Friday, April 19, 2013

Canon G15 vs. Canon G1X

I just checked on DxO comparing the G15 and G1X (large sensor):

G1X:  about 2 stops better than G15 for noise and at higher ISOs about 1 2/3 stops better for dynamic range, but at lower ISOs the dynamic range is the same and at the lowest ISO the G15 is better

The G15 has a fast 28-140mm f1.8-2.8 and the G1X has a slow 28-112mm f2.8-5.8, so at the wide end the G15 is 1 1/3 stops faster and at the long end it is 2 1/6 stops faster.  In other words, especially as you start using the longer end of the zoom range the G15 will be using ISOs that are 2 stops lower than the G1X.  So, compare G15 ISO 200 to G1X ISO 800, G15 ISO 400 to G1X ISO 1600, etc.

The G1X is much bigger and heavier so for my uses of the camera it was not really in the running.  It was interesting to take a look at the G15 vs. G1X results on DxO though.  That G15 fast lens really makes a huge difference.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Canon G15: Some thoughts on my new camera

For the last 1.5 years I have been using a Canon S95 with it's 28-105mm f2-4.9 lens and it has been pretty good as a carry everywhere camera, but I really missed not having a VF for use sometimes.  Before the S95 I used a Canon A590IS, A540, and A70 as my carry everywhere cameras.  Back when I bought the S95 I looked for digicams that had a VF, but there were very few.  The G12 had one, but it was too big/heavy and the lens was slow.  The S95 is small and has a faster lens, but no VF.
Last week in Osaka I had the chance to look at a Canon G15 several times and then on Friday I ordered one on Amazon Japan.  It arrived on Saturday, less than 23 hours after I ordered it -- and this was with the free shipping option.  Here are a few of the improvements of the G15 compared to the previous model, the G12, that caught my eye:

1.  Smaller size and lower weight.
2.  New 12.1mp sensor with better noise and better dynamic range than the G12's 10mp sensor.
3.  A 28-140mm f1.8-2.8 lens replaces the G12's 28-140mm f2.8-4.5 lens.
4.  A 3" 922,000 pixel LCD replaces the G12's 2.8" 461,000 pixel LCD.
5.  The OVF is a bit better.  I think Canon claims 85% coverage now and the G12 was a bit less.
6.  Faster AF and faster operation.

The G15 noise and dynamic range is better than the G12 so that is a nice improvement and that along with the much faster lens helps the IQ a lot since lower ISOs are used.

The G12 had an articulating LCD, but the G15 does not.  I am rather happy about this change because I rarely use the tilt/swivel LCD of my other cameras and for a carry everywhere camera I value the size/weight savings much more than the tilt/swivel convenience for the rare times I would use it on this sort of camera.

It is the better sensor mated with a much faster lens that really got my attention since I wondered how it would compare to a larger sensor camera mated with similar effective focal length zoom lenses.  Before buying I investigated on DxO by comparing the G15 sensor to the Canon G12, Sony RX100, Sony A700, Sony A100, Canon 50D, Canon 40D, Nikon D300/D300s, and Canon 5D.  I chose these DSLRs to compare to because they all have bigger sensors and similar megapixels.  Also, just a few years ago I would have been thrilled for a digicam that could get close to those cameras.  I have owned the Sony A700, Sony A100, Canon 60D, Canon 30D, Canon 300D, and KM 7D.  Currently I am using an Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic G3.

I discovered that the noise and dynamic range of the G15 is better than the G12 (as claimed).  Here are the other results:

Sony RX100:  about 1 1/3 stops better than G15 for noise and dynamic range
Sony A100:  about 1 1/2 stops better than G15 for noise and worse for dynamic range
Canon 50D/40D:  about 2 stops better than G15 for noise and dynamic range
Sony A700:  about 2 stops better than G15 for noise and 1 stop for dynamic range
Nikon D300/D300s:  about 2 stops better than G15 for noise and 1 stop for dynamic range
Canon 5D:  about 3 stops better than G15 for noise and dynamic range

Okay, with all of that info then consider the following cameras/lenses:

Sony RX100 + 28-100mm f1.8-4.9
Canon 50D/40D + Canon 17-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS
Sony A700/A100 + Sony 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 or Sigma 18-125mm f3.5-5.6
Nikon D300/D300s + Nikon 18-105mm f3.5-5.6 VR
Canon 5D + Canon 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS

The G15's 28-140mm f1.8-2.8 lens at 100mm is probably about f2.5 or f2.8, so about 1 2/3 to 2 stops faster than the RX100 and the G15 noise and dynamic range is only about 1 1/3 stops worse.

The G15's 28-140mm f1.8-2.8 lens is 2 stops faster than the Canon 17-85mm, Sony 18-70mm/Sigma 18-125mm, and Nikon 18-105mm lenses and the G15 noise and dynamic range is also about 2 stops worse than the A700/50D/40D.

The G15's 28-140mm f1.8-2.8 lens is 2 stops faster than the Canon 28-135mm lens and the G15 noise and dynamic range is about 3 stops worse than the 5D.

The point of all of this is that it is pretty impressive that the combination of the new 12.1mp sensor plus the new, fast lens tests similar to the A700/50D/40D with similar focal length lenses.  Of course, I am not saying that the G15 will get exactly the same results as a A700/50D/40D.  Also, the G15 is a very different type of camera.  I just thought these comparisons were interesting.  I also looked at the dpreview raw comparison with various cameras and it seemed to show pretty much what DxO shows.
As an example, the G15 with its fast lens can use ISO 400 when the Canon 40D/50D, Nikon D300/D300s, and Sony A700 must use ISO 1600 and so on.

For a carry everywhere camera when I am out and about going through normal life I want something that is all self-contained (lens, flash, lens cover) and that is small and flat enough that I can put it in a jacket pocket or cargo shorts pocket.  The G15 is small enough, but it is rather heavy so I will have to see whether that heavy lump in a pocket works out okay.  At the moment I have the neck strap on it and have been carrying it around that way hanging from my neck.  I don't like that for normal life though.

By the way, a word about the OVF.  This isn't a TTL viewfinder so it isn't possible to have a 100% or close to 100% view.  For that you will need a high end DSLR or you can use the G15's LCD which does have a 100% view.  The G15's OVF is sufficient for my purposes since it always shows a bit more than you will get rather than less than you will get.  If they tried for something close to 100% then the parallax alone would cause the view to be a bit wrong much of the time and the cost of such an OVF would probably be very high.