Canon G1 X II Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Realistic saturation levels with good hue accuracy, though yellows were a little problematic.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Saturation. The Canon G1 X II produced fairly accurate saturation levels overall, with only mild to moderate oversaturation in reds, greens, browns, and purples blues. Bright yellow, aqua, and cyan were undersaturated by small to moderate amounts. Mean saturation at base ISO is 108%, or 8% oversaturated, which is a little more true to life than most cameras these days. Overall, the Canon G1 X II's images appear to have natural looking color that is a touch muted compared to other cameras, though you can always adjust saturation to your liking. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, with Auto white balance in simulated daylight, the Canon G1 X II rendered lighter Caucasian skin tones a little yellow and flat. Manual white balance produced more pinkish skin tones. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Canon PowerShot G1 X II produced a few color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, most visibly pushing cyan toward blue (probably for better-looking skies), red toward orange, and yellow toward green. Mean "delta-C" color error after correcting for saturation at base ISO was 4.36 which is better than average, though the shift and reduced saturation in yellows was noticeable in some of our shots. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color balance with Auto, and very good with Manual white balance settings. Above average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance
0 EV
Incandescent White Balance
0 EV
Manual White Balance
0 EV

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was pretty good with the Auto white balance setting, with just a hint of a magenta tint. The Canon G1 X II did much better here than the majority of digital cameras we've tested. The Incandescent white balance option resulted in a strong orange cast, while the Manual white balance setting was pretty accurate if a touch cool. The PowerShot G1 X II's exposure system handled this lighting well, requiring no exposure compensation to produce reasonably bright images when the average amount required is + 0.3 EV for this shot. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Slightly cool colors, with high default contrast. Very good exposure accuracy.

Manual White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

The Canon PowerShot G1 X II struggled a bit under harsh outdoor lighting of our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, as default contrast was quite high. About average exposure compensation of +0.7 EV was needed to keep the mannequin's facial skin tones bright, resulting in a lot of blown highlights in her shirt and flowers. On the other hand, overall exposure was excellent in our outdoor far-field shot at default exposure, with surprisingly few clipped highlights and few lost shadows. Color outdoors was good with the Auto white balance setting, just a touch cool and muted, though the camera rendered some skin tones a little too flat and yellow, so we preferred Manual white balance here for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Very high resolution, ~2,300 lines of strong detail from in-camera JPEGs, about 2,300 lines from converted RAW files.

In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG:
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW:
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,300 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and about the same in the vertical direction in JPEGs straight out of the camera, though the G1 X II's high default sharpening interferes by exacerbating moiré making it difficult to call. Extinction of the pattern occurred at about 2,600 lines in the horizontal direction, and about 2,800 lines in the vertical direction. Adobe Camera Raw wasn't really able to extract more resolution, producing more false colors and higher color moiré, as it often does, however applying less sharpening than the camera avoided some of the aliasing artifacts seen near the limits of resolution. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp, detailed images overall, though with some visible sharpening artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits detail in low contrast areas, though much better than average results here.

Very good definition of high-contrast
elements, with some visible
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of hair here.

Sharpness. The Canon PowerShot G1 X II captures fairly sharp JPEG images at default settings, though some edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the noticeable halos around lines and text in the crop above left. Enthusiasts might want to shoot with a lower sharpening setting and apply additional sharpening in post processing, or shoot RAW for complete control over sharpening. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows some smudging of low contrast detail due to noise suppression, as individual strands of hair are blurred together in midtones and shadows, but performance here is much better than average for a compact digicam and compares well to some DSLRs. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above the Canon G1 X II produces fairly sharp, detailed in-camera JPEGs. With a good RAW converter, more detail can often be extracted with fewer sharpening artifacts. See below:

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.4 using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

Looking closely at the images, ACR extracts additional detail that isn't present in the JPEG from the camera, particularly in the red-leaf swatch where the thread pattern is likely treated as noise by the JPEG engine. Fine detail in the mosaic crop is also slightly improved, but as is often the case, more noise can be seen in the bottle crop. You can of course apply stronger noise reduction (default ACR NR used here) to arrive at your ideal noise versus detail tradeoff. Color was improved as well, with ACR removing much of the yellow-to-green shift in the JPEG. And, as expected, sharpening haloes aren't nearly as strong as default camera output. Still, not bad in-camera default JPEG processing, but as usual you can do noticeably better with a good RAW converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good detail versus noise performance up to ISO 1,600.

Default Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 1,600
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400 ISO 12,800

The PowerShot G1 X II performed well here, with very good noise performance up to ISO 1,600. There's a bit of softening in the hair at ISO 800, as well as some fine-grained luminance noise and some chroma noise in the shadows, but fine detail is really quite good. ISO 1,600 is a little softer from more aggressive noise reduction, but detail is still pretty good. ISO 3,200 is noticeably softer, though, with more noticeable luma noise and chroma noise becoming evident in darker areas. Luma noise is stronger at ISO 6,400, as is chroma noise. Contrast is also higher. ISO 12,800 is pretty noisy as you'd expect, with little fine detail and noticeable chroma noise in the form of green and purple blotches. Still, high ISO performance is much better than most compact cameras, though not as good as the better APS-C and Micro Four Thirds models these days, and not much improvement over its predecessor (perhaps even a step back with some subjects, although the faster lens will help a lot when shooting wide open, particularly at telephoto). Note that the G1 X II offers three levels of noise reduction (Low, Standard and High), and these shots were taken using the default Standard setting.

Of course, the impact of noise and detail loss are highly dependent on the size the photos are printed at, and pixel-peeping on-screen has surprisingly little relationship to how the images look when printed: See the Print Quality section below for recommended maximum print sizes at each ISO.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong detail, though limited dynamic range. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness at all ISOs.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Canon PowerShot G1 X II struggled a bit under the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above. To keep facial tones bright, +0.7 EV compensation was required, but that led to a lot of washed-out highlights, more than we're used to seeing for this class of sensor. Some may prefer the +0.3 EV setting for its reduced highlight clipping, but we found the face a bit too dim. Detail is not bad in the shadows at +0.7 EV, though there are some very deep shadows that are quite noisy and posterized. Consider using fill flash in situations like the one shown above; and it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Outdoor Portrait i-Contrast Series
i-Contrast
Setting:



DRC Off
(Default)



DRC 200%


DRC 400%


DRC Auto


Shadow
Correct



As part of the G1 X II's Intelligent Contrast (i-Contrast) feature, the camera has "Dynamic Range Correction" to help tame highlights, and "Shadow Correct" to bring out more shadow detail.

Above are examples of our challenging "Sunlit" Portrait scene shot with the G1 X II's three available Dynamic Range Correction settings, plus Shadow Correct. Mouse over the links to the right to compare, and click on the links to get to the full-resolution images. The resulting images are a little dim (in hindsight, it would have been better to shoot these at +0.7 or +1.0 EV compensation instead of +0.3 EV), but you can see that highlights were toned-down progressively with the DR 200% and DR 400% settings. The results with DR Auto were practically identical to being set to Off, probably because relatively few highlights were blown to begin with. Shadow Correct also worked as expected, boosting shadows without impacting highlights (it actually reduced highlights a bit according to the histogram, but the framing isn't identical so it's difficult to compare), leading to the best overall exposure for this series.

Note that Dynamic Range Correction may boost ISO depending on your current setting, so more noise and/or stronger NR may be visible with it enabled. (In our samples above, DR 200% used ISO 200 and DR 400% used ISO 400, while DR Auto and Shadow Correct left ISO at 100.)

Far-field i-Contrast Comparison

Above, you can see the effect of the available i-Contrast settings on our Far-field shot. Again, Auto made little difference, but default exposure was spot-on to begin with. Shadow Correct also made no difference, because few shadows were lost at defaults.


Face Detection Examples
Aperture Priority
0 EV
Face Detection
0 EV
Smart Auto
0 EV

The table above shows results with the default exposure using Aperture Priority AE, as well as with Face Detection enabled, and Smart Auto. As you can see, the G1 X II's face detection and Smart Auto mode both increased exposure dramatically compared to the default exposure in Aperture Priority mode, going from very underexposed to overly bright images. Face detection dropped the shutter speed from 1/50s to 1/20s to improve the exposure for the face, while keeping ISO (100) and aperture (f/8.0) the same as before. Smart Auto also detected the face, but boosted ISO to 400, used maximum aperture (f/3.9) and a faster shutter speed (1/250s). Overall, we preferred the Smart Auto exposure as the camera also seemed to adjust contrast resulting in far fewer blown highlights as well as more open shadows, though noise is more visible in the shadows and you can see the the localized flare issue around brighter elements that are slightly out of focus, as mentioned on the optics page.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we decided to compare the Canon G1 X II's dynamic range to its predecessor, the G1 X, and also to the 16-megapixel Olympus E-M10 which actually has a slightly smaller sensor with higher resolution, representing one of the best Four Thirds sensors these days, while in the same price range as the G1 X II. You can always compare other models on DxOMark.com.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger image), the G1 X Mark II's dynamic range is very similar to the G1 X's, as expected, ranging from about 10.8 EV at base ISO, down to about 6.6 EV at maximum ISO. Compared to the E-M10, though, the G1 X II offers about 1.5 EV less dynamic range at base ISO (10.8 vs 12.3 EV), and the E-M10 continues to offer significantly higher dynamic range to about ISO 800, above which all three cameras offer roughly the same dynamic range (within about 1/3 EV). Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Canon G1 X Mark II for more of their test results and additional comparisons.



  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
No NR
ISO
100
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1 s
f2.0
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16 s
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16 s
f2.0
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200
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f2.0
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400
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1/4 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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800
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1600
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1/16 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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f2.0
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3200
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6400
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f2.0
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f2.0
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12800
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1/128 s
f2.0
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f2.0
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1/8 s
f2.0

Low Light. The Canon PowerShot G1 X II performed well on the low-light test, capturing bright images at the lowest light level (1/16 foot-candle), even with the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100). As expected, noise increases as ISO goes up and light levels go down, but noise remains remarkably low up to ISO 1,600, and even ISO 3,200 looks pretty good. Noise is a little high at ISOs 6,400 and 12,800, but that's to be expected, and it's pretty fine-grained with low chroma noise. Color balance is pretty good with Canon G1 X II's Auto white balance setting, just a touch cool, even at high ISOs and low light levels. We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels though some minor banding (pattern noise) can be seen in darker shadows.

The camera's AF system was able to focus unassisted to below the 1/16 foot-candle light level in our tests, which is very good, and the G1 X II was able to focus in complete darkness with the aid of its AF assist lamp.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100 and 200; makes an nice 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 800 and even an 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.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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