Operation and controls

As is usual for a G-series PowerShot, the G11 has a control interface designed for those coming from (or intentionally avoiding), the world of the DSLR. There's a high degree of external control, including those lovely metal dials for exposure compensation and ISO. There's also a miniaturized control wheel on the back of the camera for adjusting aperture or shutter speed in the priority modes. It's also used for both in Manual exposure mode with the metering mode button toggling between these two parameters and metering (not the most elegant solution).

There's also a shortcut button at the top left of the camera that can be assigned one of ten functions that don't already have their own button, including handy options such as jumping to the white balance menu, recording a custom white balance (more easily than on Canon's Rebel series DSLRs), or activating i-Contrast mode.

All in all, it's a pleasant and fast camera to use if you want to get involved in what it's doing and one that, like most of the PowerShot range, can be trusted to get most things right on the occasions you don't want to.

Rear of camera

The G11's screen is slightly smaller than the G10's, due to the space required for the hinge that allows it to flip and twist. Other than that the back of the camera has changed very little - there are direct access buttons and knobs for most major shooting functions (which is part of the appeal and the reason the camera is so large).

A slight frustration is that the G11 inherits one of the G10's quirks - the movement of exposure compensation to the dial on the top left has meant there's no obvious button to swap between shutter speed and aperture setting in manual mode. Can you guess which one you're meant to press? It's the metering button, of course, which cycles between shutter, aperture and metering mode. That said, it's unusual for there to be any need to shoot in manual mode, so it's not a devastating problem.

Top of camera

The top of the G11 is essentially unchanged from the G10 - with a series of dials that allow direct access to shooting settings in a way that has been lost to most modern cameras. This sense of connection to what the camera is doing is, we suspect, one of the main reasons people really like the G-series cameras.

Display and menus

The menus will be instantly familiar to anyone who has previously used a Canon camera (compact or DSLR) in recent years. There are a handful of options split over two tabs, with a third tab acting as the customizable 'My Menu' page. This makes it very easy to assign your favorite menu items to the third tab, minimizing the amount of time you spend in the menu system.

Beyond the main menu, the G11 features a simple function menu with seven icons representing major shooting settings. The functions included on the menu vary depending on which mode you're in, but tend to be fairly well chosen so that you're not inundated with options you're unlikely to change.

Pressing the display button cycles between the two screen modes and an off setting. These two settings can be customized. Here is an example of a screen with all options turned on - shooting info, grid lines, 3:2 aspect markers and a histogram.
The menus allow the two display screens to be defined to your tastes, with just the options you want displayed. The customization continues, with the ability to define the function of the shortcut button on the camera's top left corner.
White balance can also be customized - in addition to the standard presets for different types of light source. Pressing the 'Disp' button while setting white balance allows fine tuning in both Blue/Amber and Magenta/Green axes.
Underline the G11's enthusiasts' status are features that are pretty rare on compact cameras including flash exposure compensation and rear-curtain flash sync. In the P, A, S, M modes, changing any of the parameters once it's metering shows a dynamic scale that shows the effects of your changes on the exposure.
Another enthusiast-friendly feature is the ability to record the sensor's raw output, so that it can be processed later. By default, when shooting RAW, the camera won't save a processed JPEG file but this can be changed in the menus.
As well as the standard two and ten-second self-timers, the G11 also has a custom option to shoot the number of shots with a chosen delay between them. Quickshot mode displays the camera settings on the back of the camera for easy reference and fast shooting using the optical viewfinder.