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[Part 2] PowerShot G9 X: Thin Yet Easy to Hold—Secrets Behind the Grip


Particular attention was paid to the body design of the PowerShot G9 X, and the developers had a new challenge in ensuring that the grip did not ruin the slim design, but yet could be held onto firmly. They tell us more about this, as well as reveal the secret behind the camera’s image quality, powerfully different from that of smartphones.

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(From left to right)

UI: Ryo Takahashi, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3

Image quality: Tsutomu Ogasawara, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3 Senior Engineer

Design Chief: Futoshi Kobayashi, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 3 Staff Engineer

Product Planning: Masashi Matsumoto, Image Communication Products operations ICP Group 3 Associate Staff Manager

Optics: Kenji Shinohara, Image Communication Products operations ICP Development Center 1

Design: Keita Takatani, Design Center Products Design Div. 1

Neither classic nor modern.
A design that won't age even as time goes by.

- Isn't the design taste and impression something that differs from the PowerShot models up until now?

Design (D below) Takatani That is correct. This time we went with “Timeless” as the concept. I wanted to make something that was classic, incorporating the essence of a camera, but that was also not too nostalgic. So, with a horizontal and vertical based design, I also mixed in some modern elements. I strived for a design that will be loved and won't age even as time goes by.

Design Chief (C below) Kobayashi With the design this time, there were lots of challenges, so as it progressed I was unsure if it would be really be possible to achieve. At first, there were safe design proposals that followed the PowerShot cameras up until now, but along the way I felt that sure enough, this is it, and I made a complete change of policy.

Design (D below) Takatani I have been in charge of camera design for almost eight years, and this was the most difficult model yet. It was not conventional, and there were so many challenges that I was not sure it would be possible (laughs).

C Kobayashi For sure, I was really unsure if it would make it to production (laughs), and there is also a colour variation.

D Takatani That’s right, this is the first of the G series to have a colour variation. It’s silver, but not just any silver, it’s a midrange silver with a bit of depth and a feel of sophistication. By combining this with a brown grip, I think that it achieves a taste that females will find endearing as well for example.

A new material grip with great holdability is applied all around the camera body.

- The grip catches your eye doesn't it?

D Takatani We took on the challenge of a grip with a new process. In order to express the quality of the G series, I thought of applying leather and fake leather, but by doing so the size inadvertently ends up larger, and there are problems with durability. Nevertheless, if rubber is used, it also ends up being thicker. Accordingly, when plastic is used, by simply adding embossing (wrinkle pattern), the stiffness of plastic can be felt and stands out, resulting in a cheap look. While I was wondering how to come up with a higher quality texture, I tried a variety of things, and in the end I came up with a new coating method of blowing a coating onto the embossed grooves that gives the unique bumpy feel of leather. As the actual coating also includes a rubber-like substance, it has an adhesive feel and is easy to grip. As a result, while suppressing the size, a grip was achieved that has a unique texture that outdoes leather. And it ensures a durability greater than leather.

C Kobayashi The grip also includes the left-hand side, and as it covers everywhere you fingers will touch, it has a high level of holdability. And being this slim, it would be difficult to drop.

D Takatani Well, I thought about all the details of operation as well, then carried out the design. The knurled parts of the dials undergo a machining process so they feel good against your fingers, and with a horizontal and vertical toned design the buttons on the back are easy to push, and a slight protuberance means your fingers easily come in contact.

Diamond cut applied to the surrounding edges.

The bold machining process applied across the full width emphasises the slimness.

C Kobayashi Processing on the top surface had a particularly high level of difficulty didn’t it? I was quite uneasy (laughs).

D Takatani That’s true (laughs). In order to create a slimmer impression and an innovative image, a bold machining process on the back surface, and a diamond cut treatment were applied to the surrounding edges. To give it a high class feel, an extremely high level of technology was required to achieve the new surface processing from now on. What’s really curious is that even just a slight skew can be noticed right away by the human eye. In the end, by coming up with ideas for the shape with everyone in design, we cleared the issues, however, getting this to production was extremely difficult to achieve.

Product Planning (P below) Matsumoto It really has a great reputation. The factories and sales companies are delighted, so I am looking forward to it reaching everyone.

Achieving a high power of expression and significant background blurring.

1/250sec., f/4, ISO 125, FL: 17.8mm

- With the size being this slim, how is the image quality?

Optics (O below) Shinohara Close-up photos at closer range than with an SLR are possible with the G9 X for example. Also, with background blurring, it has the potential to express the same amount of background blurring as an APS-C sensor SLR equipped with a kit lens for example. The lens's bright f-value really does blur easily.

Image quality (I below) Ogasawara In addition, the 1.0-type sensor being used this time is the same one used on the G7 X and G3 X, so we are very familiar with the behavior of this sensor when installed in a camera. It is for this reason that we were able to carry out tuning with confidence. The image does not change significantly between wide-angle and telephoto, and there was no difficulty with image quality related to any specific part. At that rate, I am confident that it is capable of reliable image creation. It is so slim that you can shoot comfortably like a smartphone, but the image quality is much different. There is quite a significant difference in ISO speed in particular. For one thing, it is capable of photographing starry skies (laughs).

1/250sec., f/5, ISO 125, FL: 15.4mm

0.3sec., f/7.1, ISO 1600, FL: 30.6mm

O Shinohara Also, as the high image quality of the G9 X and F7 X were designed with equivalent levels in mind, I believe that Canon can make an appeal for its strong point as an optics manufacturer. I believe that with the combination of high image quality, size, and wide range of expression, this is an appealing camera.

I Ogasawara Image creation is also authentic. With compact digital cameras up until now, shooting as is with JPEG was envisioned, and priority was placed on the impression of photos when glanced, however, the G series is approaching EOS in terms of color and exposure, etc. Even for people who usually shoot with an EOS, I think they will be able to use it as a sub camera without any discomfort.