Canon G9 X vs Olympus E-PL3
The Canon PowerShot G9 X and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2015 and June 2011. The G9X is a fixed lens compact, while the E-PL3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (G9X) and a Four Thirds (E-PL3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G9 X and the Olympus PEN E-PL3? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon G9 X and the Olympus E-PL3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The G9X can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-PL3 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, red, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL3 is notably larger (24 percent) than the Canon G9 X. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G9X nor the E-PL3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G9X has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-PL3 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the G9X gets 220 shots out of its NB-13L battery, while the E-PL3 can take 300 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack. The power pack in the G9X can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|4.||Canon SX620||97 mm||57 mm||28 mm||182 g||295||n||May 2016||279|
|5.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|6.||Canon G5 X||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799|
|7.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|8.||Canon SX610||105 mm||61 mm||27 mm||191 g||270||n||Jan 2015||249|
|9.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|11.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|12.||Nikon 1 J4||100 mm||60 mm||29 mm||232 g||300||n||Apr 2014||549|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The G9X was launched at a lower price than the E-PL3, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G9 X features an one-inch sensor and the Olympus E-PL3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL3 is 94 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 2.0. The sensor in the G9X has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon G9 X offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the Olympus E-PL3. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL3). However, it should be noted that the G9X is much more recent (by 4 years and 3 months) than the E-PL3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon G9 X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G9X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL3 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot G9 X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the G9X provides substantially higher image quality than the E-PL3, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and -0 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|5.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|6.||Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|12.||Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the G9X provides a higher frame rate than the E-PL3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The G9X and the E-PL3 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the E-PL3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon G9 X, the Olympus E-PL3, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||8.2||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0||1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The G9X has one, while the E-PL3 does not. While the built-in flash of the G9X is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The E-PL3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the G9X does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon G9 X has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G9X and the E-PL3 write their files to SDXC cards. The G9X supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the E-PL3 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot G9 X and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the G9X offers wifi support, while the E-PL3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the G9X and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL3 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL5, while the G9X was followed by the Canon G9 X Mark II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon G9 X better than the Olympus E-PL3 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot G9 X:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 12.2MP) with a 30% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-PL3 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x58mm vs 110x64mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-PL3).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the E-PL3 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (300 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2011).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G9X is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G9 X and the Olympus E-PL3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the G9X or the E-PL3. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|4.||Canon SX620||..||..||..||..||4/5||May 2016||279|
|5.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|6.||Canon G5 X||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||799|
|7.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|8.||Canon SX610||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||249|
|9.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|10.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|11.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|12.||Nikon 1 J4||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Apr 2014||549|
|13.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|14.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|15.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|16.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|17.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon G9 X vs Olympus E-PL3
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon G9 X||Olympus E-PL3|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||28-84mm f/2.0-4.9||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2015||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 529||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon G9 X||Olympus E-PL3|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.41 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.18 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||125 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||Truepic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||20.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||495||499|
|Screen Specs||Canon G9 X||Olympus E-PL3|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon G9 X||Olympus E-PL3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon G9 X||Olympus E-PL3|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon G9 X||Olympus E-PL3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||220 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
98 x 58 x 31 mm
(3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in)
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||209 g (7.4 oz)||313 g (11.0 oz)|
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