The Gen XY Lifestyle

Canon G3 X: A Bridge too Far?

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Bridge cameras like the Canon PowerShot G3 X have the unenviable task of often having to justify their existence. They fill a gap that is rather niche – a camera that is DSLR-like in terms of features, compact-like in terms of convenience. And with prices of cameras all-round falling, the bottom line for most people often comes across as such: if I can buy a DSLR for the same money, why should I get one?

Bridge cameras, circa 2015, stretch the limits of what you can do with a relatively small camera. For those unfamiliar with the term, bridge cameras are distinguished by their extensive focal range in a relatively small form. While you may be willing to pay good money for the best possible gear, but unless you’re obsessive about quality, the sheer size and weight of the equipment makes it impractical in most situations.


A 600mm lens on a DSLR (Credit: Scott Calleja. Image cropped and resized)

Canon’s offering, at first glance and on paper, is rather intriguing in its ‘tameness’ in the face of stiff competition. Our brief hands-on with the Canon PowerShot G3 X (S$1,119) says otherwise, although it takes a while to figure out what this camera does well. While Sony’s recent RX10 II (S$1,599) will garner headlines for its impressive shutter speed and constant aperture lens, the G3 X seems comparatively modest. However, you can’t miss the G3 X’s biggest asset, literally, because its enormous lens was designed for way longer distances – three times more in fact at 600mm equivalent.

Canon manages to keep the form factor relatively compact, but it’s deniably a hefty camera, (no) thanks to the massive lens. While you can’t hide it in your pockets, it will fit comfortably in small bags. In a bid to keep the size small and maintain its signature form factor, the G3 X eschews the electronic viewfinder. However there’s always the option to add one, albeit at a price: S$379, bringing the total to S$1,578 and at the expense of occupying the hot shoe. You’d still be able to use pop-up flash, if that’s of any comfort. At this price it’s almost on par with the Sony RX10.

Canon w Viewfinder

The PowerShot G3 X with the optional electronic viewfinder attached

Its party trick – the mind-boggling zoom – is self-explanatory, and is very usable in terms of both ergonomics as well as when setting up for the shot. The stabilisation, which is optical in three axes, and digital in the other two, works well and you will pretty much get the hang of the handling quickly – the biggest downside of superzooms is that a micro-movement of your end translate into a massive shift on the other end, which is a disaster in practical terms, meaning the camera is only usable with a tripod. But that’s not the case here. Unless you shoot a lot indoors and in poor light, the camera shake is still manageable – if you don’t have a monopod or tripod on hand, you’re not entirely helpless.

We came to realise that this camera is a rather simple beast. Shooting speeds are average and surprisingly it doesn’t shoot 4K video despite all that apparent quality in the lens. But if you don’t specifically need those attributes, the camera is more than adequate, plus it does what it does best well – image quality. The G3 X in essence, makes the most of its optics and the now-to-stay 1-inch sensor, whilst encased in a relatively modest-sized body. You get quite a bit of detail out of the G3 X, which is great considering that it’s just a bridge camera. I can imagine travelling light overseas, packing just a mirrorless camera with one or two ‘walkabout’ prime lens and one of these. You can cover quite a bit of ground, for a fraction of the money and luggage space.

When it comes to choosing a superzoom from a list of capable candidates, such as the Panasonic FZ1000 and the Sony RX10 II, there is now another viable option – if zoom range and image quality alone is the key criteria, the G3X has to be rank pretty high on your list.

*photos are not at full size, for illustration purposes only



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