Canon G9 X vs Pentax K-3
The Canon PowerShot G9 X and the Pentax K-3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2015 and October 2013. The G9X is a fixed lens compact, while the K-3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an one-inch (G9X) and an APS-C (K-3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 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 Pentax K-3? 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 Pentax K-3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-3 is considerably larger (130 percent) than the Canon G9 X. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-3 is splash and dust-proof, while the G9X does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G9X has a lens built in, whereas the K-3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
Concerning battery life, the G9X gets 220 shots out of its NB-13L battery, while the K-3 can take 560 images on a single charge of its D-LI90 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||206 g||235||n||Jan 2017||529|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark II||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699|
|5.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|6.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||100 mm||60 mm||29 mm||232 g||300||n||Apr 2014||549|
|8.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|9.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|10.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||299 g||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|16.||Sony RX100||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||n||Jun 2012||649|
|17.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 K-3, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 Pentax K-3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-3 is 216 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.1MP, the K-3 offers a higher resolution than the G9X (20MP), but the K-3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 2.41μm for the G9X) due to its larger sensor. However, the G9X is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the K-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G9 X are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 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 Pentax K-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-3 offers substantially better image quality than the G9X (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.2 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional 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|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.9||12.5||522||65|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the G9X provides a higher frame rate than the K-3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the G9X relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon G9 X and Pentax K-3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0||1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0||Y||n|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The G9X has a touchscreen, while the K-3 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Canon G9 X and the Pentax K-3 both have 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 K-3 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the G9X only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 Pentax K-3 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|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the G9X offers wifi support, while the K-3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-3 (unlike the G9X) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the G9X and the K-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-3 was replaced by the Pentax K-3 II, 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 Pentax websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon G9 X and the Pentax K-3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot G9 X:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the K-3 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (98x58mm vs 131x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the K-3).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the K-3 launch.
Advantages of the Pentax K-3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (560 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-3 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 11 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 Pentax K-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the G9X or the K-3. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|3.||Canon G9 X Mark II||4/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||529|
|4.||Canon G7 X Mark II||4.5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||699|
|5.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|6.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|7.||Nikon 1 J4||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Apr 2014||549|
|8.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|9.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|10.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|11.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|12.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|13.||Sony RX100 V||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|14.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|15.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|16.||Sony RX100||5/5||+ +||78/100||4/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649|
|17.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon G9 X vs Pentax K-3
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||Pentax K-3|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||28-84mm f/2.0-4.9||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2015||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 529||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon G9 X||Pentax K-3|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.41 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.18 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||125 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||495||1216|
|Screen Specs||Canon G9 X||Pentax K-3|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon G9 X||Pentax K-3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon G9 X||Pentax K-3|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Body Specs||Canon G9 X||Pentax K-3|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||220 shots per charge||560 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)
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||209 g (7.4 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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