Should I get the Canon G7X Mark I or Mark II, or a Sony RX100 III? Or maybe even a camera that supports 4k video shooting? If so, the Panasonic Lumix LX15 or Sony’s RX100 IV?
Are you asking yourself these questions? Me too. That’s why I have tested all of them.
I personally owned a Sony CyberShot DSC-RX100 III and loved it. The only drawback being that I managed to break it. I replaced it with a Panasonic Lumix LX15.
I also had access to a Canon G7 X Mark II and Sony RX100 IV for a test. Those also impressed me so making a decision wasn’t easy.
An almost unbeatable argument for the Canon is its price. Here you can find the current prices on Amazon.
Why Exactly Sony vs. Canon vs. Panasonic?
When I originally started writing this article, there were almost no alternatives. That however, has since changed (luckily). More about that later.
Regardless of that though, I think that the RX100, LX15, and the G7X offer great features for those who want a powerful camera that can be carried around at all times.
They all meet the following criteria:
- Compactness: They’ll fit into your pocket if they need to
- They utilize much bigger sensors than your usual compact point-and-shoot
- A zoom lens with a large aperture that makes them versatile
- They all can shoot photos in RAW
For me, all these are important criteria for a camera and I couldn’t imagine going on trips or family vacations without a high-end compact camera.
Especially on family trips a bigger system-camera or DSLR can become quite a hassle to lug around. A compact camera by contrast, won’t become a burden to you.
The most important technical data:
|G7X Mark I||G7X Mark II||LX15||RX100 III||RX100 IV||RX100 V|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||105.5 x 60.9 x 42 mm||103 x 60.4 x 40.4 mm||105.5 x 60 x 42 mm||101.6 x 58.1 x 41.0 mm||101.6 x 58.1 x 41.0 mm||101.6 x 58.1 x 41.0 mm|
|Weight incl. Battery and memory card||319g||304g||310g||290g||298g||298g|
|Sensor size||Sony EXMOR R 1.0 inch Type||Sony EXMOR R 1.0 inch Type||Sony EXMOR R 1.0 inch Type||Sony EXMOR R 1.0 inch Type||Sony EXMOR RS 1.0 inch Type||
Exmor RS 1″ with phase AF
|Resolution (effective in megapixels)||20.1||20.1||20.1||20.1||20.1||20.1|
|Processor||DIGIC 7||DIGIC 6||Venus Engine||BIONZ X||BIONZ X||BIONZ X|
|Focal length (KB)||24-100mm||24-100mm||24-72mm||24-70mm||24-70mm||24-70mm|
|Aperture||f/1.8 – f/2.8||f/1.8 – f/2.8||f/1.4 – f/2.8||f/1.8 – f/2.8||f/1.8 – f/2.8||f/1.8 – f/2.8|
|Shutter speeds||1/2.000s – 15s||1/2.000s – 15s||1/16.000s – 60s||1/2.000s – 30s||1/32000s – 30s||1/32000s – 30s|
|Recording||8 fps||6.5 fps||10 fps||10 fps||16 fps||24 fps|
|Video||35Mbit/s MPEG-4 AVC / H.264||35Mbit/s MPEG-4 AVC / H.264||4K 30p 100Mbps (MP4)||50Mbit/s (XAVC S)||4k 100MBps (XAVC S)||4k 100MBps (XAVC S)|
|Wi-Fi & NFC||
Yes (no NFC)
Resolution Display (pixels)
|3″ 1.040.000 Pixel 3:2||3″ 1.040.000 Pixel 3:2||3″ 1.040.000 Pixel 3:2||3″ 1.228.800 Pixel 4:3||3″ 1.228.800 Pixel 4:3||3″ 1.228.800 Pixel 4:3|
|Battery life (pictures)||240||210||260||320||280||220|
Image Quality and Optics
Now I do not want to go into the picture quality analysis in this comparison. There are others that are much better at doing that and these cameras have been tested by plenty of reviewers. With the exception of the RX100, the cameras share the same sensor which means the quality of the sensor output should be identical. It is in the lens and the image processor that the cameras differ in image quality.
All of them take great photos. That’s what is to be expected in this price range.
I’m not particularly keen on tests conducted in a laboratory so I like to look at how cameras perform in the field.
The biggest differences can be found in the optics of cameras. The Canon offers more focal length, and the Panasonic has a larger aperture at its minimum focal length.
In the Panasonic and the Sony the aperture closes fairly quickly once you start zooming. At 30mm of focal length, the aperture already reaches f/2.8.
The Canon offers a slightly wider aperture through the zoom range and only reaches f/2.8 at 50mm.
f/1.4 vs. f/1.8 Wide Angle
Panasonic is advertising that the LX15 reaches f/1.4 at minimum focal length or wide angle. All I can say about that is: “meh”. In the real world you will barely notice a difference. Bokeh is very similar to the others and the only real advantage you’ll get from this lens is that you’ll be able to use slightly faster shutter speeds with identical ISO settings. That however, isn’t really a killer feature.
ISO 125 – 8.8mm – f / 1.8 – 1/80 sec.
ISO 125 – 8.8mm – f/1.8 – 1/125 sec.
70mm vs. 100mm Tele
The 30mm of additional focal length that the G7X offers however, IS a selling point for me. Here, you will definitely notice a difference. You’ll have more flexibility which you can’t have enough of in a compact daily-driver camera.
70mm: The distance to the scooter was about 10m
100mm – otherwise I have nothing changed
The lens of the G7X is more versatile in focal length and offers a wider aperture throughout more of its zoom range until it reaches 50mm.
In the lab, the results showed that the Canon isn’t quite as sharp as the cameras by Sony and Panasonic. In the real world however, I didn’t notice that. What I did notice is the additional flexibility the Canon gave me.
Point for Canon.
While all these cameras are advertised to have 3” screen, the ones on the Canon and Panasonic seem a little bigger. This is due to their 3:2 aspect ratio. The Sony has a 4:3 display.
By default, you will be shooting in the 3:2 aspect ratio on all the cameras. On the Panasonic and Canon models, the images will fill the entire screen when you review them. On the Sony, those 3:2 images will be displayed with black bars on the top and bottom.
On the other hand, the Sony’s extra screen real estate means that there is space for EXIF data like the shutter speed or ISO settings. The G7X and LX15 display that sort of information on of the images.
After all it merely comes down to preference. Both variants are perfectly usable.
The Canon G7x II from behind
The Sony RX100 III from behind
The Lumix LX 15 from behind
Response time, brightness, and resolution don’t visually differ (as opposed to on paper) except that the screen of the G7X Mark II display seems a tad sharper and more detailed.
Canon and Sony offer the same fold-out hinge on their displays while the Sony can be tilted 180°upwards (selfie mode) and 45° downwards.
Caution: The screen of the G7X Mark I and the LX15 cannot be tilted down.
Tie between the Sonys and the G7X Mark II. -1 point for Panasonic because of the limited articulation of the display.
Will I don’t entirely get why a camera needs a touchscreen, by now you should really ask why there are still cameras without one. Or at least if they come without a viewfinder. A killer feature in the Canon and the Lumix is being able to select your focus are with a tap of a finger. Just tap on the area you want to focus on and done! In that respect, the RX100 is a total slouch.
A Touchscreen also makes reviewing images a much easier process much like it is on a smartphone.
Apart from these benefits, I could happily live without a touchscreen. Sometimes it can even become quite annoying when you end up changing camera settings by accidentally touching the display.
Here, the Sony RX100 III and IV take the cake. Neither the G7X Mark II nor the Lumix LX15 come with an electronic viewfinder.
Depending on what you want to do with your camera, that might not be too much of a deal-breaker.
For me, a luxury compact camera is sort of an add-on to my system-camera. Sort of an always-with-me option. It’s not meant as my main camera that I shoot everything with, but rather a luxury alternative for when I want to take great quality photos without lugging my camera backpack around.
With viewfinders, I now feel much of the same way I do with touchscreens. Back in the day, I couldn’t image shooting without one. Nowadays, I barely use them anymore.
Shooting Videos with the G7 X Mark II, RX100 M3 & M4, and LX15
While I am not an expert in videography, I can tell you that the RX100 III records Full HD video at 50Mbit/s in the XAVC S codec. There is also a special slow-motion mode (120p in NTSC and 100p in PAL) that the Canon doesn’t offer. The Cannon maxes out Full HD AVCHD video at 35Mbit/s with 60 frames per second.
Canon are advertising with improved image stabilization and the touch-to-focus feature.
The LX15 and RX100 IV can both shoot video in 4K and offer a slow-motion mode as well. With 1000 frames per second, the RX100 takes the trophy for slow-motion shooting.
Note: The LX15 doesn’t utilize the entire surface of the sensor for 4K video recording. Instead of 24mm, the minimum focal range is 36mm. Bye bye wide angle…
Size, Weight, and Haptics
When comparing the cameras, you’ll notice that the G7X Mark II is heavier than the others. When using the camera however, the little extra grunt doesn’t make a difference. Neither does the slightly larger size.
In fact, all of the 4 cameras a somewhat heavy and big. They barely scrape the edge of what can be called a compact camera. While they will fit in some jeans pockets, a jacket pocket will be far better suited.
Protruding Components of the Canon
A big and maybe crucial difference in the long run, is that the buttons and switches on the Sony sit flush with the body. The mode-dial on the Canon and the shutter button are protruding from the Canon meaning it might get stuck while trying to pull it out of your pocket. This tends to be a problem in tighter pockets especially. That is annoying and can mean a shorter lifespan for the camera. Sony have clearly gone the extra mile here.
Panasonic lies somewhere in the middle here. Nothing is protruding from the cameras quite as badly as in the G7X Mark II but the controls also don’t sit quiet as flush as in the Sony RX100 III and IV.
In general, these cameras aren’t meant to be carried around without a proper carrying case. Then, the protruding bits don’t matter anyway…Regardless of that, I still just stick it in my pocket without extra protection.
Haptics & Usability
Since the G7X Mark II is a little bigger and heavier it is more pleasing to hold. Improving the haptic feel further is the rubber grip on the front. Sony allows you to add an optional grip.
The LX15 has what looks like an attempted grip, it would greatly benefit from a little rubber to make it less slippery. Still, it is better than the Sony where the grip is purely optional.
Overall, all the cameras here aren’t as comfortable to hold as bigger system cameras or DSLRs. That’s a fact. All the cameras a simple and easy to use though.
All cameras offer a spot for a custom setting on their mode dials and offer buttons that can be assigned to the settings you want to access quickly.
The G7X has a separate dial for exposure compensation. The Sony however, has a freely configurable dial on the back offering more flexibility.
The Panasonic comes with a user assignable dial, an aperture ring on the lens, and an additional ring on the lens.
On top of that, all cameras offer a user configurable Quick/Fn menu among other similarities.
There are lots of settings to tweak to your liking. Funny enough though, I wasn’t able to set up any of the cameras the way I would want to. Trust me though, you’ll get used to them.
The button and dial layouts are also a matter of taste. I personally prefer the buttons on the Sony and the Panasonic which, while smaller, are spaced apart nicely.
Canon G7 x Mark II front | Sony RX100 III rear
A neat feature of the Canon is that you have the choice having the lens ring be clicky or silent. The Lumix on the other hand, has a finite lens ring which simply stops at some point. This can’t be changed in the settings either.
Features, Bells, and Whistles
Personally, I don’t need many features in a camera. auto-mode, aperture priority, and a manual mode are enough for me in 99% of cases.
I never use Creative-modes or scene presets (SCN on the mode-dial) but all of these cameras come with a couple of them. Some of the more, and some of the less usable variety.
While the G7X offers more features at first glance, an important one has been left out: Panorama mode.
On the RX100 III, IV, and the LX15 you’ll find a mode for sweep-panoramas on the mode dial. The Canon on the other hand doesn’t even offer a stitching-tool that would help you assemble a panorama from multiple images. Too bad!
Another advantage the Sonys have over the competition are the PlayMemory apps. These allow you to expand the cameras with even more functionality. All available apps can be found here.
While the 4K features (burst-mode, post-focus, focus tracking) of the Panasonic are kind of nice, who would settle for a maximum stills resolution of 8 megapixels?
Battery Life & Charging
As you can see in the chart above, the Canon Mark II can make 240, the Sony M3 320 shots on a single charge… Well, scoring is pretty easy here.
Just for good measure however, I want to mention the G7X’s Eco-Mode which, according to Canon, allows it to squeeze up to 355 shots from a single charge. As far as I understood, the display and the camera are being put to sleep sooner in Eco-Mode.
The G7X Mark II can now also be charged via USB, a feature that the previous generation didn’t offer. That means you don’t have to carry around an extra battery. A power bank will do the job just fine.
All in all though, the Sony RX100 III takes the trophy in the battery life competition with the LX15 coming in a close second.
As mentioned above, the Canon has the edge on price. However, none of the cameras is what you’d call “cheap”.
There’s not much to be discussed here. We know that Canon has to be competitive against Sony, and the easiest way to do that is through the price. (As of March 1st, 2017)
My Conclusion: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II vs. Sony DSC-RX100 III vs.Sony DSC-RX100 IV vs. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15
The Canon is the more versatile piece of kit but it comes in bigger, heavier, and with significantly shorter battery life. Sony earns points with the electronic viewfinder. While back in the day, I wouldn’t want to miss that, in most situations I’m perfectly fine without one.
Panasonic on the other hand, offers the most options for customization, a simple menu system, and 4K video recording at an unbeatable price point.
How I Decided
For a long time I have been using the RX100 III. That is, until I broke it. Then, out of curiosity, I bought an LX15 which I am still testing at the moment.
However, the Canon G7X Mark II is by far the best of the bunch for my needs. It’s the most comfortable to hold in your hand, and it gives you a lot more flexibility with focal length.
That makes it perfect for trips with the family or a vacation with the kids.
I don’t regularly shoot video. Thus, Full HD is all I ever need. That the RX100 III offers a higher bitrate than the Canon doesn’t really matter to me.
The RX100 IV’s HFR (super slow-motion) mode however, is a lot of fun. You probably won’t find yourself using it enough to justify the higher price tag however.
Another advantage of the RX100 IV is the ISO Auto. Min. setting. While it might sound strange, it is indeed ingenious. It allows you to adjust whether the camera should resort to adjusting the ISO or Shutter Speed first when in aperture or shutter priority mode. In accordance to my mantra “rather noisy than blurry”, I always set my camera to keep the playing children sharp, and increase the ISO sensitivity when necessary.
Sadly, there’s no cake and eating it, too. And the RX100 IV is simply too expensive.
Here’s my personal ranking of the 4 cameras:
- Canon G7 X Mark II
- Panasonic Lumix LX15
- Sony RX100 III
- Sony RX100 IV
My Recommendation: G7 X II, or RX100 III, or RX100 IV, or LX15?
You should buy the Canon G7X II if:
- You’re a Canon user and want to stay one.
- Want the most versatile lens of any luxury compact camera.
- A touchscreen is important to you.
- You can happily live without an electronic viewfinder.
You should get the Sony RX100 III if:
- You want a viewfinder.
- 70mm are enough tele for you.
- You want long battery life.
- Can live without a touchscreen.
- You’re a Sony user anyway.
You should get the Sony RX100 IV if:
- You want a viewinder.
- 70mm are enough tele for you.
- You want to shoot videos in 4K.
- Want the ability to shoot super slow-motion videos.
- Can live without a touchscreen.
- You’re a Sony user anyway.
You should buy the Panasonic Lumix LX15 if:
- You want the lens that is fastest wide open.
- 72mm are enough tele for you.
- Want to shoot videos in 4K.
- Can live without a viewfinder.
- You’re a Lumix user anyway.
While most of this article deals with the G7X Mark II, RX100 M3 & 4, and the LX15, I don’t want to withhold the fact from you that there are a couple of worthwhile alternatives.
RX100 I, II, or even the RX100 V
Throughout the article, I’ve only been talking about the RX100 M3 & M4 while there are three other models in the series that are still on the market.
The RX100 I is my recommendation for those on a tight budget. Everything it does, the G7X Mark I can do a little better. However, the Sony is a lot cheaper.
The RX100 II is almost even with the G7X Mark I in my book. I’d still prefer the G7X over it though.
The RX100 V can do everything the RX100 IV can. New are the phase-detection AF and the impressive maximum burst rate of 24 frames per second combined with a larger memory buffer.
Canon PowerShot G7x Mark I
At some points in this article I have mentioned the first iteration of the G7X. This one is a great camera in its own rights, however the Mark II is a definite improvement and not just carries a new model name. Many things have improved: Better haptics, simpler controls, better burst rates, and higher image quality at higher ISO speeds.
When given the choice, definitely go with the G7X Mark II.
Canon PowerShot G9x
The G9X is the G7X’s smaller brother and, as far as I am concerned, the ideal backup-camera. If you’re using a big camera along with a great deal of lenses that you don’t always want to carry with you, your best bet will be the G9X. It is so small, light, and unassuming, that during the test, I often forgot I was even carrying with me.
Canon PowerShot G5x
The G5X is essentially a G7X Mark I in a bigger, more universal body. Personally, I think this camera is a little too big for what it can do. If you don’t have a problem with that however, the G5X is a great camera.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ101
The Lumix, much like the G5X, is bigger than the RX100 or G7X in every way. Thus, it’s not a real competitor in this race for me.
What you do get is a wider range of focal lengths (25-250mm), a smaller aperture, and 4K video recording.
Nikon DL24-85 F/1.8-2.8
A while ago, Nikon announced three high-end compact cameras. Sadly, as of now they still haven’t been released. That means that we can’t really say anything about them just yet. If you’re invested in the Nikon universe however, it might be worth the wait.
Best Compact cameras