CNET First Look
Canon PowerShot G12Relatively unchanged from its predecessor, save the addition of 720p video, the Canon PowerShot G12 remains a very good, more-or-less compact model, designed to please photo enthusiasts.
-Hi, I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor for CNET and this is Canon PowerShot G12. The G12, which has targeted enthusiast, is practically identical to its predecessor the G11. Like the G11, the G12 keeps highlights like its relatively large 10 megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD, and the nice 2.8-inch articulating LCD, and also add the few updates like 720/24p video capture, which was a much needed boost over the outdated VGA movies, and it also has steroid audio, and a mini HDMI connector. Like its line mate VS95, the G12 also adds an HDR scene mode that combines 3 shots. Unlike other implementations that take advantage of fast BSI sensors though, this HDR requires the steadiness of the tripod, which makes it less useful. They are only few ounces lighter than the G11, the G12 does remain heaviest camera on its class. It's not the biggest though, that line goes to the P7000 from Nikon. It also has an almost identical design to the G11, which includes a usable optical view finder and a large easy-to-turn dials for exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity. The mode dial offers the typical manual exposure and auto exposure options as well as 2 custom setting slots and some scene program modes. It's got a relatively functional design and I like it except for a few caveats. In addition to giving camera the retro feel, the dials on the G12 are for the most part practical and faster to use and even direct access buttons, because those always require at least some navigation. But I've been complaining about the G series controller for the past 3 generations. So lets make it 4. I love the scroll wheel, but I find it-- tend to accidentally hit one of the switches when I am trying to press the middle button. As for the wheel, I frequently press one of the switches while scrolling as well. It's especially difficult to control in cold weather with numb fingers. You can assign a function to the programable shortcut key on the upper right, though it limits your choices to options that don't already have existing direct controls. Finally, there is an adjustment dial on the front below the shutter button. I am not crazy about the location because in the camera of this size, it doesn't form naturally under any of your fingers. And 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 over shoot. Aside from that, the feature set is pretty typical for this type of camera. As you would expect, the G12 image quality mirrors that of the G11 as well. It looks great at the lowest ISO sensitivities with excellent color and exposure. We start to see a slight bit of detail degradation starting at ISO 200 if you have good eyes and that becomes more overt along with noisier at ISO 400. ISO 800 is probably the highest usable setting under the most forgiving of circumstances. Unlike the Panasonic LX5, processing the G12 file as raw doesn't really deliver an ambiguous advantage over its JPEG. The artifacts and colors are a bit different and you might be able to gain a little sharpness from the raw, but it doesn't gain you any shooting exposure advantages. The G12 lens is quite sharp, that's not terrible. The G12 does display visible barrel distortion at its widest of 28 mm as well as a bit of fringing on high-contrast edges especially close to the edge of the frame. Unsurprisingly, the video looks better than the old VGA offering, but overall it's pretty good for shooting short clips. Certainly worth it compared to a typical mini cam corder. Plus the articulated LCD stereo mic and mic jack add to its video flexibility. It lacks the ability to zoom while recording and there aren't any manual exposure controls, save exposure compensation, and the built in neutral density filter. The G series' unremarkable performance hasn't change significantly in generations either. In the fields in general, still lacks behind the LX5 especially if you are used to shooting with the DSLR, the G12 doesn't feel very fast, the part of it is perception. The Canon PowerShot G12 remains 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 in that model, but also less compact. Trade off the bound. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon PowerShot G12.