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Canon Powershot G12 Quick Review

January 2011 | By Barney Britton


Review based on a production Powershot G12

This is the latest in our series of 'Quick Reviews.' We use this format for cameras that are operationally similar and identical in terms of output to models we've already reviewed. We test to confirm the image quality is identical (noise tests and shots of our 'compared to' studio scene at all ISOs), then concentrate the review on the differences between the two cameras. To learn everything about the camera you are interested in we recommend reading not only the Quick Review but also the full review of the Canon Powershot G11.

Canon's Powershot G-series is a stalwart of the high-end compact camera market. Originally designed to offer film SLR users a (relatively) affordable ladder into enthusiast digital imaging, over the past ten years G-series cameras have evolved to become what they are now - aspirational, high-quality compact cameras and attractive second bodies for existing DSLR users, fitting into the niche between 'mainstream' compact offerings and small DSLRS.

As you may have seen in our recent high-end compact camera group test, competition in this segment of the market is fierce. But not only does the Canon Powershot G12 have to contend with this most recent crop of compact cameras, it also faces stiff competition from an entirely new category - mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In recent months, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung have started attacking the high-end compact market aggressively with high-quality, but small cameras with much larger (APS-C or Four Thirds) sensors. A camera like the recently unveiled Olympus PEN E-PL2 with its collapsible 14-42mm kit zoom isn't much bigger (or more expensive) than the G12, and it has a considerably larger Four Thirds sensor (over 5x the light-collecting area).

Along with the Nikon Coolpix P7000, the Canon Powershot G12 is the largest 'traditional' (i.e. fixed lens, small sensor) compact camera currently available. Is the convenience of its 28-140mm (equivalent) built-in zoom and articulated LCD enough to make it stand out from today's crop of compact and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras? Read our quick review to find out.

Compared to Canon Powershot G11 - key differences

The G12 is extremely similar to its predecessor the G11 in terms of specification, but Canon has made some significant improvements. Here is a list of the key differences:
  • Slightly lighter (by 4g)
  • Higher resolution video mode (720p up from VGA)
  • ISO expansion up to 12,800 (at 2.5MP)
  • ISO control in 1/3EV steps
  • New front control dial (similar to that found on EOS DSLRs)
  • Greater choice of aspect ratios
  • Hybrid IS mode
  • HDR mode
  • Electronic spirit level
  • Tracking AF mode

S90, G11 and G12 compared (key differences)

 

Canon Powershot S95

Canon Powershot G11

Canon Powershot G12
Optical zoom • 28-105mm (equivalent) • 28-140mm (equivalent) • 28-140mm (equivalent)
Aperture range • f/2.0-4.9 • f/2.8-4.5 • f/2.8-4.5
Video mode • MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]:
1280 x 720 @ 24 fps
640 x 480 @ 30fps
320 x 240 @ 30fps
Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
• MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural)]:
640x480 @ 30fps
320x240@30fps

• MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (stereo)]:
1280 x 720 @ 24 fps
640 x 480 @ 30fps
320 x 240 @ 30fps
Miniature Effect (HD, L) 6fps, 3fps, 1.5 fps
Audio • Stereo • Mono • Stereo
Aspect Ratios • 16:9
• 3:2
• 4:3
• 1:1
• 4:5
• 4:3
• 16:9
• 16:9
• 3:2
• 4:3
• 1:1
• 4:5
LCD screen • 3.0" TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
• 2.8" Vari-angle TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
• 2.8"" Vari-angle TFT LCD monitor
• 460,000 dots
• Approx 100% coverage
Viewfinder None Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder
Dimensions 100 x 58 x 30mm 112 x 76 x 48 mm 112 x 76 x 48mm
Weight (body only) Approx. 193g Approx. 355g Approx. 351g

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

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