Comparing the Canon G10, G11 and G12

Canon Powershot G10Canon Powershot G11Canon Powershot G12

All product photographs courtesy & copyright Canon.

As most of you know by now, Canon has introduced a new “G” series model, the PowerShot G12 to replace their flagship model the G11 as well as the highly successful G10. In the coming weeks there will be reviews galore posted on the various industry watching blogs with in depth discussions of this new model’s features and benefits. Folks that recently purchased the G11 will start to feel “buyers remorse” and “upgraders envy” over the perceived differences between their G11 and the new G12. The amount of forum traffic on will climb as folks begin to post their rants and raves about this new camera.

To help cut through some of the rhetoric I thought I’d post a quick and dirty comparison of the G10, G11 and G12 cameras based upon the information currently available. Right off the bat let me state that this comparison is from a still photographer’s perspective only. The video capabilities of both cameras are very cool but beyond my area of expertise.

G12 Features
High-sensitivity 10 Megapixel CCD
28mm wide, 5x zoom lens, Hybrid IS
HS System
7.0 cm (2.8″) Vari-Angle LCD, Electronic Level, OVF
ISO capabilities from 100-12,800, with expansion
Front Dial, Full Manual control & Multi-Control Dial
RAW shooting
HD movies, HDMI
High Dynamic Range mode
Smart Auto mode
Multi-Aspect Shooting
FA-DC58B lens filter adapter (Watch out Lensmate)

According to Canon, the G12 includes Canon’s new “HS” system – a combination of a high-sensitivity 10.0 Megapixel CCD sensor and powerful DIGIC 4 processing, which delivers exceptional low light performance. They claim it enables the camera to support a maximum ISO of 3200 at full resolution and works to reduce the occurrence of noise at all ISO speeds for high quality images. Users can also set their own parameters in Auto ISO mode, with the ability to limit the maximum ISO speed they want to employ during shooting.

G10 – AUTO, High ISO Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
G11 – AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
G12 – AUTO, 80, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200

G10 – 14.7 MP
G11 – 10.0 MP
G12 – 10.0 MP

Image Stabilization
According to Canon, the G12 now uses their latest “Hybrid IS” system which corrects both angular (rotational movement) and shift shake (linear shake). The “Hybrid IS” system moves the lens elements to compensate for both types of movement – enhancing the effectiveness of the optical Image Stabilizer during macro shooting.

Processor: Same (DIGIC 4)
Lens: Same
Focusing: Same
Exposure Control: Same
Shutter: Same
White Balance: Same
Viewfinder: Same

G10 – Fixed 3.0″ PureColor LCD II, 461,000 dots
G11 – Vari-angle 2.8″ PureColor LCD II, 461,000 dots
G12 – Vari-angle 2.8″ PureColor LCD II, 461,000 dot

Maximum Image Size:
G10 – 4416 x 3312
G11 – 3648 x 2736
G12 – 3648 x 2736

G10 – A/V Out
G11 – HDMI, A/V Out
G12 – HDMI, A/V Out

Flash Sync:
G10 – 1/500th
G11 – 1/2000th
G12 – 1/2000th

Continuous Shooting:
G10 – 0.7 fps
G11 – 1.1 fps
G12 – 4.2 fps (Wow!)

Honestly, it looks like there are really only four significant differences between the Powershot G12 and it’s predecessor the G11; the Hybrid IS system, the High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, the ISO expansion capabilities and the 4.2 fps continuous shooting mode.

  • If you plan to use the G12 as a travel camera, anything that provides a sharper hand-held image like Canon’s “Hybrid IS” is a huge plus in my book.
  • Since I’m not into HDR photography, I’ll leave this new “in camera” HDR feature for others to comment on.
  • I’m unimpressed with the ISO expansion capabilities in this camera. Pushing a penny-sized CCD sensor to ISO 3200 and above usually results in very noisy and grainy images. I’ll reserve judgment until I can test the G12 at ISO 1600 and 3200 but I’m not too hopeful.
  • However, if Canon’s claim of 4.2 frames per second is correct, we’ve finally seen a P&S camera that can be used for action shots. This could be Canon’s “killer feature” and a significant reason to upgrade.

Some Final Thoughts:
I think the Powershot “G” series are superb cameras capable of delivering exception results under the right conditions. I do think that Canon has done the right thing in concentrating on improving the sensor in these cameras, rather than on just adding more megapixels with each new model.

I look at the G12 as an incremental release. Nothing earth shattering but some nice new features which build upon what’s available in the G11. I can’t see many G11 owners rushing out to buy a G12 but for folks looking at a high end P&S camera for the first time, its a great choice.

The real question is whether the G12 can beat the new Nikon Coolpix P7000 in image quality. I’m sure Nikon has had just about enough of folks buying a D3 or D700 as their “primary” camera and a Canon G10 or G11 as their “travel” camera.

But that’s a post for another time!

32 thoughts on “Comparing the Canon G10, G11 and G12

  1. Hi.Will this be a good camera for beginners in photography?I love taking photos but I do not have my own camera and really have no idea in adjusting the settings in the digicam that I was borrowing.So I was planning to buy one for myself at the end of next month so I’d like to know your opinion regarding this one.Thank you so much!=)

  2. I will buy a Gxx as soon as Canon meets up with Nikon’s P7000 lens, I would see a 7.5x lens (28-210). And the optical viewfinder should include a langer view.

    • Hi there! I’m not so sure about the superiority of the Nikon lens as the optical quality of the Canon is great – good enough for the high definition of the G.10 sensor used in good light – and I personally prefer to have less zoom with the accompanying less chromatic aberration . That being said, I don’t know how good the Nikon lens is in keeping the CA under control, and you might therefore be right about the lens. Where you are certainly right is concerning the optical viewfinder which is in the “better than nothing” category as far as I am concerned.
      Overall however, I love the G XX series as serious (large!) pocket back up to my DSLR kit. If it were to be my one and only camera, then my criteria would probably be different.

  3. I’m one of the ones that complained with the vertical scratch problem in the G10 and again in the G11. I like the things that the G12 have to offer, especially since when I travel, I like something light instead of bringing a video camera, a still camera, lenses, and all the other stuff that makes my return from vacation feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Did Canon ever get the hint and fix the vertical scratch problem that I saw raised in past comments in this forum?

  4. I love the quality of the images which my G 10 gives me in normal conditions – unbeatable! However, the noise level at high ISO settings in low light is unacceptable. So I now have a G 11 and find that this problem has largely disappeared, but I cannot find it in my heart to sell the G 10 because of my “summer shots”. Even if I were to trade in my G 11 for a G 12 (for the hybrid stabiliser and the action shots) I still think that the G. 10 would stay in my “just in case” pocket when I am on lightweight walkabout without my DSLR.

  5. Hi Jeff,
    Great review. I was wondering if you knew of the G10, G11, and G12’s waterproof casing. My friend gave me a waterproof case as a gift. It’s for the G10 but I’m tempted to buy a G11 or G12. Would it work. Thanks….


    • Hi Jeff, The G11 & G12 use the same Canon Housing…The G10 has it’s own housing though because of the button & size differences. Selling the housing is a good option though if you choose to upgrade as the housing retain their retail value quite well…unless there are no more G10 camera out there…


  6. Pingback: 2010 in Review | Serious Amateur Photography

  7. I have the G10 and love it. The only issues I have (may be due to lack of knowledge?) is not happy with the pictures in low light and I love to shoot macro and it can take me a LONG time to get it to focus in this setting. At times it will lookk crisp and sharp and before I can snap it it blurrs. If I continue to try I can usually get a good pic??? Is it the camera or am I doing something wrong??? Would the G12 be any better in theses areas?

    • You mean using the Macro auto zone? If so, that will be the cam’s auto settings accounting for low light and leaving shutter open longer. Read up on shooting in manual. Switch to that, jack up your ISO a little, zoom in, and set your aperture as fast as (you need/ it will allow – depends on desired result) and you should be able to shoot at a good fast shutter sped.

      If that’s too confusing (and it can be when you first start down that road) then try using Tv mode ( shutter priority) – Set the shutter speed to desired speed, maybe incease ISO a bit if your exposure meter is still on the low side, and the camera will calculate the correct aperture.

      Sorry, but if you are in auto, then you need to get out, or else be consigned to waiting for fluke shots, instead of creating the right shot based on your knowledge. Best of luck.

      • Postscript – Sorry, perhaps I could have read your post more carefully before answering. Your problem with blur may be more of an autofocus issue than exposure settings. Does the G10 have assignable AF points? Read your manuals advice on this. (I use DSLR, but considering a G12 as a pocket cam.) If you can set your AF points to a single point (immediately atop the primary subject) rather than all points (which will try to focus on subject’s background and other distractions as well as the subject itself) then that may help. I almost always have my AF points set to manual, as auto tries to get the “right” shot, as opposed to the one I want.

  8. Thanks for the review.
    Just a note for you guys. I teach digital underwater photography as a dive pro. Canon have this down-pat.
    The delay between depression of the release and actual shutter release (G10) is a little upsetting when shooting moving marine life in RAW but Canon really have the loss of red light factored perfectly. Nobody else has this mastered.
    Still, it is nice to know that my camera has not been consigned to the scrapheap.
    Can anyone tell me why/how the downgrade (?) to 10Mp is not a worry?

    Thanks again.

    • I have the G10. In your oppinion is thier anything the G12 offers that would make it worth upgrading? Did anyone give you anny way to reduce the megapixels? Thanks

  9. Need a recommendation – love my new Canon PowershotSX210IS because I want a 28-400+mm lens, but the shutter delay is as slow as molasses – can’t take pix of car races or anything else that moves, thats for sure. But I don’t want to lug around a big, heavy SLR or worse – changing lenses – when traveling. What type of camera could fit my needs? (I only use Canon products). Thanks.
    PS – don’t know how to use a forum – direct emails will be appreciated?

  10. Jeff, is the viewfinder the same as the G10? That 75% coverage makes it all but useless as a viewfinder for me, unless I have time to compose with the display first, make note of the center point, and then move my eye to the viewfinder. 96% on the G12 would be ideal – that and better noise reduction above ISO 400 would be enough to cause me to trade the G10 in. Other Canons in the bag – 5D II and 50D. Thoughts?

    • Alan,

      Thanks for reading. The viewfinder in the new G12 is the same as the previous models used and completely useless. The “live view” with the realtime histogram works great however and that’s all most folks will ever need.


  11. Great comparison and thank you for that.

    It begs the question for me – should I wait for the G12 (G12 is not yet available in my neck of the woods and won’t be for awhile) or pick-up a G11 – which is about 100$ less than the G12. I would appreciated your take on going for the G11 or waiting for the G12.

    Regards, Terry.

    • Terry,

      Thanks for reading. The differences between the G11 & G12 are small. If you can find a good price on the G11 I’d take it. If not, wait 6 months and see the G12 price drop.


      • What about the differences between the G10 and G12? Is there enough of a difference to warrant an upgrade???

  12. I applaude Canon for staying competetive by producing such a wonderful series of cameras as the G-Series. Never a problem selling them on Craigs or Ebay when the new one comes out! I’ve actually been shopping for a 4/3 format camera, but just couldn’t find anything (short of a M-Series) with the manual controls, super-sharp articulating screen, and overall feature set that is on my G11. Also if you really dig into the menus of your G11 it really is a sophisticated, capable camera. I haven’t heard anyone mention the Diorama art filter that is now in the G12. And a barely mentioned feature-the built in ND filter that darkens the lens, allowing for a larger aperture to be used in bright daylight subsequently allowing [somewhat] of a blurred background. I actually prefer the G11 to EVERY 4/3 Camera on the market today. It is a great blueprint for a good camera. BTW According to Canon USA, the Canon G12 Shipped today September 27 from the factory and should be in stores by 4-5 October 2010. I’m reserving mine ASAP!

    • Eric,

      Thanks for reading. The internal neutral density filter has been with the G series for several years now but I’ve never heard of the diorama art filter. Can you elaborate?


    • Eric,
      I am a professional photographer and a long time Canon devotee. However when I became semi-retired, I sold ALL my Canon equipment and replaced it with one of the first models 4/3 system, a Panasonic G1. I truly LOVE it despite the fact that I HATE Panasonic because of really BAD (nearly non-existent) customer support. In any case I bought the G1 because it is light, less bulky by far than my Canon EOS, and makes images I am not ashamed to publish. The lens selections are limited right now but there is no denying the quality of the instrument. I would buy another in a hot second. In the meantime, my backup digital camera is the Canon G10 and if it had an articulating back like my Panasonic and the G12, I would stay with it. I love the 14mp resolution but the G1 has only 10mp and it works fine in nearly every situation. I am seriously considering the G12 but am more than happy with the Panasonic system of interchangeable lenses. I am NOT happy about the fact that when changing lenses, the sensor is no protected by a curtain and is open to the elements. No big deal unless one is at Burning Man (where no good camera should EVER be used) and if you are careful. In any case, check into the G1. It doesn’t have a movie capability, but if I want to make movies, I’ll buy a movie camera. Good luck.

  13. “Continuous Shooting:
    G10 – 0.7 fps
    G11 – 1.1 fps
    G12 – 4.2 fps (Wow!)”

    Should be:
    G11 – 1.1 fps
    G12 – Approx. 2.0 shots/sec. (when shooting in P mode), Approx. 4.2 shots/sec. (when shooting in Low Light mode)

    Low Light mode on the G12 probably has considerable noise

  14. Nice comparison, Jeff. I’m another of those Nukon DSLR/Canon conpact folks shooting a D700, D90 and a G9. I don’t see me switching the SLRs but the G12 would certainly be in the running for a G9 replacement for me.

    Aside from the obvious image quality improvements over the last 3 cameras in the G range, one change which really interests me is the addition of a front dial which will make life a lot easier for us manual shooters who previously had to use additional buttons to switch control between aperture and shutter speed.

    I’ll have to read up on the HDR mode but I’m not too sure how much help this can be since the existing G cameras are very capable HDR platforms indeed.

  15. LOL – that was me! D700 and G11. I waited and waited for the P6000 to be updated, it seemed like years. I got the G11 probably 8 months ago. Nikon’s late to the game with the P7000, and I can’t believe they took out the GPS. They’re lucky the image quality seems to be awesome.

    Doesn’t matter now, I switched to a 5D mark II. Nikon glass is outrageously expensive and there’s no D700x in sight. Can’t wait forever.

      • Jeff,
        Thank you for your review. I noted that you did not mention the lack of an articulating back on the G10 (I owned a G7 and now have a G10) which is a feature I feel Canon was a bit late in introducing. I shoot quite a bit of news and am always fighting people who find it necessary to stand directly in front of me. I use the G10 (soon to be a G12) as a backup to my Panasonic 4/3 G1 system just because of this feature. Without a doubt customer support at Canon is superb while Panasonic’s is nearly non-existent. You should do a review of customer service in the digital industry if you want to have some fun…and total frustration. In any case, thanks for the review. It was most helpful.

    • The “L” series by Canon are also quite spendy, but produce very good quality results. Comparison? Probably not worth switching either way…..

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