)

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A durable, dust- and drip-proof body

With its boxy shape paired and cylinder-shaped lens, the G3 X has a traditional body design. It has a bold feel with a generously concave handgrip, which is all very good. The various parts of the camera all have a sturdy make, which also hints at its high quality. On top of that, it's also dust-proof and drip-proof, which means that you can use it for a short time under a drizzle or similar conditions. This is delightful news for those who plan to use it outdoors.

Its body dimensions are 123.3 x 76.5 x 105.3mm (width x height x depth), and weighs 733g at time of use. It's relatively compact considering that it comes built-in with a 1.0-inch type sensor and superzoom mechanism.

The camera has a leather-textured finish on its main body, and a leather embossed pattern on the grip section. The spin design and knurling on the dials add to visual as well as tactile appeal.

On the whole, the camera body is a uniform black, with red lines here and there on places such as the base of the dials lending a sense of class and sophistication. The ‘One Touch Smartphone button' to the top right of the LCD monitor allows connection to a smartphone in two steps.

The flash pop up switch, headphone jack and Wi-Fi antenna area are all on the left side of the camera.

On the right side of the camera, under the cover, you will find the remote switch, DIGITAL and HDMI terminals. You can plug a remote control (optional) into the remote switch terminal.

The shutter button and zoom lever are located above the grip. Power on/off is controlled with a button. Other button and dial controls have been placed on the right hand side of the camera.

The tripod socket is located away from the optical axis of the lens. What is unique is the VHS pin hole next to the tripod socket, which is a familiar sight on video cameras. It is there because video shooting is viewed with equal importance.

The 25x optical zoom is also an asset to macrophotography

The centerpiece of this model is its 24-600mm equivalent, 25x optical zoom lens. Not only does it have a smaller body compared to 1.0-inch type sensor superzoom cameras by other brands, it also realizes a higher zoom magnification.

The lens is of a new design that uses the unique Micro USM II to power its zoom mechanism, and optical sensors and linear actuators to move its focusing mechanism.

The lens has an aperture of f/2.8 at the wide-angle end, and f/5.6 at the telephoto end. With a minimum shooting distance (from lens tip) of 5cm at the wide-angle end and 85cm at the telephoto end, it has powerful macro capabilities. At an intermediate zoom position, you can capture a full screen image of half a credit card; at the telephoto end, you could get almost the entire credit card into the frame. This makes it ideal for taking close-ups of plants and insects from some distance away.

The G3 X when powered off.

Power on, zoom at wide-angle end.

Power on, zoom at telephoto end.

The lens also comes equipped with an optical image stabilizing mechanism that prevents image blurring caused by shaky hands. Due to a new actuator design, the longstanding challenge of image stabilization in the second lens group has been overcome. Distortions and vignetting are minimized, and it's said that the corrections are good for up to 3.5 stops. In this test shoot, with the lens at telephoto end and the camera handheld and carefully supported, we managed to obtain non-blurry images for 70% of the shots we took at a shutter speed of 1/125 second, and 50% of the shots at 1/60 second.

The camera also comes with the Zoom Framing Assist (Seek) function to support high zoom magnifications. If you lose track of a subject while zoomed in, pressing the Framing Assist (Seek) button on the lens will allow you to temporarily lower the zoom factor so that you can reacquire your lost subject.

The Framing Assist (Seek) button on the lens. Below it is the Manual Focus button.

The Auto Zoom function

Under the Auto Zoom function, you can choose from 5 modes (Auto/Face/Upper Body/Whole Body/Manual) to keep a face at a constant size relative to the screen.

Masakatsu Nagayama

Runs an advertising studio, and started being a freelance photographer in 1998, where he has been active mainly in the advertising scene, shooting for magazines and online media. His speciality lies in snapshots of city life.

Digital Camera Watch

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