Camera manufacturers all seem to believe that there’s a middle ground between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR, and they’ve all tried to find it — Nikon with the 1 series, Sony with the NEX models, Olympus with the PEN line, Samsung with its NX cameras, and the like. The sell goes something like this: it’s a smaller camera, easier to use and less expensive, but still offering the same level of control (or nearly so) and the same level of image quality (or nearly so) as your DSLR. Canon’s entrant into the field is the $799.99 PowerShot G1 X, and Canon did things a little differently than its competitors: there are no interchangeable lenses to be found, and the G1 X is considerably more expensive than most of its competition. This camera is also explicitly intended to be a companion to a DSLR, not to replace one — it’s made for a 5D or D3s owner who doesn’t want to lug around a huge camera all the time, but still wants great pictures. Its specs have broader appeal, though: its 1.5-inch, 14.3-megapixel sensor is positively enormous for a camera in this range, and it offers ISO range up to 12,800, an f/2.8 lens with 4x optical zoom from 28-112mm, and 1080p video recording.

Has Canon figured out how to cram DSLR-like quality into a smaller body? And is the G1 X only a companion camera, or could it serve as your one and only shooter? Perhaps most importantly, is the G1 X a better companion to a DSLR owner than Canon’s own PowerShot S95 or S100, two pocket-sized cameras that we already know offer excellent controls and image quality? Read on to find out.