I don’t know quite how to tell my usual photographic travelling companions – a Leica X2 and a FujiFilm X100S – that I’ve been seeing another camera lately. We’re even thinking of going away together. And no, not just as friends.
The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is a little heavier than either the Leica or the Fuji and, although it’s being advertised as a compact, it’s no slim little thing. But it does do stuff neither of my regular cameras can. For example, while I love their fixed focal length and wide-ish-angle lens – they force you to do what holiday photographers almost never do, which is get in close to the subject – I can’t pretend that having the G1 X Mark II’s 24-120mm zoom lens isn’t rather handy.
We all know there’s nothing unusual about a zoom lens – they’re much more common than fixed ones, even in authentically compact cameras. But the f2 glasswear on the G1 X Mark II is amazingly good, especially combined with the machine’s very large sensor, which is so close to the size of a DSLR’s as to make no difference. Indeed, combine all the remarkable features on the G1 X Mark II, and you have exactly what Canon has set out to achieve – a DSLR standard camera in the form of what can still just about be called compact (at 7.4cm x 11.6cm x 6.6cm and weighing 454g). You could travel with this and produce magazine‑quality photos without compromise. Just don’t try to carry it in your pocket.
So what knockout features of the G1 X Mark II have turned my head, other than a magnificent lens and sensor and that tough, agile but not-so-diminutive body? Too many to list, as ever, but the optional electronic viewfinder is top drawer. I also love the multileaf built-in lens cap; the two customisable rotating control rings on the lens; the big, grippy grip on the right of the camera, which (weirdly) only appears on models sold in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; the built-in wifi, which means you can control the camera fully from a distance using a dedicated phone app; and the nimble and angle-able yet substantial 3in touch screen. You get the picture? So when the Leica and the Fuji ask why I’m thinking of taking the Canon alone on the occasional trip, I’ll look guilty and say sheepishly, “It’s not me. It’s you. Sometimes a chap just needs something more.”