Pros Cons
  • Ultra-compact, well-built body
  • Vivid, pleasing color
  • Intuitive touchscreen interface
  • Fast burst shooting with large buffer
  • Respectable subject tracking
  • Customizable lens control ring, menus and button
  • Good quality 1080p video with excellent image stabilization
  • In-camera Raw conversion
  • Built-in ND filter
  • External charger included in addition to support for USB charging
  • Soft lens greatly reduces detail capture
  • Lens is slow at tele end and focal range isn't as versatile as competitors
  • Heavy noise reduction and unsophisticated sharpening
  • Very poor battery life
  • Can't enter menus or playback mode while buffer is clearing
  • Fixed LCD
  • Switching between control ring functions requires tapping the screen
  • Touchscreen-based interface not for everyone

Conclusion

The PowerShot G9 X Mark II is the second generation of Canon's entry-level 1"-sensor compact camera, and the company has made some nice improvements over the original mode. Burst shooting and buffer size are much better, the UI is a bit snappier and battery life has improved a bit. Bluetooth has also been added for even easier photo sharing and remote capture. The G9 X II is designed for beginners and smartphone upgraders, with its almost entirely touch-based interface and few physical buttons.

While there are many cameras using 1"-type sensors these days, the G9 X II's main competitor in terms of both size and price is the Sony RX100 which, despite being over five years old, gives the Canon a run for its money, especially in terms of lens quality.

Body & Handling

The real standout feature of the G9 X II is its size. While not as thin as a modern smartphone, it's still small enough to throw in your jeans pocket and take everywhere. Despite being Canon's entry-level 1" camera, it's still well-built, though the slick plastic grip leaves something to be desired.

ISO 400 | 1/200 sec | F8 | 84mm equiv. | Photo by Dale Baskin

As mentioned above, the G9 X is meant to be operated by touchscreen, with just a small handful of physical buttons available. If you're comfortable using the screen for everything, then you'll get along well with the G9 X. If you're coming from something with a lot of buttons, it may be more frustrating to use. Something that would've made the G9 X II better would be if the LCD could tilt like some other modern compacts.

The control dial around the lens is handy for quickly adjusting a selection of settings, though jumping between exposure settings requires tapping the screen. The movie recording button, quick menu and main menu can also be customized to your liking.

Canon has put its latest and greatest Wi-Fi system into the G9 X II and it works very well. Pairing has been made easier than before thanks to Bluetooth capability, which can even wake the camera while it's off for image transfer and remote capture.

Autofocus & Performance

You'll find a 31-point contrast-detect autofocus system on the G9 X II, which Canon says is superior to the system on the original G9 X. The camera focuses accurately and responsively in most situations and was able to keep faces in focus the majority of the time, even as they moved around the frame.

ISO 1250 | 1/80 sec | F2 | 28mm equiv. | Photo by Wenmei Hill

Overall the camera is responsive (save for when clearing the buffer), with a user interface that has the same swiping, pinching and tapping as a smartphone.

The G9 X II is much better at taking bursts than its predecessor, with a top rate of over 8 fps with focus lock and 5 fps with continuous AF. The buffer lasts for just over 20 shots, though you'll have to wait for it to clear before you can enter playback mode or the menu system. Despite some improvements, battery life is still very poor. If you're going out for a day, bring a spare or two.

Image & Video Quality

The G9 X Mark II has a time-tested 1"-type BSI CMOS sensor that is unfortunately let down by a mediocre lens. The focal range of the lens (28-84mm equivalent) doesn't have a lot of reach, and starting at 24mm would've been a better choice. At wide-angle its F2.0 maximum aperture is relatively fast, though it slows down quickly as you zoom in, topping out at F4.9. By comparison, the lens on Canon's step-up model, the G7 X Mark II, has a more versatile 24-100mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 lens, that also offers more control over depth-of-field and superior low light image quality.

ISO 125 | 1/200 sec | F4.9 | 84mm equiv. | Photo by Dale Baskin

As we've seen on other cameras, this 1" sensor is capable of producing great quality images. It has good dynamic range and very low noise levels high sensitivities. The problem with the G9 X II is that its lens is just too soft to capture the amount of detail that the sensor is capable of, even if you shoot Raw. Heavy-handed noise reduction and a unsophisticated sharpening system don't help matters.

The news is better when it comes to video quality. While it doesn't support 4K, the G9 X II produces Full HD video at up to 60p that should satisfy most folks. The touchscreen makes it easy to select what you're focusing on and the complete set of manual exposure controls are available. The G9 X II doesn't support an external mic or headphones, nor would we expect it to.

The Final Word

The PowerShot G9 X II is very appealing: it's as small a traditionally styled camera with a 1" sensor as you'll find and its touch interface makes it easy to pick up and use. It has a broad feature set, generally responsive performance and shooting modes for both beginners and more advanced users.

ISO 1600 | 1/8 sec | F4.9 | 84mm equiv. | Photo by Sam Spencer

As you've probably gathered by now, the G9 X II is let down by its lens, JPEG processing and battery life that requires buying at least one spare. If you're set on a Canon, moving up to the PowerShot G7 X II is a smart idea, assuming that you have an extra $200 available. The Sony RX100 and RX100 II are also worth consideration, though we think that Canon offers a better user experience.

All things considered, despite offering a solid user experience and compact design, the G9 X II struggles a little too much at the things that matter the most.


Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
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and what these numbers mean.

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The PowerShot G9 X Mark II is a pocketable camera that packs a 1"-type sensor and 28-84mm equivalent F2.0-4.9 lens. On the surface it offers good build quality, a broad feature set, an intuitive touch-based interface and excellent connectivity. However, its lens is very soft, which greatly affects image quality, and battery life is poor.
Good for
Everyday point-and-shoot photography
Not so good for
Sports and action, portraiture, long excursions.
75%
Overall score