Canon G1X – compacts go pro

Canon G1X

Once again the rumours were right and the no-show of Canon’s G12 successor has been explained by the appearance of a pro-compact with much larger 1.5 inch sensor and DIGIC 5. Rather than just cut and paste the press release like so many blogs do, I’ll take a deeper look at what this all means.

1.5 inch sensor? Surely not

The 1.5 inch sensor comes from a leaked press release written by financial advisors Wells Fargo (they also leaked the Nikon D4 – they must be about as popular as a banker) so it may well be that 1.5″ is wrong and it is a 1/1.5″ sensor similar in size to 2/3″. This would make more sense as 1.5 inch is pretty large for a compact camera. The Nikon J1 has a 1 inch sensor, roughly the size of Super 16mm which is why it a good match for c-mount lenses via an adapter (more coming on that soon) and it maintains a compact size.

Now the inch system for measuring sensors is VERY confusing and a relic from the days of video tube imaging systems (don’t ask!). When it comes to measuring larger than 1 inch sensors there’s no real precedence but by my understanding (this may change when the official specs are out) a 1.5 inch sensor is larger than Micro Four Thirds / GH2 sized (around 19 x 13mm) and almost APS-C sized!

What is more sure is that the sensor is a 14MP CMOS and if there is a Canon interchangeable lens mirrorless system being developed (Canon have said on the record one is being technically evaluated) I expect it to be based around a similar CMOS if not the same sensor.

The lens is equivalent to 28-112mm with a fast aperture of F2.5 at the wide end. I expect this to tail off quite dramatically at the telephoto end though, so whilst the bigger sensor will lead to better dynamic range and low light performance, I don’t expect it to deliver as shallow a depth of field as the GH2 with fast glass because the zoom lens on the G1X needs to be kept small and relatively cheap to produce. A constant aperture of F2.8 would have been great on this camera but it would defy the point of it being a smaller compact.

Video is DIGIC 5 powered. Expect it to be similar to the Canon S100 with 1080/24p. The clips I have seen from the new compact DIGIC 5 chip have been fine so far, good detail and only a little aliasing.

The G1x will cost $799 and is on show at CES. More news (and hopefully the official sensor size) as it comes.

New factories to cope with demand

2012 is going to be a big year for Canon product releases, with the 1Dx and G1x followed by the 5D Mark III, 650/700D and possibly even the 4K Cinema EOS camera, mirrorless system and 7D Mark II by the end of the year.

Canon today announced a new factory in Thailand (despite recent flooding disasters) and they have commissioned a new one in Taiwan.