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Renaud Labracherie
Morgane Alzieu
Published on November 3, 2010
Translated by Catherine Barraclough
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  • Sensor CCD 10 Mpx, 1/1.7" , 23 Mpx/cm
  • Lens 5x 28-140 mm f/2.8 -4.5
  • Stabilisation Optical
  • Viewfinder Tunnel
  • Screen 7.6 cm, not TN, 460000 dots, 4:3, Not touch-sensitive
  • Sensitivity (ISO range) 80 - 3200 ISO ext. 39 mm
UPDATE 04/07/2012: with its 1’’ 20-Megapixel sensor, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 sets a new standard for picture quality in compact cameras, both in terms of detail and digital noise. As a result, the Canon G12 has seen its score for picture quality drop from five to four stars. However, quality still remains excellent compared with most regular compact cameras.

As the tenth model in Canon's PowerShot G range, the G12 has matured into a very nice camera. It has a slightly reworked design and handling, a swivel LCD, a 10-Megapixel sensor, a 24-140 mm zoom lens that's now stabilised and a 720p HD video mode. So can the Canon G12 make its mark in the highly competitive market for expert compacts and fight off the likes of the Nikon P7000, Panasonic LX5 and Samsung EX1?


You can tell the G12 is an expert camera as soon as you pick up thanks to its heavy, all-metal design and its high-end build and finish. It feels well-made and it doesn't feel like it'll fall apart a few years down the line. If we really wanted to be picky, then it would perhaps have been nice to see rubber-sealed joints to help keep water and dust out of the battery/memory card compartment and connections. The G12 is a nice camera to hold and handle even if it's nothing out of the ordinary. The finish is a little bit slippy though, and the grip handle isn't deep enough for our liking. We were also slightly disappointed to see that the 3-inch LCD only displays 460,000 dots when some competitors' models (Nikon P7000, for example) are twice as sharp. On the upside though, the screen flips out from the camera body and can be swivelled to the angle of your choice.


Canon seems to have taken great care designing this camera's controls, adding plenty of customisable options, which is really quite rare. The G12 has two customisable control wheels for adjusting the settings (a wheel on the front and a click-round wheel at the rear instead of a four-way controller). These improve handling in M mode and help make it easier to change settings quickly. Several options can be assigned to these wheels in P, A and S modes, such as white balance, i-contrast or picture format. It's just a shame that the P mode can't be user-modified. The S button can also be assigned a whole load of different functions (white balance, bracketing, burst mode, raw+Jpeg etc.). The menus are clear and an online help function is on hand in case you get stuck. The graphic interface is still just as easy to get your head around as in previous models, with a column of options on the left and the new click-round wheel at the rear to increase or decrease the settings' values. Again, it's nothing exceptional, but it works well. In shooting mode, you can display grid lines to help you line up shots, as well as an exposure histogram and an electronic level (one axis only). More nice features of the G12 include loads of mode dials, buttons and controls to adjust the main settings. The top of the camera features a dial for selecting the ISO setting, another dial for choosing the shooting mode (P,S,A,M, Custom 1 and 2, Video) and a dial for adjusting the exposure. Plus, right under your thumb you'll find three buttons for choosing the AF focusing points, saving an exposure setting and setting the exposure metering. What more could you ask for?

Ah yes, we've thought of a few things: there's no separate video record button, the optical viewfinder is rather disappointing (see insert), the memory card compartment is on the underside of the camera (not very practical when using the G12 on a tripod), the control wheel on the front of the camera doesn't click round etc.


While the G12 is a model of design and handling, its responsiveness leaves something to be desired. In this field it's pretty much identical to the G11, but the G12 is slower than its two main competitors, the Panasonic LX5 and Nikon P7000 in several ways, particularly when autofocusing.


The G12 makes up tor that very slightly with an acceptable start-up time and a decent photo-to-photo turnaround time (JPeg and Raw). The bust mode is still just as disappointing though, snapping just 2.2 frames per second.

Picture Quality

With its 10-Megapixel CCD, the G12 is easily comparable to the LX5, EX1 and P7000, which all have similar sensors. The Canon model does a pretty good job at handling digital noise with just a little granularity and moderate smoothing at 1600 ISO,  which is actually quite impressive for a compact!


When it comes to handling ISO settings, the Canon G12 takes the lead alongside the Panasonic LX5 (so far anyway), and does a much better job than the likes of the Nikon P7000 and Samsung EX1.

The 28-140 mm zoom lens is good quality. It's generally sharp at 28 mm and is more than acceptable in telephoto. The lens is twinned with an effective stabilisation system and a decent macro mode that goes as close as 1 cm. Exposure is OK, although sometimes we noticed our pictures were a bit overexposed, which was rather annoying. Colour reproduction is classic Canon stuff, with reds that are very (too) saturated and a white balance that can be temperamental under tungsten light.


The Canon G12 has a 720p HD video mode (just 24 fps) with stereo sound but—quite unbelievably—the optical zoom can't be used while filming! It gets worse too, as focusing isn't continuous and it's not possible to take a photo while you're shooting a video. That unfortunately cost the G12 its fifth star!

On a Full HD TV, speckling noise and aliasing are all too visible. For a first attempt at an HD video mode, the G12 isn't up there with the best.

Optical Viewfinder
Pretty much no compact digital cameras have optical viewfinders these days. With compacts constantly getting smaller, it's becoming difficult to find room to squeeze them in when space is already at a premium.
Some of the more bulky expert models seem to be the last compacts to cling onto this dying breed of viewfinder. An optical viewfinder can be a real bonus for lining up shots in bright sunlight (when a shiny screen becomes impossible to use) or for longsighted users (who may suddenly find their arms aren't quite long enough). However, the optical viewfinders typically found in expert compacts leave something to be desired, and in a camera that can cost £350-£400, it's difficult to forgive the approximative way in which the G12's optical viewfinder frames shots (in the picture above, the yellow line shows the view through the optical viewfinder). Worse still—the lens barrel pops into your field of view when zooming in wide angle. Plus, those of you who wear glasses may not find it all that comfortable to use. In fact, no manufacturers seem to take glasses-wearers into consideration, which is a bit of a shame. The only interesting feature is a small light next to the viewfinder that allows you to check your shot's in focus without having to wait for the beep, like in most other models. This very nearly makes the G12 a discreet camera!


  • Good optical zoom with excellent stabilisation
  • High-quality design and build
  • Digital noise incredibly well handled up to 1600 ISO
  • Logical, well-thought-out design and handling
  • Swivel LCD screen


  • 3-inch screen only displays 460,000 dots
  • Optical viewfinder lacks precision and can be uncomfortable if you wear glasses
  • Optical zoom could be faster
  • Inferior burst mode and video mode
  • Grip handle isn't deep enough


For advanced users, the Canon G12 is an excellent and versatile camera that takes great-quality pictures. In fact, it really deserves five stars for its photos, but the disappointing video mode unfortunately cost it a star.
4 Canon PowerShot G12 DigitalVersus 2010-11-03 00:00:00

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