Canon PowerShot G16 Ken McMahon, October 2013

Canon G16 vs Sony RX100 II Quality RAW

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To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot G16 and the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, within a few moments of each other using their RAW settings.

Both of these cameras have the same 28mm wide angle setting on their zoom lenses, but the Sony RX100 II's 3:2 proportions provide it with not only a wider field of view but also a slightly taller one. To provide an equivalent vertical field of view I zoomed the Canon G16 in fractionally.

Both cameras were set to Aperture priority mode and all camera settings were left on the defaults.

  Canon PowerShot G16 results
1 Canon G16 Quality JPEG
2 Canon G16 Quality RAW
3 Canon G16 Noise JPEG
4 Canon G16 Noise RAW
5 Canon G16 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot G16. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f4 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the sensitivity set to 80 ISO the G16 metered an exposure of 1/640. The G16 was mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was turned off. As usual for this test, the cameras were otherwise left on the default settings. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II also produced its best results at f4, where it metered 1/800 with the sensitivity also set to 160 ISO. The G16 RAW file measured 15.9MB and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

I processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes.

Comparing these files with the JPEGs on the previous page I see the same consistency, which is to be expected, but not much, if any more detail in these crops than in the JPEGs. I do see more noise, which is also to be expected given that all noise processing for my RAW files has been turned off and there's a high level of sharpening. In the first crop the noise is really getting in the way of the finer detail, but if you look at the level of detail in the brickwork and tiling in the fourth crop, it looks like there may well be potential for squeezing more out of the RAW files than you can get with the in-camera JPEGs. So there's potential, but unlocking that detail while avoiding exaggerating the noise will be a challenge.

By comparison the Sony crops look very crisp and clear. There's some noise, but not to the same extent as in the G16 crops. These RAW files confirm that while the Canon G16's 1/1.7 inch sensor raises it above what you could expect from a typical compact, the Sony RX100 II's 1 inch sensor gets you closer to DSLR quality.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Canon PowerShot G16 Noise results.

Canon PowerShot G16 RAW
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II RAW
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 160 ISO

Canon PowerShot G16
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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