Canon PowerShot G9 X: Image quality
Resolution: The G9 X gets about as much out of its 20MP sensor as possible, recording over 3500 l/ph at ISO 125 before succumbing to aliasing artefacts. But you’ll only get this in raw; noise reduction smoothing limits it to 3000 l/ph in JPEG. Resolution holds up well to ISO 800 (3200 l/ph), but falls more rapidly at higher settings, giving just 2400 l/ph as ISO 12500.
Canon G9 X RAW ISO 125
Canon G9 X RAW ISO 800
Canon G9 X RAW ISO 1,600
Canon G9 X RAW ISO 3,200
Canon G9 X RAW ISO 6,400
Canon G9 X RAW ISO 12,800
Dynamic Range: The G9 X’s 20MP sensor delivers good results at low ISOs in our Applied Imaging tests, with over 12EV of dynamic range at ISO 125. In practice, this means that it doesn’t clip highlights as abruptly as cameras with smaller sensors tend to, while also retaining a bit more useful shadow detail. But at ISO 800 and above it falls off quite quickly, reflecting increasing noise levels particularly in the shadows. The top three ISO settings give particularly low readings.
Noise & Detail: As expected with this sensor, the G9 X gives clean, highly detailed images at low ISOs. At ISO 800, noise begins to swamp fine detail, but the camera continues to give good results up to ISO 1600. However at ISO 3200 image quality becomes marginal, and the two highest settings give results that are really only adequate for casual use.
RAW ISO 125
RAW ISO 800
RAW ISO 1,600
RAW ISO 3,200
RAW ISO 6,400
RAW ISO 12,800
Should I buy the Canon PowerShot G9 X?
With its small size and undeniably good-looking design, the G9 X has plenty going for it. Indeed if you want a good-looking pocket camera with excellent image quality to supplement a DSLR or CSC, and perhaps use primarily in auto mode, then it’s a tempting option. Canon’s excellent white balance and metering bring attractive output, and once the Wi-Fi is set up it’s really easy to copy your images to your phone for sharing.
However, if you’re an enthusiast photographer looking to take more manual control over shooting, the G9 X is perhaps not such a good choice. Its strong reliance on a touchscreen makes it more awkward to shoot with than its peers; indeed I never realised how much I’d miss the simple D-pad controller, and I think Canon has made a mistake by omitting one. Other manufacturers have managed to fit them on similarly small cameras with equally large touchscreens, so it’s not due to a lack of space (although the huge bezel around the screen makes it look that way). Poor continuous shooting and inconsistent low-light autofocus reinforce the impression of a camera that’s not quite as good in reality as it looks on paper.
This is a shame, because the G9 X is a camera I really wanted to like. But its flaws make it difficult to love, or recommend wholeheartedly ahead of the nearly three-year-old Sony RX100 II. However if you can live with its touchscreen-dominated operation it can certainly deliver good results.
This isn’t the camera that PowerShot fans wanted.