Canon PowerShot G1 X Gordon Laing, March 2012

Canon PowerShot G1 X vs PowerShot G12 Noise

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  Canon G1 X results
1 Canon G1 X vs G12 vs T3i / 600D Quality
2 Canon G1 X vs GX1 Quality
3 Canon G1 X RAW vs JPEG
4 Canon G1 X vs G12 Noise
5 Canon G1 X vs T3i / 600D Noise
6 Canon G1 X Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot G1 X and its 'predecessor', the PowerShot G12 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Both cameras were set to f4 in Aperture Priority and the lenses adjusted to deliver the same field of view. The ISO sensitivity was set manually, apart from in the final row of crops where the G1 X was set to Handheld Night Scene and the G12 to Low Light mode. Note in the crops below, the G1 X was using its default Standard Noise Reduction setting.

The image above was taken with the Canon PowerShot G1 X with the lens set to 24mm (45mm equivalent) and the aperture set to f4 in Aperture Priority mode. At its base sensitivity of 100 ISO, the G1 X metered an exposure of 0.8 seconds for this composition. The earlier PowerShot G12 metered an identical exposure moments later, so you're comparing like-with-like for these two models below. Since the G1 X has 14.3 Megapixels to its predecessor's 10 Megapixels, its crops below show a smaller area when cropped to the same size and viewed at 1:1 here.

A quick glance at the crops reveals an obvious difference in processing style with the G1 X looking much more contrasty than the G12 - a surprise given it's normally the other way around when comparing CMOS against CCD sensors. But the important thing is while the G12 crops look a little soft in comparison, they can be tweaked to look much closer to the G1 X style with a boost in contrast. You'll also notice a stuck or hot pixel on the G12 crops, annoyingly on the vase in this composition; don't hold this against the G12 though, only the particular sample I used for this test. I should also note the results for the G12 below are also indicative of what you can expect from the Canon S95, as this model shared the same sensor.

The G12 kicks-off the sequence at 80 ISO where it's delivering a detailed image with only the slightest suggestion of noise in the shadows. 80 ISO sounds very close to 100 ISO, but pixel-peepers will notice the minor scattering of shadow noise in the 80 ISO sample has increased a tad at 100 ISO. Meanwhile the G1 X starts at 100 ISO, where it delivers a nice, clean, detailed result, although the relatively high contrast has rendered the wooden stand to the left of the crop into a very dark shape. Looking beyond the processing styles to actual resolution, both cameras are recording a similar amount of real-life detail at this point; there's little visible benefit to the extra 4 Megapixels of the G1 X at this point.

At 200 ISO, there's a minor increase in shadow noise textures from both models, although more so from the G12 than the G1 X, allowing the latter to enjoy a small lead. Doubling the sensitivity to 400 ISO again sees the noise textures become more apparent on the G12, and while they're also increasing on the G1 X, it remains a smaller step.

This gap widens further at 800 ISO where there's only a minor increase in noise on the G1 X, but quite a significant reduction in quality from the G12. Any additional noise on the G12 is now being smeared out by noise reduction, taking some of the fine detail with it: the horizontal bars on the vase have almost been wiped-out into a mushy whole.

At 1600 ISO the G12 is visibly suffering with a lot of noise, a lot of smearing and a loss of saturation too. Meanwhile the G1 X is barely any worse than at 800 ISO and as such is now enjoying a significant lead.

The G12 maxes out at 3200 ISO where its image is plagued by noise and undesirable artefacts, while the G1 X is still looking fairly comfortable. The G1 X then continues with 6400 ISO where it's now showing quite a few visible speckles and reduced fine detail, but it's still acceptable for smaller reproductions. Even the 12,800 ISO sample isn't too bad - certainly at least as good as the 3200 ISO on the G12, giving it at least a two stop advantage.

As you'd expect, the results here are not dissimilar to earlier comparisons between the G12 / S95 and an APS-C DSLR. Both are reasonably well matched in fine detail at their lowest sensitivities, but as the ISO is increased, the camera with the small sensor suffers from much bigger decreases in quality, until at around 800 and 1600 ISO the difference becomes quite significant.

So that's it in a nutshell: if you can keep your ISO at 100, then there's little between them, but if you're shooting at 800 ISO or above, or even 400 ISO and above, the larger sensor of the G1 X will deliver much cleaner results akin to an APS-C DSLR.

Which begs the question, how does the G1 X actually compare to an APS-C DSLR? Find out in my G1 X vs DSLR noise results page!

Canon PowerShot G1 X (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Canon PowerShot G12 (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
80 ISO not available
80 ISO
100 ISO
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200 ISO
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400 ISO
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3200 ISO
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6400 ISO
6400 ISO not available
12800 ISO
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Handheld Night Scene mode at 3200 ISO
Low Light mode at 3200 ISO

Canon G1 X results : Quality vs G12 vs T3i / 600D / Quality vs GX1 / RAW vs JPEG / Noise vs G12
/ Noise vs T3i / 600D

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