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PowerShot G9 X: The Ultra-Slim Camera with 1.0-inch type Sensor

Packed with a large 1.0-inch type image sensor in a sleek body design that weighs 209g, the PowerShot G9 X is a high-end compact camera with high image quality that can accompany you anywhere you go. As I was given the opportunity to get my hands on the actual camera, I would like to present a detailed report on its appearance and functions. (Reported by Takeshi Ohura)

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Despite its 1.0-inch type sensor, its body size is still on par with cameras with 1/1.7-inch type sensors

It has been long said that smartphones have replaced budget compact cameras. However, compact digital cameras have started setting themselves apart from smartphones, becoming more individualised than ever before with features such as high-magnification zoom lens.

There are a number of such cameras on the market, with features such as a large image sensor for better image quality, or large-diameter zoom lens that extends the width of photos. The PowerShot G9 X is one of those cameras. While equipped with a 1.0-inch type sensor, it retains a pocket-sized body on par with a camera with a 1/1.7-inch type sensor.

Similarly equipped with a 1.0-inch type sensor, the PowerShot G9 X is even slimmer than its predecessor, the PowerShot G7 X, and comes close to the PowerShot S120 (also known as S120) which is equipped with a 1/1.7-inch type sensor.

The specific dimensions of the PowerShot G9 X are 98 × 57.9 × 30.8mm (W x H x D), making it slightly slimmer than the S120, which has dimensions of 100.2 × 59 × 29mm. It weighs 209g, which is 8g lighter than the S120. Incidentally, the PowerShot G7 X is 103 × 60.4 × 40.4mm in size and weighs 304g, which is a huge contrast with the PowerShot G9 X.

Due to the compact size and weight of the PowerShot G9 X, you will hardly notice it even when it is in your pocket. It is no exaggeration to say that it is remarkable that this body size can be achieved despite the 1.0-inch type sensor being almost three times larger in area than the 1/1.7-inch type sensor. Other than black, the camera also comes with a brown synthetic leather grip in silver body.

The PowerShot G9 X is available in 2 colours: Black or Silver.

Click here for more details

Removing the cross keys, and inheriting the control ring from predecessor models

A point worth noting regarding the camera operation is that the cross keys have been removed and are replaced with touch-screen operations on the LCD monitor instead. However, this does not mean that the camera is operated using touch-screen operations alone. The buttons on the rear right-hand side are used to access the menu, confirm settings, and so on.

The camera design is much simplified, with the familiar cross keys have been removed and replaced with only 4 control buttons arranged vertically on rear side of the camera.

For instance, to playback images that you have taken, you can simply drag your finger across the screen to scroll between images, or zoom in and out of pictures with the pinching gesture. However, you need to press the Playback button located on the top of the camera in order to enter Playback mode. The camera therefore uses a hybrid system with a combination of physical button operations and touch-screen operations using the LCD monitor.

Menu screen. Tabs and options can be selected with a tapping gesture.

The PowerShot G9 X has inherited the control ring, which we can say has been an established feature on all high-grade compact camera models since the release of PowerShot S90. The clicking sensation is pleasant, just as it has been on previous models, and there is no significant change in the assignment of functions: You can customise your functions, as per previous models.

A control ring is installed at the base of the lens. Other than enabling an intuitive operation, it also provides a superb clicking sensation of the dial.

The mode dial (located at the top plate) remains user-friendly, with no significant changes from earlier models. One of the unique feature of the camera is its fine knurled finish on the circumference of the control ring and mode dial, thus providing better grip.

The top plate design is simple as well. The shooting mode dial is of a suitable size, and has a good operational feel. The Playback button is also located here.

The camera is equipped with a built-in pop-up flash.

A lens with minimal specification for a pocket-sized camera

The PowerShot G9 X uses a 1.0-inch type back-illuminated CMOS Sensor with approximately 20.2 effective megapixels, which is the same as the PowerShot G7 X. The sensitivity setting range is ISO 125-12800.
The most noticeable difference between the PowerShot G9 X with the G7 X is the lens. The PowerShot G7 X covers a 35mm film-equivalent focal length range of 24-100mm with an f/1.8-2.8 aperture, whereas the PowerShot G9 X covers a 35mm film-equivalent range of 28-84mm with an f/2.0-4.9 aperture. The conservative specification of the lens is likely one of the main reasons why it is able to achieve an ultra-sleek body design on par with a camera with 1/1.7-inch type sensor. The closest focusing distance is 5cm for wide-angle end, and 35cm for the telephoto end. Another unique feature of the lens is its 9-blade aperture diaphragm, which provides a near-circular aperture that makes the bokeh appear smooth.

The PowerShot G9 X is equipped with a 3x optical zoom lens with a 35mm film-equivalent focal length range of 28-84mm. Lowering the maximum aperture specification has made it possible to achieve a more lightweight and compact size as compared to the PowerShot G7 X.

A new shooting function is [Auto ND]. The in-built ND filter dims photos by the equivalent of up to 3 shutter speed stops, and is thus handy when you want to slightly open up the aperture in bright outdoors, or when you want to shoot at the slowest possible shutter speeds. On previous models, it was necessary to display the menu and set this feature [On] or [Off] manually. However, the PowerShot G9 X allows the feature to be turned [On] or [Off] automatically, which makes operations even more convenient.

The PowerShot G9X also uses a 31-point autofocus system, which is the same as on the PowerShot G7 X, and has a continuous shooting speed of up to 6 frames per second. The LCD monitor is 3.0-inch, with 1.04 million dots. While the monitor is neither tiltable nor vari-angle, it has a wide viewing angle, so I do not expect this to cause much inconvenience to the user unless shooting at extreme angles.

The camera has also inherited the Wi-Fi function from earlier models. This feature is now considered a must for digital cameras, so naturally this camera has it too. Remote shooting is also possible using the dedicated Camera Connect smartphone app, and in addition to each shooting mode, you can also set the settings for zoom, flash, self-timer etc. from the app screen on your smartphone. Furthermore, you can adjust the focus position, thus other than taking commemorative photos which allows the camera user to be in the photos, you can also enjoy full-fledged photography such as wild life photography and so on.

The PowerShot G9X also supports NFC pairing, so by simply touching your camera and compatible smart device together, an app will be launched which conveniently allows you to connect the devices. NFC also allows you to connect with Connect Station CS100 to manage, view and share your photos and videos effortlessly.

The camera also has a Mobile Device Connection button as shown in the photo. A simple press of this button will complete the connection process and launch the dedicated Camera Connect app on your smartphone. There is a strap mount on the left and right side of the camera, so you can attach a strap to both sides if you wish.

USB charging is a new feature of the camera. Just by connecting the camera to your computer's USB terminal or a USB adaptor, you will be able to charge the camera. I think users would frequently carry their compact camera together with their laptop in a bag, so it is possible to charge directly from the laptop when the camera battery is running low. The standalone battery charger (CB-2HL) accessory is a nice inclusion.

The interface on the side of the camera includes (from the top) a USB port (Micro-B) and HDMI (Type D) port.

The camera uses a NB-13L battery. When fully charged, you can take up to 220 shots with the LCD monitor on, or up to 335 shots when in Eco Mode.

A well-thought out user interface

The UI of the PowerShot G9 X left an impression due to the discontinuation of cross keys, which had been considered an essential part of digital camera operation until now. When considering the reduced size of the camera and the enlarged LCD monitor, this UI is very efficient. While most other digital cameras rely only on touch-screen operations on the LCD monitor, the PowerShot G9 X leaves important features to be performed using physical operations, thus providing a diversity in operation and a sense of familiarity. I think this was really well thought out.

As a point of interest for the enthusiast, the tripod socket is in line with the optical axis of the lens. I felt that this also showed the camera manufacturer's dedication towards fine details.

While this time I had to return the test camera just when I was starting to get used to it, I felt like I would likely grow accustomed to it after constant use. The development concept of the popular PowerShot S90 (released in 2009), which has been held in regard as the forerunner of high-end compact camera in recent years, was a “camera that can take splendid pictures even in the dark”. This model has inherited that pedigree, and continues to stay true to that concept with its superior high ISO speed due to the 1.0-inch type sensor, its powerful image stabilizer, and lens with bright maximum aperture at the wide-angle end.

Takeshi Ohura

Born in 1965 in Miyazaki Prefecture, Ohura graduated from the Department of Photography, College of Art, Nihon University. After his career with the editorial department of a motorcycle magazine and a design planning firm, he became a freelance photographer. He writes mainly for photography magazines based on his experience in using digital cameras for commercial shoots. Outside of work, he enjoys looking at photos and makes it a point to visit galleries regularly. Ohura is a member of the Camera Grand Prix Selection Committee.

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