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Canon finally puts a fast lens on its G-series camera

/ Updated: 20 September 2012, 3:23 am AEST
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Stephen Shankland/CNET

Oh, Canon, how you tease with your articulating LCDs. A staple in the G series until you dropped it six year ago from the G7 to cries of outrage; then you returned it to the sound of cheers with the last model, the G12. Now you take it away again.

It's hard to get too upset over that, though, given that Canon has finally put a fast lens on its high-end enthusiast compact. Not only does it make the camera potentially much better, but it stirs hope in my heart that the company will do the same if/when it revs the G1 X next year. Still, the constant exchanging one type of shooting flexibility for another is one of the frustrations of the consumer camera revision cycle.

The G15 also includes the same new sensor and autofocus performance updates as the S110, though for the G15 the sensor change is more significant: it's bumped to a higher resolution and switched to a CMOS from a CCD. Hopefully, photo quality will improve as a result, since it's never guaranteed when switching sensors.

Its body has been redesigned a bit, though the back control layout remains fundamentally the same. The flash now pops up -- just a little -- and the top has a more multilevel silhouette with no stacked dials.

Here's its competitive field (9/18/12: chart updated with more complete specs):

  Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot G15 Fujifilm FinePix X10 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
Sensor (effective resolution) 10mp CCD 12.1mp CMOS 12mp EXR CMOS 12.2mp BSI CMOS 10.1mp MOS
1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 2/3-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 12800 ISO 100 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded) ISO 80 - ISO 6400
Lens 28-140mm
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.8 0.4
Continuous shooting 1.1fps
frames n/a raw
10 frames
8 JPEG/n/a raw
6JPEG/n/a raw
5 fps
12 JPEG/ n/a raw
(11fps without tracking AF)
Viewfinder Optical Optical Optical None Optional EVF
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Metering n/a n/a 256 zones n/a n/a
Shutter 15-1/4000 sec 15-1/4000 se 30 - 1/4000 sec n/a 60-1/4000 sec
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD 2.8-inch articulated
461,000 dots
3-inch fixed 922,000 dots 2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated
921,000 dots
3-inch fixed
920,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video (best quality) 720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 1080/30p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p AVCHD @ 28, Mbps; 1080/60p QuickTime MOV @ 28 Mbps
Manual iris and shutter in video No n/a No Yes n/a
Zoom while recording No Yes Yes Yes
(Auto only)
Mic input No No No Yes No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 390 shots 350 shots 270 shots 330 shots 330 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.4 x 3.0 x 2.0 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.6 4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2 4.7 x  2.9 x 2.0 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8
Weight (ounces) 14.2 12 (est) 12.4 13.9 (est) 10.6 (est)
Mfr. Price $499.99 $499.99 $599.99 $499.95 $499
Availability October 2010 October 2012 November 2011 September 2012 August 2012

The G15 really has some promise, especially compared to the P7700; while that camera has also added a fast lens and articulated LCD, it dropped the optical viewfinder (one of the reasons many people choose a camera like this) and switched to a BSI sensor, which tend to sacrifice low-light sensitivity for top-notch photo quality in good light. The X10 has the slightly larger sensor, but it's also a little more expensive. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one fares.

Discuss Canon PowerShot G15

Where to Buy

Canon PowerShot G15

Part Number: CNETPSG15

Visit manufacturer site for details.