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Canon G9 X Review

Canon G9 X Review

Canon G9 X Review: Most compact 1″ sensor camera: Canon PowerShot G9 X

With the PowerShot G9 X, Canon introduces the most compact 1-inch sensor camera yet. It measures only 98 by 58 by 31 millimetres and weighs hardly more than two bars of chocolate. For this purpose, it is limited to an optical triple zoom of the equivalent of 28 to 84 millimetres, which offers an initial aperture of F2 at wide angle and has an optical image stabiliser. The G9 X virtually follows in the footsteps of the PowerShot S100 series, except that it offers a much larger image sensor.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Consistent touch operation, also for the menus
  • Extremely compact, high-quality manufactured housing
  • Completely manual operation including practical lens ring
  • High resolution in the image center at low ISO sensitivities

Cons

  • For a 1″ sensor disappointing performance above ISO 400
  • Too smooth “leather”
  • Significant edge drop in resolution
  • Only 3x zoom with only 28mm wide angle

Until now, Canon’s PowerShot-S series has provided the most compact cameras with the best image quality. But now the Japanese manufacturer wants to outdo itself with the PowerShot G9 X: With almost identical dimensions, the larger 1″ sensor is now in the almost 31 mm thin housing. As a compromise, however, the lens only zooms three times and loses both wide angle and telephoto. Nevertheless, the G9 X is by far the most compact 1″ sensor camera on the market. Canon also uses a touch screen and saves on control elements. Our test shows what the ambitious G9 X is capable of.

 

Canon G9 X Review

With the PowerShot G9 X, Canon has once again achieved the feat of incorporating a relatively large image sensor in the most compact body reasonably possible. [Photo: Canon]

The PowerShot-S series was already considered the most compact camera series with the relatively best image quality. Now Canon imitates its own ideal camera with the PowerShot G9 X, but packs the even better, 20 megapixel resolution 1″ image sensor into the housing. Since a larger sensor also requires a longer focal length lens, compromises had to be made here. Thus, it’s merely an optical triple zoom with a focal length of 28 to 84 millimetres equivalent to a small image, which only offers a high light intensity in the wide angle with F2, but is quite weak in the telephoto position with F4.9 – Canon also had to make this compromise with the S series, which, however, offered a fivefold zoom with 24 millimetres wide angle in the last models.

The design of the G9 X also bears some resemblance to the S models, but is also clearly recognisable as a G model thanks to the “leather”. Even the typical lens control ring of the S models is built in. As an alternative to black, the G9 X is also available in a more striking silver with brown applications, giving the camera an almost retro look. The Digic-6 image processor ensures fast response times and up to six continuous frames per second. The small PowerShot can also record Full-HD videos – even at 60 frames per second. In automatic mode, up to 58 motif situations are automatically recognized, but semi-automatic or manual exposure setting is also no problem, and this also applies to video recordings. When focusing manually, the peaking function also helps to set the correct focus level. The rear, fixed touch screen allows you to focus on a subject detail with a simple tap. The screen measures 7.5 centimetres diagonally and has a resolution of around one million pixels.

Canon G9 X Review

The Canon PowerShot G9 X combines a 1″ sensor with an optical triple zoom of the equivalent of 28 to 84 millimetres at an initial speed of F2 to F4.9 [Photo: Canon]

Canon G9 X Review

The body of the Canon PowerShot G9 X is extremely slim. For this purpose there is a touch screen and a lens ring. The Canon can be controlled both automatically and manually. [Photo: Canon]

Canon G9 X Review

Canon wants to offer the PowerShot G9 X not only in black, but also in silver with brown leather. The G9 X will cost just under 500 dollars. [Photo: Canon]

Using WLAN and NFC, the PowerShot G9 X can also connect to a smartphone to send pictures to it. In addition, the matching app from Canon enables remote control of the camera including manual adjustment and live image transmission. The GPS of the smartphone can also be “tapped” in this way. Since November 2015, the Canon PowerShot G9 X is available at a price of almost 500 euros. This makes it the cheapest 1″ sensor camera at the time of its introduction. Only the Sony RX100, a 2012 model that is still sold, has now been lowered to the same recommended price, but originally at market launch, it was much more expensive.

Ergonomics and Workmanship

The Canon PowerShot G9 X is characterised by its simple elegance and fine finish and workmanship. The design of the S models is based on the slim metal housing and the compact F2-4.9 high-speed triple zoom with adjustment ring, but design elements from the G series are also found on the housing, such as the “leather trim”. This can be found on both the right and left sides of the housing and extends to the front, where it indicates a handle on the actually handleless camera. Also the thumb rest is glued with the material. The rubber is much too smooth and looks almost like plastic. Unfortunately, there is hardly a better grip compared to bare, matt metal. Fortunately, the G9 X weighs only 200 grams – so it’s light as a feather and can be held in place comfortably. Instead of noble black, as with our test camera, the PowerShot is also available in silver with brown leatherette – then the camera looks a bit more retro and becomes a striking eye-catcher.

Canon G9 X Review

At just under 32 millimetres, the Canon PowerShot G9 X is currently the most compact digital camera with a 1″ sensor. [Photo: Canon]

Thanks to the light weight and the low housing depth of only 31 millimetres, the G9 X can be quickly slid into a shirt pocket. It is ready for operation in just over 1.5 seconds, which is how long it takes to extend the triple zoom. The zoom is set by means of the ring around the shutter release button, but the lens ring can also be used for this function and, if desired, can be moved to one of the four preset focal lengths equivalent to a small image: 28, 35, 50 or 84 millimetres. That’s all the lens has to offer, because with the 1″ sensor, a more generous focal length range would inevitably have led to a larger camera – and Canon now has plenty of such cameras with 1″ sensors. Nevertheless, we would have preferred to see a 25-75mm lens in the small G9 X, especially as the 20 megapixel resolution offers some trimming reserve.

Although the PowerShot is part of the G-series, it offers neither a viewfinder nor a hot shoe – not even the monitor is movable. Canon relies on the special compactness of a permanently installed touch screen. It measures 7.5 centimeters diagonally, resolves a good one million pixels and, like the image sensor, has an aspect ratio of 3:2, which means there are no black mourning edges. Otherwise, the lack of keys on the back is noticeable. A four-way cross is completely missing. You can still access the menu by pressing a key, and the Quick Menu can also be called up in this way. In addition, an info button for adjusting the on-screen displays and the video recording button are located on the back. But how do you navigate through the menus, set the parameters? This is only possible via the touch screen. Although the menus look like those of a Canon with navigation buttons, it can be operated completely by fingertip. It’s like a smartphone, you get used to it quickly. You only have to live with your fingerprints on the screen and thus the only “viewfinder”.

Thanks to the adjustment wheel on the lens, however, many parameters, such as aperture, exposure correction or shutter speed, can be set with an audible click. The Canon G9 X combines classic and modern operation almost perfectly. Fortunately, the recording program is set in the classic way using the program selector wheel, which is also made of metal. Throughout G-Like there is even a custom setting where you can store a preferred recording program. Due to the lack of keys, there is no individual assignment of those keys, but a separate menu can be filled with favorite settings, and the quick menu can also be adapted to your own wishes.

Canon G9 X Review

Despite its compactness and light weight, Canon’s PowerShot G9 X has a sleek, metal body. The rubber applications are too slippery and look cheap. [Photo: Canon]

The flap on the underside of the camera is made of plastic, but has a metal hinge. Behind it is the small lithium-ion battery, which provides juice for only 220 shots, and the slot for the SD memory card. SDHC and SDXC cards can also be used. An external charging cradle is supplied for the battery. Alternatively, a dummy with power cord connection can be inserted into the battery compartment. The metal tripod thread even sits in the optical axis, but due to the compactness of the camera, it inevitably blocks access to the battery and memory card compartment when using a tripod. At best, the smallest tripod coupling systems such as the round Miniconnect from Novoflex allow for quick battery replacement. The G9 X offers only two interfaces: In addition to micro HDMI, there is a micro USB connection, as is common in smartphones. An AV cable can therefore no longer be used. Although the USB connection is now standardized and according to the instruction manual, it should be possible to charge via it, it did not work in our case with different commercial mobile phone chargers – what a pity, as this way, the function is not practical. Charging did not work on two different computers either.

Equipment

The Canon PowerShot G9 X offers a lot of what you need in everyday photography, but it also lacks a few modern features. For example, there is a fully automatic mode that also automatically selects the subject program. With 58 programmes, his choice is very large. If, on the other hand, the photographer wants to choose the motif programme himself, there is only a clearly reduced selection. Ambitious photographers will get their money’s worth in the programs P, A, S and M, as practically all photo parameters can be set manually if desired. In addition to the aperture, which can be closed up to F11, there is an activatable gray filter that swallows three f-stops of light. Very practical, if you want to avoid diffraction, for example. Even bracketing with three exposures and up to 2 EV exposure distance between exposures can be made. HDR shots with automatic composition, on the other hand, are only available as a scene mode program. A panorama mode is completely missing from this Canon.

The continuous shooting function allows more than seven images per second – but with the best JPEG quality for only seven shots at a time. The raw data format looks bleak: No high continuous shooting rate is achieved here, apparently the buffer is much too small. Saving to a fast SD card also takes a bit of time, only every 1.4 seconds a raw photo can be taken. The autofocus, on the other hand, works quite fast with 0.3 seconds. The G9 X is still not very suitable for sports shots or snapshots in quick succession.

Canon G9 X Review

After all, Canon didn’t do without a program dial in the PowerShot G9 X. The adjustment ring on the lens also proves to be extremely helpful in practice. [Photo: Canon]

Canon G9 X Review

The metal tripod thread of the Canon PowerShot G9 X even sits in the optical axis.

The miniature flash pops up after mechanical release, so it cannot be extended automatically from the camera. A small flashing lightning symbol indicates the necessity of using a flash. The guide number of 5 is also not exactly lavish. After all, the flash is capable of long-term synchronisation, can be fired either at the beginning or at the end of the exposure and its power output can be corrected. With semi-automatic and manual exposure there is even a manual flash option, but only in three power settings. The sometimes annoying TTL measuring pre-flash is omitted and is therefore suitable for triggering simple slave flashes or studio flash systems. Thanks to the central shutter, the shortest flash sync speed is as short as the fastest shutter speed: 1/2,000 second.

With the video function there are extended standard foods. The resolution reaches maximum Full-HD. Somewhat annoying is the fact that 50 and 60 frames per second are only available after setting the video mode on the program dial; in the other programs, filming is done at a maximum of 30 frames per second. After all, the “right” video recording mode also allows manual setting of aperture, ISO and exposure time. A manual focus is also available as for photos. The focus is smoothly and silently adjusted during recording. The optical image stabilizer does its job without complaint. The optical zoom can also be used. It works extremely slowly during recording, but you can hardly hear the zoom engine.

The G9 X is equipped with WLAN and NFC. Nevertheless, it takes a while to establish a connection with the smartphone and the handling is also a bit bumpy despite the new app “Canon Camera Connect”. This means that the camera controls cannot be used during remote control – not even the zoom lever or shutter release button. The camera is operated exclusively via App. If you want to change the recording program, you first have to quit the remote control in the app and start it again with the program dial in the correct position. After all, autofocus, aperture, exposure time and ISO sensitivity can be influenced. However, there are numerous settings that cannot be accessed. The app also does not prevent the smartphone from going into standby mode, so the connection may be interrupted at times. Only JPEGs can be transferred, no raws. Since a raw cannot be converted into a JPEG in the camera, you can’t get these pictures on the road without a laptop with a raw converter. Videos are additionally compressed for transmission, so the original quality does not end up on the smart device.

Canon G9 X Review

The One-Touch button on the left side of the Canon PowerShot G9 X also works when the camera is turned off. This allows you to back up your photos to a computer via WLAN at the touch of a button. [Photo: Canon]

Canon G9 X Review

Both the micro HDMI socket and the micro USB port are hidden on the right side of the Canon PowerShot G9 X. For charging the battery, an external charging cradle is included in the scope of delivery. [Photo: Canon]

Image quality

In the meantime Canon is the manufacturer with the widest range of compact cameras with 1″ sensor. But whether the image quality can keep what the 20-megapixeler promises is shown by the test with the testing software.

First to the lens: The triple zoom offers sufficient sharpness for exposures in 20 by 30 centimeters at all focal lengths and apertures from the center to the edge of the image. In addition, with a maximum of half an aperture stop in the corners of the image, the edge dimming is low and color fringes play practically no role. At wide angle and medium focal length, the correction ensures freedom from distortion, and at telephoto there is unusually slight but hardly disturbing barrel distortion.

The PowerShot easily cracks the resolution mark of very good 50 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) with 50 percent edge contrast (MTF50) at any focal length. Depending on the focal length, you have to stop down to F5.6 to F8 to push the resolution below this mark due to diffraction. But even with F11, just under 40 or more lp/mm remain. However, this only applies to the center of the image, at the edge of the image it does not look quite as good. In wide angle, the edge resolution oscillates between only 36 and 26 lp/mm, the 40 mark is only reached by the longer focal lengths. The deficits are therefore particularly noticeable in wide angle, but only with larger exposures. The signal-to-noise ratio is disappointing: even at the lowest ISO level, it only reaches 38 dB and is already slightly below the critical mark of 35 dB at ISO 800. At ISO 3.200 it is only 30 dB and at ISO 12.800 even just over 25 dB. At the same time, brightness noise becomes visible from ISO 3.200 and increases with higher sensitivities, only the color noise is well under control by Canon. Despite the increasing noise, a proper noise reduction intervenes in the image processing. This costs visible details. Already at ISO 400, the images appear soft and, compared to ISO 125, much less detailed (e.g. wood grain), at ISO 1,600 the photos become visibly slushy (practically no wood grain visible). The G9 X is miles away from the performance of other cameras with 1″ sensors. You might think that it has a 1/2.3″ sensor or a maximum of a 1/1.7″ sensor built into it. This is really disappointing and a pity.

After all, the Canon offers a very good input dynamic. Up to ISO 400 there are more than eleven aperture stops, at ISO 800 only slightly less. Only above ISO 3.200 does the input dynamic drop significantly to below ten f-stops. The tone curve is very steep, typical for a point-and-shoot camera, and the images therefore show crisp contrasts. However, the output tonal range is only good at low ISO sensitivities. From ISO 800 the value is only acceptable, from ISO 3.200 it is bad. At the actual colour depth, it looks good up to ISO 3,200 with at least two million colours, but above that, this value also decreases. The colour accuracy, however, is impressive. The deviation from the original colour chart is small on average and only for a few colours is it even noteworthy, such as the more saturated red and orange, the yellow with a slight tendency to green and the cyan with a tendency to blue. Overall, however, this makes for “beautiful” photos, for example by making the sky look a little bluer than it really is.

Canon G9 X Review

The small lithium-ion battery of the Canon PowerShot G9 X is sufficient for only 220 shots. The SD memory card is also removed below. [Photo: Canon]

Conclusion

All in all, the Canon PowerShot G9 X scores especially with its compact case and good workmanship. The equipment offers a lot, but here and there little things are missing. The ergonomics suffer somewhat from the too smooth rubber applications. If you can’t get used to touchscreen operation, you’re definitely wrong with the G9 X, because it can’t do without it. However, if you get used to it, the handling of the camera works well, especially as there is also a program dial and a lens ring. Although the lens only zooms three times, it offers a high resolution especially in the center of the image. Nevertheless, the picture quality turns out to be truly disappointing. If you buy a camera with a 1″ sensor, you expect the same image quality at higher ISO sensitivities. However, the Canon cannot deliver this. Even at ISO 400, and even more so at even higher sensitivities, the images are poor in detail and muddy – almost as if a much smaller image sensor had been installed. We can only hope that Canon will remedy this devastating shortcoming in the successor model, because the concept of the elegantly finished, extremely compact camera with modern operation and a large sensor at a comparatively low price is great.

Profile

Profile
Manufacturer Canon
Model PowerShot G9 X
Sensor CMOS 1″ 13.2 x 8.8 mm (crop factor 2.7
)20.9 megapixel (physical)
20.2 megapixel (effective)
Pixelpitch 2.4 µm
Resolution (max.) 5.472 x 3.648 (3:2)
Video (max.) 1.920 x 1,080 60p
Lens F2.0-4.9/28-84mm
Filter thread No filter thread installed
Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm)
Resolution 1.040,000 pixels
tiltable
rotatable
swiveling
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Fully automatic yes
Automatic scene modes yes
Scene modes 58 scene modes (user manual says 60)
Automatic programming yes
Program shift yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
Manually yes
Bulb Long Term Exposure yes
HDR function yes
Panorama function
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
fastest shutter speed 1/2.000 s
Flash installed
Synchronous time 1/2.000 s
Flash connection
WLAN yes
NFC yes
GPS external, Smartphone as GPS logger
Remote release yes, remote control via smartphone/tablet
Interval recording
Storage medium
SD (UHS I, SDXC, SDHC)
Sensitivity
automatically ISO 125-12,800
manually ISO 125-12,800
White balance
automatically yes
manual measuring yes
Kelvin input
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 31 Contrast sensors
Speed 0,27 to 0,35 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions (WxHxD) 98 x 58 x 31 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 205 g
Tripod thread off optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment Lens ring (motorized), ring rocker (motorized)
Battery life 220 recordings according to CIPA standard
– = “not applicable” or “not available

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Consistent touch operation, also for the menus
  • Extremely compact, high-quality manufactured housing
  • Completely manual operation including practical lens ring
  • High resolution in the image center at low ISO sensitivities

Cons

  • For a 1″ sensor disappointing performance above ISO 400
  • Too cheap looking “leather” in my opinion
  • Significant edge drop in resolution
  • Only 3x zoom with only 28mm wide angle

Canon PowerShot G9 X Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 1″ 13.2 x 8.8 mm (crop factor 2.7
)20.9 megapixels (physical), 20.2 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 2.4 µm
Photo resolution
5.472 x 3.648 pixels (3:2)
5.472 x 3.080 pixels (16:9)
4.864 x 3.080 pixels
4.320 x 2.880 pixels (3:2)
4.320 x 2.432 pixels (16:9)
3.840 x 2.880 pixels (4:3)
3.648 x 3.648 pixels (1:1)
2.912 x 3.648 pixels (4:5)
2.880 x 2.880 pixels (1:1)
2.304 x 2.880 pixels (4:5)
2.304 x 1.536 pixels (3:2)
2.048 x 1.536 pixels (4:3)
1.920 x 1.080 pixels (16:9)
1.536 x 1.536 pixels (1:1)
1.232 x 1.232 pixels (1:1)
720 x 480 pixels (3:2)
720 x 408 pixels (16:9)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
480 x 480 pixels (1:1)
384 x 480 pixels (4:5)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard (version 2), IPTC
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p 29 min 59 sec
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p 29 min 59 sec
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p 29 min 59 sec
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 25 p
Maximum recording time 29 min 59 sec
Video format
MP4 (Codec H.264)

Lens

Focal length 28 to 84 mm (35mm equivalent
)3x zoom10
.2 to 30.6 mm (physical)
digital zoom 4x
Sharpness range 5 cm to infinity (wide angle
)35 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Aperture F2 to F11 (wide angle
)F4.9 to F11 (telephoto)
ND filter ND filter (3.0 EV steps)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus mode Contrast autofocus with 31 measuring fields
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Area AF, Tracking AF, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (4x)
Filter thread No filter thread

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,040,000 pixels, viewing angle 170°, touch screen, non-reflective, brightness adjustable

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral metering, matrix/multi-field metering, spot metering, AF-AE coupling
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 1 s (Automatic
)1/2,000 to 30 s (Manual)Bulb function
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Motif Automatic
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, 1/3 to 2 EV increments, HDR function
Exposure Compensation -3.0 to +3.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 125 to ISO 12.800 (automatic
)ISO 125 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
Remote access Remote control via smartphone/tablet
, remote control from computer: no
Scene modes Fireworks, landscape, night scene, close-up, portrait, sunset, starry sky, 51 scene modes more
Picture effects brilliant, HDR effect, neutral, retro, black and white, toy camera, soft focus, 10 additional image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sunny, White balance bracket, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp with 2 presets, Tungsten light, Manual 2 memories
Color space sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 6 fps at highest resolution and max. 2,000 stored photos, 4.3 frames per second with autofocus
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s
Recording functions AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash built-in flash (hinged)
Flash range 0.5 to 6.0 m at wide angle0
.5 to 2.4 m at teleflash range
at ISO autoflash sync speed
1/2,000 s
Flash functions Auto, fill-flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, flash on second shutter curtain, manual flash output (3 levels), red-eye reduction, flash exposure compensation from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV

Equipment

Image stabilizer Lens shift (optical)
Memory
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
GPS function GPS external (Smartphone as GPS logger)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply unit Power supply connectionUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Canon NB-13L220
images according to CIPA-StandardCanon
ACK-DC110 Power supply
Playback functions Red-eye retouching, cropping, image rotation, image protection, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 10.0x magnification, image index, slide show function with crossfade effects, zoom out
Face recognition Face recognition
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, color saturation, noise reduction, color effects: brilliant colors, neutral colors, retro, black and white
Grille can be faded in during recording yes
Special functions Electronic spirit level, orientation sensor, Live View, user profiles with 1 user profile
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
: USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available (Type: B, G, N)
NFC: availableAudio output
: noAudio input
: noVideo output
: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods Canon Direct Print, DPOF, PictBridge
Special features and miscellaneous DIGIC 6 image processor with iSAPS technology, automatic shadow brightening, automatic and manual dynamic adjustment, 58 recognizable scenes, scene recognition (video) 21 recognizable scenes, MyColor effects (11), star lapse video (1080p29.97/p25/p14.99/p12.5) max. 128 s

Size and weight

Weight 205 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 98 x 58 x 31 mm

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Canon CB-2LHE Special Battery ChargerCanon
IFC-400PCU USB CableCanon
NB-13L Special Battery Lithium Ion Battery
, Battery ChargerCD-ROM (Image Browser EX, PhotoStitch, Map Utility, Digital Photo Professional)
additional accessories Canon ACK-DC110 AC AdapterCanon
CA-DC30E Charger for Special BatteriesCanon
CB-2LHE Charger for Special BatteriesCanon
HF-DC2 Small Auxiliary Flash UnitCanon
IFC-600U USB Cable
USB
USB 2.0 High Speed