Canon PowerShot G1 X vs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Comparison

October 2, 2012

In this article I will compare the Canon PowerShot G1 X vs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, both are large-sensor compact digital cameras with a fixed lens. the G1 X carries a 1.5-inch (18.7 x 14 mm) sensor and the RX100 has a 1-inch (13.2 x 8.8 mm) size sensor.  Both cameras have gotten some excellent ratings all-across the web. It seems that if you are planning to purchase a large-sensor compact camera, top two cameras should be at the top of your list. After reading this review I’m pretty sure that you will have a good idea which camera buy.


Why a Large-Sensor Compact?

Before we dive  into the comparison, let me give you some good reasons why you should pick a large-sensor compact camera, and why so many people love these kind of cameras.

  1. Excellent Low Light Performance – With a big sensor you get much better high ISO performance compare to small sensors
  2. Shallow Depth of Field – Big sensors like those on the G1 X and RX100 will enable you to blur the background behind and in front of your subject, much better than what can be achieved with small sensors (DOF depends on aperture, focal length and distance from subject)
  3. Compact Size – Large sensor compact were designed to be.. well.. compact. There are size differences between one model and another, but overall they are relatively small cameras
  4. Manual Controls – Cameras like the G1 X and RX100 were designed for enthusiasts photographers, and therefore employs full range of manual controls, including fast access to popular camera settings and full control over the exposure (P/A/S/M)
  5. High Quality Optics – large-sensor compacts are more expensive than small sensor P&S compact cameras, but they utilize very high quality optics to improve image quality by utilizing special coating and advanced lens elements o reduce purple fringing, CA and distortions
  6. Improved Functionality – Large-sensor compacts are probably the first to utilize latest technologies, which can be improved AF speed, start up time, etc.


Large-sensor Compact Cameras are aimed for enthusiasts photographers who don’t mind paying more in favor of an advanced camera that result in much better image quality compare to other P&S cameras (especially at high-ISO), but still be portable and smaller than an entry-level DSLR and offer a wide range of manual controls to unleash their creativity.


Sony RX100

Sony RX100I must be honest here. If I had to pick a camera for myself right now, I would get the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 right now, and that’s probably because of its advanced features, but mainly because of its very small size. The Sony RX100 carries the same 1-inch sensor as Nikon 1 Mirrorless cameras (i.e. Nikon 1 j1 and J2). Note that the Nikon 1 is a MILC, which means that you can change lenses. This sensor is relatively much larger than one you can find on cheaper compact P&S cameras, but much smaller than APS-C size sensors like the one used on the G1 X.

The RX100 is made with aluminum body, which makes the camera very durable. The sensor used on the RX100 is of 20.9MP resolution, which is very high resolution, maybe a bit too high for this type of sensor. This might impact the high ISO performance, but we will talk about image quality later on this review. The Sony RX100 is equipped with a 28-100 mm (35mm equiv.) f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar lens, a very high-quality lens to deliver sharp, contrasty and beautiful looking images.

“The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is certainly one of the most attractive compact cameras on the market today.”

The camera features a 25-point Autofocus system which is relatively high compare to other cameras in this category. The Sony Steady-shot image stabilization will help you get sharp photos even when shooting at low shutter speed. The combination of a f/1.8 lens and the Stead-shot should help you get some great night shots when shooting using the wide-angle.

The RX100 incorporates a 3-inch 1228.8K-dots ‘WhiteMagic’ LCD monitor. A very high resolution monitor, and probably the highest LCD resolution on the market today.  This gives you a sharp and crisp view of images and videos and improved the menu system readability. The RX100 can record 1080p60 (60 progressive frames) with stereo sound.

It’s hard to resist such camera. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is certainly one of the most attractive compact cameras on the market today. Dpreview already reviewed this camera and gave it the Silver award praising its excellent image and movie image quality, fast operation and excellent range of addition features.. The Sony RX100 is really a big achievement, and all of those luxury features in a very small, pocketable camera body, which you CAN PUT IN YOUR POCKET! – Could you ask for more?


Related articles about the RX100 that you might find interesting:

Why you should buy Sony RX100? (excellent in-depth talking about the key features of the RX100 + sample images and videos)
Sony DDSC-RX100 Review (in-depth coverage of the Sony RX100 features)
Sony RX100 vs Canon S100 (S100 has not chance against this baby :) )
Sony RX100 vs Canon T4 vs Sony NEX-5R (Large-sensor compact vs DSLR vs Compact System Camera!)


Canon G1 X

The Canon PowerShot G1 X is approximately $100 more expensive than the RX100. I’m pretty sure that after reading the info about the RX100, you can see that the G1 X is going to have tough time beating its specs. However, don’t underestimate the power of the G1 X :)

Canon PowerShot G1 X digital camera

Canon PowerShot G1 X, Large-sensor Compact

Canon designed the G1X to offer better low-light performance over older models and the camera already won the EISA Award for ‘Best Product 2012-2013′ in the Compact Camera category. The camera is equipped with a 41.3MP 1.5-inch CMOS sensor and Digic 5 image processor. This is pretty large sensor (18.7 x 14 mm) close to the size of APS-C nad its actually 6.3 times larger tha the G12 one. This by itself gives the G1X many advantages including better image quality in high ISO and better control over depth of field.

At the back you’ll find a 3-inch Vari-Angle LCD and the camera offers plenty of button and two dials at the top for fast access to used camera settings. The G1 X can shoot 14-but RAW files that will be favorite among enthusiasts and those who enjoy editing their files using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (or any other photo editing software for that matter).

You get to enjoy a 28-112 mm f/2.8-5.6 4x zoom lens, which has a pretty versatile range, although it’s not a replacement for a superzoom camera if you need the range. The fast f/2.8 aperture is great when shooting at wide-angle, but it’s not constant like the Panasonic FZ200 Constant F2.8 lens. That means that the bigger the zoom, the less smaller the aperture size gets and less light passes through the lens to the sensor. However, the lens is equipped with Canon’s Image Stabilization mechanism that will help you get sharp photos at all times. It’s important when shooting at the tele-end at f/5.8. Don’t under estimate the importance of this feature, and it really works great helping you get sharp images when shooting at slower shutter speeds. The combination of both F/2.8 and IS can help you shoot wide-angle images at very low lighting conditions – although it’s not the ultimate camera for low light shooting.


Specs Comparison Table

OK, you’ve tasted a bit of both cameras, but of course in order to understand the difference magnitude we need to look closer at the G1 X and Sony RX100 specs.


Sony RX100, Canon G1 X side by side

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100Canon PowerShot G1 XNotes
AnnouncedJune 6, 2012January 9, 2012
13.2 x 8.8 mm
18.7 x 14 mm
Canon has lower resolution but a larger size sensor (APS-C size vs Nikon CX like sensor size)
Image aspect ratios1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:91:1, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
ISO100 - 25600 (inc. boost)100 - 12800 (inc. boost)
Lens28-100mm f/1.8-4.9
3.6x optical zoom
+ image stabilization (also Active Mode)
28-112mm f/2.8-5.8
4x optical zoom
+ image stabilization
Can shoot RawYesYesBoth support the Raw file format
Macro focus range5 cm (1.97")20 cm (7.87")Sony can shoot from a closer range in Macro mode
AF points259Sony much more AF points, great for tracking a moving subject across the frame (ie. sports photography, running kids, pets, etc.)
Body ConstructionMetalMetal
WhiteMagic TFT LCD
TFT PureColor II LCD
Fully Articulated
Sony higher resolution screen, but the Canon is articulated one. The Sony utilizes the WhiteMagic technology for better viewing experience in daylight
ViewfinderNoYesThe G1 X features a viewfinder, but it only provides 77% field of view and its quite small. Forget about the same viewing experience as mirrorless or DSLR.but it's still better for shooting in very bright conditions (still need to test it out though)
Shutter speed30 - 1/2000 sec60 - 1/4000 secCanon more flexible shutter speed range for long exposure and faster maximum shutter speed for fast actions shooting
Built-in FlashYes, pop up Yes, pop upThe Canon offers hot-shoe for connecting external flashes, the Sony does not. Certainly a more 'pro' feature
Continuous shooting (at max resolution)10 fps1.9 fpsMaximum continuous shooting on the Sony is much faster than the Canon's.. The G1 X can capture only 6 shots in a single burst
Exposure compensation±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE bracketing(3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Video1920 x 1080 (60 fps, 60i and 60p), 1440 x 1080 (30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)

Stereo sound
1920 x 1080 (24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)

Stereo sound
Higher speed videos that provide more flexibility when editing video, very useful for slow motion in videos when you want to capture the details for smooth movement
Battery life (CIPA)330 shots250 shotsSony has a much better battery life
Weight (with batteries)213 g (0.47 lb / 7.51 oz)534 g (1.18 lb / 18.84 oz)Sony much lighter
Dimensions102 x 59 x 36 mm (4.02 x 2.32 x 1.42")117 x 81 x 65 mm (4.61 x 3.19 x 2.56")Sony is smaller, pocketable compared to the Canon which larger and heavier

The first hing that I want to talk about is the sensor size. Some people might not really comprehend the difference in sensor sizes until they see a visual comparison, so there you go..

Canon G1X Sony RX100 senor size comparison

Sensor size comparison, G1 X much bigger as you can see

You can see that the G1 X sensor is much larger than the G1X. This should have affect on the image quality between the two cameras, and  I will compare the IQ in the next section. However, it’s also worth noticing that because of that difference, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is much smaller than the G1 X, making the RX100 a pocket camera which you can easily put in your shirt pocket, and with the G1 X you can’t.  This a big difference between the two cameras and what made the RX100 so popular among amateur and enthusiast photographers. The fact that it’s easy to carry everywhere you go have a big impact on making a decision.  This difference should certainly cannot be ignored if you are looking into a high-capable pocketable camera, the RX100 size is very hard to resist.

The second big difference is regarding the LCD and EVF. The G1 X employs an optical viewfinder with 77% FOV. It’s  small of course when you compare it to DSLR standards, but it can help you get clearer view of the scene when you shoot against strong back light. Still, I am not a fan of those tiny viewfinders. This is actually a simple optical tunnel viewfinder with no information. In fact, I can easily pass this feature, because although it’s there, the quality of it is low and some of you might find it barely usable for their needs. So if you want my opinion, this feature can easily be passed. There are some people who just can’t leave without an EVF, and those should probably look elsewhere (i.e. CSC, DSLR?).

Both cameras have a 3-inch LCD, but the RX100 LCD has more resolution and its of a fixed type, compared to the 920K-dots fully articulated on of the G1 X. 1228K-dots resolution is amazing, but the difference between 920K- and 1228K-dots is not as big as you might thing, I personally didn’t notice the difference.  Both LCDs are of the highest standards including anti-reflection coating to minimize glare. You’ll enjoy the advantage of the articulated screen especially when shooting video. With Large-sensor compacts it’s not a must have feature I think, but it’s really nice to have, especially for video shooting.

Talking about video, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 can shoot Full HD videos at 1080p60, that’s 60 progressive frames! not interlaces (although that’s available too). This means very high quality 60 fps movie recording with stereo sound. You can also shoot in 30p if you prefer. 60p is great for those who love editing their videos on their home computer and are making frame-by-frame adjustment, or want to create a high-quality slow-motion footage. The Canon G1 X also offer Full HD video recording, but only at 24p. This cinematic frame-rate becomes popular among enthusiasts, and its the preferred frame-rate among many photographers. I personally preer the smooth playback of 60p if you ask me, and you can easily drop frames using video editing software if that’s what you seek.  Both video outputs will look amazing on your full HD Television that’s for sure!  Sony has a nice feature called Active Mode, and it’s part of its optical SteadyShot image stabilization system, that will help you get more stable video shots (less shaky) when shooting and walking at the same time, pretty useful feature.

The Canon G1 X also designed with a bit more button and dials for easy and fast access to popular camera functions, putting it further away from conventional P&S cameras.  It doesn’t mean that it’s complicated to operate, not at all, it just means that you can enjoy better flexibility so instead of going through the menu to change settings, you can do that fast via the buttons and dials.


Top view, Canon G1 X and Sony RX100

Both cameras from the top


We can clearly see that both cameras have their differences. I personally think that they even might appeal to different market segments, although the price difference is low. The RX100 looks like the ultimate compact camera, and when you compare the two cameras it seems like the G1 X s far away from being compact. Still, the RX100 will be favorite among those who seek high-quality images in a pocketable camera body, and the G1 X will appeal to those who give more emphasize on sensor size (better high-ISO performance?), want that vari-angle screen, might need the 1/4000 shutter speed. On the other hand, we can’t ignore the 10 fps burst of the RX100 and the F1.8 wide-angle lens. You are confused? 0 Me too,I just wished that there was a camera that could combine the advantages of those two cameras in one, that would be awesome.


Image Quality

I went o imaging resource to get a close look at some sample images from both cameras to see if there is a big difference in image quality. I’ve found out that up to ISO 800 (including) there is almost no difference in image quality, only at ISO1600 I start noticing the difference. Having said that, I would recommend shooting below ISO1600, but the G1 X image quality at high ISO was really impressive. In ISO3200 bot cameras have quite high amount of noise and I wouldn’t shoot at this ISO unless it was necessary and there wasn’t any other option.

Both cameras performed amazingly well and no matter which one you pick, you can be sure that you get very high image quality at the highest standards available today in this price category.



Rx100 or G1 X – Time to make a decision

Choosing between the two cameras can be hard, I know. when you make a decision look at the specs that appeals to you the most. For example, I will probably go with the Sony RX100 because I already have a DSLR and the small size of the RX100 appeals to me. It’s built with metal body, have great image quality, 1080p60 Full HD Videos, high quality LCD,  fast continuous shooting and good battery life. It’s the perfect camera for a guy like me who prefer to take a compact camera that I can carry everywhere I go instead of a camera that might stay at home because it’s not comfortable to carry around. I just put it in my pocket and at the end of the day I come home with great high quality images. I also really likes the f/1.8 aperture lens at wide-angle, which helps me get better photos when shooting in low-light conditions, like in pubs, museums, etc.

Other people might prefer the G1 X for its articulated LCD for shooting low and high-angle shots, faster 1/4000 sec shutter speed,  24p videos,  larger sensor and good ergonomics.  It’s a great camera for those who don’t want to mass around changing lenses. The G1 X image quality is a bit better overall, and that’s mostly because of the larger sensor and less resolution (less pixel density). It seems that both cameras are intended for different audiences.

I personally thin that Sony has produces one of the finest compact P&S cameras on the market, and it’s really hard to resist not getting the RX100.  It’s a compact camera that many people have been waiting for.  The Sony RX100 really shines when it comes to size and performance. It’s a camera that you love to have, a small machine that can do big things. It won’t interrupt you, it will sit quietly in your pocket and when you need it it’s there to give you gorgeous photos. this little machine is an amazing video camera too that can take unbelievably good videos at 60p. If you aren’t satisfied with your mobile phone image quality and have problem shooting photos in low light all the time, the Sony RX100 might be the best candidate for your next camera.

The G1 X viewfinder, although tiny, still offers photographers the ability to get easier composition when shooting in bright sunlight. Sometimes this is very hard to compose via the LCD, and some of you will appreciate having this feature. Some people might thing that the G1 X is inferior by design, but I think that that can be an advantage for some.

All in all, both excellent cameras, but will give my vote to the Sony RX100, which is in my opinion the best compact camera ever created! – Kodus Sony.


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