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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (higher sensitivity JPEGs)

Canon has made a lot of noise about the 'high sensitivity' 1/1.7" CCD that lies at the heard of the G11 (as have Ricoh about the 'high sensitivity' 1/1.7" CCD that appears in its GR Digital III and Sony about the 'high sensitivity' 1/1.7" CCD it's just developed), but how do the pictures stand up to the claims?

ISO 400

Canon PowerShot G11
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Canon PowerShot G10

ISO 800

Canon PowerShot G11
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Canon PowerShot G10

ISO 1600

Canon PowerShot G11
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Canon PowerShot G10

ISO 3200

Canon PowerShot G11
Panasonic DMC-LX3
Panasonic DMC-GF1

The G11's output is a much closer match for the LX3 but it can't compete with the GF1's larger sensor. Its detail retention is slightly better than the LX3 but this comes at the expense of a very apparent loss of saturation (a telltale sign of chroma noise reduction). Its results are perfectly usable up to ISO 800 and not unpleasant at 1600.

Interestingly, at ISO 1600 the G11 appears to be capturing slightly more detail than the more G10, despite having fewer pixels. The G11's saturation levels are better maintained and fine text that is legible on the G11 simple isn't in the G10 shot. Overall these are some of the best high ISO results we've seen from a compact camera, and a clear stop or so better than the G10.

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