The G15 sports an angular, minimalist design that takes many of its cues from the G1 X, although it's not quite so sharp-edged. Aside from the fixed screen the body layout is almost identical to its larger-sensored cousin, which means the loss of the ISO dial compared to the G12, with this function now accessed via the 4-way controller. The flash is now of the pop-up type, released by a sliding switch on the top plate.
The G15 sports a huge array of external controls for such a small body, including twin control dials front and rear to go with the top-plate mode and exposure compensation dials. The G15 is also one of those increasingly rare cameras that still has an optical viewfinder, and the side views above show how the fixed LCD has allowed Canon to create a distinctly more-slender body than the G12, as well as fitting in a slightly larger screen.
The G15's top-plate is near-identical to the G1 X's, the main difference being that the exposure compensation and mode dials are diagonally offset from each other rather than stacked. The repositioning of the former means it's easier to operate using your thumb without changing your grip from the shooting position.
Three key controls are placed for operation by your index finger. The zoom lever surrounds the shutter button, while the front dial below it on the handgrip is used to change the main exposure parameter for your selected mode.
The G15 retains the G-series' signature optical viewfinder - a small 'optical tunnel' type finder that offers no exposure information and conservative coverage (so you'll get more in the final picture than you saw in the finder). It appears no better (or worse) than the one in the G12.
That said it's certainly useful in some situations such as very bright light, and using it offers extended battery life.
Beside the viewfinder on the front of a camera is the autofocus illuminator, that can be activated in low light to aid focusing.
The G15's small flash unit pops up out of the top plate, and is released mechanically by a sliding switch behind it on the top plate.
Canon quotes a maximum flash range of 7m at wideangle or 4.5m at telephoto.
There's a hot shoe in the center of the top plate, that accepts Canon's EX series flash units from the tiny Speedlite 90EX to the top-of-the-range Speedlite 600EX-RT.
On either side of the hotshoe are two small grilles that conceal the built-in stereo microphone.
The knurled ring around the lens detached via a bayonet mount, which is released by the button towards the bottom of the camera. This allows the attachment of an adapter tube for the use of filters or the TC-DC58E 1.4x teleconverter.
The G15's lens has a built-in cover for protection when the camera is turned off - there's no need for a separate lens cap.
The G15's connectors lie under a spring door on the side of the handgrip. At the top is a connector for Canon's RS-60E3 electronic remote release, with a USB mini-B connector below that also offers AV out.
Below that is a mini HDMI connector for playing back your images or movies on your TV.
The G15 uses the 7.4V, 6.4 Wh NB10L battery, which shares a compartment in the base of the camera with the SD card.
Canon quotes a battery life of 350 shots.
As on many small cameras, the G15's tripod socket is placed off-center from the lens, and very close to the battery/SD card door.