Canon G9 X vs G5 X vs G3 X vs G7 X

November 10, 2015

Canon G9 X, G5 X, G7 X and G3 X cameras side by side

In this new Christmas 2015 buying guide I’ll compare four Canon PowerShot cameras, the G9 X and G5 X, versus the G3 X and G7 X.  All of these four cameras have a large 1-inch (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor. Before we start learning about the differences between those four superb digital cameras, let’s first talk about the benefits of having a camera with a large sensor.

Large Sensor Benefits

Both large-sensor compacts and mirrorless cameras are among those type of cameras that survived the mobile phone revolution. The reason for that is that most smartphones feature sensors which are considerably smaller. Here’s an image that illustrates the relative difference in size between a 1-inch sensor and 1/2.3″, which is relatively a large sensor for mobile phone cameras.

1-inch vs 1/2.3-inch sensor size comparison

1-inch vs 1/2.3-inch sensor size comparison

You can clearly see that the 1″ sensor is considerably larger than the 1/2.3″ one. The Google Nexus 6P smartphone has a 1/2.3″ sensor for its main camera. There are some smartphone which do have a large sensor, like the Panasonic CM1 for example, which also uses a 1″ sensor as well. However, this phone relatively is very expensive because of that.

The size of the pixels of the  sensor determines how much light it can capture. In general terms, the large the pixels are, the better the image quality and low-light performance. Of course the sensor technology matter as well, but the camera with the larger pixels is very likely to outperform the one with considerably smaller pixels.

Let’s take a look at the pixel sizes for each camera:

  • Canon PowerShot G9 X: ~2.4 µm
  • Canon PowerShot G5 X: ~2.4 µm
  • Canon PowerShot G3 X: ~2.4 µm
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X: ~2.4 µm
  • Panasonic CM1: 2.4 µm(smartphone)
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus: 1.5 µm (smartphone)
  • Google Nexus 6P: 1.55 µm (smartphone)
  • Sony Xperia Z5: 1.12 µm (smartphone)
  • Samsung Galaxy S6: 1.12 µm (smartphone)

The G9 X, G5 X , G7 X and G3 X has the same sensor size, same image resolution and therefore the same pixel pitch. This theoretically,they should be very close in terms of their image quality and low-light performance. We’ll check whether this is indeed the case later on in this article.

Sensor which have large pixels will most likely result in better color accuracy, better color reproduction, less image noise at high ISO and higher dynamic range in most part. This is why the image quality coming from a 1-inch cameras are better than what you get with smaller sensor cameras. Furthermore, for a given same aperture f-number, the camera with the larger sensor can achieve a shallower depth of field effect (defocused background). This helps to separate the subject from distracting background elements, and this is one of the reasons I bough my DSLR camera in the first place. Just keep in mind that this effect also depends on the lens aperture, so the lower the f-number for a given sensor size and distance from subject, the more the background will appear out of focus.

OK, now that you’ve become familiar with key advantages of having a camera with a large sensor, let’s move on.

G9 X vs G5 X vs G3 X vs G7 X

In this section we’ll take a closer look at the key differences between these four cameras and learn about their cons and pros.

G9 X vs G5 X, G7 X and G3 X cameras side by side

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As you can see from the above side by side specs comparison table, despite all of these cameras have the same sensor and about the same image quality, there are some substantial differences.  Let’s take a look at the most unique features of each camera for better and for worse:

  • G9X: The smallest and lightest, most limited zoom range, narrowest wide-angle, fixed display
  • G5X: Fastest aperture (shared with G7X), widest lens (shared with all except G9X), most flexible LCD display, only one with built-in viewfinder, lowest battery life (shared with the G7X)
  • G3X: Most durable (shared with G7X)  and only one with weather-sealing, biggest zoom,  largest and heaviest, best OIS (3.5-stops), largest and highest resolution display, longest battery life
  • G7X: Fastest aperture (shared with G5X), most durable (shared with the G3X), faster aperture (shared with the G5X), fastest burst speed, no 24p


So if the high ISO performance is about the same, you should certainly focus mainly on the features that each camera provide.  If you want to go light, the G9X and G7X are the way to go. The G7X costs around hundred bucks more than the G9X. The G7X has more dials and controls that offers fast access for changing frequently used camera settings, it has a more broader zoom range, wider angle lens, faster aperture (for better low-light performance and can achieve more prominent shallow depth of field effect), it has a tilting display, faster burst but it lacks 24p video recording. You need to decide whether those features are worth that extra money.

The G5X is better compared to the G7X because they both have the same lens. The G5X has a fully-articulated display, more buttons and dials and a quiet front dial, hot-shoe, EVF and 180p24 video recording mode, but it is considerable larger than the G7X The G5 X also costs around two hundred bucks more than the G7X, but you might be convinced but its extra features. In my opinion, enthusiasts will prefer the G5 X for its extra controls, built-in viewfinder, hot-shoe, improved ergonomic design and articulated LCD, but the G7 X is a great cheaper and compact alternative.

The G3 X is a completely different story. It’s much larger and heavier, but in return you get to enjoy a much bigger zoom weather-sealed camera. It’s the only camera among the four to have weather-sealing protection, so you can shoot with it in the rain or in dusty environment without worrying about damaging your camera. It has more advanced IS, but it’s needed because of its longer zoom range. The battery life is very good and it certainly a perfect choice as a travel camera and for taking pictures of wildlife animals and birds. If you ever felt a need to get closer to your subject, the G3X will give you just that.  You have both a 24mm equivalent wide angle and a 600mm equivalent tele-end.

The G3 X is the most expensive camera among the four, so you need to ask yourself whether you’re going to take advantage of its extra features, or you are OK with making a compromise on zoom and weather-sealing, and can get along with a smaller camera that isn’t that far behind the G3X.

All of these four cameras have wireless connectivity, can shoot RAW, can capture super high-quality pictures and with very good control over the depth of field due to the large 1-inch sensor.  It’s really impressive to see compact cameras like the G7 X and G9 X carrying such a relatively large sensor.  So whatever camera you choose, you can be sure that you’ll get full manual control over the exposure, very high quality image and low-light performance, as well as very good control over the depth of field.

So which one is your pick? Share your opinion in the comment section below and thanks for reading. Also don’t forget to LIKE our Facebook page to be among the first to be notified when we publish new camera comparison reviews.

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