Canon G11 vs G9

G9 (left), G11 (right)

note: If you are looking for a detailed technical list of features and other specifications, please following these links:

Canon G11 (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0908/09081908canong11.asp)

Canon G9 (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong9/)

This is just a brief test of the two against each other in a few real world tests – followed by notes regarding the more practical aspects of each in daily use.  As you may have guessed, there is a G10, but it will not be discussed here as I have no personal experience with that model. The G9 pictured here has seen a lot of use and abuse since it was purchased new in March of 2008.  I firmly believe that cameras are tools, they are meant to be used, not pampered like collectors items.

G9 (left), G11 (right)

WHAT THE G SERIES IS…

The Canon G series cameras are essentially high end point and shoot models.  They can be used by anyone from a complete novice, all the way to professionals looking for a compact digicam to compliment their larger DSLRs. The G series are not, and never were, intended to replace DSLRs or pocket cameras.  The G series fills a specific niche in the market – it fills the space between the DSLR world and ultra compact digicam worlds (although the new micro 4/3 format also fits that category as well, albeit with larger sensors than the G series).  The G series is an ideal all-in-one solution for the photographer needing a camera that offers full manual control, a hot-shoe for an external flash unit, near DSLR image quality at lower ISO ranges and ultra versatility.

THE TEST IMAGES

All images were shot handheld and within seconds of each other.  Because the focal range is different between the models, I tried to get as close as I could between the two.  i-Contrast was not used on the G11 for the images unless otherwise noted. No post processing has been performed. Yes, these are boring, not artistic images, but chosen for this specific purpose.

The first images are of a passing jet at a distance, the additional reach of the G9’s zoom helped at little.  Both images are 100% crops from the scene. I was shocked to see the difference in noise as low as ISO 80.  I shot several different tests with nice blue skies in them, the result was the same every time.

G11, ISO 80, f/4.5, 1/320, -0.3ev, 30.5mm

G9, ISO 80, f/4.8, 1/320, -0.3ev, 44.4mm

In the next test, the ISO was still kept at 80.  A moderately contrasty scene with more detail than the sky shot above.  The full scene is to the left with 100% crops to follow.

full size

G9

G11

G9

G11

Next set of images: EXIF data: ISO 200, f/5, 1/13, -0/3ev. Both were “hand held” with the body resting on the roof of my car for stabilization (lens IS turned off).

G9

G11

G9

G11

ISO 400, still in the garage, same EXIF for each: ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/30, -0.3ev

G9

G11

G9

G11

CONCLUSION OF TEST IMAGES

There is not any point in going above ISO 400 in this comparison as anything over 400 on the G9 is not very usable.  As the images clearly show, Canon has greatly improved not only the sensor but their image processing engine as well.  I expected the G11 to “win”, it’s two generations newer and it should beat out the older model.  Does that mean the G9 is not worthy of using, absolutely not! Both are great little cameras with excellent build quality and are capable of great results in the right hands.

PRACTICAL USE

Any Canon G series has always been a great travel companion and that’s how I generally view these little gems.  There are many times that I do not want to lug around 4-5 pounds of DSLR gear for a family gathering, when traveling light or even on a daily basis.  The more I’ve used the G9 since March of 2008 (I had a G5 back in 2004-5), the more I grow to love the G series.  Mated with the Canon 270EX speedlite, and if kept below ISO 200, it’s a great lightweight package to take anywhere. With the G11, I’m very comfortable at ISO 400 with the 270EX indoors.  Eventually, I’ll update the blog with 270EX test images.

The G11 builds upon the solid G9/G10 platform and, as demonstrated, raised the bar in terms of image quality.  Beyond the IQ, are there other reasons to choose the G11 over just keeping your G9? Yes.

  1. ✓ The LCD resolution is nearly doubled, this is obviously a benefit for checking critical focus and for the pure pleasure of composing your images via the LCD.
  2. ✓ The swivel LCD is very useful in practice for not only image composition but also for protecting the LCD when not in use (turn the LCD into the camera).
  3. ✓ The addition (as seen in the G10) of more dedicated dials and buttons.  More notably, the G11 added the exposure compensation to the left side dial for direct access.
  4. ✓ i-Contrast actually works to better balance your images in high contrast scenes.
  5. ✓ Reduced parallax error with the optical viewfinder (although it is still there) to make it very useful.
  6. ✓ The AF seems to be faster vs. the G9, although I will not be measuring this down to the millisecond, suffice it to say that I am capturing more images of an active 2 year old than I can with the G9.
  7. ✓ Servo AF also does work fairly well (absent on the G9)

With the image quality improvements and the brief items above, I can whole heartedly recommend the G11 as an upgrade to any G series from the G9 down to the G1.  When I get time, I’ll add more images from the G11, especially higher ISO samples.

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5 responses to “Canon G11 vs G9

  1. The following comments were transferred over from my old site to the WordPress site:

    janet
    wow – great comparison! I’m getting a g11 now.
    Sunday, December 6, 2009 – 03:02 PM

    mayflyaway
    Hi! Thanks for the comparison, it is exactly what I was looking for and very useful!
    Wednesday, December 2, 2009 – 10:01 PM

    edwinsail
    Ken, Thanks for your time and energy to provide this IQ on the G11. I too, depend more on my ever-present G9 than on the heavier DSLR. I needed some positive reviews before investing in the G11. You’ve provided it. Thanks.
    Yana Murphy
    Wednesday, November 18, 2009 – 11:22 AM

    Ken (kwaphoto admin)
    I have not had any issues with the G9 in over 20 months of use. I hope the G11 is just as reliable.
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 – 11:01 PM

    maintenance problems
    i’ve had my G9 repaired twice for collecting dust and moisture inside the lense
    Wonder if other G9 share the same problem, and if G10 and 11 have the same maintenance issues?
    Monday, November 9, 2009 – 09:06 AM

  2. One last comment moved from the old site to the new one:

    FROM: Don in Florida

    Ken,
    Thanks for the great article! Nicely executed, concise and VERY useful. I make a point of always having a camera with me and I have been trying to decide between these two as an alternative to hauling around a dslr and zoom everywhere I go. You sure made up my mind for me.
    Best regards,
    Don
    Wednesday, December 16, 2009 – 05:49 PM

  3. My G9, that has given my stellar service, is in for a repair, and I had the crazy idea to replace it with a GF1/EP-1. Note the HAD…

    Might just go for a G11.

    Best regards – Leo Theron / Souoth Africa / http://www.pbase.com/leot

  4. I lost my G9 recently, and was thinking about simply buying another on ebay. This is really helpful. Thanks so much for taking the time to do it.

  5. Your blo is much interesting to me! i will thank you u very much for posting this interesting info.

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