Canon PowerShot G12

As long as you're happy paying a premium for the Canon name, the G12 is an excellent do-almost-anything camera.


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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


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.

Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot G12

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.

Compared to

P7000 vs. competitors

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
360g 351g 231g 170g

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Canon PowerShot G122.92.12.30.3
  • Nikon Coolpix P700022.14.90.3
  • Canon PowerShot S952.42.22.50.4
  • Panasonic Lumix LX52.21.42.60.3

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Canon PowerShot G122
  • Nikon Coolpix P70001.15
  • Canon PowerShot S951.9
  • Panasonic Lumix LX52.6

Image quality

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.

G12 RAW vs. JPEG

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.

G12 low-light image sample

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 samples

Click 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

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

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.

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Post comment as
 

RobE2 posted a comment   

what a really, really crap video sample.....shameful, or am I mistaken, is that the best it can do???

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

Did you watch it in 720p as opposed to the YouTube 360p default?

EvanK Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Best camera I have owned.."

EvanK posted a review   

The Good:Flip out screen

The Bad:nothing yet

This has been the best camera I have ever owned. Picture quality is awesome and it is easy to use, all the buttons and dials are easily navigated. The Flip out screen is a stand out and is so handy for my work usage. You can just set to auto and shoot away for great results or do some manual controlling if you want.. I have no interest in being a pro photographer so it is nice to know when I pick up this camera it will take a good shot time after time but if I want to I can spin some dials and feel good about my skills. The design is great too, nice and chunky makes it easier to hold.. Not to mention you look super cool when you whip it out and everyone is using tiny little compacts.. You look like a pro!

 

Julius Chilala posted a comment   
Other

Suddenly images on the LCD screen of my camera appear upside down making it difficult to take pictures. How can I correct this problem? I have had this camera for 6 months now and this only happened last week.
otherwise I have taken great shots for the begginner that I am.

Julius

 

NadimO posted a reply   

Julius, hi.
I have just encountered the same problem.
Did you ever get to the bottom of this?
Best regards.
Nadim

 

Nina posted a comment   

I'm looking to buy a camera and I can't decide between the canon G12 and S95....not sure if i should be comparing the two?

colonelsanchez
10
Rating
 

colonelsanchez posted a review   

The Good:(Close to) full manual controls, easy and intuitive to use

The Bad:Haven't found any yet!

Best camera I have ever owned. DSLR and DSLR-type camera was just too bulky to carry around, this is perfect. Fantastic in auto mode, fantastic-er in full manual mode.

Picked it up from Camera House for $599 with 3 year Canon warranty.

SeJaSi
10
Rating
 

SeJaSi posted a review   

I'm looking at buying a new camera. I'm a novice all together and would love some feedback. Was thinking of buying a lead-in SLR probably an EOS and would be spending close to 1500 but then someone mentioned the Canon G12 saying that the image quality is just as good as a lead-in SLR. With the benefit that its cheaper and more compact. The perfect pick for a happy-snapper hoping to become a little more professional.

Is the G12 the right pick? Whhat else should I consider instead?
Thanks!!

 

bobex posted a comment   

I looked around at all the non SLRs as I wanted a more compact camera that was easier to carry around and not so intrusive. I considered the S95 but for me it was just too small. While I could put it in my pocket it did not offer the stability that the larger G12 does in many situations. Also the manual dials etc on the G12 are much better and quicker than most other cameras. The G12 also offers the viewfinder - and a hot shoe, as I will be mounting a bigger flash on it for certain jobs. For me, Canon is my preference generally. The G series has proved itself. And as for price, anyone paying $799 needs their head read. I picked mine up only several days ago for $575 - from a Sydney storefront retailer - with its Aus. warranty.

 

Mick posted a reply   

I'm with you bobex - I looked at the s95 and found myself changing menus using my thumb nail - I picked up a g12 at JB Hifi Sydney with bag ($35) for $579 so paid close to $540 for the camera. I am trying to purchase the new filter adapter but no luck although Canon tell me they have stock. I wanted to find a reason to get the Samsung EX1 but maybe when its EX5 it will be a better option.


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User Reviews / Comments  Canon PowerShot G12

  • RobE2

    RobE2

    "what a really, really crap video sample.....shameful, or am I mistaken, is that the best it can do???"

  • EvanK

    EvanK

    Rating10

    "This has been the best camera I have ever owned. Picture quality is awesome and it is easy to use, all the buttons and dials are easily navigated. The Flip out screen is a stand out and is so handy..."

  • Julius Chilala

    Julius Chilala

    "Suddenly images on the LCD screen of my camera appear upside down making it difficult to take pictures. How can I correct this problem? I have had this camera for 6 months now and this only happene..."

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