Canon PowerShot G12 review: Canon PowerShot G12

The G series' unremarkable performance hasn't changed significantly in generations either, and the field in general still lags behind the LX5. It powers on and shoots in about 2.1 seconds. In bright light, shot lag runs 0.4 second, and in dim light that increases to 0.6 second, shaving about 0.1 second off the G11's time. There's a relatively large 2.2-second gap between sequential JPEGs--2.5 seconds for raw--and adding flash recycle increases that to a ho-hum 2.9 seconds. While its continuous-shooting rate bumps up to 2fps from the G11's 1.1fps, that's still slow enough that you really don't want to count on it for burst shots. Especially if you're used to shooting with a dSLR, the G12 doesn't feel very fast. But part of that's perception; it's certainly zippy enough to catch animals a reasonable percent of the time. The articulated LCD remains big, bright, and useful, and in practice the optical viewfinder feels almost identical to the P7000's.

  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 3,200 ISO 80 - ISO 3,200 ISO 80 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200/6,400 (expanded) ISO 80 - ISO 3,200
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
Mono
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
Mono
Zoom during video capture No No No Yes n/a
Manual iris and shutter in video No No No No Yes
Zoom while recording No No No 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 4.5 x 3.1 x 1.8 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7
Weight (ounces) 14.5 14.2 6.8 12.6 9.2
Mfr. Price $499.99 $499.99 $399.99 $499.95 $440
Availability October 2009 October 2010 August 2010 September 2010 August 2010

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)

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Canon PowerShot G12

Part Number: 4342B001 Released: Oct 1, 2010
MSRP: $499.00 Low Price: $799.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Oct 1, 2010
  • Optical Zoom 5 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 10.0 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Lens 28 - 140mm F/2.8
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/1.7"