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Compared to Canon Powershot G12 and G1 X

On this page we give you an overview of the design and operational differences between the Canon Powershot G15, its predecessor the G12, and both cameras' large sensor cousin, the G1 X.

Camera body comparison

When seeing the G15, G12 and G1 X side-by-side, at first it's hard to tell the three cameras apart. They share almost identical styling and ergonomics, and their dimensions are pretty close as well. However, upon closer examination the differences become quite obvious. The G15 is the smallest and lightest of the three, which makes it the best option if pocketability is far up your list of priorities. As you can see from the top-town view, the G15 is considerably slimmer than either the G12 and G1X.

The difference in dimensions compared to the G12 is largely caused by the lack of the swivel LCD, which makes the G15 about 17% slimmer. This margin is by no means massive, but it makes a difference when handling the camera and storing it in a coat pocket. The G1 X of course is a totally different kettle of fish. Although it closely follows the G-series design ethos, its much larger sensor (vs the G15 and G12's 1/1.7" sensor, see diagram at the bottom of this page) requires a much larger lens which protrudes from the body even with the camera switched off. This is also the reason why the G1 X is approximately 180 grams heavier than the G15, at 534 grams.

Despite small differences in design and dimensions, all three cameras look very similar from the front. The main difference on the G12 is the built-in flash on the top right, which has been swapped for a pop-up variant on the G15 and G1 X. Meanwhile the G1 X lacks an integrated lens cover, and needs a separate cap instead.
The button layout on the rear is essentially identical on all three cameras, but while the button in the top right corner of the G12 locks the exposure, this has been converted into a dedicated movie button on the G1 X and G15. The other element on the camera back that separates the three cameras is of course the LCD screen. The G12 comes with a 2.7" screen, while the larger G1 X finds space for a 3" variant. The G15 has done away with the swivel screen and sports a 3" fixed variant, resulting in a thinner camera profile.

The top-down view illustrates the different depths of the three Canon G-series models, but also shows the evolution in terms of control layout. The oldest model, the G12, sports an exposure compensation dial to the left of the flash hotshoe, and a stacked ISO/mode dial combination on the right. On the G1 X the number of dials has been reduced to two - to make space for the pop-up flash but presumably also because the expanded ISO range makes the use of a physical dial less feasible. The exposure compensation dial has taken over its location.

The G15's dial layout is almost identical to the G1 X, but the mode and exposure compensation dials have been slightly offset, making the latter more easily controllable with your thumb without altering your grip on the camera.

Key specification comparison

The table below compares the G15's key specification against its predecessor G12 and Canon's large-sensor compact, the G1 X. Compared to the G12 the G15 has a sensor with a slightly higher pixel count, sports the newer Digic 5 imaging processor, a faster lens, higher resolution screen, expanded ISO range (on the G12 ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 are only available in a very limited high sensitivity mode), faster continuous shooting and higher resolution video recording.

Canon Powershot G15
Canon Powershot G12
Canon G1 X
Sensor 12.1 megapixels
1/1.7" (7.44 x 5.58 mm)
10.0 megapixels
1/1.7" (7.44 x 5.58 mm)
14.3 megapixels
1.5" (18.7 x 14 mm)
Processor Digic 5 Digic 4 Digic 5
ISO 80-12800 80-3200 100-12800
Lens 28 – 140mm equiv
28 – 140mm equiv
F2.8 - F4.5
28 – 112mm equiv
F2.8 - F5.8
LCD Fixed
Con drive 2.1 fps 1.1 fps 1.9 fps
Video 1920 x 1080 (24 fps) 1280 x 720 (24 fps) 1920 x 1080 (24 fps)
Dimensions 107 x 76 x 40 mm
(4.21 x 2.99 x 1.57")
112 x 76 x 48 mm
(4.41 x 2.99 x 1.89")
117 x 81 x 65 mm
(4.61 x 3.19 x 2.56")
(inc. batteries)
352 g
(0.78 lb / 12.42 oz)
401 g
(0.88 lb / 14.14 oz)
534 g
(1.18 lb / 18.84 oz)

The G1 X's specification reads more similarly to the G15's, but the camera is larger and heavier due to its larger sensor (see diagram below). It also means that the image quality, especially at higher sensitivities, is considerably better than the G15, with more image detail and less noise. That said, the G15's faster lens means that you can select a lower ISO setting to achieve a certain shutter speed in a given light situation, reducing this particular advantage of the G1 X's larger sensor. The diagram below shows the size of the G15 and G12's sensor (1/1.7") in comparison to the G1 X's and other popular sensor formats.

The Canon Powershot G15's 1/1.7" sensor is slightly larger than the 1/2.3" sensors found in most compact cameras, but significantly smaller than the 1" sensor that can be found in the Nikon 1 system cameras and the Sony RX100, or the 1.5" sensor of the G1 X.
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Total comments: 6

I purchased a G15 a few years ago before a trip to New York. Frankly, it was just too inconvenient to carry around one of my DSLRs on and off subways, to the Giants Stadium, and other places with a couple small kids along for the ride. But, I certainly didn’t want to go all the way to NYC without the ability to capture great shots.

I came home with a few hundred wonderful photos taken throughout the city; day and night; indoors and out.

What a great investment. If this camera had the ability to pin-point focal points, I’d leave the D200 and D3100 home 90% of the time.

In addition to the camera’s performance, I really like the solid feel of the camera. Very well built.

Gene Aker

I am an old time black and white film photographer, but have also been shooting digital for about 10 years. I do shoot quite a lot of black and white images with the G15. (I also used the G12). I travel quite a bit in Europe--mostly Paris and Rome. This is the best travel camera I have ever used. Like all cameras, it's a compromise. I've tried others such as the Nikon 7800? and a Nikon super zoom. But I sent them back.
RE: the G15, for the money, for the viewfinder, speed, build quality, convenience, it's the best for me. I also like the quality I get when shooting black and white.
It seems closest to the spirit of an old Nikon such as the FM or FM3A.


I had an Oly XZ1 for about a year and then sold it. The IQ was good and the lens sharp but I found the sensor noise not good at high ISOs, the video awful, the handling a bit awkward (esp the lens cap and lack of grip), no viewfinder etc. I have just purchased the G15 at a considerably reduced sale price here in Oz and couldn’t be more delighted. It handles well, has great low light performance, bright sharp lens, good video and handling is good. As a complete package, it’s basically everything I wish the XZ1 could have been.


I got myself one of these 3 months ago at a store sale. They were making room for G16 so the price was lowered to less than EUR300 (a bargain, compared to G16's EUR430). I had thrashed my old Canon P&S just two days prior so I was in the market for an inexpensive replacement (read EUR100 to EUR200 tops).
All I can say is: I payed a little bit more but got more than I ever expected.
It is an incredible little camera, I fell in love with it.
It is compact but beats my Canon 500D in some areas.
With quality lighting in place I can barely tell the IQ difference between those two physically totally different cameras.
I can't imagine anyone ending up disappointed with this little gem.

Matte Steven

Have to say, G15 is a classic DC in last years.

Gary R.

It's an interesting list of "cons" here. I've had cameras with articulating screens, and found I really didn't use them all that often, so really don't consider it much of an issue either way. "No automated panorama mode", again, is a plus to me. The stitch-assist features are very useful for producing high resolution panoramas with user control if things don't stitch perfectly the first time (where the 'auto' ones fail so often, I feel they belong on camera phones and low end point and shoots, not on enthusiast models...I really hate having only that automated option, forcing me to use manual settings, on my LX7).

I will often set my max. auto ISO to 1600 anyway, so that "con" really isn't much of one, and the HDR issue is of no concern for me.

So all in all, this is a very impressive list of 'cons'. If these are the worst faults of the camera, it sounds like Canon has done a very good job.

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Total comments: 6