Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera Review
A bigger sensor means more camera in your pocket.
By the Numbers
The long and short of it is: this is a really good point and shoot no matter how you slice it. Sure, that 1-inch sensor isn't going to outperform a modern DSLR or mirrorless camera anytime soon, but it definitely occupies a sweet spot in between bargain camera and system camera.
Owing in large part to that big sensor, photos taken by the Canon G9 X are very sharp, with a little help from software edge enhancement. In our labs, we measured an average sharpness of 2225 line widths per picture height: a perfectly good reading for any consumer camera.
I will point out that sharpness dips down to about 2000 lw/ph when you use the maximum aperture at minimum zoom—f/2. That's pretty manageable, but you'll probably notice a little bit of softness where it shouldn't be with that aperture setting. However, with such a wide aperture that's really not as big a deal as you might think.
There's also little fault with barrel distortion or chromatic aberration. Whether you have the lens zoomed out all the way, or in, you might only notice a tiny amount of distortion, easily fixable in post. Additionally, there won't be much blue or orange aberrations clinging to high-contrast edges, either.
Noise is a problem for most point and shoots, and the story is only a little different with the G9 X. Comparatively speaking, this is one of the better point and shoots out there, but its 1-inch sensor isn't quite up to par with system cameras in this regard.
With the default NR setting, you can expect shots taken at ISO 125 to return about 0.85% and cross the 2% threshold of crappiness at about ISO 3200. If you take shots with an ISO setting of anything less than 3200, you should be completely fine.
When you crank the NR settings to high, noise drops significantly. However, that comes at a price: you may notice some finer details get lost in the shuffle. In all, though, a strong showing for a point and shoot.
Color and White Balance
Color accuracy is fantastic with the G9 X, though its automatic white balance isn't all that great when you're shooting indoors in tungsten light. If you're shooting in well-lit conditions, leaving the MyColors option at "off" will result in near-perfect color error. In our labs, we recorded a ∆C 00 (saturation corrected) error of 1.99, just under the threshold of "perceptually perfect," and an overall saturation of 110.8%.
White balance is another issue, on the other hand. While the G9 X does fantastically well managing color temperature under fluorescent lighting and daylight (between ∆ 100 and 200 kelvin), it can't handle tungsten lighting indoors. In that situation, your photos will have a kiss under 2000 kelvin error, casting a yellowish orange glow over your snaps.
Of course, you could always shoot in RAW, or flip the white balance setting to the appropriate preset, but shooting JPEG makes it a lot harder to get the right color temperature. We suggest either avoiding tungsten lighting or going to play outside more often.
Video quality is just about as good as you could hope for with a point and shoot. That big sensor gathers a lot of light—and despite its high pixel count—does a good job of recording sharp HD video.
Though not quite as good as a system camera's video, clips shot at 1080p/30p will typically resolve around 575-600 line pairs per picture height in bright light, and about 400 in low light (60 lux). Though the framerate is a bit slow for newer point and shoots, common issues like trailing, artifacting, and frequency interference really don't register here all that much.
Perhaps the most interesting bit surrounding our video tests is that the ISO sensitivity is so good on the Canon G9 X—it only needs 1 lux to record a broadcast-quality (50 IRE) image. Though your video will be incredibly noisy, the camera doesn't seem to drop many frames; a big coup.
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