Canon's PowerShot G-series is one of the most iconic lines of digital compact cameras, with the original G1 having debuted right back in September 2000. The original models sported fast lenses, articulated LCDs, optical viewfinders, Raw data recording and lots of external control, and were aimed at tempting enthusiasts who usually shot with 35mm SLRs to dip a toe into the brave new waters of digital photography.
The line took a hiatus for a couple of years between 2004-6 when affordable APS-C SLRs started to appear, before being reinvented with the smaller, slimmer G7 - redesigned as a compact camera for SLR-owning enthusiasts. To the dismay of many G-series fans, the G7had a slower lens, fixed screen and didn't record Raw. Since then the G7's design has provided the basis for a number of subsequent models, adding back Raw and the swivel screen along the way, right up to the G12 that's been on the market for two years. In the meantime Canon created the G1 X - a variant on the same basic design with a much-larger sensor, and at a correspondingly higher price-point.
Now, with the launch of the G15, Canon has added back one of the original selling points of the G-series; a genuinely fast zoom lens. This covers the same 28-140mm equivalent focal length range as the G12's, but is a stop and a third faster, at F1.8-2.8 rather than F2.8-4.5. This gives the G15 a distinct advantage over its predecessor not only in low light, but also in the ability to blur backgrounds a bit more when shooting at the long end of the zoom.
But while Canon gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. The G15's rear screen is fixed, rather than articulated, a move that Canon says was necessary to make the camera smaller and more pocketable. The G15 is indeed significantly slimmer than its predecessor - by about 15% with the lens retracted - but we can't help but feel that as many potential buyers will be dismayed by the loss of this useful feature as there will be enthusiasts who are delighted by the camera's portability. The G15's screen itself is a large, high-resolution 3" 920k dot unit with a tempered glass cover and a wide viewing angle.
Canon PowerShot G15 key features
- 12MP 1/1.7" Canon CMOS sensor
- 28-140mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 lens, 4-stop 'Intelligent IS'.
- DIGIC 5 processor
- ISO 80-12800
- Fixed 3" 920k dot PureColor II G screen
- Optical viewfinder
- Raw format recording
- Dual-axis electronic level
The G15 uses a Canon-made 12.1MP 1/1.7"-type CMOS sensor, the same as that found in the co-announced S110 (and similar to the one used on the S100), which offers an ISO range from 80 to 12,800 in concert with the DIGIC 5 processor. As we'd expect, Full HD movie recording is available, at a framerate of 24 fps and stereo sound from the built-in microphones. The G15 also (finally) gains a dedicated movie record button, for the first time on a small-sensor G, and the lens can zoom and focus during recording.
One notable improvement from the G12 is distinctly quicker autofocus - 53% faster, according to Canon - which if true, would make the G15 the fastest-focusing compact the company has made. The G15's CMOS sensor also enables rapid continuous shooting at 10 frames per seconds, although only in the somewhat-restrictive High Speed burst HQ mode. In other modes the G15 will shoot at 2.1 fps.