Canon PowerShot G16 review: Canon ekes out more speed for the G series

The mode dial and exposure compensation dials are stacked but offset from each other on the top right; an aesthetically interesting and functionally streamlined design. The tiny popup flash isn't bad, but I wish it could tilt back to bounce.

The mode dial has the usual PASM, auto, and scene modes , movie mode, and two custom settings slots, plus Movie Digest (2-to-4-second clips that are automatically strung together with stills) and Creative Filters modes. The latter are the rather typical set you see everywhere, and not particularly interesting implementations. There's a slow-motion option for video, but it produces tiny videos.

On the back there's an inset movie record button that sits too flush with the thumb rest, making it difficult to engage quickly. The AE lock, AF area, ISO sensitivity, and menu buttons surround the navigation dial, which contains a dedicated manual focus button, macro, flash, and display, as well as the Func Set button for pulling up frequently used shooting settings. There's also the shortcut button for one user-defined direct-access control, moved to the top right of the back. The sad victim: the dedicated metering button.

  Canon PowerShot G15 /G16 Fujifilm X20 Nikon Coolpix P7800 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.1MP CMOS 12MP X-Trans CMOS 12.2MP BSI CMOS 20.2MP Exmor CMOS
1/1.7-inch 2/3-inch 1/1.7-inch 1-inch
(13.2x8.8mm)
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 12800 ISO 100 - ISO 12800 ISO 80 - ISO 3200/6400 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Lens 28 - 140mm
f1.8-2.8
5x
28 - 112mm
f2-2.8
4x
28 - 200mm
f2-4
7.1x
28 - 100mm
f1.8-4.9
3.6x
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 3.9 0.8 1.9
Burst shooting 9.3fps/10fps
unlimited JPEG
12fps
11 JPEG/n/a raw
8fps
6 JPEG/ n/a raw
2.5fps
(10fps with fixed exposure)
n/a
Viewfinder Optical Optical EVF None
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
25-area Contrast AF
Metering n/a 256 zones 224 segment n/a
Shutter 15 - 1/4,000 sec 30 - 1/4,000 sec 60 - 1/4,000 sec 30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes yes Yes No
LCD 3-inch fixed 922,000 dots 2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated
921,000 dots
3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
IS Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video (best quality) 1080 @ 24p/
1080 @ 60p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/60p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 1080/30p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/ 60p/50p
AVCHD Stereo
Manual iris and shutter in video No/No No Yes Yes
Zoom during movies Yes/Yes (digital?) Yes Yes
(Auto only)
n/a
Mic input No/No Yes Yes No
Wireless connection No/Wi-Fi No Optional
via WU-1a ($59.95)
No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350/360 shots
270 shots 350 shots 330 shots
Size (WHD, inches) 4.4 x 3 x 1.6 4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2 4.7 x  3.1 x 2 4 x 2.4 x 1.4
Weight (ounces) 12.3/12.5 12.8 14.1 (est) 8.5
Mfr. price $449.99/
$549.99
$599.99 $549.95 $649.99
Availability October 2012/
October 2013
March 2013 September 2013 July 2012

Overall, with the exception of the aforementioned record button, and the annoying operation of the quick-settings menu -- you have to press the Func button to dismiss it, you can't just press another button -- I like the design of the camera and find it delivers a pretty streamlined shooting experience. For the most part, the interface operates cleanly; you can quickly dive down to more detailed adjustments straight from the quick-settings menu.

The camera has a new Night display that changes the menu colors to orange on black. Sarah Tew/CNET

The camera also adds three night scene modes: Star Nightscape (long exposure), Star Trails, and Star Time Lapse Movie. Unfortunately, these aren't very testable in Manhattan. Canon does seem to have relaxed the G15's constraint of only being able to use ISO 80 for exposures longer than 1 second.

Canon still lags behind almost everyone with its mobile app. Though the G16's big add is Wi-Fi, the Canon app only supports image transfers and phone-based geotagging, not remote shooting. Plus it's pretty clunky to use.

Conclusion
If you're sensitive to price and don't care about Wi-Fi or speed, I'd look for price drops on the G15. And if you want better photo quality and have the budget, I'd probably suggest paying a little more for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 -- or finding an inexpensive ILC paired with a small lens for maximum compactness. But as long as you stay in the light, the G16 is still a fine choice.

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)  
Canon PowerShot G15
2.3 
2.6 
1.9 
0.6 
0.2 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
2.1 
0.2 
0.2 
0.3 
0.3 
Canon PowerShot G16
1.6 
1.4 
0.7 
0.9 
0.3 
Nikon Coolpix P7700
1.8 
3.2 
1.5 
1.1 
0.4 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II
2.5 
0.2 
0.1 
0.5 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot G1 X
1.9 
3.2 
2.4 
0.7 
0.4 
Fujifilm X20
1.5 
0.7 
0.7 
0.4 
0.4 

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

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Optical Zoom 5 x
  • Optical Sensor Type BSI-CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/1.7"