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 Most notably, the G12 includes 720/24p video capture--a much-needed boost over the outdated VGA movies--now with stereo audio and a Mini-HDMI connector.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 G11Canon PowerShot G12Canon PowerShot S95Nikon Coolpix P7000Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
Sensor (effective resolution)10-megapixel CCD10-megapixel CCD10-megapixel CCD10-megapixel CCD10-megapixel CCD
1/1.7-inch1/1.7-inch1/1.7-inch1/1.7-inch1/1.63-inch
Sensitivity rangeISO 80 - ISO 3200ISO 80 - ISO 3200ISO 80 - ISO 3200ISO 100 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded)ISO 80 - ISO 3200
Lens28-140mm
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)0.40.42.00.80.4
Continuous shooting1.1fps
frames n/a
1.1fps
frames n/a
0.7
frames n/a
1.1fps
n/a
2.5 fps
JPEG/n/a raw
ViewfinderOpticalOpticalNoneOpticalOptional OVF or EVF
Autofocusn/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
99-area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
Meteringn/an/an/a256-segment matrixn/a
Shutter15-1/4000 sec15-1/4000 sec15-1/1600 sec60-1/4000 sec60-1/4000 sec
FlashYesYesYesYesYes
Hot shoeYesYesNoYesYes
LCD2.8-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 stabilizationOpticalOpticalOpticalOpticalOptical
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 videoNoNoNon/aYes
Optical zoom while recordingNoNoYesYesn/a
Mic inputNoNoNoYesNo
Battery life (CIPA rating)390 shots390 shots220 shots350 shots400 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches)4.4 x 3.0 x 2.04.4 x 3.0 x 2.03.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.2 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7
Weight (ounces)14.514.5 (est)7 (est) 8.5 (est) 9.8 (est)
Mfr. Price$499.99$499.99 $399.99 $499.95$440
AvailabilityOctober 2009October 2010 August 2010September 2010August 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.

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