Canon PowerShot G9 X review – Introduction

At a glance

  • 20.2-million-pixel BSI-CMOS sensor
  • ISO 125-12800
  • 28-84mm equivalent, f/2-4.9 lens
  • 3-in 1.04-million-dot fixed touchscreen
  • 6fps shooting in JPEG (4.3 fps with AF tracking)

Back in 2009, Canon revitalised the enthusiast compact camera market with the PowerShot S90, a pocket-sized model with lots of external controls, raw format recording and above-average image quality. With its unusually fast f/1.8 aperture at wideangle and configurable round-lens control dial, the design was widely imitated, and perhaps no more so than by the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 in 2012. But Sony’s trump card was the addition of a 20-million-pixel 1in sensor giving vastly improved image quality, resulting in a dynasty of cameras that instantly eclipsed Canon’s S-series and triggered a wholesale shift towards fitting larger sensors into compacts.

It took until 2014 for Canon to respond with the G7 X, which with its 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens and 1in sensor is a worthy, if not entirely successful pretender to the RX100 series’ crown. Then towards the end of 2015 Canon added two more models to its range, sitting above and below the G7 X. We reviewed the high-end G5 X in our 2 January issue and liked it for its SLR-like design, integrated electronic viewfinder and extensive controls. Now it’s the G9 X’s turn in the spotlight: a lower-end model that has the distinction of being the slimmest camera with a 1in sensor.

Indeed on the face of it, the G9 X is the spiritual successor to the S-series. It manages to squeeze a 20.2-million-pixel 1in sensor in a truly pocketable body that, at 98×57.9×30.8mm and 209g in weight, is barely larger than the S120 – the last model in the old line. In the current market, its closest competitor is the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, which despite being more than two years old is still widely available at a similar price. However the G9 X largely eschews the physical buttons found on its predecessors and main competitor in favour of substantially touchscreen-driven operation. This will, I suspect, strongly polarise opinions and put off many prospective users. But before we get into this too deeply, let’s take a look at what the G9 X has to offer.

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