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.
And a 100% section:
Image quality is great at low ISO settings, with the above image having a slight Levels adjustment and small unsharp mask sharpening.
The zoom range is a handy 35-210mm equivalent.
The relatively greater depth of field of a small sensor camera does come into play and can be beneficial.
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:
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.
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:
Again, anything over 200ISO has a lot of noise.
To make this clear, look at the histograms below taken from the day time exposures:
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.
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.