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Canon PowerShot G12 review



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Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Canon PowerShot G12
  • Powershot G12 Black Digital Camera (10MP, 5x Opt, SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slot)


Our Score:



  • Vast array of manual controls
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Tilt and rotate screen
  • Accessory shoe
  • Excellent image quality


  • Below average video mode
  • Bulky for a compact
  • Expensive

Key Features

  • 10 megapixel sensor
  • 5x zoom lens (28-140mm)
  • Tilt and rotate screen
  • Accessory shoe
  • Manual Controls
  • Manufacturer: Canon
  • Review Price: £399.95

The G12, which updates the acclaimed G11, is an option for those who want better pictures and better features than a less well specified compact will deliver, but don't actually want to go the whole hog and plump for a DSLR. Or alternatively it can serve as a backup camera for those enthusiasts that either want a spare or backup to their SLR. It's worth noting that Canon doesn't currently offer a smaller interchangeable lens compact system camera or 'hybrid' to directly rival the Olympus Pens, Panasonic GF series, Sony NEX or Samsung NX, so, for Canon users, the G12 is currently as good as it gets for those wanting high performance from a relatively small package.

The question is, as the G12 retails for a similar price (£400) to an entry level DSLR or a hybrid alternative, is 'as good as it gets' good enough? Particularly when there are already very, very good alternatives at the high performance end of the compact market in our personal favourite the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, Nikon's Coolpix P7000, and the Samsung EX1 to name but three, recently joined by the Fujifilm FinePix X10 and Olympus XZ1.

To defend its territory, the market leader is seemingly pulling out all the stops, as, to be honest, it needs to. Headline features include an image stabilised 5x optical zoom with a focal range equivalent to 28-140mm, and a relatively large 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor - smaller than the APS-C sized chip in a DSLR but large for a compact – providing 10 million pixels. The lens isn't as fast as some enthusiast-compact rivals, at f2.8-4.5, but it's still faster than most compacts and will be sufficient for most everyday photography.

We also get Raw and JPEG shooting, 1cm macro mode, plus 720p High Definition video capture at 24 frames per second, with the bonus of stereo sound and HDMI output for direct connectivity with a flat panel TV or monitor. Unfortunately the zoom doesn't rise to the occasion and remains stubbornly inactive once recording has commenced. Our other gripe is that the stereo microphones have been placed exactly where your forefingers naturally fall when gripping the camera in both hands - and thus pick up any movement of digits across the G12's surface as audio is being captured.

Also of interest is the fact that Hybrid Image Stabilisation, which, according to Canon combats 'unintentional shift and angular movement', joins regular old optical image stabilisation as a means of preventing blur when shooting handheld and/or in low light.


February 3, 2011, 7:09 pm

Given the fact that a newer model normally should be better than its predecessor, this score, given by Gavin Stoker, is not as good as that given by Cliff Smith for the G11-model. Must I conclude that judging these devices mostly is a personal thing or is the G12 not as good as the G11?


February 3, 2011, 8:06 pm


No, you should conclude that the scores take into account other devices that are available on the market, and the market is changing. The consensus seems to be that the G12 is a relatively minor improvement on the G11. However the growing number of compact systems such as micro four thirds means that all in one cameras such as the G12 are harder to justify for those who want a more portable alternative to a DSLR, which I suspect makes up a large proportion of this camera's target market.

Elie Boujaoude

February 3, 2011, 8:18 pm

Canon G12 is certainly better than G11 especially the HD movies, but the competition today is different. The G12 has to compete with many more products of the same class as well as low end DSLR or SLT or Mirrorless cameras.

John Z

February 4, 2011, 12:14 pm

What we feared happened : there is not continuity between the former and the actual tester.

1 - Before, were considered "Build Quality", "Features", "Image Quality", "Value", "Overall".

Now, are considered "Design", "Features", "Performance", "Value", "Overall".

That's not the same definitions, design is not build quality, performance is not image quality.

2 - The Nikon P7000 has been marked 9 points for each of these aspects,

and the Canon G11 has been marked 9 or 10 points.

The Canon G12, which delivers the same image quality as the P7000 and the G11,

has the same features, and is not so "slow" as the P7000,

should have been marked 9 points as well, instead of 8 points.

That's absolutely abnormal.

It has nothing to do with the market,

a camera has to be marked for itself, it is good or it is bad, that's all.

And if a camera is as good as another, it has to obtain the same number of points.

And as the G12 is at least quicker that the P7000,

it has to obtain a higher number of points on "performance".

Please "review your reviews" in order to make them homogenous and fair.


February 4, 2011, 1:34 pm

I'm really disappointed in this. Too much fringing in contrast, huge blotches of noise and way to soft images. As far as stills go its not all that better then Fuji F70EXR. I expected something better then G11, able to get close to old entry level DSLr but maybe i just set the bar too high.


February 4, 2011, 4:34 pm


I think what happened is that these pics were taken in auto ISO mode, which rather defeats the purpose of this kind of camera. The full zoom pic, for example, was at ISO 640 at a speed of 1/160. Why use such a setting for a static subject?

I've seen G11 pics (taken in RAW) printed at 60x90 cm which looked amazing, and ISO 1600 pics of the same camera(again,RAW) printed in 30X40 cm which also looked beautiful. What that means is that these high-end compacts offer lots of control but do not do your work for you.You have to have a firm hand on the tiller and adjust settings according to each situation's need to get the most out of them, and, depending on the lighting, shoot RAW and post-process to get your money's worth. In a review like this it just isn't done (due to time and deadline constraints, I surmise).

I happen to use Fuji (F31fd,S100FS),Canon(G10,S95,T2I),and Sony (NEX5), so brand loyalty means squat to me. All of them are capable of excellent results, but marginal lighting will always require user intervention.

However, if you want the best possible results in the smallest package (bigger than the G12 due to the lens,though...and with less range) go for an EVIL camera.

@ Mr Stoker

May I be so bold as to suggest an ISO test setup with more detail and texture among a greater lighting range(shadow areas)? Flat expanses of blue do help to show noise, as the blue channel is usually the most prone to the problem, but a better idea of image degradation and overall quality might be better seen in a more complex setup. A full image at maximum ISO (not full-size, just web-sized) would also be helpful to better visualize actual image degradation.



February 4, 2011, 8:23 pm

I went with the G12 to complement my Sony DSLR & lens collection, Canon SX10 and other cameras because it provides great performance, image quality and build quality and it is smaller to carry around than an EVIL camera with the same zoom capability. The G12 still is excellent as a relatively smaller body/lens combination and is less expensive (with zoom lens) than a comparable EVIL (it seems to me). I agree with other reviewer comments about using a test/review setup that shows the best that a camera can do (e.g., not only when using auto ISO).


February 4, 2011, 8:25 pm

Seems like Canon is out of step with what's happening in the market. Micro 4/3's leave the G12 in the dust, too bad!


February 4, 2011, 8:43 pm

Following up... I can more easily fit the G12 into my slim briefcase (which also has business papers, etc.) than I could a more bulky form factor. I've tried traveling to business meetings with larger form-factor camera setups and end up needing a separate camera case/bag (which is not preferable for me most of the time). Not to suggest that there is anything wrong with Micro 4/3's - it's simply that the form factor plus zoom lens doesn't fit my needs as well for business travel.

John Shewsbury

February 4, 2011, 9:29 pm

First and foremost, every reviewer (or review website/blog) are runs by human and they tend to give opinion based on their personal skills/experience/knowledge. We cannot expect that all reviewer to say the same. Naturally, a very "excellent" product will surely get almost similar positive review from here and there (example; Panasonic LX3 at about 2 years ago) but it is also not impossible that some minor 2 or 3 reviewers might think otherwise. As for us reader, I think the best is to read with cautious and do more reading from other website if you think that Trusted Review did a bad job - simple as that.

As for this camera itself, my friend have it, I've tried it personally and I think overall it is still a great camera that can matched my Panasonic LX3 accordingly. Though I also personally think that there is not enough reason to upgrade if you already have the excellent Canon G11 as the only "real new thing" that I can see is the HD Movie - if you think that is really important - then the choice is yours.

I think I can understand that during the time of this review, Trusted Review or rather Mr. Gavin Stoker only give 8 points overall - you have to measure the price of this camera and other alternative within almost the same price range at that point of time as well.

He did mentioned Panasonic LX5, Canon S95 and Nikon P700 (known as sluggish snail of them all) plus the coming soon Fujifilm X100 and Olympus XZ-1 - all these cameras are basically within the same category of "high end advance compact class" and thus Gavin was comparing the G12 against all these rivals and rightly so when you look at it neutrally, the Canon G12 is seriously not that much better than the already excellent Canon G11 though obviously it is much faster than the snail Nikon P700... I don't mind the Canon G11, I think it is good enough for me, but then again, if you really really want that HD video, oh well...


February 4, 2011, 10:26 pm

@Clovis: That shot is doing this camera no favours at all. It's horrendously noisy. The advantage of a camera like this is that you'd be able to force the ISO down and use a long exposure.

As for the auto mode comments, you've got to remember that we review cameras right across the range so while it's good to have some shots that show the advantage of a camera like this, it's just as valid to show how it compares on a pure auto/snapshot level to other more basic compacts.

@All: We will continue to work with Gavin to improve the way our camera reviews are presented. All feedback is welcome. Also, apologies for the image quality score - it just got missed during subbing.


February 4, 2011, 11:02 pm


Yup, the idea is a real-life example,not an ideal one. That was taken handheld at 1/3 of a second - about the limit of what IS can help you with.Lowering ISO would have meant a tripod...not always possible.

Advanced compacts induce us to push limits (a bit too far at times...we do get the shot, but not perfectly).Seeing what they actually can and cannot do is something I believe a lot of users are curious about, so showing what borderline conditions produce may be helpful.

Maybe Olympus's new F1.8 compact might be able to grab some nice night shots - who knows?


February 4, 2011, 11:51 pm

The most dedicated Canon-lover in our very informal photo club bought a G11 to have a decent camera available for occasions when he might find himself separated from his bodies and lenses. In the course of the following year or so we noticed that he enjoyed using his G11 more than he claimed he would. He traded the G11 in for a G12 before most of us knew the G12 existed and he has been using it like crazy. When a good photographer, with seriously good DSLRs available, chooses to work so much with a bridge camera that's all I need to conclude that the bridge camera is very good. More so now I've seen a lot of G12 work, printed and on an HD TV: it's a very, very good camera. It's a shame it has got caught up in some of the strange differences of opinion we see here.


February 5, 2011, 2:06 am

I really miss Cliff's well written reviews which always were easy to read and somehow seemed to fit my own user experiences. I shoot professionally, and just love the times I get the chance to down the big cameras and use the G12. Its an absolute pleasure and brings me more joy to use than any other camera I have owned. Ive just had a magazine article published where 50 percent of the images were taken with the G12 and I would challenge anyone to determine which were taken with a DSLR and which with the G12. Printed output is just great.


February 5, 2011, 7:43 pm


Your next camera to review is Olympus XZ-1, I suspect the reviewer will recommend this one.


February 6, 2011, 4:55 pm

@Splogbust - Cliff's work has been in several magazines, does that now ruin your experience of his reviews? ;)


February 6, 2011, 7:41 pm


no, as I don't buy any magazines - it's just a question of what's available on the internet.

I live in France and English Language camera magazines are rare as, oh, er, hens' teeth, so although now I'm now quite happy reading and speaking French I've got out of the habit of buying magazines.



John Z

February 9, 2011, 7:07 am

A new step in this "affair", a still more original situation appeared :

the Sx130 and the G12 obtain exactly the same 8/10 in both performance and image quality !

How that kind of situation may be possible ?

No, the G12 doesn't have the same performance as the Sx130.

No, the G12 doesn't have the same image quality as the Sx130.

Yes, the Sx130 may obtain 8/10 in performance and image quality.

But if the Sx130 gets 8/10, the the G12 HAS TO OBTAIN 9/10 in both performance and image quality !

Please, be fair, an apply a modification to the G12 marks.

John Z

February 24, 2011, 11:47 am

OK, Greynerd, but then, the Sx130, which makes less beautiful pictures thant the G12,

must get a lower 7/10.

We may also consider that, nowadays, digital cameras becoming better and better

a 10 steps scale is too short.

A Sx130 could get a 15/20, a G12 could get a 16/20, a Wb2000 could get a 17/20,

and there would be 3 steps (18/20, 19/20, 20/20) fot DSLRs.


September 25, 2011, 4:06 pm

I have owned each of the G-series since the G6, and I still have the G10,11 & 12. For clear sharp and well balanced images the G10 was the peak of quality, provided that you dont want high ISO. At low ISOs my G10 images were often of library quality. The G11 added higher ISO, but lost a little sharpness, and impact on JPEGS. The G12, what can I say? I hope the movies and all that are good, but I dont use them, for the images are as soft as, well you know, and colour balance is great, flash colour worse, and generally this is a really mediocre camera. Shame.

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