First Impressions Review: Using the Canon PowerShot G16

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When the Canon PowerShot G16 was announced recently there was a general sense of mild anticlimax, both on the part of the journalists assembled at Canon's HQ in Long Island, and among some of our readers here at dpreview.com. To a casual glance the G16 might look like 'just' a G15 with a new processor, tweaked movie settings and Wi-Fi, making it a decidedly iterative upgrade.

On the other hand, the G15 was (and still is) a camera that we liked a lot, and has proven itself a solid and reliable performer in all of the conditions in which we've used it. The G15 is fast, turns out good images, and has a decent feature set. It's the kind of camera we recommend to friends.

Canon PowerShot G16 - Key Features

  • 12MP CMOS sensor
  • 28-140mm (equivalent) F1.8-2.8 zoom
  • ISO 80-12800
  • Fixed, 3in 622k-dot LCD screen
  • DIGIC 6 Processor
  • 1080p/60p video mode
  • Up to 9.3fps continuous shooting
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

The G16 isn't a vastly different product, it's true. But it is a better one. The G16 still offers 12MP and, while Canon USA is saying it's the same conventional CMOS sensor as the G15, Canon Japan says it's a BSI CMOS design, which should mean improved low-light performance. The DIGIC 6 processor delivers what Canon claims is a ~50% increase in speed where it counts - shutter lag and AF acquisition, and the convenience of built-in Wi-Fi has the potential to appeal to a lot of people.

Beyond this, the G16 becomes the first Canon compact to offer focus peaking, to aid manual focusing and it continues with the G15's impressively bright F1.8-2.8 zoom lens - which should help make the most of its low light capability, despite it also finding room to offer one of the broadest zoom ranges in its class.

The G16 is Canon's first compact to offer focus peaking, which makes manual focus much more useful than it has been previously by highlighting in focus areas. Red is the default highlight color (shown here).

Handling and Performance

The G16 is about as mature a 'new' product as it is possible to make, being the latest in a long series of G-series cameras going back more than a decade, which all share the same basic design tenets. These are a fast zoom lens (28-140mm equivalent in this case), an optical viewfinder, full PASM control and plenty of buttons and dials to attract 'hands-on' enthusiasts. And of course very good image quality, in this case from a 12MP 1/1.7" CMOS sensor - a step up from the one featured in the last-generation G15, and still an outstanding performer alongside peers like Nikon's Coolpix P7700 (and the more recent P7800) and the Fujifilm X20.

The G16's top controls are (left to right) an exposure mode dial, exposure compensation dial, shutter button and combined zoom control, and the main on/off switch.

In this view you can also see the red movie record button on the camera's rear, the ISO button to the left, and the playback button on the extreme left, adjacent to the exposure compensation dial. 
The rest of the G16's controls are clustered to the right of the LCD screen. A combined 4-way controller and dial sit at the center, with options at its cardinal points for setting manual focus, flash mode, display mode and macro/normal focus. The 'FUNC/SET' button at its hub brings up the old familiar Canon func., menu, for adjusting commonly-used settings.

Beneath the 4-way controller are buttons for AF point placement (which doubles as the Wi-Fi button in playback mode) and the G16's main menu. 

Although the sensor is the same, Canon has updated the processor in the G16 to DIGIC 6, which results in a claimed 50% improvement in speed, and should also (we're told) make a difference to JPEG image quality at high ISO sensitivity settings.

As far as performance goes, one of the main areas in which the G15 (and indeed G12) won out over Nikon's P7100 and P7700 was speed. Specifically, burst depth, and write times when shooting in Raw mode. When we reviewed the P7700 recently, we recommended the purchase of a high-end UHS-I card with the camera for anyone intending to shoot Raw. The G15 on the other hand was pretty much always ready to shoot, regardless of file format.

The G15 also offered a brighter lens than the P7700, which helped it stay competitive in low light, despite using a more conventional sensor design. Its F1.8-2.8 lens gives it a roughly 0.7EV aperture advantage over the P7800, across most of its zoom range.

In short, we never thought speed was a major issue with the G15, but we're always pleased to see improvements, and the G16 is a very 'snappy' camera. Focus acquisition happens within a second at any focal length even in marginal lighting conditions (the difference in AF speed between the G16 and G15 is minimal though - the G15 was a fast camera when it was announced, and it still is), and shutter lag is effectively non-existent. Shot to shot time is negligible, even when shooting Raw. The G16's 'stunt' high-speed capture modes of 12 and 9fps are JPEG-only, but Raw shooters will be pleased to note that with a midrange UHS-I card installed, the G16 can shoot Raw+JPEG captures continuously at approximately 1.6fps for as long as you can hold your finger down, and doesn't lock up when the images are being written to your memory card. 

Wi-Fi

A full rundown of the G16's various features is beyond the scope of a quick article like this, but I do want to quickly go over arguably the most important new feature, which is Wi-Fi. Canon has steadily been adding Wi-Fi to its consumer and enthusiast-model cameras over the past 18 months or so, and with this autumn's new releases, the feature has matured a little. In fact, a full 24 pages of Canon's (download only) G16 user manual are devoted to the function. The Wi-Fi component of the G16 allows you to do three main things:

  • Connect to the Internet/Social media (via Canon Image Gateway)
  • Connect to a smartphone or tablet computer to view/save images and append GPS data
  • Connect to another (Canon Wi-Fi-enabled) camera to share images

Connecting to a smartphone or tablet computer is very easy once you've installed Canon's (free) Picture Window app. The on-screen directions are clear and concise. I managed to pair the G16 with my iPhone in a couple of minutes. From the app, you can view images on the camera's memory card, and save them from the same window, or 'send' them from the camera to the phone. Images can be sent/saved in medium, small or full-resolution. You can connect the devices over a pre-existing Wi-Fi network, or if you're out and about, the camera can become a node, and your mobile device can connect to it in much the same way. 

The first step to pairing the G16 with a smartphone or tablet, once you've downloaded Canon's Camera Window app is to name the devices. Despite the G16 lacking a touchscreen its on-screen keyboard is easy and quick to use (so long as you don't enter a really really long 'nickname' for your camera).

You can also use your smartphone's geolocation logs to append GPS data to the images captured on the camera, via the Camera Window app. The app has to be running, at which point you take your pictures, connect the camera to the phone wirelessly, and then hit the option to 'add locations to images on the camera'. The process (when we could get it to work) is rather confusing, and ultimately a poor substitute for a GPS system built into the camera itself.   

Once my iPhone was connected to the G16, I could view, select and save images from the camera onto my phone, directly into the camera roll.  Because smartphones know where they are at all times, Canon's CameraWindow app can take geolocation data from your phone, and append it to images captured on the G16.

Theoretically, the G16 can also be connected to the cloud via Canon's Image Gateway service, and to a computer for automatic or manual backup/transfer of images. For reasons unknown (possibly because the camera is so new) we've been unable to complete the process of product and service registration to test these features on the G16. That's something we'll be working on as we move forward. Watch this space...

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Canon PowerShot G16

Comments

Total comments: 350
123
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (7 months ago)

This looks like a nice camera, and it will probably be a perfect choice for some.

But personally I don't find any compelling reason to select one of these over it's rivals. The RX100 is smaller and has better IQ. The LX7 is smaller and cheaper. The EPM2 has much better IQ and you can swap lenses. The Nikon 1 is even a better choice, as far as I am concerned.

I just find it too big, too expensive, and too limited in what it can do. However, I feel the G1 X is a very compelling camera, due to the much larger sensor.

The Canon G series are still nice cameras, that seem to everything fairly wekll, but they are pretty much like your father's Oldsmobile. However, for many people this will still be the perfect camera.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
15 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

How about for many, I bet Canon sell more G15/16s than any other maker combined for this class of camera. RX100/100II is also in a different class, it's the size of the S110/120 cameras, but it's also heavier than the G15. Weight matters at times, especially when in the pocket. It can be the size of a dime but if it weighs like a paperweight.....

2 upvotes
Adrian Van
By Adrian Van (7 months ago)

In good light especially for outdoor photos on travel vacation, a camera like G15/16 is fast at AF and takes decent enough photos, is lightweight with collapsible lens to fit in small pouch. Exactly what my wife would want over a ILC larger lens mirrorless. Myself, I would own both mirrorless ILC/CSC and a advanced compact camera like this one, and I do.

For a less important social / family / travel walkabout this is plenty good enough image quality especially for family photos. I will bring my DSLR (or maybe CSC mirrorless) along when the best quality is needed or AF speed. Who owns only one camera if they are an enthusiast these days?

Top cameras for advanced compacts: G15/16 or P7800 or LX7 in my opinion for the lightest to carry with decent length zoom. I imagine some pros or semi pros still buy these cameras in addition to owning other cameras.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Marcos Villaroman
By Marcos Villaroman (7 months ago)

As a long time Canon fanboy, the G series of cameras are instantly recognizable to me. But, these days I find I want a more pocketable small camera or if I have to lug it around in a small camera bag if I am settling for small sensor. So I'd be looking for a RX100 III (with hopefully improved ergonomics) or a LX7 for now.

0 upvotes
justmeMN
By justmeMN (7 months ago)

High-end 1/1.7" sensor cameras may seem like a dated concept, but as long as people keep buying them, Canon and Nikon will keep making them.

5 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

You nailed that one to the wall. Exactly.

3 upvotes
franzel
By franzel (7 months ago)

No fully articulating display, no thanks .

1 upvote
DFPanno
By DFPanno (7 months ago)

I'll keep my RX100 thanks.

18 upvotes
SergioMO
By SergioMO (7 months ago)

Me too !

3 upvotes
Allen Yang
By Allen Yang (7 months ago)

What if this Canon G16 is 150 bucks cheaper than your Sony RX100?

1 upvote
NIK11
By NIK11 (7 months ago)

DPRE says G16 has the same sensor as G15.

Canon UK says it's a (new) BSI version (Sony anyone?). Can someone from DPRE please confirm which is correct?

0 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Good question...

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (7 months ago)

We checked with Canon USA and they're saying it's definitely the same as the one in the G15.

However, Canon UK's website is still stating BSI CMOS.

Our article has been amended to reflect this inconsistency.

1 upvote
BeaniePic
By BeaniePic (7 months ago)

Love my G15, One of the Best Small Format cameras I've ever used. The G16 looks like a Great camera. I won't need to upgrade but am so pleased that Canon do what they do and hope they continue at the pace they do it. Thumbs Up!!!

5 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (7 months ago)

Probably a score of 65 and a DPR GOLD Award.

3 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Probably not a score of 65, and the G15 got gold. Since the G16 isn't much different it probably will get a gold award. I certainly give the G15 my equivalent of one.

0 upvotes
Photato
By Photato (7 months ago)

The originals G1, G2 had a 3X lens.
That, with a larger sensor, say 2/3" or 1" would have made this a more compelling product.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Likely the G17/18 may be that step, but the G15/16's super fast lens, excellent range, and very very good sensor translate into good to great shots made in almost any circumstance. Spec shoppers can nitpick the G15/G16 to death, but those that USE it know it's not far off on IQ from any of the major competition out there including cameras with larger sensors.

3 upvotes
Photato
By Photato (7 months ago)

Nope, the G16 pics are meh.
The zoom range needs to scale back and the sensor has to grow if you want higher quality pictures.
These days some phones have larger sensors.

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Larger sensors and lessor IQ. I'm not saying I'm not for larger sensors, but no lunch is free. Keeping the lens speed fast and zoom range useable becomes more and more difficult for a compact camera the larger the sensor. A 2/3" sized sensor may be the next logical step for Canon since the G1X already has an almost APS-C sized sensor in it - the largest of its class.

Period.

1 upvote
reginalddwight
By reginalddwight (7 months ago)

The emergence of CSC has made tweener cameras like the Canon G16 and Nikon P7800 increasingly irrelevant.

7 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

That might be true but to what margin? That is key. If companies are producing serious compacts at a rate far greater than in the past (before CSC) one has to consider by just how much they are making them irrelevant- obviously the are selling and in demand.

Personally, a camera like the G15/16/RX100II is much more appealing for a compact solution given the range and speed of lenses and overall IQ- not to mention how compact they are in comparison to m4/3 cameras etc.

Body only, they are similar, soon as you add a lens, m4/3 cameras lose the compact advantage in most cases- and in all cases if you try to match the focal length equivalent. Try finding a 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8 lens for a CSC, any brand, and reply. Good luck to you!

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
TacticDesigns
By TacticDesigns (7 months ago)

Probably true to us camera junkies . . . but you have to admit that its a pretty solid offering . . . If someone was asking you what camera to get and they didn't want to get into changing lenses . . . this would probably be one of the cameras you'd tell them to check out . . . :)

1 upvote
Thomas Gutjahr
By Thomas Gutjahr (7 months ago)

I'm currently travelling with a nikon v2, which is much lighter can a DSLR with an equivalent lens attached. Once operational (after startup or wakeup), focusing in bright light is fast - faster compared to a cpmpact. CSC and compact share relatively slow wakeup and startup. Compacts, however, are much lighter and portable. Do each system has its pros and cons and users need to decide what suitable to them.

2 upvotes
Thomas Gutjahr
By Thomas Gutjahr (7 months ago)

I'm currently travelling with a nikon v2, which is much lighter than a DSLR with an equivalent lens attached. Once operational (after startup or wakeup), focusing in bright light ins fast - faster compared to a cpmpact. CSC and compact share relatively slow wakeup and startup. Compacts, however, are much lighter and portable. So each system has its pros and cons and users need to decide what suitable to them.

0 upvotes
Adrian Van
By Adrian Van (7 months ago)

To Thomas: this G16 claims to be faster AF speed or less lag time than previously. Not all compacts are the same. Depends on processor and other factors. Many new CSCs (like new Olympus and Panasonic models) now have very fast AF and okay startup. Bit slower AF in very low light though because of contrast detect focus.

1 upvote
Lawrencew
By Lawrencew (7 months ago)

Pity there is no remote control of the camera via wifi as with 70D and 6D.
Why does Canon cripple its lesser models like this?

2 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (7 months ago)

I hope SX60 will be more exciting.

1 upvote
tomasson88
By tomasson88 (7 months ago)

I hope there will be a sx60 HS...

1 upvote
Infared
By Infared (7 months ago)

Why?
..and its ugly.
ya know...Canon has been off the mark a LOT these days.
This situation kind of reminds me of RIM/Blackberry...of course it should be RINM.
Research (Not) In Motion.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

The G15 is not off the mark- it's a fine fine camera. How can Canon be off the mark when they are the world leader in camera sales? I ask that, not accusatory, but with pure curiosity as to how you come to that conclusion.

2 upvotes
Red5TX
By Red5TX (7 months ago)

General Motors used to be the world leader in automobile sales, but they eventually lost sight of what matters, became less competitive, etc. It can happen to anybody. Just ask Microsoft.

8 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Of course it can, I'm not denying that. But Canon haven't slipped from the top spot- not in a very long time. And still are there. Every year I hear comments like this, and every year Canon still stay #1. This has been since 2001. I'm not saying they can't fall, I'm saying they haven't and whatever they are doing is working. Their products are mature products that don't offer gimmicktry in most circumstances, more calculated progressive designs- apparently that works.

2 upvotes
Hachu21
By Hachu21 (7 months ago)

cgarrard, did you heard about the M success? I think we can call that a fail from Canon. And the mirorless market is not a niche anymore.

1 upvote
Eleson
By Eleson (7 months ago)

@cgarrard, does their market position say anything about the cameras qualities?

1 upvote
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

Were we talkign about the M only here? Oh we were? I thought we were talking about Canon's success. One failure in many successes does not an "off the mark lately" make. Lets not exaggerate the truth. Fact is that Canon is doing very well, and that cannot be contradicted, no matter how many times you claim it. Fact is a fact I'm afraid.

@eleson, apparently it does to a vast majority if they are making and selling more than any other maker. To you, probably not, but you don't represent the entire camera market.

0 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (7 months ago)

yawn, another 6 months, another irrelevant "professional" P&S...

2 upvotes
massimogori
By massimogori (7 months ago)

I noticed the size of the wi-fi logo. Is it aimed at visually impaired people?

0 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (7 months ago)

my guess is that it's the only difference between G16, and the previous version, so they decided to make the logo so prominent

1 upvote
JWIS206
By JWIS206 (7 months ago)

I suspect the WI-FI logo is just a sticker that can easily be removed. That's the way it was on my SX280 HS.

0 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (7 months ago)

I wonder if this will be the last camera of this type from Canon; it seems like we are reading about newest and greatest from 2005.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (7 months ago)

The G6 (from 2004) had an F2.0 lens; the G16 doesn’t.

The G7 (from 2005) had an F2.8 lens and didn’t shoot raw.

There wasn’t a G series release in 2005.

But that 2004 version sure had a faster lens than the G16.

Somehow I'd bet it's not the last from Canon in this series.

0 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (7 months ago)

@HowaboutRAW- Sorry that's wrong. The G15 and G16 have an f/1.8-2.8 range, the G6 had a f/2-f/3 range. The zoom range on the lens was also less, especially on the wide end.

3 upvotes
BeaniePic
By BeaniePic (7 months ago)

HowaboutRAW should read before commenting. This is the fastest G serious camera ever. i use the G15 which is the same. Stunningly fast and accurate...

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (7 months ago)

cgarrard:

Yes, I was wrong about the F-stop. I shouldn't have gone by my memory of the other later Gs.

BeaniePic:

Look up the meaning of fast.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
panamforeman
By panamforeman (7 months ago)

Still and all I see very little reason to upgrade to the G16. It is/will be a great camera. I have the G15 and think it is a great camera, but I don't see the dramatic difference in the two. The only way I would upgrade is if the IQ is "significantly" improved and the low-light performance is "much" better. And that's saying a lot since the G15 is outstanding in those two categories.
Interesting & dramatic changes coming next year? G2X?? G17?

0 upvotes
BeaniePic
By BeaniePic (7 months ago)

Hi HowaboutRaw. No need for me to look up the meaning. When I bought my G15 it out preformed, Sony, Olympus and Fufi when I tested them. Haven't look back since. :)

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (7 months ago)

BeaniePic:

Sure looks like you need to look up the term.

And no a G15 doesn't outperform generally Sony, Olympus or [Fifi]. The G15 may do better than some of those companies' cameras. After all the Panasonic LX7 and the Samsung EX2F, at least when wide, will always be faster than the Canon G15.

0 upvotes
Zigmont
By Zigmont (7 months ago)

I use cameras like these to cover trade shows; much easier to carry than my old Nikon D200 or D70, plus I need the video recording feature.

I've been using a Nikon P7000 and P7700 but still not happy with their speed or the 30fps video, I need fast reflexes when grabbing trade show shots. So this Canon may be just what I need, thanks for the preview.

3 upvotes
Total comments: 350
123