Canon PowerShot G12 = G11 + 720p

Canon updates its popular G series model with HD video capture.

Canon USA

There's not much to say about Canon's update to its G series of enthusiast compact cameras: the PowerShot G12 is almost identical to its predecessor, the G11, but with similar enhancements to those rolled out in the S95. Most notably, the G12 includes 720/24p video capture--a much-needed boost over the outdated VGA movies--now with stereo audio and a Mini-HDMI connector.

Like the S95, the G12 also adds an HDR scene mode which combines 3 shots. Unlike some other implementations, however, it requires the steadiness of a tripod.

Here's a recap of its specs and competitors:

  Canon PowerShot G11 Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot S95 Nikon Coolpix P7000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
Sensor (effective resolution) 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD
1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.63-inch
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 100 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded) ISO 80 - ISO 3200
Lens 28-140mm
f2.8-4.5
5x
28-140mm
f2.8-4.5
5x
28-105mm f2-4.9
3.8x
28-200mm
f2.8-5.6
7.1x
24-90mm
f2-3.3
3.8x
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 0.4 2.0 0.8 0.4
Continuous shooting 1.1fps
frames n/a
1.1fps
frames n/a
0.7
frames n/a
1.1fps
n/a
2.5 fps
JPEG/n/a raw
Viewfinder Optical Optical None Optical Optional OVF or EVF
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
99-area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
Metering n/a n/a n/a 256-segment matrix n/a
Shutter 15-1/4000 sec 15-1/4000 sec 15-1/1600 sec 60-1/4000 sec 60-1/4000 sec
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes Yes No Yes Yes
LCD 2.8-inch articulated
461,000 dots
2.8-inch articulated
461,000 dots
3-inch fixed
461,000 dots
3-inch fixed
921,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video (best quality) 30fps VGA H.264 QuickTime MOV
Monaural
720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
720/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
720/30p AVCHD Lite
Monaural
Manual iris and shutter in video No No No n/a Yes
Optical zoom while recording No No Yes Yes n/a
Mic input No No No Yes No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 390 shots 390 shots 220 shots 350 shots 400 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.4 x 3.0 x 2.0 4.4 x 3.0 x 2.0 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.2 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7
Weight (ounces) 14.5 14.5 (est) 7 (est) 8.5 (est) 9.8 (est)
Mfr. Price $499.99 $499.99 $399.99 $499.95 $440
Availability October 2009 October 2010 August 2010 September 2010 August 2010

So the real question is, does this relatively minimal update improve the G12 sufficiently to keep it competitive against models like Nikon's completely revamped P7000 and the strongly positioned but less expensive LX5? It's an interesting call. The G12 has the longer zoom range, articulated LCD, stereo audio and easier-to-work-with QuickTime MOV video over the LX5, but the latter has a wider, faster lens and both it and the Nikon have the ability to zoom during movie capture. Plus the LX5's new sensor's photo quality is a wildcard. And while the P7000 has the longest zoom range of the group, that could backfire on Nikon if it turns out to be mediocre. And of course these models also have to deal with their fan base jumping to similarly specced but smaller and cheaper ultracompacts like the S95 and Samsung TL500, as well as to slightly larger models with interchangeable lenses, like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 or Olympus E-PL1. Canon definitely has more of an uphill battle to fight in this segment than it did a year ago when the G11 shipped.

Read the full CNET Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 (with 20mm lens, Black)

The Bottom Line: The best interchangeable-lens compact we've see thus far, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 delivers great photo quality and performance in an enthusiast-friendly shooting experience. Like competitors, however, the lack of an optical viewfinder limits its usability for photographing action. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung TL500

The Bottom Line: Less than the sum of its parts, the Samsung TL500 is a solid camera, but it just can't keep up with veteran players in the competitive enthusiast compact market. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Canon PowerShot G11

The Bottom Line: Though it doesn't offer the whizziest new features like an interchangeable lens or a tiny size, the Canon PowerShot G11 still delivers a good shooting experience for photography enthusiasts. Plus it's the only model that includes an optical viewfinder. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Canon PowerShot G12

The Bottom Line: Relatively unchanged from its predecessor, save the addition of 720p video, the Canon PowerShot G12 remains a very good, more-or-less compact model, designed to please photo enthusiasts. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Nikon Coolpix P7000

The Bottom Line: The Coolpix P7000 is a fine camera that lots of enthusiasts will appreciate for its smart shooting design, interesting feature set, and worthy photo quality. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Olympus PEN E-PL1 (with 14-42mm lens, Black)

The Bottom Line: Reasonably priced for an interchangeable-lens model, with the same high-quality photos of its siblings, the E-PL1 nevertheless suffers from slow performance that makes it a poor choice for snapshooters looking to upgrade. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Canon PowerShot S95

The Bottom Line: Though we'd like it to perform better, dSLR shooters looking for a sidekick camera will find the Canon PowerShot S95's top-flight photos and a full manual feature set worth the tradeoff of its compact size. / Read full review

About the author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.

 

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