Canon G1 X Mark II Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Canon G1 X Mark II against the Canon G1 X, Canon G16, Olympus E-M10, Sony A6000 and Sony RX100 II. All of these models sit at relatively similar price points and/or category in their respective product lineups. The main exception is the G16, which has a much smaller sensor than the other cameras in this comparison, but it sits right below the G1 X II in Canon's current PowerShot lineup and thus warrants comparison to the G1 X II.

These comparisons were somewhat tricky to write, as the cameras vary a great deal in resolution, so bear that in mind as you're reading and drawing your own conclusions. (We generally try to match cameras in these comparisons based on price, given that most of us work to a budget, rather than setting out to buy a given number of megapixels.)

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All interchangeable lens cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon G1 X Mark II, Canon G1 X, Canon G16, Olympus E-M10, Sony A6000 and Sony RX100 II -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon G1 X Mark II to any camera we've ever tested.

Canon G1 X Mark II versus Canon G1 X at Base ISO

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 100
Canon G1 X at ISO 100

Despite the DIGIC 6 processor and revised sensor in the Mark II, the resolutions are very similar in both cameras (13MP in the Mark II vs. 14.2MP in the Mark I), and as such, image quality at base ISO is quite similar. Both cameras show an excellent amount of fine detail and handle the notorious fabric swatches very well. The G1 X does however display slight more contrast in the red fabric compared to the Mark II.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Canon G16 at Base ISO

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 100
Canon G16 at ISO 80

While the G16 is more compact and less expensive, here is a prime example of what the larger sensor in the G1 X Mark II can produce: crisper, sharper fine detail all around in all three comparison crops -- it's especially noticeable in the mosaic and fabric swatches.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Olympus E-M10 at Base ISO

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 100
Olympus E-M10 at ISO 200

The G1 X Mark II's 1.5-inch type sensor is actually a bit larger than the Four Thirds sensor in the E-M10, though the latter has a higher megapixel count. Despite the visible difference in image resolution, both display a lot of fine detail here at base ISO. The bottle crop from the E-M10 looks slightly cleaner and the mosaic looks ever-so-slightly crisper. And while the pink fabric looks a little better from the E-M10, the G1 X II handles the red fabric just a bit better (though the E-M10's expanded ISO 100 setting does even better).


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Sony A6000 at Base ISO

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 100
Sony A6000 at ISO 100

In this comparison, the APS-C sensor of the A6000 is much larger than the G1 X Mark II's sensor, and as such, the difference is fine detail is noticeable, though there is a significant difference in resolution. Both cameras display a lot of fine detail, but the larger, higher-resolution sensor of the A6000 makes the Sony the clear winner in this comparison. However, the Canon still produces a more natural-looking red fabric pattern.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Sony RX100 II at Base ISO

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 100
Sony RX100 II at ISO 160

Both the Canon G1 X Mark II and Sony RX100 Mark II do well at base ISO, but each has its own strengths. As expected, the RX100 Mark II's higher 20MP resolution captures more detail and we prefer the colors from the Sony as well, however the Canon looks a little crisper with higher contrast, and does much better with the red-leaf fabric.



Most enthusiast cameras will produce excellent base ISO results, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Canon G1 X Mark II versus Canon G1 X at ISO 1600

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 1600
Canon G1 X at ISO 1600

Again, like the base ISO comparison, the Mark II and Mark I look very similar at ISO 1600. Very fine detail in parts of the image looks ever-so-slightly sharper on the Mark II -- the tile robe and yellow tile border, for instance. Luminance noise is very low in both, though if you look closely at the bottle crop, the NR processing is a little more apparent from the Mark II. Interestingly, the fabric swatches looks slightly better from the Mark I than from the Mark II.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Canon G16 at ISO 1600

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 1600
Canon G16 at ISO 1600

The 1/1.7-inch type sensor of the G16 is no match for the 1.5-inch type sensor in the G1 X Mark II -- fine detail is significantly better and noise is much lower. The G1 X Mark II is the overall winner in this comparison for all three crops.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Olympus E-M10 at ISO 1600

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M10 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the luminance noise levels for both cameras here are quite even -- NR processing does a great job at eliminating a lot of the noise. As for fine detail, the mosaic tile area actually looks a bit more natural-looking from the G1 X Mark II, as the E-M10's NR affects the finely detailed pattern. Also, the fabric swatches look slightly better on the G1 X Mark II.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 1600
Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

The larger, 24-megapixel APS-C sensor of the A6000 is, unsurprisingly, able to resolve a lot more detail than the G1 X Mark II. Barring the difference in resolution, both cameras display great handling of noise at ISO 1600. Both cameras struggle with the red fabric, though the A6000 is able to handle the pink fabric much better.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Sony RX100 II at ISO 1600

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 1600
Sony RX100 II at ISO 1600

While the RX100 II is a very good high ISO performer compared to other pocketable compacts, its smaller sensor doesn't perform quite as well as the larger sensor from the G1 X Mark II, and you can tell the Sony is working harder to smooth away noise. In all three comparisons, the G1 X Mark II crops show better, crisper detail.



Today's ISO 3200 is yesterday's ISO 1600 (well, almost), so below are the same crops at ISO 3200.

Canon G1 X Mark II versus Canon G1 X at ISO 3200

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 3200
Canon G1 X at ISO 3200

It's an interesting comparison here at ISO 3200. While the Mark II displays slightly cleaner images from high ISO noise reduction, fine detail is slightly worse compared to the Mark I. Both the mosaic and the fabric swatches looks more detailed than those from the newer Mark II.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Canon G16 at ISO 3200

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 3200
Canon G16 at ISO 3200

Like we saw in the ISO 1600 comparison, here at ISO 3200, the G1 X Mark II outshines the smaller-sensored G16 is in all three comparisons. There's much less luminance noise, and fine detail in the mosaic crop is far superior. While both struggle noticeably with the fabric swatches, the G1 X Mark II displays an ever-so-slightly better semblance of the leaf pattern in the red and pink fabrics.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Olympus E-M10 at ISO 3200

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M10 at ISO 3200

Both cameras do well at controlling noise at ISO 3200, though the E-M10 does display a little chroma noise around the edge of the bottle in the first crop. The default noise reduction processing on the E-M10 is noticeably more aggressive than that on the G1 X Mark II, which gives the mosaic tile details a very mottled look, while the G1 X II looks a bit more natural.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 3200
Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

Again, we see similarly excellent handling of high ISO noise here at ISO 3200. The resolution difference makes it difficult to compare detail, but both display a lot of fine detail even at this higher ISO. The G1 X II does struggle more than the A6000 with fine detail in the fabric swatches, though.


Canon G1 X Mark II versus Sony RX100 II at ISO 3200

Canon G1 X Mark II at ISO 3200
Sony RX100 II at ISO 3200

The Canon G1 X Mark II is the winner again here at ISO 3200, though not by much. The G1X II shows a finer, tighter luminance noise grain pattern which helps hold on to fine detail a little better than the RX100 Mark II, however both struggle with fine detail in the troublesome red and pink fabric swatches.



Detail: Canon G1 X Mark II vs. Canon G1 X, Canon G16, Olympus E-M10, Sony RX100 II and Sony A6000.

Canon
G1 X Mark II

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

Canon
G1 X

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

Canon
G16

ISO 80
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M10

ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6000

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
RX100 II

ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. This lettering allows us to really examine fine, high-contrast detail. At base ISO, the Canon G1 X Mark II is a very good performer for clean, high-contrast detail, displaying crisper detail than the G1 X and G16, though the larger sensor in the A6000, as well as the sharp E-M10 beats it. The RX100 II may not be as contrasty as the G1 X II at base ISO, but the very fine, high-contrast detail here is a little better than from the G1 X II thanks to its higher resolution. As the ISO rises, the G1 X Mark II struggles a little with very fine detail, but performs better than both its predecessor and the G16, as well as the RX100 II. The E-M10 is notoriously good at high ISO high-contrast detail, and the larger APS-C sensor of the A6000 unsurprisingly performs better than the G1 X II here at higher ISOs.

 

Canon G1 X Mark II Print Quality

Good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100 and 200; makes a nice 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 800 and even a decent 4 x 6 inch print at ISO 12,800.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 100 and 200 produce good 24 x 36 inch prints despite the relatively humble ~13MP 1.5-inch type sensor. At this size print, there's a bit of pixelation visible upon close inspection, but at an arm's-length viewing distance or farther, the amount of detail is impressive. Color reproduction at this ISO also looks very accurate and pleasing to the eye.

ISO 400 images looking very similar to ISO 100/200 and noise is very minimal, but fine detail is just slightly softer with some noise reduction processing visible in the shadows at this print size. Overall it makes a good 20 x 30 inch print, with a lot of detail and nice colors.

ISO 800 prints look great at 16 x 20 inches. At this size, prints are starting to match closer with the resolution of the sensor. Fine detail is great considering ISO 800 is relative high ISO for a compact camera, though the larger sensor gives the G1 X II a noticeable advantage. Noise reduction also does great at eliminating noise, and the effect doesn't appear overly aggressive.

ISO 1600 images make very nice 13 x 19 prints, with lots of fine detail and great color. Like ISO 800, noise reduction processing is very good with only minimal reduction in very fine detail.

ISO 3200 prints look good up to 8 x 10 inches, though an 11 x 14 inch print would be acceptable for less critical applications. Detail is quite good for this ISO sensitively and there's very low noise, even in the shadows.

ISO 6400 images are acceptable up to 5 x 7 inches. While luminance noise is reduced quite effectively with default noise reduction, fine detail takes a hit and colors look a little murky and drab.

ISO 12,800 images impress us with viable 4 x 6 inch prints, which is a rare accomplishment for a "compact" camera. As expected, the lack of very fine detail and drab colors prevent us from calling any larger sizes acceptable.

The Canon G1 X Mark II displays rather impressive print quality performance. The ~13MP 1.5-inch type CMOS sensor and powerful DIGIC 6 image processor make for some nice prints at low ISOs and even at some very high ISOs that other smaller-sensored compact cameras would struggle with. At ISO 100 and 200, images are able to print as large as 24 x 36 inches with excellent colors and lots of fine detail at normal viewing distances. At mid-range ISOs of 800 and 1600, prints as large as 16 x 20 and 13 x 19, respectively, are acceptable with default noise reduction doing some intelligent processing to eliminate shadow noise while keeping fine detail intact. Even at very high ISOs of 6400 and 12,800, prints are still viable, though a 4 x 6 is the only size acceptable at ISO 12,800. At these levels, fine detail has taken a hit due to noise and NR processing, and colors begin to look a bit on the drab side. Overall, the Canon G1 X Mark II unsurprisingly manages to out-perform competing compact cameras with smaller sensors in the printing department.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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