One of Canon’s PowerShot G series of compact cameras has won the AP Enthusiast Compact of the Year Award for the past three years. Could the new PowerShot G12 make it four years in a row? Richard Sibley investigates
Viewfinder, LCD, Live View and Video
The Canon PowerShot G12 is one of the few compact cameras still to feature an optical viewfinder. Unfortunately, this particular feature is one of the G12’s worst. While it is nice that it has an optical viewfinder, some may think that improvements in LCD screens have rendered the viewfinder on the G-series cameras irrelevant. It is small, suffers chromatic aberrations and the lens appears in the frame when set to its widest focal length. There is also no indication of the current exposure settings or the AF point that is in use. However, many traditionalists prefer an optical viewfinder, particularly when shooting in bright sunlight.
Also, as the G12 is not a reflex camera, the viewfinder doesn’t show the exact image that will be captured so it’s not much use for precise framing. In my opinion, when it comes to releasing the G12’s successor, Canon would be better off taking a leaf out of Fujifilm’s book and using a hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder like the one in the new Fujifilm X100. This would allow digital information to be seen in the optical viewfinder, allowing the best of both worlds.
Measuring 2.8in, the LCD screen of the G12 is slightly smaller than the 3in screens we are used to seeing in current DSLRs and some compact cameras, but this is in order to accommodate the articulation.
Also, with approximately 461,000 dots, it is of a reasonably high resolution given its size and the fact that it is a compact camera. In use, I found the screen bright and clear, and the articulation makes it easy to shoot low-angle images.
The introduction of 1280×720-pixel HD video capture is an inevitable, and welcome, addition to the G series. Video is saved using the H.264 codec with sound recorded in stereo, using two built-in microphones either side of the camera’s hotshoe. The internal microphones are far enough away from the lens that they do not pick up the sound of the lens zooming, but they do pick up the sound of the zoom control springing back into position, so you need to be careful to release this slowly.
Video quality is good, with no signs of sensor wobble. However, most of the exposure settings are fully automated and there is little control over the video settings besides colour control. Focus is locked before the video capture starts.