Which is the case with the Canon G9 X Mark II, which includes a large-scale 1-inch sensor at its heart, paired with a 3x optical zoom lens offering plenty of flexibility. Those two points alone make it more capable than your average smartphone, Canon has been clever in offering a touchscreen to help simplify the interface and controls.
- 98 x 58 x 31mm; 206g
- Black or silver & tan bodies
The G9 X II is a smart modern looking camera dressed in silver and tan mock leather. Its all touchscreen-based controls and only four physical control buttons to the rear (comprising video record, quick menu, main menu and info) ensure it's very much a practical hands-on experience.
The front of the camera the lens has a control ring surround, which often needs to be used in conjunction with the touchscreen to manipulate certain controls, such as focus area size, which can feel a little fiddly. Canon wanted to go truly modern then a pinch mechanic on the screen would have been a boon.
This push towards touch-based controls feels at odds with the physical shutter button's placement, which is too far over the camera's body. You have to reach over the mode dial, which feels a little awkward. It is a change from older cameras, as activating touch shutter and a simple tap on the screen will focus and fire the shutter automatically a sensible option with this type of camera.
A bracket-mounted rear screen would have been a very useful idea to allow for more creative control.
- 28-84mm f/2.0-4.9 equivalent lens (3x optical zoom)
Protruding from that control ring is the lens itself: a 28-84mm equivalent, which closes when the camera is powered off. It's fairly wide angle and not especially long at its full zoom extension. It's good for portraits and mid range shooting, but not much use for long range objects.
The aperture is large at f/2.0, when shooting at the widest-angle 28mm. That means extra creative control makes for blurred backgrounds, or a decent option for shooting in low-light. The problem is, that aperture shrinks down to f/4.9 when on full zoom to 84mm, which cancels out those benefits a little.
If the aperture was f/2.0 throughout that zoom range then the camera would have to be much larger and more expensive - it's the compact size which makes G9 X's appealling.
Canon do have another viable option to choose from: the slightly chunkier G7 X II offers a better lens at 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8, which mean that it has a wider-angle, longer reaching, plus offers an f/2.8 maximum aperture at the 100mm equivalent. That's opens up a far bigger range of possibilities, but it costs roughly 30 per cent more than the G9 X II.
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- Fixed 3-inch, 1.04m-dot touch-control LCD screen
- Wi-Fi, NFC & Bluetooth for sharing
- 8fps continuous shooting
Autofocus Canon has kept it pretty simple in the G9 X II, just as it does in all its compact cameras. An AF point can be appointed anywhere around the screen using touch, with two size options available.
As performance goes, it's a capable if not overly impressive. Speed is not an issue, but low light can slow the camera down, it will get there eventually.
Close-up focus is possible, with some limitations: a 5cm-from-subject maximum at 28mm, reducing to 35cm-from-subject at the 84mm equivalent sometimes means you'll need to switch to macro mode to get the correct focus.
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Don't expect any viewfinder option in this camera, but at this price point it's not surprising - it's what the G9 X is all about.
The G9 X II also features Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth for use in conjunction with the Canon Camera Connect application - available for iOS or Android devices - to share images for connecting to your social media sources, or use the app to remotely control the camera.
A quicker processor means a slightly speedier continuous shooting mode, now at eight frames per second, but for a camera of that type it's not particularly impressive. 4K movies are not possible to implement with this camera Canon haven't used the extra speed of processing to allow for this option, though, 1080p is the maximum it will achieve.
- 1-inch sensor size, 20.1-megapixels resolution
- Digic 7 processor; ISO 125-12,800 sensitivity
- 1080p / Full HD MP4 movie capture
Image quality from the 1-inch sensor is potentially great, but you need to take into consideration potential limitations due to the lens' maximum aperture limitations. A little zoom and it's not long before f/4.9 is the maximum available, which isn't great in low light. Couple that with an Auto ISO that seems keen to opt for higher sensitivities and fast shutter speeds and it's not uncommon for a high ISO sensitivity to used - which can comprimise capture quality.
Fortunately, however, image quality overall can be pretty impressive - certainly much more capable than your average mobile phone camera. Shoot from ISO 125 to ISO 1000 with no issues, then image noise - largely shown as colour noise within shadow areas can become apparent. If you do need to use those higher ISO sensitivity settings due to poor lighting conditions then the processing of shots will be harsher - but even by ISO 6400 shots aren't smoothed into oblivion.
Overall the G9 X has decent image quality that reflects its £389 price tag. But that said the G7 X is available for around 30% more, with a brighter maximum aperture, if you can spend that bit more on a camera this would be my choice.
The G9 X II is as much a success as it is a missed opportunity. It would have been better if it came with a bracket-mounted touchscreen, for the shutter button to be a more practical place, and for autofocus options to be more detailed.
For £389, the 1-inch sensor at its heart is very capable and the lens - while it lacks a constant wide aperture or particularly long reach - combines to produce images photographic quality which is streets ahead of a phone camera. Add the touchscreen controls combined with physical buttons and the lens ring and the G9 X II is an example of Canon bringing modern technology to the compact camera, finally.