What is the Canon G9X Mark II?

The Canon Powershot G9X Mark II is a slim, pocketable compact camera with a 20MP 1-inch sensor and 28-84mm equivalent lens. It combines enthusiast-friendly manual control with heavily touchscreen-driven operation, and costs £449.

Canon G9X II in-hand

The G9X Mark II is the smallest camera with a 1-inch sensor

Once upon a time, Canon was the undisputed market leader in compact cameras for serious photographers. In 2012, however, Sony turned the market upside down with its Cyber-shot DSC-RX100. The first camera with a 1-inch, 20MP sensor, it completely redefined expectations for the image quality obtainable from compact cameras. Canon was the first manufacturer to challenge Sony in this new sector, but its early models including the original PowerShot G9X used seriously underpowered processors. However, now the firm has adopted its latest, much faster Digic 7 processor, which promises to turn the updated Mark II version into a much more attractive option.

Canon G9X Mark II – Features

In most respects, the G9X II offers the same feature set as its predecessor. It’s built around a 20.2-million-pixel 1-inch sensor that offers a sensitivity range of ISO 125-12,800, with images recorded in both JPEG and raw formats. A full complement of exposure modes is available, accessed from a top-plate dial. Enthusiast photographers can select from the usual program, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual modes, while a large array of scene modes and full auto mode cater for the needs of novices.

Canon G9X II flash

The small flash has a maximum range of 6m at wideangle, dropping to 2.4m at telephoto

Continuous shooting is available at a shade over 8 frames per second, with a very healthy 38-frame buffer when shooting in JPEG, or 21 frames in raw. Compared to the G9X, which achieved less than 1fps in raw, this is a massive improvement. High-speed shooting isn’t necessarily a big deal on this kind of short-zoom pocket camera, but it’s a pointer to the increased performance of the Digic 7 processor.

The G9X II can record Full HD video, and a dedicated movie position on the top dial allows you to take full manual control if you want. It’s possible to zoom and refocus the lens during recording, and the touchscreen can be used to adjust exposure settings as well, so no button or dial clicking spoils your soundtrack. But if you’re likely to shoot a lot of video, it’s worth looking at 4K-capable alternatives such as the Panasonic Lumix DC-LX15.

In an unheralded but very welcome change, Canon has updated the Mark II’s interface and menus to match its EOS DSLRs. So it now gains the same image-processing options, including the firm’s Picture Style colour modes alongside its Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimiser tonality controls. Crucially this means that if you want to shoot raw, you don’t get locked into the default JPEG processing settings, but instead retain full control over the camera’s colour output. In-camera raw conversion also allows you to tweak your images after shooting before sharing them.