Still going strong after a decade on the market, Canon's PowerShot G series has seen a bunch of contenders for its do-almost-everything crown come and go. But recently, a few cameras have pushed the envelope and fought hard for a slice of the pie, like the excellent Nikon P7000 and Panasonic LX5.
Design and features
The design has changed little from previous G series cameras; indeed, this camera looks almost identical to the one that came before it, the PowerShot G11. Cosmetic differences are few and far between: the G12 has the same optical viewfinder arrangement, stacked mode dial and ISO selector switch, zoom rocker surrounding the small shutter button, and an exposure compensation dial to the left of the viewfinder.
Click through for a complete photo gallery. (Credit: Canon)
Lens specifications are identical too, with a 5x optical zoom and a maximum aperture rating of f/2.8-4.5. At the back is a 2.8-inch articulating LCD screen, and while it's arguably more useful for cramped or odd-angle shooting than the flat-backed equivalent on something like the P7000, it isn't entirely colour accurate.
Like any camera worth its salt in this class, the G12 can shoot in RAW on top of standard JPEG. It can also shoot in a variety of aspect ratios (16:9, 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, 4:5). To go along with the latest HDR craze, the G12 also has a built-in HDR mode that automatically takes three different exposures of a scene and combines them together in the camera. There's also a built-in ND (neutral density) filter, just like the P7000.
On the side, connectivity is provided via mini-HDMI or AV out, and there's a port to attach a remote release.
|Nikon P7000||Canon G12||Panasonic LX5||Canon S95|
|10-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel CCD||10.1-megapixel CCD||10-megapixel CCD|
|3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD||2.8-inch, 461,000-dot LCD||3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD||3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD|
|7.1x optical zoom||5x optical zoom||4x optical zoom||3.8x optical zoom|
|HD video (720p, 24fps)||HD video (720p, 24fps)||HD video (AVCHD Lite, 720p, 30fps)||HD video (H.264, 720p, 24fps)|
|Pop-up flash, hotshoe||Built-in flash, hotshoe||Pop-up flash, hotshoe||Built-in flash|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- Canon PowerShot G188.8.131.52.3
- Nikon Coolpix P700022.14.90.3
- Canon PowerShot S9184.108.40.206.4
- Panasonic Lumix LX220.127.116.11.3
Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)
- Canon PowerShot G122
- Nikon Coolpix P70001.15
- Canon PowerShot S951.9
- Panasonic Lumix LX52.6
Like the G11, the G12 produces clean and mostly noise-free exposures at ISO levels up to 800. However, exposures at ISO 3200 are pretty acceptable at a reduced resolution and for small prints.
A RAW image from the G12 (top) compared to in-camera JPEG (bottom). (Credit: CBSi)
Exposures are really accurate and the G12 does a great job of rendering colour in a natural manner when viewing images on the computer (rather than on the screen, which tends to wash out colours a bit more than they appear in reality). Barrel distortion is visible at the wide end of the lens, but nothing too prominent. Chromatic aberrations or fringing is only an issue on areas of intense detail against contrasty backgrounds.
The G12 performs well in low light too, particularly in the dedicated shooting mode which reduces the resolution to 2.5 megapixels.
An image taken using the G12's low light mode. Click the image above for the full resolution shot. (Credit: CBSi)
Video quality is the G12's strong point, just like the S95. It produces clean, sharp HD videos at 720p with good sound. If only Canon provided an external microphone port, this would have been an ideal video solution.
Image samplesClick each image for full-sized samples from the G12. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.
Exposure: 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 640
Exposure: 1/320, f/4, ISO 250
Exposure: 1/60, f/4, ISO 100
Exposure: 1/25, f/4, ISO 3200
As long as you're happy paying a premium for the Canon name, the G12 is an excellent do-almost-anything camera. Its main weakness is that it's almost identical to the earlier G11 model. With the P7000, LX5 and Canon's own S95 proving so strong in the same space, the G12 can't really afford to charge such a premium given other models have better screens, smaller bodies and faster performance.