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Home arrow Digital Camera Reviews arrow Canon > arrow Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera Review
Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera Review

canon20100420.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Simon Vrantsis  

The bridge market between point-and-shoot compacts and entry-level DSLR’s has become more and more competitive over the last couple years. With many companies concentrating a stronger effort on the Micro Four Thirds technology and offering great value with their entry-level DSLR’s, delivering the highest level of image quality, at a consumer-friendly price, is starting to win over the ‘more is better’ megapixel war.

This is where Canon surprised many with their recently launched advanced compact, the PowerShot G11, bucking the market trend (themselves included) of constantly increasing megapixels. With their last three iterations increasing from 10 megapixels to 12, and then to a whopping 14.7 in their most recent G10, you would assume a natural progression would continue. Thankfully, Canon implemented a more sensitive 10-megapixel sensor in the G11 delivering a higher-level image quality, across a broader range of lighting conditions, than its predecessors.

One area that has remained unchanged from it predecessors is its retro styling. The conservative matt, black finish of the G11 blends well with the solid, metallic feel the camera delivers in hand. Build quality definitely mirrors the photographic quality Canon pushes here. Away from pure aesthetics, the operational layout also continues from where the G10 left off, and handling is definitely one of G11’s biggest selling points. Exposure Compensation and ISO dials on top of the camera allow for changes to some of the more commonly adjusted settings without the need to navigate menus systems and button interfaces. Shutter Speed and Aperture adjustments require a button press and a scroll of the navigation wheel on the back of the camera and, although it is still quite a simple process, hints at a camera more tuned to semi-automatic use.

Another major design feature that has returned, this time after being in hibernation since the G6, is the fully articulated flip-out LCD display. The size has dropped to 2.8” (from 3” on the G10) but the flexibility it allows to compose at high and low angles plus the ability to turn the screen inward for protection more than makes up for the ever so slight decrease. A 460k-resolution display delivers more detail than the average compact camera and also displays useful information including a live histogram and a three-by-three alignment grid, which can be switched on and off.

In its manual modes (Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priority), the display gives a preview of what each setting change is doing to the prospective shot in real-time, meaning that an errant shot should rarely be taken even away from the cameras automatic mode. Pressing the FUNC SET button while in shooting mode will overlay a vertical list of useful options such as White Balance, Bracketing, Resolution, Flash Compensation, Drive Mode, with each options setting running horizontally across the bottom of the screen.

The G11 is fitted with a 28-140mm equivalent 5x stabilised zoom lens delivering a nice range from wide-angle through to medium telephoto. The lens has an above average brightness of F2.8 at 28mm allowing for some nice low-light production at wide-angle, and F4.5 when fully extended to 140mm. While this may not be the brightest lens in the advanced compact market, the distance covered by the lens along with the usability of the G11 at high ISO equals a great option for users with broader needs.

When you look at the G11’s ISO performance, there’s no doubt the change in sensor to 10 megapixel from the G10’s 14.7 has had an effect. As with many of the decisions made when producing the G11, it seems Canon have concentrated on pleasing as wide a range of users as possible. The camera is more than usable across an ISO range of 80 to 800, and can be extended through to 3200 if necessary, which is an great achievement for a compact camera with such a small sensor size.

For those coming from the DSLR end of the market, the additional level of detail provided from RAW recording will be nothing new, and it’s become a staple in most advanced compacts as well. The G11 is no different giving a higher-level of detail when shooting in this setting as well as the post-production flexibility of adjusting exposure and things such as white balance.

Canon have included a HDMI connection to view images in high definition but this also brings up another market trend they have bucked in producing the G11; a HD movie mode. The G11 includes a serviceable 640x480 30fps movie mode, which shouldn’t deter people, but it’s an interesting choice for a camera that is an all-round wonder, otherwise.

And ultimately, that’s where the G11 sits. It’s an all-rounder that delivers great low-light performance when compared to traditional compact cameras, and allows for a zoom reach from wide angle to medium telephoto.

The RAW recording gives users coming from a DSLR background the same flexibility they’re used to, and an improved level of detail traditional compact users have, more than likely, never seen.

The simplicity in which the G11 allows for changes to some of the most important and impactful settings to a photograph (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO etc) along with showing a preview of the shot, prior to the shutter being press, adds a level of education to the process that should assist the more novice user.
With the way the market has transitioned over the past year, the biggest question a buyer needs to ask is how far do they want to move from the traditional compact point and shoot camera. The Canon PowerShot G11 is priced at a similar point as the entry-level DSLR market, and has new competition in the Micro Four Third technology.

For those either looking for a companion camera to their existing DSLR, or those just wanting to invest a little more into a camera, without the increased bulk that come with an entry-level DSLR, the G11 is an excellent choice and should strongly be consider.

Please note: Ratings are based on the compact camera market

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 3.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $799
Effective Pixels 10 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 8 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 28mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 140mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 5x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 3648 x 2746
Shooting Modes 18 Scene options
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 50cm - infinity
Aperture Range F2.8-4.5
Aperture Priority No
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 1-50cm (W), 30-50cm (T)
Shutter Speeds 1s - 1/4000s
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto7, ISO 80/100/200/400/800/1600/3200
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 2.8" LCD Screen 461,000 dots
Viewfinder Yes
Flash Auto, on, off, Red Eye Correction, Red Eye Reduction, Slow Synchro, Second Curtain Synchro, FE Lock, Safety FE
Hot Shoe Yes
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Underwater, Custom 1, Custom 2
Self Timer Yes, 10 sec or 2 sec delay, custom, Face Self-Timer4
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD/SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus card, HC MMCplus card
Storage Included [Mb] No
Image / Audio Formats JPEG Compression (EXIF 2.2 Compliant), RAW (Canon CR2), sRGB;JPEG: Fine, Normal
Connectivity USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (mini-B compatible)
Power Source CB-2LZE / AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC50 (Compact Power Adaptor CA-PS700, DC Coupler DR-50, Power Cord)
Battery Options Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery NB-7L
Dimensions (W) 112.1mm x (H) 76.2mm x (D)48.3mm
Weight 355g





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