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Canon Powershot G12 Quick Review

January 2011 | By Barnaby 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

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the 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 reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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 A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 4
white shadow

I am revisiting this review after almost 5 years of owning and still using the Canon G12. Despite all these years of use, the camera is still going strong and still one of my favourite compact cameras I have, the other being the Ricoh GR.

I am still amazed that this humble camera can produce excellent 12" X 18" prints over the years. It goes to show that one should not underestimate a small sensor compact camera like the G12.

It is unfortunate Canon is not making compact cameras this way with all the dials of the G12 anymore.

Five years have passed and I am not letting this camera go. There should still be many years of life to go.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
cgarrard

you aren't alone ;) I've written reviews on the G10/12/15/16.. the are all excellent cameras, but yes, I prefer the extra dials and heft of the G10/11/12 for most shooting. Canon should go back to more dials on the next G (g7 isnt a G to me, its an S )

Carl

1 upvote
white shadow

I am now here in Chiangmai/Chiangrai for about 10 days for a short discovery trip to shoot the Karen hill tribe. If you haven't been here you should make this place your next trip. Great place for street photography, food and even some wildlife photography.

Despite bringing along my "better cameras" like my full frame DSLR, a micro 4/3 camera with 4 lenses and a Ricoh GR, the Canon G12 is used the most. It is reliable, have very good colour and easy to use that it always capture the right moments without fail. Great for street portraits and intrepid photography. The excellent photo quality is also due to its CCD sensor instead of a CMOS one. Unfortunately, we don't get this anymore. The dials and simple UI are what make this camera outstanding even after 5 years.

The best camera is still the one that has the ability to capture the moments accurately the most.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
cgarrard

"The best camera is still the one that has the ability to capture the moments accurately the most."

Exactly.

Carl

0 upvotes
Total comments: 4