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Canon G1 X  (Source: Canon)

Canon Elph 520 HS  (Source: Canon)

Canon Elph 110 HS  (Source: Canon)
New cameras will launch early in 2012

Canon today unveiled new feature-filled cameras in its Elph range and a new PowerShot flagship called the G1 X. The Elph cameras include the 520 HS and the 110 HS. The, on the other hand, G1 X features a 1.5-inch 14.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, which is the largest ever to be used in a PowerShot model. 
"The new additions to our PowerShot lineup further demonstrate Canon's commitment to delivering users innovative imaging products," said Yuichi Ishizuka executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A., Inc. "These sleek and compact cameras bring together powerful features, intuitive controls and unrivaled portability while maintaining high image quality."
The new large sensor in the G1 X has nine times more light sensitivity than any other PowerShot model. The G1 X also has a DIGIC 5 image processor for high quality images in harsh light conditions and High-Speed HQ2 that allows for shooting high-resolution images at high speed. ISO range for the camera is up to 12800.  Optical zoom on the camera is a meager 4x and the aperture range is f/2.8 to f/16. Canon designed the camera to support 14-bit RAW+JPEG shooting. It can also record 1080p HD video.
The G1 X also has a 3-inch variable angle LCD and will ship in February for $799.99.
The Elph 520 HS and 110 HS camera both sport advanced Smart Auto that allows the cameras to detect up to 58 scene modes to work with anything from portraits and action shots to landscapes. The cameras also include Face ID that can register up to 12 people within the camera. To register the individuals the camera user can take up to five shots of the subject at different angles. The camera can then give focus priority to the youngest person in the frame when the details on age are entered. The camera also allows the user to search by the face. Other features include Smile Recognition and sleeping Face Recognition.
The 520 HS has 10.1-megapixel resolution with a 12x optical zoom lens. The ISO range is up to 3200 and it has a wide-angle 28mm lens. The camera can shoot bursts at 6.8 fps. Canon will offer the camera in several colors with launch set for March at $299.99. The 110 HS is a 16-megapixel camera with 24mm lens, 5x optical zoom, and ISO up to 3200. It has a 3-inch rear LCD and can capture 1080p video. It will sell for $249.99 and will launch in February.

Source: Canon

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Bigger Sensor != Better Pictures
By EricMartello on 1/9/2012 4:42:44 PM , Rating: 3
Seems to me like the "prosumer" digicam marketing has shifted from touting megapixels to sensor size, as if any single element in the chain can claim to be of greater importance than the whole.

We're ending up with a lot of mediocre, high-priced cameras that are not much better than a point-n-shoot being sold for a premium due to their "big sensor". The Sony NEX-5 comes to mind as a blatant offender of the inferior camera with a big sensor (but at least you can change the lenses on the nex-5), and this G1X one would probably fall into the same camp.

At $800 it's overpriced for what you are getting: a slow f2.8 lens that cannot be changed...but has a big sensor.

Additional light sensitivity means little when the lens itself is incapable of opening up wide enough; all it means is that you'll be shooting at high ISO values more often unless you decide to use the flash...whereas with a quality camera you can shoot in dim lighting without the flash and without resorting to 5-digit ISO values.

The M4/3 cameras are a far better, smarter options if you want a quality camera that in the $800 price range that is not a full-size DSLR. No, they don't have the biggest sensors but taken as entire camera systems they are among the best in photographic quality.

RE: Bigger Sensor != Better Pictures
By m51 on 1/10/2012 9:17:46 AM , Rating: 3
You are mistaken on a number of points.

Unlike the previous era of pixel count wars, where above a certain point pixel counts have little effect on image quality, Low light performance is DIRECTLY proportional to sensor size. This falls out from the basic physics involved, a larger sensor gathers more photons which improves the signal to noise ratio.

There are two main ways of improving low light performance. Increase the sensor area and/or increase the lens aperture (lower F number). Increasing sensor size has the advantage that it does NOT affect Depth of Field.

Using High ISO numbers are not in themselves detrimental to image quality. It all depends on the signal to noise ratio. You may be able to get better image quality at 3200 ISO out of a large sensor camera than you can at 100 ISO from a small sensor camera. For a given Sensor size it is true that above a certain ISO image quality (signal to noise ratio) starts to decline, but you can't compare ISO levels between different sensor sizes. You have to compare overall image quality.

The Lens and image sensor are both part of the imaging system and you can't really compare them to other cameras without putting them in context. The F-stop number of the lens is determined by the ratio of the aperture size of the lens vs the image sensor size. If you increase the image sensor by a factor 10, you will have to increase the lens area by a factor of 10 to maintain the same F-stop. This means you have big glass. Big glass always means more photons gathered and thus better image quality (other things being equal). Sensor size and big glass are why DSLR image quality is so much better than point and shoots.

So what you term a 'slow' f2.8 may not in fact be slow at all in the system. If you've increased the sensor area by a factor of 6 over previous compact cameras you are still gathering 3 times as much light as a small sensor camera with a 'fast' f2 lens with a corresponding improvement of image quality, or you can trade that image quality off for speed.

What f-stop of the lens does directly effect is depth of field control. F2.8 should give a pretty good depth of field range.

The Canon G1X sensor is slightly larger than M4/3 and only 20% smaller than the sensors used in most of the Canon DSLRs. The pixel design seems to be derived from the Canon 7D sensor which has excellent performance.

Non-interchangeable lens? Well that's a preference call depending on how you use the camera. Most people don't take the kit lens off their DSLR. 28-118 is a very good overall range. I shoot more than 95% of my DSLR shots with a 24-105 F4 which is a full stop slower than a F2.8 which you call slow and yet I get excellent quality at ISO 1600 because of the huge sensor size in the camera. Personally I'd pass on interchangeable lenses and take the reduction in size and weight instead. If I want to do something I can't do with 28-118 I've got a DSLR for that, but small size and weight is very appealing since you can only take pictures with a camera you are willing to carry. I'd be willing to carry the G1X a lot more often than my DSLR.

I find my needs in a compact camera tend toward needing the best low light performance I can get, so this G1X looks very interesting. I'll wait and see what DPREVIEW says about it.

RE: Bigger Sensor != Better Pictures
By EricMartello on 1/10/2012 6:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
This falls out from the basic physics involved, a larger sensor gathers more photons which improves the signal to noise ratio.

It's not that basic - it is possible to have a larger sensor with less light sensitivity, or a smaller sensor with greater light sensitivity. The larger sensor increases the maximum POTENTIAL light that each exposure can have, but it doesn't guarantee it.

Even with a larger sensor, the focal point inside the camera maybe cropped based on how the camera is designed. This means that light will not be exposed to 100% of the sensor's surface area...and yet there is nothing wrong with the manufacturer claiming that the camera has a large sensor even if the camera can only use 60% of the sensor at a time. This cropping effect also reduces the effective MP value of the photos taken.

As for SNR; that is largely dependent on the sensor quality and internal circuitry of the camera. That is why some cameras can happily shoot at 6400 ISO with minimal noise, while other cameras will have color spotting all over at the same ISO setting.

Using High ISO numbers are not in themselves detrimental to image quality. You have to compare overall image quality.

That is true, and I am not saying that you should only shoot at 1000 ISO or less...what I am saying is that shooting at high ISO values unnecessarily, or being pigeon-holed into high ISO values due to a camera's design will result in lower photographic quality on average.

Not all cameras operate the same at higher ISO values as I said above, and with some cameras, you can achieve a pleasing film-grain effect by intentionally cranking up the ISO value and increasing shutter speeds...but that is getting off topic.

The F-stop number of the lens is determined by the ratio of the aperture size of the lens vs the image sensor size. Sensor size and big glass are why DSLR image quality is so much better than point and shoots.

Actually this is incorrect. F-stop isn't a new term; it's a photography term that has been around since SLR cameras existed. To make it easy to understand - an F-stop value is referring to the diameter of the aperture relative to the lens' pupil.

The higher the f-stop value, the less light a lens is passing to the film OR sensor. With the G1X being restricted to f2.8, it is roughly the same as a human other words, average.

The term "big glass" typically refers to a lens with a big focal range...i.e. 600mm. If you take a look at the 600mm lenses out there you will easily see why people call them "big glass" - they're the lenses that look like telescopes, often used for wildlife and sports photography.

My whole point is that you're paying a premium price for a camera that is physically limited to average performance. Better than a point-n-shoot? Absolutely, but is it better than other options for $800? No, not at all. The M4/3 cameras fall into the same price range or lower and are vastly better.

So what you term a 'slow' f2.8 may not in fact be slow at all in the system.

Most zoom lenses are going to be around f2.8 or slower (dimmer). Most prime lenses are going to be around f2.0 or faster (brighter). A lens that can open up to f2.0 will let in about twice as much light as a f2.8 lens, so even if the camera with an f2.0 lens had a slightly smaller sensor, it could still take better pictures in low light conditions since the lens allowing twice as much light through.

Now if you had a fast prime lens, like f1.4, you are now able to double your light intake over f2.0 and quadruple light intake over you're doing pretty good if you want to take pictures without having to bust out the flash.

What f-stop of the lens does directly effect is depth of field control. F2.8 should give a pretty good depth of field range.

No, that's not what the f-stop does. I explained what the f-stop does above - the altered depth of field is an effect of changing the f-stop number.

A low f-stop value such as f1.4 will result in a narrow depth of field. This means that the point within the camera's range at which something can be in focus is very limited; this is how you take pictures of a close-up subject and have the background blurred out (often referred to as bokeh).

A high f-stop number broadens the depth of field, which means the close-up subject AND the background will be in focus.

Increasing the f-stop value can also improve a lens' ability to capture sharp detail (at the expense of reduced light gathering ability). If you had a fast prime lens and wanted to capture the detail of a skyscraper during the day, you could stop up to f2.8-f4.0 (depending on your lens' focal length) to get the best clarity from top to bottom.

Non-interchangeable lens? Well that's a preference call depending on how you use the camera. Most people don't take the kit lens off their DSLR. I'd be willing to carry the G1X a lot more often than my DSLR.

I am obviously a M4/3 user, and the reason I like the format because it yields the same kind of photographic quality as full-sized DSLRs without the need to carry a lot of heavy equipment. I have several prime lenses, a couple zoom and will be getting a wide angle soon...probably in the spring.

If you just take pictures casually then you probably don't need a whole set of lenses...but if you want to be able to capture scenes a certain way it helps to have the right lens for the job.

Not taking advantage of the various lenses available for your DSLR is a lot like buying an 18-wheeler just to go shopping at Walmart - you're not using it to its full potential.

Most DSLRs will shoot fine up to 3200 ISO and maybe even above's not a large sensor alone that makes this happen, it's as I explained above - they have better circuitry. It's similar to why some audio amplifiers and speakers sound better when played loudly, while others crackle and's not only because the amplifier has higher RMS power ratings; it has better internal amplification circuitry which allows it to produce high power without higher noise levels.

If you've only been shooting with an f2.8 lens and you have a DSLR, you should consider buying a 50mm f2.0 or faster prime lens. I believe both Canon and Nikon offer 50mm lenses at f1.4 which is 4 times brighter than your f2.8 kit lens. You'll be able to shoot indoors without a flash and with lower ISO values...more importantly, you can bump up the shutter speed to avoid getting blurry shots in dim lighting while hand-holding your camera.

RE: Bigger Sensor != Better Pictures
By m51 on 1/11/2012 10:41:28 AM , Rating: 2
You trying to bring in other design factors to obscure the basic property that All Other Things Being Equal in a Properly Design System a Larger Sensor yields better Signal to Noise ratio.

The basic effect is that the more photons per pixel you can gather the more signal there is compared to the thermal noise and A/D read noise, thus better signal to noise ratio.

More photons can be achieved with having a larger lens area to collect more photons, and/or a larger sensor to capture more of the photons going through the lens.

You are confusing cropping with vignetting. A cropped frame results from a smaller sized sensor capturing a smaller sized piece of the image. However the light intensity at the surface of the sensor is not reduced. A crop sensor with a similar pixel count as a larger sensor will by necessity have smaller pixels. Smaller pixels equals less photon collection area per pixel resulting in lower signal to noise.

Ironically the Cropping you mention is actually a perfect example of how reduction in image sensor area reduces image quality.

Vignetting is the reduction in light intensity away from the center of the image due to mechanical or optical shading in the lens system. This is very dependent on the lens design and is also usually only an issue with wide angle lenses.

SNR is not largely dependent on the sensor quality and internal circuitry these days. Actually the performance of modern image sensors is reasonably close to theoretical limits with quantum efficiencies in the 50% range. It is very difficult now to achieve much improvement in sensor SNR. The one factor that can still be exploited is sensor size as I have mentioned and doubling sensor size very nearly doubles the SNR.
The only other major tool for SNR reduction is active cooling of the imaging element and A/D converter. This is a technique that is used for Astronomical imagers in telescopes where the sensor is cooled to around -50C. I was involved with the design of these in the past.

As to ISO.

ISO does not tell you anything about the potential image quality. The image quality on my DSLR is essentially the same from ISO 50 to ISO 400, you can't tell any difference. On a point and shoot ISO 50 may look pretty good but ISO 400 is quite degraded in quality.

Within a GIVEN camera increasing ISO above a certain point and the image quality will degrade more and more the higher ISO you use. But that point varies with different sensors, and is primarily dependent on the active pixel area as mentioned above.

It's possible to have a camera that can Shoot at ISO 1000 with NO degradation in image quality over shooting at ISO 50. Shooting at lower ISO with such a camera has NO image quality advantage.

I was simplifying my definition of F-stop. However my point remains. Essentially F-stop determines the relative level of light intensity at the image plane. If you go up a stop from F2 to F2.8 the light intensity will drop 50%. If you increase the sensor size by a factor of 4 though you will increase the number of photons gathered by a factor of 2 from the previous system. Your SNR will improve. These are the tradeoffs.
So even if you have a slower lens the overall system may actually be faster depending on sensor size. It's also easier to achieve higher optical quality from 'slower' lenses.

Our definitions of Big glass differ. To me it means a large entrance pupil area of the lens, regardless of focal length.

You are referring to 'slow' only with respect to lenses. I am referring to slow with respect to the whole system.

Yes I know what f-stop is and how it affects depth of field. Perhaps my statement was poorly worded, I'll try again.

The Minimum F-stop of the lens affects the range of depth of field that is available to the user.

You forgot to include the caveats about diffraction limits when going to higher f-stops...

I also have a selection of lenses for my DSLR but as I said 95% of the time I find the 24-105 does the job. Personally the non-replaceable lens on the G1X would not be a major issue with me, nor for a lot of other people. Your mileage may vary.

As to you assumptions that major differences are due to better internal circuitry I can assure you as an electrical engineer with experience in low noise amplifier designs and astronomical cameras that this is not the case. Your analogy to audio systems is erroneous. The sensors and conversion circuitry have been highly optimized and there are not large differences in performance among high quality modern sensors as they are already operating at the level where noise is counted in SINGLE electrons. It is in fact quite difficult to improve sensor performance over current designs and improvements are incremental at best.

By EricMartello on 1/11/2012 9:59:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I think we can both agree that a greater sensor surface area means a greater potential to collect light. Nobody is disputing that here...but...the problem with what you're saying is that you're talking about sensor size like we're in a vacuum and that just isn't the case.

Let's examine the sensor sizes so I can make this a bit less arbitrary for you:

- G1X has a 1.5" sensor, specifically 18.7mm x 14mm (262mm^2).
- Micro 4/3 sensor size is 17.3x13mm (225mm^2)
- APS-C sensors have between 330 to 370mm^2 depending on the make.

So were not talking a huge difference here between the G1X and the better M43 standard. The G1X sensor has about 16% more surface area, and I'm going to speculate that its crop factor is also 2.0 - so you basically have a big, clunky M43 wannabe in the G1X.

A lens whose speed is f/2.8 is average. It's not fast, and even if the G1X had an APS-C sized sensor, the small lens would not be able to take advantage of it due to its 2.0 crop factor.

No, I am not confusing cropping and vignetting. If you put standard APS-C lens on a full-frame body such as the Sony A900, you will experience vignetting. It is for this reason that the A900 will automatically crop the sensor area so that the resulting exposure surface is equivalent to an APS-C sensor.

The pictures you take using the cropped sensor will have more noise than they would if you took them with a normal APS-C camera. Why? The larger pixels can collect more light but at the same time they limit the amount of pixels a given surface area can contain.

The sensor alone is NOT the only component involved in the digital picture taking process. After the exposure is made, the data must be converted from analog to digital - the faster and more accurately a camera can do this, the less chance there is for noise to appear in the resulting image. The camera will also have internal circuitry designed to reduce noise.

The noise you get from higher ISO values can be compensated for by the camera during the A/D process - and some cameras do this better than others.

A larger sensor means you do not need to jack up the ISO value as high to get the same amount of effective light sensitivity - meaning better pictures in low light conditions.

F-stops indicate the relationship of the pupil size to the focal length of the lens and that is all. Yes, DOF is affected by the selected f-number. If you have a 50mm f/1.8 lens and a 90mm f/1.8 lens, despite having equal f-stop values the 90mm lens is going to be the "faster" of the two by nearly 100%. For the 50mm lens to match the 90mm f/1.8 lens it would need to be f/1.0.

It's worth pointing out that the crop factor of the camera in question will affect the effective f-stop values. The ones I mentioned in this example are based on a the 35mm standard. Transposing them to M43 would require dividing the both focal length and f-value by the crop factor value of 2, meaning the 50mm f/1.8 lens becomes a 25mm f/0.90 (similar to the available 25mm f/0.95 Nokton) and 90mm f/1.8 becomes a 45mm f/0.9 (which does not exist for M43 at this time afaik).

Full size DSLRs have inherently longer focal lengths and more control over DOF, but you're not going to get very impressive background blur using the G1X and its f/2.8 lens.

Big sensors show their benefits more in low-light scenarios. If you are shooting in daylight or have control over the lighting (i.e. studio), then the benefits of the larger sensor diminish and you start to see their limitations. In bright lighting conditions large sensor cameras tend to be soft around the edges of the frame, whereas the mirrorless M43 cameras maintain a sharp image across the entire frame.

So if you're coming from a basic point and shoot and just want better quality, the G1X would work but it's still overpriced at $800. There isn't really any situation where you can justify going with the big and bulky G1X over any of the M43 options out there...and quite frankly, I would have liked to see Canon enter the M43 market.

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