Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Review - Canon G7X Mark II

     During that special time between Christmas and New Year's Eve when people don't quite know what to do with themselves, I decided to take my new Canon G7X Mark II for a spin to see what it can do on a photo walk.  I didn't expect massive improvements over the first G7X, but I knew there were a few added features and upgrades that made the sad demise of my G7X a bittersweet end.  

     It is no surprise that this camera is touted by the vlogging community as one of the best vlogging cameras on the market.  Having owned the G7X for about a year and a half, I was already familiar with the controls, but was still excited to just see how the second iteration of the well-loved camera has been improved.  

     I used downtown L.A. as the backdrop for my field test.  It's definitely one of the best places to shoot if you're looking for variety.  I'll be highlighting what I love about this camera, and in the end, summarizing who I think this camera would be perfect for.

     Before we get into how the camera performed, let me disclose my camera set up.  I was/am really paranoid about dropping my camera after what I will jokingly always refer to as "the most expensive Christmas party ever" (a.k.a. I dropped my camera and it broke).  This paranoia has led me to put a tempered glass screen protector on the rear screen, a Lensmate lens filter adapter on the front and a UV filter attached to the lens filter.  I really like how this has helped keep dust out of the lens barrel as that's always been one of the issues with the G7X series. I also added the new Peak Design anchor links that are now small enough to fit through the holes on compact cameras.  While I brought along my new Slide Lite strap, I didn't use it.  I opted to use my old Peak Design cuff along with the new Peak Design capture clip because I wanted to test out the clip on a lighter weight camera.  The cuff was just used to make sure I didn't accidentally drop the camera. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

     While I've seen great reviews on the Capture, it's been really tough for me to embrace it.  The one time I took it out to use with my 5D Mark III, I just couldn't relax about having my large camera dangle right there in front of me.  I also felt that the placement of the strap where you attach the Capture on both the Sling 5L and Sling 10L brings your hand (when you're closing the zipper on the slings) far too close to the button that releases your camera from the Capture.  You can see in the photos below what I'm referring to.

*Photo taken with my iPhone

*Photo taken with my iPhone

     Aside from having the constant fear of my camera dropping, the G7X II worked great on the capture.  It's a small and lightweight camera so you really don't feel it on the sling at all. 

     The best thing about shooting with the G7X II (or any compact camera for that matter) is not standing out in a crowd when you take a photo.  I managed to silence everything on the camera except for that initial "beep" when the camera first locks focus (I still need to figure out if that's possible!)

EDIT:  Okay, you can silence all the sounds by selecting "mute" from one of the menu options!

     I found there to be a great improvement in dynamic range (the balance of dark and light areas in a photo).  There are less blown out areas where there normally would be.  I thought the G7X II did better than my DSLR when it came to dynamic range (which is pretty disturbing if you think about it).  

     Again, I like how I can still get decent exposure of the building on the left.

     The macro on the G7X II is not perfect, but it's pretty good.  I tried shooting some pictures of rings at home, but the minimum focusing distance became an issue.  I didn't expect it to be a true macro, but it's "good enough" to let you get those close-ups of flowers and such.

     The auto focus is a bit faster on the G7X II.  In the first version, it seemed to search for focus more often than I preferred.  Also, for a compact camera, I've always been impressed by the bokeh (the blurry background) that this camera produces.  Dare I test this camera out and do a portrait shoot with it?! Hmm...๐Ÿ˜Š

     I was pretty happy with how the G7X II did with my food shots!

     P.S.  The chicken rice below is from a place called Sticky Rice at Grand Central Market.  Do not get it!  I was not impressed with it at all.  The Thai BBQ chicken was pretty good, even though the papaya salad that came with it was obviously a watered down version of real papaya salad (a.k.a. it had no spice to it whatsoever!)

     There is an option to shoot grainy black and white photos in the G7X II.  I tried it out when I first got the camera and I didn't like it.  I prefer to do the black and white conversion myself and also add the grain if I want to in post.  However, it is nice to have as an option.  Speaking of options, this camera has plenty!  I love all the shooting modes you can play with.  I've even played with the timelapse feature, and while I'm not into video, it was pretty cool to do.

     With the image stabilization, it was easier to get this photo with the G7X II than it was when I used my 5D in the past to get the same photo.

     One of the things that I love about the G7X II is the tilt screen that tilts up and down.  It came in so handy when I needed to get down low with the camera to fit more in the frame, or when I raised the camera up high to get a shot but still wanted to see what I was shooting.

     My only real gripe with the G7X II is that I felt the colors were just a tad more cool toned than the G7X.  I prefer most of my photos to be more on the warm side than cool, but this is something that you can easily fix in post if that's your preference.  Again, I don't think most normal people would notice a color difference (but we all know I'm not normal ๐Ÿ˜).

     So putting aside the fact that this camera is very popular for vlogging, who would the G7X II be a good fit for?  I think there are two groups of people that this camera could really appeal to.

1)  The Photography Newbie

I've heard of so many people, and some I personally know, that buy DSLRs with high hopes of getting into the hobby only to be overwhelmed by their new fancy camera.  Within months - sometimes less - these people revert back to using their cell phones and abandon the DSLR altogether, never to be used again but for the occasional special engagement. The G7X II would be perfect for people who want to get into photography.  Even though it's a little more expensive than an entry level consumer DSLR, I still think it's more cost effective than buying a consumer DSLR body and trying to invest in some decent lenses.  The G7X II would give a photography newbie all the access that photographers enjoy like manual mode and the ability to shoot RAW files, but in a lightweight, compact body.  

2)  The DSLR Enthusiast

I fall into this category.  I really enjoy using my DSLR, but as my fellow photographers who do photography for a living full time or part time can attest to, the last thing you want to do after a shoot is pick up a heavy DSLR.  This need for something that can still take great photos is what prompted me to buy my first G7X.  When I got tired or didn't feel like carrying around a big camera, I could just bring along my G7X and not miss an opportunity to shoot something should the moment present itself.  More and more, I find myself leaving my 5d at home and opting for my G7X II.

     Whatever you choose to shoot with, here's to capturing all the great moments in 2018!  Happy new year, everyone! ๐Ÿ‘Š


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