Fancy a compact capable of taking CSC-grade images that will easily fit in your pocket? In the past, the Sony RX100 series has been the go-to recommendation, but Canon has released an alluring alternative. The PowerShot G9 X is a stylish, 1-inch sensor compact that at £399 is half the price of the Sony RX100 IV.
I took a closer look at this advanced compact ahead of a full review.
Although it's a 1-inch sensor compact, the Canon PowerShot G9 X's design is closer to the Canon PowerShot S120 – a popular ultra-compact model, but one with a much smaller 1/1.7in sensor. Most impressive is the fact that such models are small enough to fit in your pocket.
At only 31mm thick, it’s 10mm slimmer than the pocketable Sony RX100 IV – and it doesn’t look bad, either.
The Canon PowerShot G9 X is available in either two-tone silver and tan, or a more conservative all-black version.
The obvious question is how Canon has managed to make the PowerShot G9 X so slender? The company has removed many of the elements found in 1-inch sensor biggest-hitters to produce a device that an experienced camera user may need some time to bed into.
For example, there’s no D-pad on the rear of the camera, or a viewfinder. For the most part, using the PowerShot G9 X will centre around the touchscreen display on the back of the device.
That’s not to say it’s a camera that doesn’t provide any control. A manual control ring sits around the lens, and there's a standard mode dial on the top plate providing access to the usual aperture and shutter-priority modes.
Canon has achieved great balance with the PowerShot G9 X: The camera is serious enough to let you fling the aperture from one extreme to the other with a quick movement, but casual enough to slip into your trouser pocket.
If you can’t hack the lack of exposure dial, viewfinder and rear D-pad, then you'd be better off checking out the Canon PowerShot G5 X instead. The numbers may suggest that it's lower-end, but this isn't the case – it’s the G9 X's photo-nerd sibling. It sells for £629 and gives you extras, such as a hotshoe, that will likely please more picky buyers.
More significant sacrifices have been made to achieve the Canon G9 X’s low price, however. Its lens isn't as versatile as that on many other 1-inch sensor compacts, including last year’s now similarly priced Canon PowerShot G7 X.
The 28-84mm lens offers max aperture of f/2-4.9. This is a fair bit slower than the f/1.8-2.8 of the PowerShot G5 X, which also offers a greater zoom range. I’ll have to check during my review exactly how quickly the G9 X drops down to f/4.9 aperture. The difference between f/1.8 and f/2 may be easy to swallow when the body is losing 1cm thickness, but a drop from f/2.8 to f/4.9 isn’t.
The PowerShot G9 X's optical performance is only really comparable with the first two Sony RX100 models (from 2012 and 2013), not the newer and more expensive ones.
However, the Canon PowerShot G9 X shows a very interesting diversification of the 1-inch sensor camera market. The last batch of cameras seemed to be aimed at the high-end buyer, whereas this model is out to please those who are after true portability.
In terms of performance and periphery connectivity features, the Canon Powershot G9 X is as you’d expect. It can shoot at up to 6fps, or 4.3fps with autofocus, and has both WiFi and NFC.
Canon has put 1-inch sensor cameras on a diet. The PowerShot G9 X offers a new level of portability, and for those who believe the old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, this is big news.