In this article I will compare the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II versus the PowerShot G16 and Sony RX100 II. This is a very interesting comparison and was aimed for those of you who are searching to buy an advanced compact camera with relatively large sensor. One that can provide improved image quality over conventional compacts, has versatile optical zoom, as well as advanced features, manual controls and wireless functionality for each photo sharing online.
I can really understand why there is a substantial market for large sensor compacts nowadays. Even at times where mobile photography “killed” the compact camera business. There is still a gap between what these type of cameras offer compared to mobile phone cameras. This included larger sensor, versatile optical zoom, effective optical image stabilization, better high ISO performance (with the ability to control the ISO speed), full manual control over the exposure (aperture, shutter speed, ISO), improved ergonomics and the ability to mount and use complimentary accessories.
However, there is one area where those cameras lack big time, and that is installable apps. Apps extend the mobile phone camera functionality and allows easy sharing, backup, storage and editing, all in the phone, without any need for a home computer. This is certainly one of the biggest advantages that mobile photography brings with it.
Having said that, the new generation cameras already include Wi-Fi and even NFC for easy pairing and sharing of photos. It’s now easier than ever the transfer (even automatically) photos from your camera to your mobile device, whether it’s a smartphone or tablet. So by having a conventional digital camera at your disposal, you can become more creative and get a higher image quality in general (some mobile phones do offer manual control over exposure, large sensor and non-destructive digital zoom).
So at the future present, there is (still) a need for such cameras. I don’t know what the future brings, but I can understand why you have chosen to buy one of those cameras.
Now let’s take a close look at the key features of each camera, and later on I’ll compare the three side by side, so you get a better understanding of the cons and pros of each camera versus the other.
Before we start, let’s take a look at the prices (as of 4/26/2014).
- Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II – ~$800
- Canon PowerShot G16 – $500
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II (Mark II) – ~$700
* prices via amazon.com, rounded up as of 4.26.2014 (visit amazon.com for latest prices).
So as you can seem the PowerShot G1X Mark 2 is the most expensive camera. Quite an expensive camera considering that you can buy the Canon Rebel T3i plus a 18-55mm lens for $600 or the Rebel T3 with a 18-55mm lens for $450! That’s something to keep in mind when spending over $500 for a premium compact camera. You also need to consider the alternatives.
The RX100 II costs $100 less, and obviously a direct competitor here, followed by the cheaper PowerShot G16, that also has the smallest sensor of the three, but we’ll talk about it in more depth soon enough.
We start with the Canon PowerShot G1 X introduction.
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II was announced on February 12, 2014. It’s a high-end advanced compact camera, replacing the G1 X (Mark I). There are many things improved in this camera, and Canon wasn’t going cheap on many of the highly craved features that many photographers expected to see in a next generation high-end compact.
The first and most important hardware spec of the G1 X MKII is the utilization of a 1.5″ (18.7x14mm), which is even slightly larger than of the Micro Four Thirds sensor (17.3×13 mm).
As you can see in the image above, the 1.5″ sensor of the G1 X Mark II is much larger than the 1″ sensor of the RX100 II and significantly larger than the PowerShot G16 one. If we take a look at the pixel size, we can see that the G1 X II has approximately 4.5 micron pixels, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II has a 2.4 micron pixels and the Canon G16 has a 1.9 micron pixels.
This should, on paper (before testing), give the G1 X an advantage in high ISO and image quality in general. We can see that although the RX100 II has much higher resolution than the G16, it still has larger pixels because of the larger sensor area.
Of course we’ve just started. The G1 X also utilizes Canon’s next-generation DIGIC 6 image processor which offers improved speed and image processing algorithms. The camera comes with both Wi-Fi and NFC for quick pairing with Android smartphone and tablets. At the back of the camera you’ll find a 3.0″tilting touch-sensitive LCD (capacitive type), improved AF performance , 5.2 fps burst shooting, 14-bit RAW shooting (also RAW + JPEG) and 1080p video recording.
The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II features a 24-120mm (equivalent) 5x optical zoom lens with f/2.0-3.9 aperture with optical image stabilization. Just for comparison, the previous model (G1 X) featured a 28-122 mm f/2.8-5.8 4x optical zoom lens. So this is a vast improvement, as you get a wide angle with faster aperture at both the widest and angle and telephoto-end. You get a slightly more range as well. There is a noticeable differences between 24mm and 28mm, and you’ll find it very useful for group shots, when shooting interiors, architectural shots and for interiors shots. Furthermore, given the faster aperture, you’ll enjoy more pronounced background blur and the ability to shoot in low-light in lower ISO speeds.
More than that, Canon also improved the inner focusing system with minimal lens movement and reduced the focusing distance to 5 cm from 20mm on the previous model. The lens also has 9-blade aperture diaphragm that promotes smoother Bokeh effect. It’s great to see that Canon has vastly improved the lens, one of the most important features for these type of cameras, especially if it has to offer an advantage over mobile phone cameras and other competitive models and stay relevant in the near future.
This also makes the camera a good alternative to an entry-level DSLR for some people, but as I mentioned, it doesn’t come cheap. Canon also added dual control rings on the lens. The ring closer to the camera is a “step ring”, and offers the ability to change the camera settings like the aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. the one further away from the camera body allows photographers to make fine adjustments like controlling the manual focus (camera also supports manual focus peaking).
Other features include: an option to mount an electronic viewfinder (EVF-DC1), 31 AF points, RAW multiple aspect ratio shooting, High Dynamic Range mode, 5.2 burst speed, and more.
All in all, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is a well worthy update to the model it replaces. We can see that Canon listened to its customers and improved in areas that people asked for — it’s an all over improved camera! The large-sensor cameras is still a market that no company wants to give up on, as most of the compact camera’s market is already shrunk times folds in favor of mobile phone cameras. Therefore it’s interesting to see how well the G1 X MKII can keep up with the competition. One thing looks promised, and that is feature the largest sensor, which brings with it a few advantage that the other cameras might not be able to keep up with — but we’ll soon see about that.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II was announced on June 27, 2013. It replaces the RX100 that was announced a year before, on June 6, 2012. The first model entered Time’s magazine list of the 50 ‘best inventions’ of 2012, and the first RX100 was crowned as the best compact camera by many camera reviewers. The RX100 offers excellent image quality and superb video quality. It’s super compact but yet offers an extensive range of features and advanced controls, with fast performance, versatile lens and good battery life. So the RX100 II expectations were obviously very high.
The Rx100 II improves upon its predecessor in many ways. For a full list of the differences, please read my Sony RX100 II vs RX100 comparison.
The RX100 II now features a 20.1MP 1″ Exmor R back-illuminated (BSI) sensor, compared to a regular CMOS sensor on the RX100. This should improve the light sensitivity of the sensor and help achieve better low-light performance. A front-illuminated sensor has its metal wiring in front of the photodiode area, therefore covering part of the area that could have been used to gather photos of light. With back-illuminated (BSI) sensor, this structure is different, and the data transfer metal wiring are now positioned at the back (aka back-illuminated), allowing a larger light sensitive area to be exposed (larger photodiodes). This vastly improved the amount of light that can be captured by the sensor, makes the sensor as much as two times more sensitive to light!
A 1-inch sensor is the second largest sensor among the cameras we compare here. It’s the same sensor size you find on Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras.
The lens stayed the same, a 28-100 mm f/1.8-4.9 (equivalent) 3.6x optical zoom Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 7 rounded diaphragm blades and SteadyShot optical image stabilization. At the back we now get to enjoy a 3-inch 1229K-dots tilt LCD display, instead of a fixed one as on the previous model.
Other features include a new Multi-Interface show, 60p/24p Full HD video recording, 10fps burst speed, manual focus with focus peaking, auto HDR, multi-aspect still image capture, sweep panorama function, new step zoom function, 128000 maximum ISO, Wi-Fi + NFC (“send to smartphone”, “send to computer” functions), compatibility with Sony’s Triluminos Color technology, RAW capture, High speed AF, etc.
I already analyse the image quality differences between the RX100 II and the RX100, and the RX100 II won with a very impressive performance. I was surprised to see how good the image quality at ISO 3200.
So all in all, the RX100 II is a very impressive compact camera, and a direct competitor to the Canon G1 X Mark II. That being said, the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II is considerebly larger than the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II. This in fact what makes the RX100 II so unique in the large-sensor camera’s landscape. It’s a high-end pocketable camera. A compact camera that you can put in your pocket and trust it to deliver great results every time.
OK, let’s move on..
Canon PowerShot G16
The Canon PowerShot G16 is kind of a mixed bag for some. It’s a cheaper entry-level option for people who are looking for a premium compact camera with a versatile optical zoom range, fast lens, larger sensor and many of the goodies that you get when buying such camera. However, the Canon PowerShot G16 is a small camera, but certainly not compact. Second, it features a much smaller sensor (see illustration image above).
If you compared it’s 1/1.7-inch sensor to a 1/2.3″ sensor found on many conventional compact cameras or to a mobile phone camera (e.g. 1/3.2″ iPhone 5, 1/3″ iPhone 5S), you get a slightly larger sensor. The G16 cost less than other high-end camera, but it’s prices as an entry-level DSLR with a noram 18-55mm lens. This camera will appeal to those who don’t want to pay extra $100-200 more on a camera, but want a camera that can deliver very good image quality under good lighting conditions, has fast performance, has many buttons which allow fast access to frequently used camera settings, RAW shooting, full manual control over the exposure, fast lens, viewfinder and wireless capabilities. If that sounds good, the G16 might be the camera for you.
One thing for sure, the G16 features lots of physical dials and buttons that makes it stand apart from the rest. It looks like a professional tool and I’m sure that it will appeal to people that already have a DSLR but also searching for a portable alternative for their next vacation.
I mentioned a viewfinder, and yes, the Canon Powershot G16 does employ an optical viewfinder that enlarges the FOV as you zoom and offers only 80% frame coverage. The OVF is also very small and doesn’t show any overlay info. It’s main purpose is to offer an alternative way to compose your photos in bright daylight, or at times that you want to save battery life and use the OVF to compose your shots instead of the rear LCD.
Another feature that is missing is an articulating screen. On the good side, it does feature a built-in 3-stop ND filter, can shoot at amazing speed of 9.3 frames per second, aluminium body, has an advanced 4-stops Canon’s Intelligent image stabilization that automatically sets the optimal IS settings from 6 different modes. It has a 1cm minimum macro focusing distance, you can mount conversion lenses and filters on the lens, offers fast aperture lens, has a dedicated exposure compensation dial and ISO button.
The G16 is an enthusiast compact camera that offers a good balance between image quality, handling and functionality. It’s not as expensive as other cameras with much larger sensor, and if you mind is not set nor you need an excellent high ISO performance, the Canon PowerShot G16 can serve you very well on your next trip and as a walkaround point-and-shoot camera. I personally like the ergonomics and controls of this camera, and I think its size does only good. You get well spaced dials and buttons, larger grip makes it easier to hold and steady the camera.
One of the key features and probably the most important one is the G16 lens. It’s a 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 (equiv.) 5.0x optical zoom lens. This means that the camera offers a versatile focal length, but at the same time you’ll get to enjoy f/2.8 aperture at the tele-end. This, alongside the new DIGIC 6 image processor, makes the G16 a good camera for low-light shooting, and somewhat compensates for its relatively small sensor.
I think it’s a good thing to understand the cons and pros of such camera, because it has some pros that you won’t find on any other compact camera, and on the other hand it lacks some of the features that other premium compact have.
G1 X Mark II vs G16 vs RX100 II
Now that you’ve become familiar with the key features of each camera, it’s time to compare the three cameras one versus the other. This is important in order to clearly observe the cons and pros of each camera versus the other. You need to cross-check the pros and cons of those cameras against your specific needs as a photographer.
|Canon G1 X Mark II||Canon G16||Sony RX100 II|
|Announced||February 12, 2014||August 22, 2013||June 27, 2013|
|Build Quality||Stainless steel chassis,|
aluminium metal exterior
|Magnesium alloy||Magnesium alloy|
|Sensor||12.8MP at 3:2 (13,1MP ar 4:3)|
1.5-inch CMOS (18.7x14mm)
1/1.7-inch CMOS (7.44x5.58mm)
1-inch Exmor R (BSI)
|The Canon G1 X Mark II offers the largest sensor of the three. A very significant difference that has a direct impact on the image quality (we'll talk about it later on).
The RX100 II is smaller, but still relatively large sensor compared to the conventional compact point-and-shoot camera. The G16 has the smallest sensor, and actually it doesn't belong to the large-sensor compact category, although it has a sensor that is slightly larger than simpler and less expensive compact point-and-shoot cameras.
I am still glad that Canon didn't opt for a higher resolution with the G16, and stayed with 12.1MP, which I think that if offers a good balance between details and low light performance considering the sensor size and lens' variable aperture size.
|Image Processor||Digic 6||Digic 6||Bionz|
|ISO||100 - 12800||100 - 12800||160 - 12800
Expandable 100/125, up to 25600 with Multi Frame NR
Tilting (upward 180° and downward 45°)
Tilting (upward 84° and downward 45°)
|The G1X Mark II has the most versatile display. It has more flexible tilting mechanism, and also has a touch-sensitive display, allowing easy control via the touch user interface.
The G16 has a fixed display. With a tilting display it's easier to take above-head and low-angle stills and when shooting videos.
24-120mm f/2.0-3.9 IS
5x optical zoom
9 diaphragm blades
+ Canon Intelligent IS (automatically choose between 6 modes)
28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 IS
5x optical zoom
7 diaphragm blades
+ Canon Intelligent IS (automatically choose between 6 modes)
|Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T*
28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 SteadyShot
3.6x optical zoom
7 diaphragm blades
+ optical image stabilization for stills, and Active mode (anti-rolling) combines optical with electronic compensation
|* 35mm equivalent focal length. Might be different based on the chosen image aspect ratio.
The G1 X Mark II offers 24mm wide-angle, which is wider than the 28mm of the G16 and RX100 II offer. It's better for getting more parts of the scene into the frame without getting further back from the subject (e.g. group shots, architectural, interiors, etc.).
Notice that both Canon have 5x optical zoom, but the G16 does offer a slightly longer reach at the tele-end, but the expense of a wider angle. The reason both show x5 zoom is due to the division of the longest focal length and the lowest focal length number (120 / 24 = 5 and 140 / 28 = 5, simple math).
The RX100 II offers the least versatile focal length and the smallest optical zoom among the three.
The G1 X has the highest number of diaphragm blades, resulting in better looking Bokeh. This become more important considering the size of the sensor, which also allows this camera to achieve a much more prominent shallow depth of field effect compared to the other cameras.
The RX100 2 has a fast aperture at the wide-angle, but has the slowest aperture at the tele-end among the three cameras. So it will allow less light through the lens when shooting at the maximum zoom compared to the Canons.
The G1 X also has two customizable dual control rings around the lens, which make it easier to manual focus and change settings (e.g. aperture) using the Step Ring.
The Canon G16 has a ring on the lens, which once removed, you can append a conversion lens (e.g. 1.4x tele-converter, .43x wide angle lens, 2.2x telephoto lens, filters (UV, CPL, FLD).
|Autofocus Assist Lamp||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|AF System||31 AF points||9 AF points||25 AF points|
|Minimum Focus Distance||5 cm||1 cm||5 cm|
|The G16 offers the closes focus range among the three. Great for macro enthusiasts who want to be able to shoot subjects in a very close range. It also gives you the option to get a much more pronounced shallow depth of field effect, as the distance from the subject is one of the elements that contribute to depth of field (inc. aperture and focal length among others).|
|Shutter Speed||60-1/4000 sec||15-1/4000 sec||30-1/2000 sec|
|Full Manual Control||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Button Layout||Many buttons and dials||Many buttons and dials||Few buttons and dials|
Optional Optical Viewfinder (EVF-DC1)
|Optical Viewfinder (tunnel)|
Optional EVF (FDAEV1MK) compatible with the multi-interface connector
|The G16 is the only one that comes with a viewfinder. Having said that, this OVF is very small, dark and not that effective. I personally would have preferred that Canon dropped it -- but it's there if you ever find the need to use it, like when shooting in bright daylight.|
|Popup Flash||Yes (6.8m)||Yes (7.0m)||Yes (15m)|
|External Flash||Yes (via hot-shoe)||Yes (via hot-shoe)||Yes (via multi-interface shoe)|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/2000 sec for built-in flash|
1/4000 sec for external flash using high-speed synchro
|1/2000 sec for built-in flash|
1/4000 sec for external flash using high-speed synchro
|1/2000 sec (S mode)|
|Burst Speed||5 fps||12 fps||10 fps|
|The G1 X Mark II has the slowest burst speed among the three.|
|Exposure Compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
1080p15/30 Star Time-Lapse movie mode
1080p15 Star Time-Lapse movie mode
640x480 pixels at 120fps or 320x 240 pixels at 240fps
+ wind noise reduction (on/off)
|Wireless||WiFi + NFC||WiFi||WiFi + NFC|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||240||360||350|
|Weight||553 g (1.22 lb / 19.51 oz)||356 g (0.78 lb / 12.56 oz)||281 g (0.62 lb / 9.91 oz)|
|Dimensions||116 x 74 x 66 mm (4.57 x 2.91 x 2.6″)||109 x 76 x 40 mm (4.29 x 2.99 x 1.57″)||102 x 58 x 38 mm (4 x 2.29 x 1.51″)|
|High ISO Performance||In term of high ISO performance, the Canon G1 X Mark II get the first spot with incredible high ISO performance and very clean images up to ISO 1600. The RX100 II is not that far behind, around 1.5 stop advantage in favor of the G1 X. I was very impressed with the G1 X, it also produced better texture details and fine details than the RX100 II, which was a bit soft compared to the G1 X.
The G6 came at the last place, with very good image quality, but it couldn't compete against the G1 X Mark II, with around 2.5 - 3 stops advantage in favor of the G1 X Mark II, and around 1.5 stops behind the RX100 II.
This was the result that I was actually expecting considering the pixel size of each camera.
Each camera has its cons and pros. The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II certainly took the crown in the high ISO performance as expected due to its large sensor (larger pixels). It offers the most versatile touchscreen display, have a 24mm wide angle fast lens with more (9) diaphragm blades compared to the other cameras, more AF points than the other cameras that should give it an advantage with subject tracking, is has many buttons and the dual control rings that makes it very easy to change camera settings without using the menu system.
The G1 X Mark II lacks a viewfinder, doesn’t have a 1cm macro minimum macro distance as the G16 and has the slowest burst (5 fps). The G1 X also lacks 60p full HD video recording, buy you get a star time-lapse movie mode and miniature effect mode. It feature Wi-Fi + NFC as the RX100 II,. which makes it easier to share photos using a mobile device, but has quiet disappointing battery life.
No doubt that the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II has a wide arsenal of features and DSLR-like image quality. All in all, this camera will certainly appeal to those who are searching for a DSLR alternative and don’t mind having a camera that is not as compact as the RX100 II, but get to enjoy some advantages that makes the G1 X Mark II a winner in the large-sensor compact category. I personally found the 24mm, fast apertures, 9 diaphragm blades, build quality, high ISO performance and button layout to be the most important ones for my needs. The camera isn’t cheap, but Canon wasn’t cheap on features either.
The Canon PowerShot G16 has the least impressive high ISO performance among the three cameras, and that’s expected considering its small sensor. The image quality wasn’t bad, but not on par with the other cameras.
The G16 costs $300 less than the G1 X Mark II, but isn’t too far behind the other cameras with its features. You do get the longest tele-end zoom reach, the fastest lens in the group, high resolution rear LCD, however it’s not rotating. The G16 has the least AF points among the three, but on the other hand you have 1cm minimum focus distance. This is great for those of you who love to shoot macro shots. You get plenty of buttons and dials which allows fast access to frequently used camera settings, an optical viewfinder, full HD video recording and slow motion recording, WiFi wireless connectivity and good battery life. The G16 is has the fastest burst among the three cameras and has very good build quality, which makes it feel sturdy in the hands.
The G16 is a well worthy alternative to the G1 X and the RX100 II if you don’t mind the larger size, inferior high ISO performance, lack of tilting display, lack of 24mm and inferior AF system. The G1 X Mark II is certainly a better camera overall for most people, but you need to ask yourself whether or not those features worth $300, not everyone will agree one that, some will.
I personally was hooked by the Sony RX100 II size, it’s a really small and portable digital camera. I think that some people want a camera that they can put in a shirt of pants’ pocket and carry around everywhere they go. If this is the case, I would certainly consider getting the RX100 II instead of the G1 X Mark II.
The G1X Mark II has several advantages over the RX100 II, including a touchscreen, 24mm wide-angle lens, more advanced AF system, more diaphragm blades and better image quality in most part. The larger sensor with the fast aperture will give you the ability to get a more pronounced shallow depth of field effect. On the other hand the RX100 II has 24p video recording has an external mic jack, in-camera panorama mode, it’s much smaller , lighther and pocketable, it can shoot at 10 fps burst, has longer battery life and it’s cheaper.
The RX100 is in my opinion the best camera of the three for those who search for a high-performing compact camera. I think that a lot of people that buy a digital camera, don’t want the burden of carrying a camera that needs a small camera bag or one that they carry on their shoulder. I think that’s the size of the RX100 II and its advanced features makes it unique among the competition. You won’t get lots of buttons and dials like on the other two models, but some of you might not care about it at all. If you want a compact camera that take very high quality images and videos and lots of built-in software features and WiFi/NFC connectivity, you’ll love the RX100 II.
So now it’s time for you to make a decision. I would probably be getting the Sony cyber-shot RX100 II for my next trip. I want a portable solution and the RX100 II is the best for this purpose. You might have a completely difference opinion, and you might find one of the other cameras a better fit for your specific needs.
So which one do you prefer after reading this comparison? — share you opinion in the comment section below and thanks for reading.
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