Compared to... Nikon COOLPIX P5100

Since the arrival of the affordable digital SLR and the huge growth in the 'superzoom' market the air at the top of the 'compact' hill has got kind of thin, and in reality the G9 has no real direct competitors. The nearest is probably Nikon's current flagship COOLPIX, the P5100 - itself an incremental upgrade to the P5000. Both cameras sport 12MP sensors, both have high quality metal bodies (though the P5100 is a lot smaller) and both have image stabilized zooms, though the P5100's zoom range is a lot less ambitious at 3.5x.

In this section we have included comparisons at each camera's lowest ISO setting (G9: ISO 80, P5100: ISO 64), ISO 400 and ISO 1600 (the maximum setting on either camera can shoot at full resolution).

Studio scene comparison (Canon G7 @ ISO 80, Nikon COOLPIX P5100 @ ISO 64)

  • Canon PowerShot G9: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation

  • Nikon COOLPIX P5100 : Aperture Priority mode, ISO 64, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.33 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Daylight simulation, >98% CRI
Canon PowerShot G9
Nikon COOLPIX P5100
ISO 80, 1/50 sec, F5
ISO 64, 1/40 sec, F5
4,706 KB JPEG
3,786 KB JPEG

The P5100's output is very soft, though I should point out that a lot of the difference here is down to in-camera sharpening, which is relatively high on the G9 and very low on the P5100 - if you open the P5100 file and run Photoshop's unsharp mask filter the difference is much less marked (although the resultant image doesn't look as 'clean', as the G9's as the sharpening brings out a little noise). Where the G9 does win (as well as capturing a little more detail overall) is in edge-to-edge performance; the P5100's sharpness drops measurably towards the corners.