Canon gives in, goes retro for its new G9 X point-and-shoot compact

The camera is designed for the same use who's been waiting for an update to the PowerShot S120.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Canon finally gets with the retro-look program. Canon

Taking a leaf out of Sony's book and offering an entire line of 1-inch sensor compacts, Canon brings in a model at the beginning of its now 5-camera G series line. Notably, the G9 X is Canon's first camera to jump on the 3-year-old retro-look bandwagon. It also enters the market to compete with the now 3-year-old Sony Cyber-shot RX100 , but with a less compelling feature set and a higher $530 price tag (directly converted, £345, AU$720).

Canon's latest trio of consumer compacts (pictures)

See all photos

The front and top look remarkably like the Fujifilm XQ2 (though there's more accent texture on the Fujifilm model), another less-expensive competitor, though the G9 X's back controls are substantially simpler. It is a little more compact than the Sony, assuming 0.1 or 0.2 inch (2.5 to 5 mm) matters that much to you, but it's almost the identical size of the XQ2. It has the front control ring for adjusting pioneered by Canon's PowerShot S series cameras.

It has all the features you'd expect from a modern compact, including Wi-Fi/NFC and 1080/60p video. The back display is fixed, however, so no selfie fun.

Irony alert: last year, Canon boasted about the G1 X Mark II "Currently there is a trend toward designing premium compact cameras like classic cameras. However, Canon has kept its distance from this trend. As a result, the design is not pretentious..."

My take

While it incorporates a similar 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor to the Sony -- the same one that's in the new G5 X and the older G7 X -- it also sports a disappointing 3x zoom 28-84mm f2-4.9 lens. Both the Sony and Fujifilm camera lenses start at f1.8 and end at the same aperture as the Canon, but they hit that at 95mm and cover a slightly bigger range.

The G9 X essentially replaces the 2-year-old PowerShot S120, bringing Canon's ultracompact, top-end point-and-shoot up to par with the competition. And that makes sense. Just don't pay manufacturer price for it; I'm guessing that price is set so that it will sell for $500 (£320, AU$700) at other retailers, and with Canon "instant rebates" to bring the price down even lower for the holiday shopping season.

Comparative specs

Editors' note: Canon provided few specifications prior to announcement.

Canon PowerShot G9 X Fufjilm XQ2 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Sensor effective resolution 20.2MP HS CMOS 12MP X-Trans CMOS II 20.2MP Exmor R CMOS
Sensor size 1-inch
(13.2 x 8.8 mm)
(8.8 x 6.6 mm)
(13.2 x 8.8mm)
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 3.9x 2.7x
OLPF Yes No Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 12800 ISO 100 - ISO 3200/ISO 12800 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Lens (35mm equivalent) 28-84mm
Closest focus n/a 1.1 in/3 cm 1.9 in/5 cm
Burst shooting 6fps
(likely with focus and exposure fixed on the first frame)
200 JPEG
(12fps for 9 frames or 9fps for 11 frames with focus and exposure fixed at first frame)
(10fps with fixed exposure)
12 JPEG/13 raw
(mag/ effective mag)
None None None
Hot shoe No No No
Autofocus n/a n/a
Hybrid contrast/phase-detection AF
Contrast AF
AF sensitivity n/a n/a
Shutter speed n/a 30 - 1/4,000 sec 30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb
Metering n/a 256 zones n/a
Metering sensitivity n/a n/a n/a
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 30p
1080/60p, 50p, 25p,
Audio n/a Stereo Stereo
Manual aperture and shutter in video n/a n/a Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time n/a 14 minutes 29 minutes
Optical zoom while recording n/a Yes Yes
IS Optical Optical Optical
LCD 3 in/7.5 cm
Fixed touchscreen
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5cm
920,000 dots
3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 X SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi None
Flash Yes Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA rating) n/a 240 shots 330 shots
Size (WHD) 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in
98 x 58 x 31 mm
3.9 x 2.3 x 1.3 in
100 x 58.5 x 33.3 mm
4.0 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches
101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9 mm
Body operating weight 7.4 oz (est.)
209 g (est.)
7.3 oz (est.)
206 g (est.)
8.5 oz
241.0 g
Mfr. price $530 $300 (est.)
£270 (est.)
Release date (US) November 2015 February 2015 July 2012