Canon PowerShot G12 review: Canon PowerShot G12

It retains an almost identical design to the G11, including the usable optical viewfinder and large, easy-to-turn dials. A relatively functional design, I like it save a few caveats. In addition to giving the camera a retro feel, the dials on the G12 are, for the most part, practical and much faster to use than even direct-access buttons, which always require at least some navigation. Though a few ounces lighter than the G11, the G12 remains the heaviest camera in its class. Not the largest, though; that nod goes to the P7000.

On the top of the camera are an exposure compensation dial and an ISO sensitivity dial around the circumference of the mode dial. The latter offers the typical PASM and Auto options, as well as two custom settings slots and some scene program modes.

I've been complaining about the G series' controller, a four-way switch plus Set/Function button, for the past three generations. This makes it four: I love the scroll wheel, but find I tend to accidentally hit one of the Manual focus, macro, self-timer or flash switches when I'm trying to press the middle button. As for the wheel, I frequently press one of the switches while I'm scrolling as well. It's especially difficult to control in cold weather with numb fingers (why am I always testing this camera in winter?). Buttons above and below it control metering, focus area, display options and bring up the menu system. You can also assign a function to the programmable Shortcut button on the upper right, though it limits your choices to options without existing direct controls. Finally, there's a dial on the front below the shutter button. I don't really like the location because in a camera of this size it doesn't fall naturally under any of your fingers; the rear dial on the P7000 feels more natural for this type of configuration.

I'm a big fan of digital levels in cameras, and the G12's implementation is one of the more usable ones. When you hit the level area, the white indicator turns green and expands a bit, making it easy to see so you don't overshoot. Aside from that, the feature set is pretty typical for this type of camera. (For a complete rundown of the G12's features and operation, you can download a PDF version of the manual.)

The Canon PowerShot G12 remains a generally excellent camera that ends up lagging the LX5 overall mostly because of its relatively unchanged--and more sluggish--shot-to-shot performance. It delivers better JPEG photos than that model, but it's also less compact. Trade-offs abound.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Nikon Coolpix P7000
2 
2.8 
2.1 
0.6 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot G12
2.1 
2.5 
2.2 
0.6 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot G11
2 
2.5 
2.5 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot S95
2 
2.6 
2.3 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
1.6 
1.7 
1.4 
0.8 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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