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[Part 1] Story of PowerShot G1 X Mark II – Development & Planning


Flagship of the PowerShot G series, the PowerShot G1 X Mark II makes its debut. Packed with Canon's latest cutting-edge technology, let's read from the four series article how the developers of this model battled through challenges. Part 1 talks about "Development & Planning". Find out about the concept and specification of this top-notch PowerShot model.

(From left)
Kanji Tsuji, Development chief, Image Communications Products Operations, ICP Development Center 3, Senior Engineer / Akiyoshi Ishii, Product planning, Image Communications Products Operations, ICP 3 Products Planning Dept. 2

The maximum range of shooting with one camera.

― Since the PowerShot G1 X was introduced, almost two years have passed, and the long-awaited G1 X Mark II is being announced. What is the concept of this camera?

Ishii The G1 X Mark II is a model that pursues the ultimate image quality as the successor to Canon's PowerShot series flagship model, the G1 X. Filled with Canon’s existing ultimate technology, we were aiming to achieve an all-round model that can handle all types of scenes. For example, by suppressing the zoom magnification it would have been possible to make the body size smaller, however, we made an effort to not perform such omissions. The focal length of 24 – 120mm (35mm format equivalent) achieves a wider range than the previous model G1 X, and not only an effective focal length, but all types of optic performance such as the f/number, and macro performance have increased specs.

PowerShot G1 X Mark II

Lens max. aperture: f/2.0 (W) - f/3.9 (T)
Lens focal length: 24mm (W) – 120mm (T)*1
Min. focusing distance: 5cm
Image sensor type: 1.5" COMS sensor *2
Image processor: DIGIC 6

*1 35 mm film equivalent
*2 Total pixels : Approx. 15.0 Megapixels, effective pixels : Approx. 12.8 Megapixels(3:2)

Click here for detailed specification

Tsuji On the other hand, we also managed to overcome some of the G1 X's weak points. As a result of issues that surfaced while collecting feedback from photographers and survey results from users, we improved everything with feedback from product planning. A lot of requests were regarding macro performance, and we improved the minimum focusing distance from 20 cm to 5 cm. Autofocus is also approximately twice as fast by improving the optics and sensor. Starting with the optics, particularly difficult adjustments were necessary, but if we could not achieve the ideals that had been raised, we would not be able to call this a flagship model, so we enthusiastically dealt with development. As a result, we achieved a range of shooting that would not be possible with an SLR with just one interchangeable lens.

― Compared to the PowerShot G1 X, there are major spec changes such as the EVF, and dual control rings, can you tell us what you were aiming for?

Ishii As a premise, the G1 X Mark II was developed with significant emphasis on operability. We were particularly conscious of operability as a camera with viewfinder-based shooting. We often hear from pro photographers that they can concentrate on composition, and the moment of shooting when looking through the viewfinder.

The G series up until now has been equipped with an optical viewfinder, however, compacts differ from SLRs in that parallax will always occur due to the construction. There is also the issue of vignetting of the field of vision occurring due to the lens barrel, and the optical viewfinder does not necessarily lead to user satisfaction. The EVF is a feature that was introduced to solve these problems. It offers 100% coverage, and as the EVF can display a variety of shooting information, we believe that it is an optimum feature for the operability the G1 X Mark II sets out to achieve.

So, with shooting while looking through the EVF in mind, it will be easier to shoot if the controls are centered around the lens. The dual control rings are controls that were planned based on this context.

The ring at the back is a "click ring" that can change exposure parameters, and Tv, Av values in clicking increments, and the front ring is a "smooth ring" that moves smoothly, making it possible to achieve minute adjustments such as focus.

For focus in particular, in combination with EOS equivalent full time manual focus included this time, operability approaching that of SLRs is achieved.

Tsuji As the EVF was a completely new experiment that had no precedent on Canon compact digital cameras, it was quite a challenge. First, we were conscious of not impairing size which is a merit of compact cameras. It was large at the prototype stage, but through repeated trial and error, we made it smaller while retaining performance. And even though it is an EVF, the optical design division paid great attention to detail during development. Particular emphasis was placed on the view through the viewfinder.

The dual control rings were also a new endeavor, and the many new elements like this are a feature of the PowerShot G1 X Mark II. Initially, the technical potential of attaching two rings to the barrel could not be visualized so there was some resistance in the development division, however, repeated trials were made in cooperation with the design division in order to pursue the difference in operation feel between each ring.

― What was the reason for changing from the vari-angle LCD to a tilt-type LCD?

Ishii Changing from the vari-angle LCD to a tilt-type LCD was the result of pursuing operability. With the vari-angle LCD, your left hand would bump the LCD panel during ring operations. As a result, rather than the vari-angle method, this time we went with a tilt-type LCD that makes a wide range of shooting angles possible, with 180 degrees to the top, and 45 degrees to the bottom. Additionally, when shooting with a horizontal grip, having no shift of the optical axis with the LCD is a merit of the tilt type. You will be able to make compositions even more naturally.

― What kind of experience would you like users to have with the G1 X Mark II?

Tsuji The focal length of the lens at maximum wide angle, and maximum telephoto has increased, and the f/number is brighter. As it can be used in any scene, we would like users to take it with them to any location, and use it as much as they can. In addition to the high optical performance, there are many functions achieved on this camera, but it is the image quality that deserves special mention. I will be happy if users take photos and are impressed by the finished quality.