Canon G9X Review
|Full model name:||Canon PowerShot G9 X|
|Sensor size:||1 inch
(13.2mm x 8.8mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||125 - 12,800|
|Extended ISO:||125 - 12,800|
|Shutter:||1/2000 - 30 sec|
3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in.
(98 x 58 x 31 mm)
|Full specs:||Canon G9X specifications|
The Canon G9X is the smallest 1-inch sensor camera to date. Slip it in a pocket and you can forget it's even there, but pull it out and you have the great image quality of a 1-inch sensor on tap. And getting images onto your phone couldn't be easier, thanks to the in-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking. Are there still some rough edges? Yes, but the G9X is a very compelling camera nonetheless. Find out if it's right for you in our in-depth Canon G9X review!Pros
Smallest 1-inch sensor camera available; Slips in a pants pocket almost unnoticed; Bright lens at wide-angle; Great image quality; Swift 6.5 fps JPEG burst shooting; Intuitive touch-screen control; In-camera Wi-Fi gets images onto your phone easilyCons
Limited 3x zoom range; Tighter wide-angle than competitors; JPEG buffer limited to 10 frames; very slow bracketing / raw burst shooting; Touch-screen menus take lots of tapping; Poor battery lifePrice and availability
Available since November 2015 priced at US$530, the Canon G9X is sold in both black and silver variants.Imaging Resource rating
4.0 out of 5.0
Canon G9X Review -- Now Shooting!
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted 10/13/2015
Take a look at the market for fixed-lens cameras based around 1"-type image sensors, and you'll spot a trend. Ever since Sony created the market with the original RX100, way back in 2012, these cameras have been putting on weight. Now, the Canon G9X is here to change all that.
If you think about it, the trend has run counter to what these cameras are actually about. The original goal was to maximize image quality, while opting for a sensor size that was small enough to allow a pocket-friendly body. And while you can technically fit newer RX100-series models in a pants pocket, that fit has gotten tighter over time.
The Canon G9X is a return to the original ideals behind the Sony competitor that created the category. And perhaps not so coincidentally, its styling also harkens back to that oh-so-popular camera.
Like the Sony RX100 before it, the Canon G9X has a narrow, notched "shelf" lining the edge of its top deck, something that helps give room to roll the side of the mode dial with the tip of your thumb. (At the other end of the body, the flash release lever also sits inside this notch.)
With dimensions of 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches, the Canon G9X is about 0.2 inches less wide, 0.1 inches less tall and an impressive 0.4 inches less thick than the nearest previous model in the company's lineup, the Canon G7X. (That model, incidentally, has since been followed by the G7X II, so the lineup now features no less than six large-sensored, G-series camera models, with five of them being at the 1-inch sensor size.)
Compared to the original Sony RX100, the difference in size is more modest, but still noticeable. Canon's G9X is about 0.1 inches less wide, the same height, and 0.2 inches less thick. That latter difference in particular gives it a more pants pocket-friendly feel, as does an impressive 1.1 ounce reduction in ready-to-shoot weight, as compared to Sony's camera.
But enough of the body, what does the Canon G9X give you inside that trim package? Well, you get the exact same 20.2-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor as used in the Canon G3X and G7X, widely reported -- but never officially confirmed -- to be a Sony chip as featured in the RX100 II and RX100 III.
Output from this chip is handled by the same DIGIC 6 image processor as in the G3X and G7X, too. And just as in those cameras, the pairing yields a sensitivity range of ISO 125 to 12,800 equivalents. (That's also the same native sensitivity range as provided by the RX100 III and IV, although Sony's cameras do allow a slight ISO expansion at either end of the range, which the Canon G9X doesn't do.) JPEG burst shooting is also quite capable with speeds rated up to 6fps, however burst speed when shooting raw files is considerably less. See our Performance page for details.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the Canon G9X and the earlier G7X is the switch to a 3x optical zoom lens with 28-84mm equivalent focal length range, and a maximum aperture that falls from f/2.0 to f/4.9 across that range. It is both less wide and less far reaching, as well as dimmer than the 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 lens of the G7X, but that's a big part of what has allowed Canon to pare the new model's body down to the smallest possible size. And when you stop to think about it, it's not that far from matching the 28-100mm equivalent, f/1.8-4.9 lens of the original Sony RX100, despite being noticeably slimmer. The lens also features a built-in neutral density filter for extra exposure control in bright environments.
The other big departure from the G7X in the interests of reducing size is the Canon G9X's LCD panel. Just as in that camera, it's a high-resolution 720 x 480 pixel array with a three-inch diagonal, but in the G9X it's mounted firmly in place, unable to be tilted or swiveled in any direction. That makes it rather less versatile than the flip-up display of the G7X, especially for selfie fans, but it undoubtedly helped enable the greater pocketability of the new camera.
Another more minor difference between the two siblings is a simpler control scheme for the G9X. Where the G7X had a "wedding-cake style" stack of mode and exposure compensation dials, the G9X forgoes the latter. Nor does it include the four-way controller of the G7X, which doubled as a rear control dial. Instead, there are just four rear-panel buttons and a single ring around the lens barrel, plus a handful of top-deck controls.
Like the G7X before it, the Canon G9X forgoes a hot shoe, a feature that would likely seldom have been used by most owners anyway. (If you can justify carrying around a separate strobe, you'll probably also be able to manage a larger camera with a higher-quality sensor.) Instead, the sole provision for flash is the aforementioned top deck popup strobe.
Storage is on standard Secure Digital cards, and both JPEG and raw formats are provided. And also like the G7X, the Canon G9X features both Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity to help get your photos off the camera and onto your smartphone.
You can, of course, shoot movies in-camera, but the Canon G9X doesn't attempt to rival the bulkier Sony RX100 IV in this department: 4K capture isn't possible. Instead, Canon opts for 1080p60 or below. You will, however, be able to control both focus and exposure of your movies manually, should you wish. Both NTSC and PAL frame rates are included, incidentally, so if you want to shoot for relatives overseas the G9X should also support their TVs.
And for charging, Canon is giving the best of both worlds with a standalone bundled charger that lets you leave a second pack charging while you're out shooting with your camera, while also supporting in-camera USB charging for those who want to pack light. (You'll need to supply your own USB cable, though, as there isn't one in the product bundle.)
Available since November 2015 priced at US$530, the Canon G9X is sold in both black and silver variants.
Canon G9X Field Test
The smallest large-sensor pocket zoom heads out for a real-world test!
For a year and a half or so, Sony's RX100 and its more feature-rich siblings, the RX100 II and III, had the category to themselves. Canon's nearest rival was its G1X-series, which offered an even bigger sensor, but with the best will in the world couldn't be described as a pants pocket-friendly camera. Once Sony's image sensor division offered a 1"-type sensor to third parties, though, the game was truly on and Canon was quick to field its own 1"-type camera.
Canon G9X Image Quality Comparison
See how the Canon G9X's image quality stacks up
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.
Canon G9X Print Quality
But how does it look on paper?
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.
Canon G9X Conclusion
How does the smallest 1-inch sensor compact yet stack up?
As I noted when the Canon G9X was announced some months back, this camera strikes me as a very interesting one indeed. It is, in essence, a return to form for the 1-inch sensored compact camera. Revisiting the original values of the large-sensor compact, it gives you a roomy, light-loving imager paired with the smallest possible body, and it's noticeably smaller even than the original RX100, let alone the cameras which have followed both from Sony and its rivals.
A pocket-friendly companion to your smartphone
What that means for you is that the Canon G9X is a camera which can remain forgotten in your pants pocket until you need it, yet offer image quality and versatility that will utterly outclass your smartphone's camera. And then once you've got the shot, it's a snap to get it offloaded to your phone, and from there to social networks.
In the Box
The Canon PowerShot G9 X retail box includes (may vary by region):
- Canon PowerShot G9 X digital camera (black or silver/brown)
- NB-13L Lithium-ion battery pack
- CB-2LH battery charger
- WS-DC12 wrist strap
- 1-Year Limited Warranty
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. We recommend 16GB as a minimum capacity. Speed Class 10 or higher is required for recording Full HD movies.
- Extra NB-13L battery pack (~US$50)
- Small camera case