5D vs G9
...well, after a couple of weeks shooting a G9 vs a 5D with the Tamron 28-300VC lens, I have to admit that this is a win hands-down, for the bigger, heavier and vastly more expensive camera. The G9 is ok but just so, and gets noisy very fast, slow very fast under zoom, and isn't all that sharp or clean to begin with even at ISO80. It's good that it shoots raw which makes it an easier choice to use, for a point & shoot, at ISO200 but even then I would rather shoot the 5D. It's way cleaner, focuses much quicker and has obviously a much higher ISO limit than the G9. Plus it's just natively sharper. I got the G9 thinking that I could put the 5D down during the day and shoot the G9, I find that it is much more a matter of size than performance.

Otherwise I'd rather shoot the 5D even during broad daylight...

Comments (7)

...the G9 raw shots do sharpen up very well with an USM radius 1 strength 200 and clipping 1, but it still has a ton of noise even at ISO200 which severely limits the range of the camera. Fine for small-format output, or after running the images through a noise-reduction program, maybe, but nowhere near as clean as the 5D even at ISO1600. The problem is that at the long end of the zoom range the camera needs to be shot at ISO200 even during the day, especially on overcast days. That plus the 5D is just much faster to shoot, probably any Canon DSLR would be. Especially when shooting raw, especially using AEB, the G9 just seems to take forever to focus, take the shot, and store the image...

Comment #1

I am shopping for my first digital camera. I was drawn to the G9 initially, but now I am beginning to think that it is too much of a compromise: too large to carry in a pocket, really, and too small of a sensor to produce clean shots, especially in low light situations. A G9 would make a good third camera if you've already got a pocket-friendly point-and-shoot and a DSLR. I think I'm going for the smaller camera at this point. Do you have any suggestions for a point-and-shoot with 4x or 5x zoom? I suspect that none of them perform well in low-light situations, but are there any that are clearly better in this regard?..

Comment #2

It's really not too large to carry in a pocket. It just won't fit in your shirt pocket, but my jacket pocket or pants pocket, it's fine. It's not a Casio Exlim if that's what you mean, but it's not much bigger than an Fuji a350, Nikon P or L-series or something like that. Obviously the Canon A6xx-series are even bigger. No doubt some of the cameras with folded optics are smaller and thinner but the G9 is hardly that big that I consider the size to be a problem. Anyway I finally broke down and did some head to head noise comparisons between the 5D and G9.

But my prelim results show that, shooting raw, unsharpened but with moderate contrast applied, the 5D is as clean at ISO2000 as the G9 is at ISO100, and never really gets dirty while the G9 at ISO800 is nothing that I'd want to use and ISO1600 is ridiculous. If you want to give the G9 one or two stops due to the lens advantage, that's fine, I basically ended up comparing the G9 at F4 to the 5D at F8. I applied Neat Image to both sets of files. If you compare the NR'd G9 files to the un'nr'd 5D files, the G9 competes with the 5D up through ISO400 even *without* giving it any lens-stops. ISO400 is ok both with and without NR, a mild sprinkling of chroma noise dominates the noise and with NR there's barely any image degradation, and as you know already chroma noise can be removed fairly easily without serious image degradation (and this is the main advantage of the G9 over other P&Ss that don't shoot raw).

The difference is that ISO800 becomes bad, literally while ISO200 is for all intents and purposes "clean" at full-image. ISO1600 is for the functionally-blind and there's no ISO3200 in the camera without switching to sports mode. In any case I wouldn't ever use it...if you apply NR to the 5D files there is simply no noise, at ISO4000 a NR'd 5D image matches the noise of the G9 at ISO200 with NR. Even at ISO4000 the camera can be shot without worrying too much about noise, though there are some RF artifacts that show up occasionally. ISO2000 on the 5D is a shooters' dream, the only way that you will see noise even in the raw files is to look at the image at 100%.

But as I said, noise goes up with exposure and right now I have the 5D files about half a stop under the G9 files. I don't expect these numbers to change a huge amount (certainly the G9 numbers aren't going to change), but still, it's not final. The other side of the equation is of course that you don't need to use high ISO if you have a lot of light or your subject is well-lit, so high ISO shots tend to have low eV. pushing the files in PP alters the situation even's much easier to do this with clean files, and then cleaning the shots after pushing them adds another dimension. But the main thing is that I would feel comfortable shooting the G9 no faster than ISO400 and then applying NR if necessary, and with the 5D I would prefer to shoot scenes with moderately-bright backgrounds at ISO2000 and push them about a stop, and save ISO4000 for very dark scenes with well-lit subjects where the noise will be lost in the background.

Not even considering using an F2.8 IS lens on the 5D, not even considering using full zoom on the G9. Having said that the G9, due to the combination of raw mode and IS, is the best p&s that I've seen in terms of handheld shooting in low light. It still can't match a DSLR but still, it's not bad at all, for a p&s. If you can get up close to your subject and use the lens at F2.8 it should do fine as a "cheap DSLR substitute". It certainly does in broad daylight...

Comment #3

It certainly does in broad daylight, it will never give you 3fps but it will definitely give you good, well-detailed low-noise 12MP images at ISo80-200. and if you shoot handheld even in low light you can shoot slow around 1/2" to 1" exposures, or at ISO800 and get acceptable 1MP shots or 4"x3" shots. It's not a bad "first camera" at all. I'd say that it's better than any other P&S on the market except for the fact that it doesn't have a 28mm wide-angle, and it's certainly got a decent zoom range, and it is much smaller than any 12x zoom bridge camera, and much cheaper than any DSLR with a decent lens. You just have to accept the compromises. But as it is, it is quite a camera. You should get a good LCD protector for it, like the GGS protector that is all the rage now on eBay...

Comment #4

Having said that the G9, due to the combination of raw mode and IS, is the best p&s that I've seen in terms of handheld shooting in low light. It still can't match a DSLR, not quite, but still, it's not bad at all even for a p&s. If you can get up close to your subject and use the lens at F2.8 it should do fine as a "cheap DSLR substitute". It certainly does in broad daylight. It's main problems are that it is effectively just noisier, it certainly shoots slow and the 5D simply has a wider zoom range, with the Tamron 28-300VC on it, and the G9 at 35-210mm effective simply can't match that unless *two* TCs are carried with it...but for the price it seems to be quite a value, shot within it's limits...

Comment #5

Thanks for the feedback. I like the g9, but I am leaning towards the Sony W170. With respect to low-light shooting, if you look at the full-size "Still-life 1600" images (on this web site) for these two cameras they are not that different. The g9 image may be a little better in terms of noise/detail, but you could make an argument for the w170 image too. On the other hand if you look at the "Still-life 1600" image for the Rebel XTi, for example, it is head and shoulders above the other two. The main difference has to be sensor size: the g9 and w170 sensors are about the same size (the g9's is fractionally larger), whereas the sensor on the XTi is about ten times the size of either of them.

It's not close to a DSLR, and it's not a big enough improvement to make the additional bulk of the camera worthwhile for me at this time. Like I say, it will be my 3rd camera Canon should find a way to put a larger sensor into the g10 or whatever they decide to call the next generation of this camera...

Comment #6

A) those are camera jpegs b) what about ISO80-800? The 400d is 10MP on a 22mm diagonal cmos sensor and the G9 is 12MP on a 10mm diagonal CCD sensor, 3 advantages for the 400d, but the 400d has a disadvantage in that DSLRs generally need to be shot at F8 for sharp images while the G9 can be shot at F4, giving the G9 a 1 to 2 stop advantage at short to mid focal lengths even if you use an IS lens on the 400d. In the long run you wouldn't do any serious shooting with the G9 above ISO400, but that's still ISO400 not ISO200 or 100. A subframe cannot really run and hide from the G9 until it is shot at high ISO and as such it is doing that to make up for the loss of light due to having to stop the lens down to maintain sharpness across the frame. Just check the shooting information on those images. If it is shooting ISO1600 f8, the G9 can take that shot at ISO400 F4. So the more-accurate comparison is this shot (which is indeed at F8): vs this one: ...which is at F5.6, a stop slower than *I* would shoot the G9.

I would have shot it at F4 and that shot would have been ISO200, they clearly got lazy and stopped it down and increased the ISO fro 200 to 400 to do the series...though, without a doubt, you will shoot the 400d at ISO1600 in much lower light than the G9 can be shot handheld at ISo400. The 400d will open up to F3.6 in the general sense while the G9 will open up to F2.8 so that's only about half a stop advantage at the wide end, too much for the G9 to keep up with the 400d in low light. But still it's not bad. But still in any case you want to shoot raw, not camera jpegs. If it is shot raw vs camera jpeg you won't see the debilitating effect of in-camera NR.

In any case you are comparing camera jpegs, does the w170 even shoot raw? If not I wouldn't even consider it seriously. no...the w170 is cheaper and smaller and slicker than the G9 obviously and has a useful 28mm wide-end but doesn't shoot raw. I wouldn't even waste time with it unless you need an ultra-portable P&S. Plus it's only 140mm effective at the long-end vs 210mm for the G9 and the lens is a half-stop slower across the shorter zoom range. It's going to be slow *and* noisy *and have less fine-detail and more smudging, compared to the G9, plus it doesn't have the G9's 640x480 3" display..

Comment #7

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