Buying Guides

Sony RX100 V vs Canon G7X Mark II – Battle of the High End Compacts!

Sony RX100 Mark V VS Canon G7X Mark II Underwater

High end compacts are the hottest thing in underwater photography these days. They’re tiny, boast incredible specs, large sensors, sharp optics, loads of features, rapid focusing and overall astonishing quality. What else does an underwater photographer need?

Undoubtedly, the two market leaders currently producing the best compact cameras are Sony, with their legendary RX100 series and Canon, with the rival GXX series. Underwater photographers have officially adopted these tiny and very capable cameras as their favorites, and housing manufacturers are working around the clock to develop the best products to take these cameras underwater, safely and without compromising on functionality.

These days, divers worldwide are mostly discussing two specific models for underwater photography – Sony RX100 Mark V and Canon G7X Mark II.

We took these two popular cameras to the test, to help you decide which one fits your needs.

The Sony RX100 V

The Sony RX100 V is the latest model in the ultra-successful RX100 series, which brought compacts up to a whole new level. The new Mark V retains the excellent 4K video capabilities, as well as super slow motion at 960fps. The AF system on the RX100 V is worth noting – blazing-fast 0.05-second autofocus, 315 AF points said to be the “world’s most comprehensive phase-detection coverage of its kind”.

Read our full review on the Sony RX100 V here

Taken with the Sony RX100 V
Taken with the Sony RX100 V in Gardens of the Queen, Cuba (by: Ran Mor)

The Canon G7X Mark II

Canon are slightly behind Sony, which has taken the lead on high-end compact cameras, but they manage to keep up pretty well, offering a more competitive price and better usability, with very user-friendly cameras, easier to use than their Sony rivals.

The Canon G7X Mark II is currently the market leader by Canon. This pocket-sized camera boasts fantastic image quality, delivered by a 20.1MP 1″ CMOS Sensor and a Digic 7 processor. While it lacks 4K video capabilities, compared to the RX100 V, it makes up for it with a longer lens range (x4.2 zoom), more competitive price point and easier interface.

The longer zoom range is regarded highly among macro lovers, who need the most magnification possible with an add-on diopter / macro lens.

Read our full review on the Canon G7X II here

Arrow Crab, Cozumel shot with G7XII + Nauticam CMC-1
Arrow Crab, Cozumel shot with G7XII + Nauticam CMC-1 (by: Ran Mor)

Specification Comparison

  Canon G7X Mark II
Sony RX100 Mark V
MSRP (US$) $679 (as of Mar 2017) $1000 (as of Mar 2017)
Sensor / MP 1.0″ inch (0.52″ x 0.35″) – 20.2MP 1.0″ inch (0.52″ x 0.35″) – 21MP
Lens 24 – 100mm F1.8 – F2.8 (x4.2 zoom) 24 – 70mm F1.8 – F2.8 (x2.9 zoom)
Max Video Quality 1920 x 1080p: 59.94 fps, 29.97 fps, 23.98 fps 3840 x 2160p (4K): 30 fps, 25 fps, 24 fps

1920 x 1080p: 240 fps, 480 fps, 960 fps (Super Slow Motion)

ISO 125-25600 80-12800
Max Shutter Speed 1/2000s 1/32000s (Electronic Shutter)
Screen Resolution  3.0″ LCD (1,040,000 pixels) 3.0″ LCD (1,228,800 pixels)
Touch Screen Yes No
Battery Life (CIPA) 265 220
Shoots RAW Yes Yes
Continuous Shooting 8 fps in Raw format (up to 30 frames) 24 fps in raw format (up to 71 frames)
Underwater White Balance Yes Yes (with firmware update)
Minimum Focus Distance 1.97″ (5 cm) – 1.31′ (40 cm) 1.97″ (5 cm) – 11.81″ (30 cm)
Dimensions 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7″ / 105.5 x 60.9 x 42.0 mm 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6″ / 101.6 x 58.1 x 41.0 mm

Underwater Housings

Both the Sony and Canon cameras are very well supported for underwater. All the major manufacturers released excellent housings to support these high-end compacts, so there are plenty to choose from for every budget.

Fantasea

FRX100 IV Housing

FG7XII Housing

Nauticam

NA-RX100V Housing

NA-RX100V Pro Package

NA-G7XII Housing

Ikelite

6116.15 Housing for RX100 III / IV / V

6146.08 Standard Housing for G7X II

6245.08 Action Housing for G7X II

Photo samples

Sony RX100 Mark V Underwater photo samples

Canon G7X Mark II Underwater photo samples

Usability

Both cameras allow full and easy control over all important settings, usually within a button click away. They both have two dials, to control shutter speed and aperture in manual mode, quick access to WB, ISO, Exposure Compensation, Flash and other crucial settings.

The Canon is overall more intuitive. The menu is easier to understand. It has a touch screen so playing around with it above water feels nicer.

What I like about the Sony, as a photographer who is used to DSLR’s, is that it is FAST. It focuses and fires almost as fast as a DSLR, which is incredible for a compact camera. I sometimes feel like it took the shot even before I pressed the shutter.

Specifically for underwater, there is one annoying issue which I’m not sure why Sony overlooked. When the flash is popped up, you cannot turn it off in any mode other than Auto. That basically means that if you popped it up, you’re stuck with it, making it hard to switch from flash photography to natural light. You can turn off your external strobes of course, but the flash will still go off inside the housing, wasting battery life and slowing down your rapid firing. We’re still hoping for a firmware update to fix that, but no news on that yet.

May 2017 UPDATE: Problem solved! Way to go Sony! The new firmware upgrade fixes the flash issue and adds much needed UW White Balance! More on the update here

Bonaire G7X Mark II
Bonaire, Canon G7X Mark II with UWL-09F Wide Angle lens

Bottom Line

Both of these cameras are amazing. They produce high quality photos and videos and paired with the right lighting and accessories, are easily capable of award winning photos.

Even with just the camera and housing, a diver can snap some incredible photos and create stunning videos.

There is no doubt the Sony RX100 V is the better camera here, which is why the price tag is higher. It has better specs than the Canon, especially when considering video capabilities. I found the Sony to be more responsive, faster to focus and slightly better image quality. The Sony RX100 Mark V is likely the best compact camera produced to date.

That being said, the Canon G7X Mark II gives up quite a fight. The menu and controls are significantly easier to navigate and more intuitive for most, the zoom is longer (x4.2 vs x2.9) which is helpful when shooting skittish subjects, the Underwater White Balance is very helpful, if you don’t like messing around with custom WB and the battery life is longer.

If you are looking for a camera that is easier to use, more affordable, and you plan to mostly shoot photos rather than videos, I would recommend going with the Canon G7X Mark II.

If you are used to a DSLR above water and want to get the closest thing, but in a much smaller size, or if you plan to shoot mostly videos, the Sony RX100 Mark V is the camera for you.

Whichever one you choose to get, make sure you do your research on choosing wet lenses, picking the right strobe and how to set it up correctly before taking your new camera and housing underwater.

If you still need any more advice or have some more specific questions, feel free to contact me at ran@housingcamera.com.

I’m always happy to help!

Dive safe and mind your fins 😉

RM

Ran Mor
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Ran Mor

Sales and Marketing at Mozaik Underwater Cameras
Ran is a professional photographer for over 14 years. His passion for scuba diving and photography has pushed him to combine his profession and hobby and become a professional underwater photographer. Teaching is one of his greatest passions and over the years he has shared his experience with many divers and aspiring photographers. Along with his wife Danielle, an experienced Scuba Instructor, they have founded Dive and More, leading dive trips and UW photo workshops all over the world. Ran is also an electrical engineer and an avid internet marketing specialist.
Visit his personal portfolio at www.ranmorphoto.com.
Ran Mor
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6 comments

  1. Steve April 26, 2017

    Ran,
    Do either the Sony or the Canon support TTL flash metering?

  2. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor April 27, 2017

    Hi Steve!

    Yes, actually both of them support it.
    The flash’s default mode is TTL and you can use a fiber optically triggered flash with TTL support such as the Inon S-2000 / Z-240 and the Sea & Sea YS-01 / YS-D2. They all work perfectly with both cameras.

  3. Matt September 21, 2017

    Looking at g7x I vs rx100 iii – similar price. Having a hard time deciding. UW and above use. Thoughts?

  4. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor September 21, 2017

    Hi Matt!

    The G7X Mark I is now discontinued so a bit hard to get.
    Both cameras are excellent, but I tend to prefer the Sony, especially after the recent firmware upgrade in which they added UW White Balance and fixed the pop-up flash issue.
    Focusing is faster on the Sony and the image quality is slightly better.

    However, if you’re a Canon shooter, you may feel more comfortable with the Canon interface. Also, the Canon has more zoom (x4 vs x3), which is nice to have for macro (with a wet lens) or for general fish portraits.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Chris October 5, 2017

    Hello may i ask?
    If my purpose is just for take a photo while traveling. And i’m a newbie here. Which camera are fit for me? G7x mark ii, RX100 iii, rx100 iv or rx100 v. Thankyou 🙂

  6. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor October 5, 2017

    Hi Chris,

    All cameras are excellent. This article discusses mostly underwater applications. For land based use perhaps you should consult with major photography sites which compare the two above the water.

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