Canon G15 vs Sony RX100 – Comparison

December 10, 2012

sony rx100 and canon g15 compact cameras

In this article I will be comparing the Canon PowerShot G15 versus Sony DSC-RX100, two very popular compact digital cameras.  The G15 is around $250 cheaper than the RX100.  In my opinion these are two cameras that although their price difference, size and features – both have a lot in common. There are many photographers who search for a premium point-and-shoot camera with a relatively larger sensor that can take very high quality photos.  Of course there is a fundamental difference between the two. The Canon G15 features a 1/1.7-inch size sensor which is larger than the 1/2.3-inch that is found on many other P&S camera, the RX100 features a much larger 1-inch size sensor. Whether it’s a fair comparison and how those both two cameras stand against each other, all in the following comparison article.



I personally think that the the RX100 is as well worth comparing versus the Canon PowerShot G1 X. The G1 X costs around $50 more than the RX100 and it features a 1.5-inch size sensor, which is much larger than the RX100 one. If you are interested to learn about the differences and how the two camera compare, please read my Sony RX100 review, where I also compare it versus the G1 X. More than that, if you are interested to know the differences between the G15 and the G1 X, I recommend reading my Canon G15 vs G1 X comparison article.

The Canon G15 and the Sony RX100 are probably among my top picks when it comes to compact point-and-shoot cameras. For many of you the RX100 probably needs no introduction. It won many awards from the photography community, got very high ratings from all the leading camera reviews’ websites. The RX100 is probably The best compact digital camera to date.  The RX100 isn’t cheap though and might be out of reach for some people.  Still if you are debating between the two and can afford buying either of those two, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.  You might found out that the G15 has some features that you really like and maybe you might get the G15 instead of the RX100 and be very satisfied with your decision. It’s all come to features, price, performance and your expectations. I will try to do my best to give you the important stuff that you need to know about the RX100 and the G15 so you can make a smarter buying decision.

I know that it’s very hard to choose a camera and you want to make sure that you are making the right decision. I am convinced that after reading this comparison article you will be able to make that decision- Let’s Begin!

I will start with a short introduction of each camera and will continue deeper into the comparison itself.


Sony RX100

The RX100 grabbed the ‘Silver Award’ on dpreview and was chosen ad one of the 50 ‘best inventions’ of 2012 by TIME magazine.  The RX100 delivers excellent image and video quality as well. It’s very compact camera, one that you can easily put in your shirt or jeans’ pocket. It works fast, has good  battery life and provide a wide range of advanced features that will satisfy even the most demanding enthusiast photographer.

Sony RX100

The Sony RX100 belongs to the large-sensor compact cameras’ category. It features a relatively larger sensor when you compare it to the 1/2.3-inch which can be found on many other point-and-shoot cameras.

Rx100, G15 sensor size comparison

RX100 (Blue), G15 (Red) - image sensor size comparison (via

The above image via camera image sensor illustrates the difference in size between various sensor. You can see that the G1 X has the largest sensor of the four, following by the RX100 (Blue) 1-inch sensor and than the G15 1/1.7-inch size sensor. The A2300 has a 1/2.3-inch sensor which is common size in many compact digital cameras.  Theoretically it should give the RX100 an advantage when it comes to image quality, and we will talk about that later on whether it really brings any ‘real’ advantage or not.

The RX100 enjoys these main features:

  • Durable Aluminum body
  • 20.2MP 1″ Exmor CMOS  sensor
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-sonnar T* 28-100mm (3.6x optical zoom) F1.8 – 4.9 lens
  • full manual exposure control (P/A/S/M modes) for video and stills
  • Full HD 1080/60p video recording
  • refined BIONZ image processor
  • RAW + JPEG
  • 3-inch 1,229k dots Xtra Fine / TruBlack LCD
  • Very compact size of 4″ x 2 3/8″ x 1 7/16″ (101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9mm)


The simple camera design might fool some people, but the fact is that this is a premium compact camera. the New York Times calls it “The best pocket camera ever made.”. It seems that all the buzz is about the RX100, hving said that, we don’t buy a camera based on buzz, but based on our specific needs as photographers.


Canon PowerShot G15

The G15 is the successor to the Canon G12. It’s a high-end compact camera which improved over the G12 with faster autofocus and burst speed, Full HD video recording, Raw support and a broader ISO range. The G15 features plenty of manual controls, optical viewfinder and was designed to deliver very high image quality that will satisfy advanced photographers. This is the type of a camera that you would upgrade to from a conventional cheap point-and-shoot.  It was designed for people who wants to take their photography to a higher level, those who want to get better control over the camera to express their creativity.

Canon PowerShot G15 camera

Canon PowerShot G15 High-End Compact camera

The Canon PowerShot G15 features a 12.1MP High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor, Digic 5 image processor and a 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 fast lens.  The combination of the three results in much better low-light performance, enhanced image quality and much faster operation.  The bright lens is certainly the main selling-point of this camera. It will allow photographers to get well exposed shots in low-light, as well as get more shallower depth of field to produce some degree of soft background (in relative to a camera with a smaller size sensor and a slower lens).

The lens is equipped with Canon’s Intelligent IS that automatically adjusts the six type of image stabilization modes to fit the scenery. IT support for 12-bit multi aspect RAW+JPEG and many additional features that will appeal to the advanced photographers.

The PowerShot G15 enjoys these main features:

  • 12.1MP CMOS Sensor
  • Fast Digic 5 image processor
  • Bright 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 lens with Intelligent Image Stabilization
  • 1080p Full HD video Recording
  • 3-inch 922k dots LCD
  • Optical Viewfinder
  • Multi aspect RAW + JPEG
  • EOS-like Dial Settings


The Canon PowerShot G15 is a high-end compact camera with advanced features, its bright lens certainly makes this camera unique in its category among other PowerShot cameras. Just for comparison, the Canon S110 has a f/2.0 – 5.9 lens and the Canon G1 X has a f/2.8-5.8 lens. So you can see why the G15 is so attractive among the other Canon high-end compact cameras.


G1 X vs RX100 – Differences

You can see that both cameras host many advanced features and are aimed towards the advanced photographer who have learned to appreciate and can take advantage of those features to expand his creativity.  We’ve already mentioned that the RX100 is more expensive, but this is of course not the only difference between the two.


Size & Camera Design

First of all there is a significant difference in terms of design. This is probably the first thing that people look at when buying a camera, it size and design.  The Sony RX100 is certainly much smaller than the G15

G15 vs RX100, camera size comparison

G15 vs RX100 - camera size comparison (via

The image above from illustrates the difference in size between the two cameras.

Canon PowerShot G15 is 5% (5 mm) wider and 31% (17.8 mm) taller than Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.
Canon PowerShot G15 is 12% (4.2 mm) thicker than Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.
Canon PowerShot G15 [352 g] weights 47% (112 grams) more than Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 [240 g] (*inc. batteries and memory card).

The RX100 is a camera that you ca easily put in your shirt or pants’ pocket, the G15 might as well fit to your back pocket but it is larger.

The RX100 design is more simplistic and it was designed to attract both enthusiast but also beginners alike, those whom might be intimidated with a lot of buttons and control dials.  The G15 looks more robustive and has this nice grip at the right side to give more comfortable handling. Some people find it useful, I personally don’t mind not having a grip, at least not for that type of camera and the G15 grip is too shallow in my opinion.

The G15 also features an optical viewfinder, the RX100 does not. This means that with the RX100 you will be composing your shot via the back LCD only. Luckily this is a very high quality LCD, among the best on the market right now.  Unlike the G1 X, both the RX100 and the G15 have a fixed non-rotational LCD display.  I personally don’t find it as a real issue. It’s more useful when shooting video in my opinion. I had an articulating display on my Canon EOS 60D, and I mostly used it for videos, not for stills.

The other thing is that the optical viewfinder on the G15 is small, same one found on the G1 X, but can help in those times when you shoot in a bright daylight where it makes it hard to compose a shot via the back LCD display.


Sensor Size

The G15 has a 1/1.7″ (7.44 x 5.58 mm) sensor vs the RX100 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm). This is the same sensor size found on Nikon 1 CSC like the J2 and V1.  There is pretty big different between the two, but the question is whether it makes a big different in the final output? – I will talk about it in the next section (Image Quality).  Generally speaking, a larger sensor should result in a better looking image quality. The thing is that with the latest sensor technologies, we can see that this gap is shrinking.  Try to compare the high ISO performance of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs a Nikon APS-C dSLR like the D7000 or D3200 and you can see what I am talking about. The OM-D E-M5 has a Micro Four Thirds sensor and both of those Nikon DSLRs have an APS-C size sensor. The difference in sensor size is quite big and you can see that the OM-D high ISO performance not that it’s not behind the D7000, it’s even surpassing it (E-M5 high ISO performance is just amazing!). Compare the high ISO performance even versus other DSLR camera like the Canon EOS 60D and Sony SLT cameras, and you’ll notice result.

No doubt that with the latest sensor and image processing technologies we can see that relatively small sensors can result in quite an astonishing image quality.  In the next section I will compare the high ISO performance of both the G15 and RX100 so you can understand the differences and see which one is better of the two.


High ISO Performance (Image Quality)

I’m sure that you are interested to know how the Sony RX100 compares to the Canon PowerShot G15 when it comes to high ISO performance. As I mentioned earlier, the G15 sensor is much smaller than the RX100 one (13.2 x 8.8 mm vs 7.44 x 5.58 mm) – but the question is how it affects image quality? Is there a big difference between the two? – Let’s find out!

I use to places to compare high ISO images side by side, the first one is dpreview and the second one is imagine resource’s comparometer tool. You can check and analyze the image quality of images of the same scene in various ISO sensitivity settings and see which one performs best.

Observed results:

I can clearly see the different in resolution, the RX100 provides more details due to its 20.2MP resolution vs 12.1MP of the G15. At ISO 100 / ISO 200 both camera show very good image quality, with the G15 looks sharper overall, the RX100 looks a bit soft, but just a bit (I’ve double checked it on both ISO 100 and ISO 200 as well as in different parts of the image).

At ISO 400 the RX100 shows more noise, which is more observable in the dark areas of the image, the G15 is relatively very clean. The same I can say for ISO 800 and I am very impressed with the G15 image, impressive. The RX100 looks soft and suffers from noise in a moderate degree, mostly in the dark areas but also in mid-range. Overall the G15 image looks much better in my opinion.

Both the G15 and RX100 are losing fine details, the RX100 looks good in the bright areas, but the mid-range and dark areas certainly suffer from noise. The G15 really surprised me.  At ISO 3200, I will probably nose shoot this high ISO with the RX100, image doesn’t look good although you can still get a good small print out of it, but that’s how far the RX100 goes in my opinion, at least if you care about good results. The G15 was still able to keep lots of details at ISO3200 which is very impressive considering the size of the sensor. In fact, at high ISO, it performs much better than the RX100, which makes the higher sensor resolution lose its effectiveness.

In fact, I think that this is probably the reason why the RX100 high ISO performance is not as impressive as the G15, it’s because of the high pixel density.  So we can see that Canon made a smart move staying with a relatively low pixel count and that together with its latest DIGIC 5 image processor, high ISO performance was able to surpass the RX100 offering without a doubt – at least in my observation.

Actually I was quite amazed to see a 1/1.7″ sensor performs that well, and that will certainly gives the G15 some kind of advantage over the RX100 in this area of low light shooting. Add the faster f/1.8-2.8 lens into the equation, I would say that the G15 has a much better low-light performance of the two cameras.

That being said, the RX100 image quality at ISO 400 and below is excellent with very good contrast well saturated colors, just beautiful colors out of the box.

Camera Lens

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 features a 28-100 mm (3.6x zoom) F1.8-4.9 lens, the Canon PowerShot G15 features a 28-140mm (5x zoom) F1.8-2.8 lens. The G15 has a higher optical zoom lens but both offer the same 28mm (35mm equivalent) wide-angle field of view. The extra 40mm is not huge but certainly the extra range won’t hurt.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 features a Optical SteadyShot™ with Active Mode Image Stabilization which also helps to better stabilize when shooting videos while walking.. see a video example below:


The Canon G15 offers an excellent image stabilization system featuring Canon’sIntelligent IS and offers the best shake correction method for many type of shooting situations (up to 4-stop IS). This means that the photographer can focus on capturing great photos and not worrying about what’s the best stabilization mode to use for a specific scene. It also support the Hybrid IS for Macro, same highly effective image stabilization found on the Canon 100mm F2.8L macro lens. Hybrid IS counters both tipping and tilting movement when shooting handheld.

Both cameras shoot at F1.8 at the widest angle and therefore both of them have great low-light capabilities. Having said that, the G15 has the faster lens of the two. This also means that even considering the relative small size of the sensor, you will be able to achieve very pleasing defocused background (see the cat sample image at With the RX100 and due to the relatively larger sensor size and fast lens wide open, you can achieve some very pleasing Bokeh too (seen on


Video Shooting

Both the RX100 and G15 can shoot Full HD videos, the Sony RX100 can shoot 1080p60 videos the Canon G15 can shoot Full HD videos at 1080p24. Some people might prefer the 24p (cinematic framerate), I personally prefer 60p, It’s all about personal preference. 60p will give you smoother looking videos, and worth mentioning that it’s 60p (progressive frames). The RX100 also offers 60i mode (interlaced frames) which takes less space on the memory card but result in a lower image quality. That’s due to the fact that the camera records the video at 30p but split the frames to two frames, one with the odd fields and the second with the even fields. For video editing and using slow motion, 60p is the preferable shooting method – but again, it will result in a larger file (24M vs 17M /second).

Here are two video samples, one taken with the Sony RX100 and the second one taken with the Canon PowerShot G15.

First video using the RX100 by Oscar Cheng (YouTube user)


Second Video using the G15 (filed by D9 Robot)


The RX100 is was praised by many reviewers regarding its video image quality, which i really impressive, but after viewing more test videos, it looks like the G15 doesn’t fall from that quality. What do you think?


What Else Do I Need To Know?

The Sony RX100 is compact and result in excellent image quality, it’s high ISO performance is good, but still left something to be desired. It comes with sweep Panorama and auto HDR features that some of you might find very useful. It features an excellent Carl Zeiss optics and JPEG colors looks amazing out of the box. The battery charges via USB so some people might find it odd and less comfortable.  It doesn’t have the same focal length as the G15 but it’s still a versatile range. The build quality of this camera is excellent and you really feel that you are holding a high-quality camera in your hands. I do wish that the RX100 had a faster lens like the G15, but it’s not a deal breaker for me, not at all.

The RX1000 features plenty of manual control over the exposure, including white balance modes, select ISO upper and lower limits, lots of picture effects to play with, face detection and manual focusing option. the RX100 can shoot at 1/2000 sec maximum shutter speed, the G15 can shoot at 1/4000 sec, twice as fast and great for stopping a fast moving subject.

The Canon G15 allows you to attach an external flash via the hot-shoe, the RX100 does not, although both cameras have a pop-up flash. The Sony RX100 can shoot at 10 fps at full resolution (20.2MP), the G15 shoots at 2.1 fps in P mode, but can achieve 10 fps in High-speed burst HQ with pre-focus (maximum continuous capture is 10 frames according to Canon website).



Overall I was impressed with both cameras. I really like the RX100 small size and slim profile, which makes it more portable and easier to carry with you. After all, it’s all about the photos that you take, and it would probably be more comfortable for me to carry the Rx100 with me than the G15. I like the build-quality and the simplistic design of the RX100. This camera got tons of positive feedback all across the web, and when you buy this camera you know that you are getting a high-quality and well tested and reviewed product.

I think that 20MP is a bit to much for such sensor, and we can see that the high ISO performance of the RX100 is good, but not as good as the competition. You do get to enjoy plenty of details when shooting in lower ISO sensitivity. I found the G15 to result in a sharper and more contrasty JPEG image out of the box. The G15 high ISO performance was indeed impressive, no doubt about it.  Both cameras result in excellent image quality in both stills and videos. Both cameras have a fast wide-angle lens, with the G15 lens being faster and offer a more versatile range.

The G15 also features an optical viewfinder, and the ability to mount an external flash which might be useful for some of you. The G15 build quality is excellent and the lots of controls and buttons are useful for fast access to popular settings and you really feel that you are using a professional grade camera in a very compact body. I think that some amateur photographers are still debating whether to buy a DSLR or a high-end compact. I personally think that if you are after a compact camera with a fixed lens, the G15 is certainly a viable alternative. I first thought that the relatively small sensor will be the Achilles’ heel but Canon proved me wrong.

If you want my opinion, I would probably picked up the RX100 because for a daily shooting camera, I want a very compact camera, and the Rx100 is more portable in this regard.  I already have a DSLR camera, but of course I don’t carry it everywhere I go. the RX100 is an impressive digital camera and doesn’t have any flaws that are deal breakers for me. You might decide otherwise. The G15 offers a better value overall in my opinion and it was proven to provide excellent performance and image quality overall.

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