Canon G9X Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops comparing the Canon G9X with the Canon G7X, Canon S120, Fuji X30, Nikon J5, and Sony RX100 II. We chose to compare to the Canon G7X and Sony RX100 II as they both use the same 1"-type sensor but aren't as expensive as the latest G5X and RX100 IV models, the S120 to show what you get by stepping up from 1/1.7" sensor, the Fuji X30 which has a 2/3" sensor, and the Nikon J5 which also uses a 1"-type sensor. We wouldn't normally compare the J5 to the G9X as it's a larger camera with interchangeable lenses, but as of this writing it's currently available with kit lens for almost the same price as the G9X.

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). 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 G9X, Canon G7X, Canon S120, Fuji X30, Nikon J5, 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 G9X to any camera we've ever tested.

Canon G9X vs Canon G7X at Base ISO

Canon G9X at ISO 125
Canon G7X at ISO 125

As expected, we see similar image quality from the Canon G9X and G7X, since they share a similar if not identical sensor and the same processor, but do keep in mind they have different lenses. The G9X did however produce slightly more pleasing colors, likely due to better custom white balance performance here.

Canon G9X vs Canon S120 at Base ISO

Canon G9X at ISO 125
Canon S120 at ISO 80

The 20-megapixel G9X has a clear resolution advantage over the 12-megapixel S120, and it also produced better colors but the S120 with its much smaller 1/1.7" sensor holds it own in terms of noise at base ISO. Do keep in mind base ISO is lower for the S120, though (ISO 80 vs 125).

Canon G9X vs Fujifilm X30 at Base ISO

Canon G9X at ISO 125
Fujifilm X30 at ISO 100

Unsurprisingly, we see the 20-megapixel G9X easily out-resolves the 12-megapixel Fuji X30 with its smaller 2/3" X-Trans CMOS II sensor, though the X30 otherwise does quite well for its class at base ISO. The X30's default sharpening is however higher than the G9X's with more noticeable sharpening halos.

Canon G9X vs Nikon J5 at Base ISO

Canon G9X at ISO 125
Nikon J5 at ISO 160

Fine detail from the Canon is a little better than the Nikon here at base ISO 160 (which is rated a bit lower for the G9X at ISO 125), but the G9X's image is also a little noisier, though the noise "grain" is quite fine and tight. Colors from the Nikon are however more pleasing and vibrant.

Canon G9X vs Sony RX100 II at Base ISO

Canon G9X at ISO 125
Sony RX100 II at ISO 160

Here's a comparison to another 20-megapixel 1-inch type sensor, this time from the company that started the category. Here we see both cameras do very well at base ISO, but the RX100 II's image looks smoother with more contrast while the G9X's is a bit noisier but with better detail. Again, be aware the Sony's base ISO is rated a little higher.

Canon G9X vs Canon G7X at ISO 1600

Canon G9X at ISO 1600
Canon G7X at ISO 1600

Image quality at ISO 1600 is again similar from these two siblings, however the G9X is a touch noisier though it continues to produce slightly better color.

Canon G9X vs Canon S120 at ISO 1600

Canon G9X at ISO 1600
Canon S120 at ISO 1600

The advantages of a larger sensor are more evident at ISO 1600, with the G9X outperforming the S120 in terms of better detail and lower noise, however both struggle with our tricky red-leaf fabric.

Canon G9X vs Fujifilm X30 at ISO 1600

Canon G9X at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X30 at ISO 1600

Again, the Canon G9X comes out ahead in this battle, with better detail, color and lower noise. At this sensitivity, the Fuji X30 renders almost no detail in the red-leaf fabric, though the G9X's rendering is only a rough facsimile.

Canon G9X vs Nikon J5 at ISO 1600

Canon G9X at ISO 1600
Nikon J5 at ISO 1600

The Nikon J5 arguably produces a better image overall at ISO 1600 than the Canon G9X, with lower noise, brighter colors, higher contrast, and slightly better detail in most subject matter, however the J5's image is generally softer with more obvious noise reduction artifacts.

Canon G9X vs Sony RX100 II at ISO 1600

Canon G9X at ISO 1600
Sony RX100 II at ISO 1600

Both the G9X and RX100 II do fairly well at ISO 1600 considering their size, but the Canon's image is noisier while the Sony's image looks smoother and more contrasty, but more "processed" as well. Overall, though, we give the win to Sony.

Canon G9X vs Canon G7X at ISO 3200

Canon G9X at ISO 3200
Canon G7X at ISO 3200

Very similar results here at ISO 3200, though the G9X continues to produce slightly higher noise which interferes with fine detail a bit more than the G7X. It's pretty close, though.

Canon G9X vs Canon S120 at ISO 3200

Canon G9X at ISO 3200
Canon S120 at ISO 3200

The G9X continues to best the S120 at ISO 3200 with better detail, lower noise, as well as better color, but both really struggle with fine detail when viewed at 100% at this sensitivity.

Canon G9X vs Fujifilm X30 at ISO 3200

Canon G9X at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X30 at ISO 3200

While the Fuji X30 does fairly well for such a high ISO sensitivity from a 2/3"-type sensor, the Canon G9X comes out ahead in detail, noise and color at ISO 3200.

Canon G9X vs Nikon J5 at ISO 3200

Canon G9X at ISO 3200
Nikon J5 at ISO 3200

The Canon G9X produces more defined edges at ISO 3200 in most areas, but its image is also quite a bit noisier than the Nikon J5's. The Canon's noise grain is still fairly fine, though. Overall, the Nikon continues to produce a softer, smoother, brighter image with more pleasing colors.

Canon G9X vs Sony RX100 II at ISO 3200

Canon G9X at ISO 3200
Sony RX100 II at ISO 3200

Here we see more clearly the different approaches to noise reduction used by Canon versus Sony. The Canon's image is very grainy, but the grain is quite fine and tight, giving the image more of a film-like appearance. The Sony on the other hand looks cleaner but more heavily processed. Both struggle with fine detail at this sensitivity, but overall we'd give the edge to the Sony.

Canon G9X vs. Canon G7X, Canon S120, Fujifilm X30, Nikon J5, Sony RX100 II

ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 80
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
RX100 II
ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing cameras in different ways, so we like to look at it too. At base ISO, we can see the G9X produces very good detail, but contrast is lower than its larger sibling, the G7X, and edges are less distinct because of chromatic aberration. The different lenses are likely to blame here. Performance is quite similar to the RX100 II, though. The Nikon J5 leads the pack at base ISO, but it was shot with a prime lens which is another variable to consider. The Canon S120 and Fuji X30 both offer good contrast, but their lower pixel count can't fully resolve the fine lines within the lettering. As ISO sensitivity climbs, the G9X's contrast and detail drops off more quickly than the G7X's. This is also true of all the other cameras in the comparison except for the Nikon J5, though fine detail at ISO 6400 suffers more from heavy-handed noise reduction than the G7X and G9X.


Canon G9X Print Quality Analysis

Very good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 125/200; a nice 8 x 10 at ISO 1600; a good 4 x 6 at ISO 6400.

ISO 125/200 prints look quite good up to 24 x 36 inches before sensor resolution limits the size from going higher. The images show nice colors and crisp fine detail throughout the print. ISO 125 is the slightest bit sharper than ISO 200, but the latter still holds up nicely at this size.

ISO 400 yields 20 x 30 inch prints that are fine to use for less critical applications, but are just a bit too soft to warrant our "good" rating here. Stepping down in size to 16 x 20 inch prints resolves this issue, and the images have a nice amount of fine detail and "pop".

ISO 800 produces a 13 x 19 inch print that just passes our good rating. Colors remain quite good here, sharpness is above the acceptable threshold and noise is well-controlled as well. A reduction in size to 11 x 14 inches is recommended for the most critical applications where sharpness is concerned.

ISO 1600 prints introduce a bit too much noise at 11 x 14 inches to pass our good grade, but are fine for less critical applications. We can safely recommend the 8 x 10 inch prints here for yielding good printed image quality across the board.

ISO 3200 images are also good at 8 x 10 inches, with just enough fine detail to warrant our good rating. All contrast detail is now lost in our tricky target red swatch, but that's typical of all but the higher-end cameras we test at this and higher sensitivities.

ISO 6400 prints display a marked decrease in overall image quality. We can rate the 4 x 6 inch prints here as "good" and displaying enough color saturation and detail to be usable for most applications, but we don't recommend using this setting unless 4 x 6 inches is sufficient, as anything lager exhibits too much in the way of noise and muted colors.

ISO 12,800 is not usable and we recommend avoiding this setting.

The Canon G9X produces printed images at base ISO that look terrific, and ISO 200 images are quite good as well. The G9X manages a print size larger than the G7X at 125/200 while matching the G5X, but critical sharpness does decline a bit faster than we found in the G5X, which allowed for a good 20 x 30 inch print at ISO 400, where the G9X is only sufficient at 16 x 20 inches. Similarly, we found this camera only capable of a good 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 1600, as compared to a good 11 x 14 from the G7X and G5X. Otherwise, the three siblings perform similarly at the other ISO settings, and images are capable of going to 8 x 10 inch prints up to ISO 3200, which is a useful size for that setting in general. Beyond this image quality deteriorates rather markedly, so remaining at ISO 3200 and below is certainly recommended for your critical printing purposes.

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

Testing 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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