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updated 5/3/2012 4:50:54 PM ET 2012-05-03T20:50:54

 

You’re heading off for that dream trip to Italy and would rather lift a bottle of wine than lug a big, confusing digital SLR and a bag of lenses. The compact Canon PowerShot G1 X ($800) is an excellent alternative and deserves a toast for its high-quality images, crisp HD video and minimal weight.

Why we like it

With the 14-megapixel Canon PowerShot G1 X, you get many of the features in a bigger digital SLR, for about the same price, but in a compact camera that fits in coat pocket or a small bag.

The G1 X’s image sensor is much larger than what’s inside a point-and-shoot camera, absorbing more light to capture attractive photos in dim settings (see samples, below). In addition, the excellent 4x zoom lens lets in more light than most. You may find SLRs that sell for less than the G1 X, but not bundled with a lens that has this zoom range and light-gathering ability.

We shot sharp images of a friend’s band, Copal, in a dark New York City nightclub and didn’t have to turn on the annoying flash. The G1 X also has a 3-inch LCD screen that tilts, allowing us to hold the camera over the crowd and still preview what would be in the photo.

An image stabilizer in the lens keeps your shots sharp even if your hands shake a little. For portraits, the wide opening — called the aperture — helps to beautifully blur out the background, so the person stands out.

The G1 X can also shoot full 1080p HD video with stereo sound. We recorded great-looking clips of the band with tons of detail even when played back on a 46-inch HDTV.

Keep in mind

Though the Canon G1 X fits into a purse or small travel bag, it won’t slide into your back pocket as smaller point-and-shoot cameras can. Still the G1 X is much smaller than even the slimmest interchangeable-lens cameras, such as the 16MP Sony NEX-5N ($700). If you’re not interested in adding specialty lenses like a very long (and expensive) zoom or an ultra-wide “fisheye,” you can save a lot of bulk with Canon’s built-in lens.

 

Bottom Line

The compact Canon PowerShot G1 X is a great alternative to bigger, more complicated DSLRs. While closer in size to a pocket cam, it yields photos and HD video clips with more detail when enlarged or shown on a big HDTV. The G1 X is a classy travelling companion.

Canon PowerShot G1 X key specs

• 14 megapixel photos

• Full 1080p HD video with stereo sound

• 4x zoom lens

• 3-inch flip-out, tilting LCD screen

• 19 ounces

• $800

Sample photos and video

Without flash, capturing the stage light effects

 

With flash

 

HD video (after brief commercial) capturing light effects. (Bonus: belly dancer!)

(Photos and video by Dan Havlik)

Each week, TechNewsDaily reviews a product category and selects the Top Pick, providing simple, no-nonsense decision-making advice.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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