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.