We bought a Canon PowerShot G1X four years ago that I’ve really enjoyed. But last week in Cambodia, I inadvertently knocked it against some stone ruins at Angkor Wat, and the lens started going haywire, extending and retracting repeatedly on its own. A Lens Error, according to the message that appeared on the screen. We took it to a Canon shop after returning to Bangkok, and like I’d seen online, the repair cost for something like that would be almost as much as the camera itself cost. So screw that. Too bad, because I really liked that camera.
Now we’re looking at Canon’s EOS M3. A Canon salesman recommended it over the latest version of the G1X, which I think is called the G1X Mark II. One feature is it has manual rather than automatic zooming. That would prevent anymore Lens Errors from occurring.
Cameras are much cheaper in the US than in Thailand, even in Hawaii. Looking around online, I see I can get an EOS M3 for only $600 in Honolulu, whereas it goes for about $715 in Thailand. But does anyone here have experience with the EOS M3? Any info and opinions would be appreciated. Not in a hurry though. I have plenty of time, as I’ll be too busy at first in Honolulu to worry much about camera shopping, plus my smartphone has a decent-enough camera, but I would eventually like to get a new one.
Do you still have the G1X? A little poking around shows that the lens error is pretty common, and there’s a fair chance of fixing it yourself with a little “percussive maintenance” - ie: gentle tapping - and unorthodox cleaning methods such as tearing off a strip of something thin like a playing card and using that to “floss” the circular slot(s) where the lens retracts into the camera body. The intent is to dislodge any grains of sand, etc. Poke it in as deep as you can - it’s already broken so no fears of making it more unusable.
This sitehas some repair ideas - one example is:
“After removing the batteries and SD card and letting the camera sit overnight, I replaced the batteries and card in the morning. I then powered on the Camera and while holding the Function/OK key and the Shutter Button, I gave the extended lens barrel a couple of face-down light taps directly on a hard desktop. I was truly ecstatic to hear the lens motor whirl and to see the lens barrel retract.”
Again, it’s already broken, so you really can’t hurt it more.
The M3 is an EVIL camera (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens… basically a SLR without the optical mirror assembly). These are meant to be professional or semi-pro and requires not only an investment in the body but also a collection of (expensive, high-quality) lenses. By default it only comes with an 18-55 lens, which is basically 3x zoom from your standard field of view. You can buy additional lenses for it, of course, but that requires more money and space. This flexibility is its primary strength when you are a professional: you can get SLR lenses that far exceed the creative abilities (in terms of focal length, aperture, etc.) than all-in-one compacts.
The G1X is a “prosumer” compact with a bigger sensor, but it lacks interchangeable lenses. Instead of giving you the option to buy additional lenses, it comes with a built-in 28 to 112mm lens (4x zoom) that can never be changed out for something else. It’s all-in-one, good enough for most shooters, but limits your future creative potential.
Beyond that, the M3 is just newer and has a better sensor and better electronics. Its primary downside is just that you have to be willing to buy more lenses and swap them out unless you’re happy with the standard kit lens. If you’re willing to make photography a hobby and learn more skills, the M3 is definitely the better choice. If you don’t care and just want something that can take pretty good quality vacation shots, the G1X offers more in the package, but limits future options.
If you want more opinions, ask this same question on the dpreview.com forums, a photography site with much more enthusiasts.
Thanks. The Canon salesman did not go into any of that. I suspect the included lens would be good enough for me initially, but I do like the option of buying more lenses, although realistically I know I will never pursue photography as a hobby. The main thing that puts me off another G1X is this Lens Error I got after only four years. Otherwise, I really loved that camera.
The wife has asked me to append a further question on her behalf. She’s thinking of buying herself either a Canon G7X or a G9X and wants to know the difference between the two.
I don’t have firsthand experience with either camera, but from what I can tell online:
The G7X has a better, “faster” lens. When photographers say a lens is fast, that essentially means it can let in more light in a shorter amount of time due to improved glass and construction. This is useful for low-light shooting (dusk, night, in a bar, etc.) when you want to maximize your use of the ambient light before resorting to the flash and also for fast-moving subjects (sports, cars, wildlife). Its lens also has more zoom (4x vs 3x), and its screen can tilt up.
The G9X is slightly newer but it’s got a worse lens (this happens because Canon targets multiple products to different market segments). It’s slightly cheaper, and slightly lighter. It has some software advantages (such as being able to capture more “RAW” photos – if you don’t know what is, you’ll likely never use it, but basically it’s a way to capture photos in a special format that lets you do more precise color editing on a computer afterward; most amateur photographers never bother with that step, shooting straight to JPEG and making this a moot advantage). Its screen cannot tilt.
There is also a G7X Mark II, which is basically a refreshed version of the original G7X that keeps the lens optics and sensor (the most important parts of a camera) but improves some of the electronics such as the RAW imaging discussed above. It also adds bidirectional tilt for the screen, so now it can tilt both up and down (i.e., you can hold the camera at waist height or above your head and tilt the screen in either direction to compensate).
So in summary: All three cameras have the same sensor (or virtually indistinguishable). The RAW features won’t be useful to an amateur photographer/vacation shooter. The G7X adds a better screen. The GTX Mark II lets you shoot more photos in a row and lets the screen tilt both ways.
Lastly, there might be differences in video recording capabilities, so look in those if you need to.
However, if your budget and your wife allow it, I think you should both get M3s or one of their other EOS M cameras that let you swap lenses. That’ll let you share lenses with each other, and if a camera body ever breaks, you can just replace the body and keep the lens.
This is is also great for travel/vacation, for example, so one of you can take a wide-angle lens and the other can use a portrait lens, so you can take both landscapes and close-up subjects that will look great.
If I were you guys I’d get:
One M3 with kit lens
One M3 body only
One EF-M 22mm f/2 lens for beautiful portraits and closeups…
That’s missing a dedicated wide-angle lens, but the kit lens (18-55) should be very versatile while the 22mm prime (meaning no zoom) is only good for close up portraits and maybe buildings, but should have good “bokeh” – that’s the blurry background lightrings you see in wedding portrait shots.
I hope you do consider taking it on as a part-time hobby someday. With just 4-6 hours of learning the basics (knowing what the Manual mode does), your pictures will turn out way better, and it’s something you can just organically pick up as you travel and go on vacations etc. The M3 gives you a whole world of creative potential!
Thanks. Our budget would allow it, and I’m pretty sure the wife would have no problem, but I’m not sure how involved I want to get with photography. One big appeal to me to get an EOS finally is not having to suffer another expensive Lens Error like with the G1X’s automatic zoom. But who knows? Maybe I would end up getting into it without planning to do so.
Well, you know, cameras can always suffer from random unpredictable failures. With my EOS 60D I got a SD card reader error after just 2 years and could no longer write or read any photos… it was just a minor dumb part but the camera was useless without it! Would’ve cost, I think, $200 to repair… but fortunately I bought an extended warranty with the camera and they took care of it. Apparently it was a common failure mode for that model of camera. It was a $1000 body and Canon’s response after the first year for a design flaw of their making was basically “that’s too bad, pay us to fix it.”
On another occasion, the manual/auto focus switch on my lens broke. Sent that in to Tokina under warranty, they fixed it for free, and even found some sand (from a windy beach) in it so they took it all apart, cleaned it up, and re-assembled it. Good of them.
I’m just saying that with any consumer electronics, random unpredictable things can always break. A lens error this time, a SD card problem, some other software problem… if you want protection against random breakage, get the camera you really like and then add an extended warranty on top of that. No one model is going to be entirely safe from random failures Unlike cars that change little year to year and are usually kept for a decade or more, cameras are always evolving and there’s no good way to measure long-time reliability.
That’s not really a strike against Canon, that’s just the way the industry is. Rapid release schedules, short warranties, disposable consumer mentalities… too bad =/