Canon G9 Image Noise Tests

We test the Canon G9 digital camera for image noise
The Canon G-series have been great cameras, filling a great middle position between compact digitals and the digital SLR crowd. The G9 is a very nicely designed camera, having great control placement and layout, a good size and excellent image quality, at least at the lowest ISO settings.

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

And a 100% section:
Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

Image quality is great at low ISO settings, with the above image having a slight Levels adjustment and small unsharp mask sharpening.

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

The zoom range is a handy 35-210mm equivalent.

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

The relatively greater depth of field of a small sensor camera does come into play and can be beneficial.

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test

Canon G9 digital camera image noise test
Macro focusing down to 1cm is a great capability on this camera.

But one major issue for the G-series has been that they use sensors the same size as compact cameras, and so generally have much more image noise than a dSLR does.

So how does it work at higher ISO settings? Well the shots below are unprocessed 100% crops from near the center of an image:

80ISO
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

100ISO
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

200ISO
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

400ISO
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

I stopped at 400ISO because the noise was so high.

Using out test target, I shot at all the ISO settings, both at daylight short exposures and at night exposures.

Day exposures:
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

In day exposures the noise builds up very quickly above 200ISO.

For the night exposures below we started at f4 and 15 seconds. Now since the G9 only has a limited range of f-stops (smallest is f8) only the 80 and 100ISO night exposures where 15 seconds, the rest used shorter exposures as the sensitivity went up:
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

Again, anything over 200ISO has a lot of noise.

To make this clear, look at the histograms below taken from the day time exposures:
Canon G9 digital camera image noise tests

You can see the distinct steps of the step wedge at 80 and 100ISO but by 400ISO they are quite spread, which is typical of a small sensor camera.

So I love the G9 at low ISO settings but, personally, find the noise levels too high at anything above 200ISO.

RAW files for the test target shots are available on the camera test page.

What I’d love to see is a G-series camera with a sensor from one of Canon’s dSLR’s. A shorter zoom range would be fine, if that was the price you had to pay.

The Canon G9 is available for all fine camera stores. I can recommend B&H Photo.

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