Canon PowerShot G1 X - Quality

Quality

 
To compare real-life quality I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot G1 X, PowerShot G12 and EOS T3i / 600D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on all three cameras were set to approximately the same vertical field of view. Each lens was also focused on the same point on the image and set to an optimal aperture to maximise sharpness and minimise diffraction.

The sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting on each camera: 100 ISO on the G1 X and EOS T3i / 600D, and 80 ISO on the G12.

  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

The image above right was taken with the Canon G1 X with its lens set to 20mm (37mm equivalent) and the aperture set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority mode. F5.6 was chosen to maximise sharpness while avoiding diffraction, and also selected on the EOS T3i / 600D for a level playing field; I used f4 on the G12 for the same reasons. The original JPEG measured 4.12MB.

On this page you’re comparing cameras with different aspect ratios: the G1 X and G12 employ a squarish aspect ratio of 4:3, while the EOS T3i / 600D with its APS-C sensor delivers slightly wider 3:2 shaped images. Where aspect ratios differ, I always match the vertical field of view in comparisons, which obviously penalises models with wider ratios. As such on this page, I’m only effectively comparing a 4:3 crop from the middle of the T3i / 600D image and ignoring thin strips on either side. This means the T3i / 600D is effectively operating like a 16 Megapixel camera in this test, although this is still the highest effective resolution of the three, with the G1 X and G12 following with 14.3 and 10 Megapixels respectively. As such, the crops taken at 1:1 show larger areas for the lower resolution models.

Looking at the crops below there’s definitely a family resemblance in terms of processing style with all three Canon’s displaying similar colour, contrast and sharpening. Most obviously there’s some optical differences to point out, such as the minor coloured fringing around the mountain ridge on the T3i / 600D kit lens, and to a lesser extent on the G12. On the RAW vs JPEG page you’ll see the same image converted without chromatic aberration correction, and reassuringly it reveals the uncorrected optics are still delivering a great result. Meanwhile, there’s some softness in different areas of the frames to note: the G12 is a little soft in the upper left corner of this shot, but makes up for it with a uniform result pretty much everywhere else.

So what about the actual resolved detail then? Looking closely at the fine building and foliage details, the G1 X is recording a little extra fine detail than the G12, although it’s pretty close between the G1 X and the T3i / 600D. But occasional softness and coloured fringing on the T3i / 600D kit lens lets it down compared to the sharp built-in lens of the G1 X.

As such I’d say the G1 X wins this particular contest, out-resolving the G12 and essentially matching the real-life detail of the slightly higher resolution T3i / 600D while minimising optical artefacts. Of course the benefit of an interchangeable lens camera like the T3i / 600D is the ability to fit better (or different) optics, but if you’re comparing a Canon DSLR with the basic 18-55mm kit lens alone, you’ll probably find the G1 X slightly out-performing it.

A great start for the G1 X, but some of you may be wondering how it compares to the best of the current crop of Micro Four Thirds models: find out on my G1 X vs Panasonic GX1 results, or if you’d like to check the RAW performance, head over to my G1 X RAW vs JPEG page. If you’re ready for some low light comparisons, check out my G1 X Noise results and for some high res downloads, check out my G1 X sample images.

 
Canon PowerShot G1 X
 
Canon PowerShot G12
 
Canon EOS T3i / 600D
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Canon PowerShot G1 X vs Panasonic GX1 image quality

 

To compare real-life quality I shot this scene with the Canon PowerShot G1 X and the Panasonic GX1 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The lenses on both cameras were set to the same vertical field of view. Each lens was also focused on the same point on the image and set to an optimal aperture to maximise sharpness and minimise diffraction. I used the standard 14-42mm (non Power Zoom) kit lens on the GX1.

The sensitivity was manually set to the lowest available setting on each camera: 100 ISO on the G1 X and 160 ISO on the GX1.

  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

The image above right was taken with the Canon G1 X with its lens set to 20mm (37mm equivalent) and the aperture set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority mode. F5.6 was chosen to maximise sharpness while avoiding diffraction, and also selected on the Panasonic GX1. The original JPEG measured 4.12MB.

Both cameras here have 4:3 native aspect ratios, so you’re comparing like with like. The Panasonic GX1 has a minor resolution advantage of 16 Megapixels to 14.3 on the G1 X, so its crops below show a slightly smaller area when reproduced at 1:1.

There’s a big difference in the first crop of the mountain ridge with the GX1 measuring a different white balance and also optically delivering a softer result in the corner; the G1 X is the clear winner in this first row, but beyond here both cameras and lenses are actually very closely matched.

The G1 X has opted for slightly punchier image processing by default, but the actual real-life detail resolved by both cameras is very similar. Pixel-peeing may reveal some aspects where one slightly beats the other, but it’s very close overall.

Once again there benefit of the GX1 is the ability to switch lenses to something sharper (or with different coverage), but if you’re comparing it against the G1 X with the basic kit lens, there’s not much between them other than a more uniform result in the corners from the Canon. I’d say that’s another great result for the Canon G1 X.

Next up, my G1 X RAW vs JPEG results page, or if you’re ready for some low light comparisons, check out my G1 X Noise results and for some high res downloads, check out my G1 X sample images.

 
Canon PowerShot G1 X

 
Panasonic Lumix GX1 with 14-42mm kit zoom
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Canon PowerShot G1 X JPEG vs RAW

 

To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the Canon PowerShot G1 X, I shot this scene in the camera’s RAW+JPEG mode.

The sensitivity was set to the minimum 100 ISO and the aperture to f5.6.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software, supplied with the camera using the default settings.

  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

The PowerShot G1 X may have a large sensor that’s similar in specification to a DSLR sensor, but in my tests its RAW files proved quite different to work with. Open one in Canon’s supplied Digital Photo Professional software and you may be surprised to find the default Unsharp Mask setting at its highest value of 10, compared to, say, 3 for a typical EOS DSLR. And yet with these default settings they deliver final images with a similar degree of sharpness. Reduce the G1 X sharpening on the RAW file and the image quickly becomes very soft, and conversely increasing the sharpening on the EOS RAW file introduces undesirable artefacts.

On this page, I try and develop the RAW file to look better than the JPEG, but I admit I struggled here. Maybe DPP was at fault, but I just couldn’t get the converted RAW file to look as good as the JPEG straight out the camera, and after much tweaking I was also getting the feeling the RAW file somehow wasn’t as adaptable as one from an EOS DSLR. This doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me, but I’m simply reporting what I found in my own tests. Your mileage may vary and of course there are other RAW converters to try, not to mention additional benefits to shooting in RAW such as easy control over white balance after the event.

Another important benefit of shooting in RAW is greater latitude for tonal adjustments and highlight recovery. While there weren’t any areas in this image to really benefit from this, I did manage to retrieve blown highlights on the white feathers of seagulls which were irretrievable on the accompanying JPEG.

But two observations I kept coming back to while playing with the G1 X’s RAW files were that the optics were already very well corrected for fringing and the in-camera JPEG engine was doing a great job with the image data.

Next up, some low light comparisons in my G1 X Noise results, or for some high res downloads, check out my G1 X sample images.

 
Canon PowerShot G1 X
(JPEG using in-camera defaults)
 
Canon PowerShot G1 X
(RAW using Digital Photo Professional defaults)
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
     
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

Canon PowerShot G1 X vs EOS T3i / 600D Noise

 
  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 the EOS T3i / 600D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The exposures on both cameras were matched. The lenses on both cameras were adjusted to deliver the same vertical 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. Note in the crops below, both cameras were using their default Standard Noise Reduction settings.

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. I matched this exposure on the T3i / 600D by applying +0.3EV compensation. So the exposures you see below are identical and any brightness differences imply variations in actual sensitivity.

On this page you’re also comparing cameras with different aspect ratios: the G1 X employs a squarish aspect ratio of 4:3, while the EOS T3i / 600D with its APS-C sensor delivers slightly wider 3:2 shaped images. Where aspect ratios differ, I always match the vertical field of view in comparisons, which obviously penalises models with wider ratios. As such on this page, I’m only effectively comparing a 4:3 crop from the middle of the T3i / 600D image and ignoring thin strips on either side. This means the T3i / 600D is effectively operating like a 16 Megapixel camera in this test, although this is still higher than the 14.3 Megapixels of the G1 X. As such, the crops taken at 1:1 show a larger area for the G1 X.

Both cameras start at a base sensitivity of 100 ISO where they deliver clean, detailed images. Look really close though and you may notice a very faint smattering of noise textures on the G1 X – nothing to be worried about, but something that’s absent on the T3i / 600D. But before you draw any conclusions, have a look at the comparative image processing: the G1 X appears slightly punchier with a little higher contrast and sharpening, and this in turn will make any noise artefacts a little easier to see. I also think the noise reduction is a tad higher on the T3i / 600D here.

At 200 ISO it’s pretty much the same story, with the faintest noise on the slightly punchier-looking G1 X sample compared to the noise-free but fractionally softer T3i / 600D image. Likewise at 400 and 800 ISO.

But at 1600 ISO something changes: the G1 X maintains a faint but fine pattern of noise, but the T3i / 600D becomes a little blotchier; it’s still extremely close, but I’d say the G1 X image looks less processed and preferable to my eyes.

Then at 3200 ISO the T3i / 600D begins to suffer to a greater extent than the G1 X, delivering a visibly inferior result; indeed the G1 X at 3200 ISO looks very respectable and usable. The G1 X isn’t at all bad either at 6400 ISO, at which point the T3i / 600D has become considerably blotchier. And while the G1 X at its maximum 12800 ISO isn’t looking great, it’s considerably better than the T3i / 600D.

So pixel-peepers may notice very minor differences in noise up to 1600 ISO, but to all intents and purposes I’d call them a draw up to this point, especially if you tweak the noise reduction settings. The revelation comes at 1600 ISO and above though where the G1 X delivers visibly superior results to the T3i / 600D. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as while the pixel pitch is similar the G1 X has the benefit of having a newer sensor, making the most of the latest technologies and image processing.

Bottom line? The G1 X will essentially match the quality from an 18 Megapixel Canon DSLR (including the 60D and 7D) up to 1600 ISO, then actually take the lead. So if you love the quality from your Canon DSLR and simply want it in a smaller package, the G1 X will give it to you; plus the G1 X enjoys the additional benefit of a composite Handheld Night Scene mode which can further reduce noise at high sensitivities. A fantastic result for the new PowerShot.

But don’t just take my word for it – head onto my Canon G1 X sample images to download a selection of original images at the full resolution to evaluate yourself! If however you’re already convinced, check out my Canon G1 X verdict!

Canon PowerShot G1 X (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
 
Canon EOS T3i / 600D (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
100 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
Handheld Night Scene mode at 3200 ISO
No additional low light modes available

Canon PowerShot G1 X vs PowerShot G12 Noise

 
  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
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO not available
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO not available
     
Handheld Night Scene mode at 3200 ISO
Low Light mode at 3200 ISO

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