Canon Powershot G15 Review - Digital Photography School

Canon Powershot G15 Review

Canon G15 Review

Don’t know about you, but I shudder when I read that a camera company has described a lens or a camera as being ‘bright’.

I presume they mean that the lens involved is what used to be described as ‘fast’ … you know, with a maximum aperture of f1.5 or f2 or nearby. But bright …?

Anyway, this G series model – the Canon Powershot G15 – is the latest in what Canon used to describe as its top level, fixed lens series of cameras, with specs generally above the run of the mill models.

So, here they go: ‘Canon introduces its fastest and brightest compact camera. The Canon PowerShot G15 camera delivers enthusiast and professional photographers the fastest auto focus and brightest lens in Canon’s compact camera history.’ Whew!

Time was when the G series sat as Canon’s premier compact line of cameras. Before DSLRS became common-place, a G series camera was the one to go for. So how are things these days?

But before we head into the present it’s interesting to observe that the pioneering G1 of 2006 measured 119.7×76.8×63.8cm and weighed 420g as against the G15′s 125x87x110cm and 310g in weight. So the veteran G1 camera was almost precisely half the size of the new G15 but, weightwise, the G1 was a third heavier. Lenswise, the G1 had an f2 optic, so the new boy is (very) minimally faster.

BTW the ISO options went only to 400 — boy those were the dim days! And it used CompactFlash cards!

Enough of the past.
G15_04.jpg

Canon Powershot G15 Features

I have to say the camera got me immediately, with its classy matte black body and clearly-picked out in white control points. You can see at a glance what the mode dial settings are, along with any exposure correction you may have dialled in on the camera’s top surface. Power and shutter buttons as well as zoom controls are only millimetres away.

The speed grip is smallish but enough to securely wrap your fingers around.
Menu.jpg

Mode dial.jpg

The rear area carries little, aside from the four way rocker which gives access to ISO, macro mode, display options and flash variations with the function button set in the centre. Nearby are buttons for menu, metering options, AF selection and aperture selection. In my book, this setup makes the camera a dream to use without any need to dive into the menu ‘jungle’ which is, in typical Canon fashion, a very friendly jungle.

For me, there are very few ‘downers’ but I feel the widest end of the zoom (at a 35 SLR equivalent of 28mm) is not wide enough for most punters … 25mm makes me smile, 28mm forces me to step back a bit!

Overall, the camera could make a pro or enthusiast very happy as a backup to DSLR kit.

Maximum image size is 4000×3000 pixels, enough to output a 34x25cm print.

Movies: Full HD capture in MPEG4 at 1920×1080 resolution. Shooting movies is dead easy, simply by pushing the by now familiar red button, found at the top right corner of the camera; no stills capture, mid movie, unfortunately … do so and the move recording will stop, so there! However the AF and auto exposure functioned flawlessly during movie shooting.

All the moving shots were taken with the camera at waist level. Head high video was shot with the camera held still. All of this is a great help for the in-camera stabiliser.

The optical turret viewfinder is matched happily to the zoom’s operation, so you can enjoy flare free viewing/shooting even in bright sunlight. The bad news is that there is no indication of focus.

And then I noticed a tiny button at the front of the camera and just beneath the lens: this is to release the lens ring, enabling attachment of a tele-converter lens. Not sure if there is a wide adaptor available.

One gripe: the continuous shooting speed is a measly 2.1 fps, with so many lesser-specced cameras offering much faster rates.

MacDonald's interior 3.jpg

McDonald's interior 4.JPG

McDonald's interior 5.JPG

McDonald's interior 6.JPG

Startup Times
About a second after power up I caught my first shot; follow-ons came in at a little over a second apiece. Not rapid, I would say.

Distortion
I could discern very little barrel distortion at the zoom’s wide end, with no aberrations apparent at the tele end.

Canon Powershot G15 ISO Tests

Canon G15 ISO 80.JPG

Canon G15 ISO 400.JPG

Canon G15 ISO 800.JPG

Canon G15 ISO 1600.JPG

Canon G15 ISO 3200.JPG

Canon G15 ISO 6400.JPG

Canon G15 ISO 12800.JPG

It’s all good news, all the way up to ISO 3200, with excellent definition and relatively low noise.

By ISO 6400 we start to fall off the edge with noticeable noise and a drop in sharpness. By ISO 12800 the image is nasty: lots of noise, poor colour fidelity, poor definition. But hey! How about ISO 3200!

Canon Powershot G15 Review Verdict

Quality: the images I took leapt off the screen. These are some of the best I have ever seen from a digital compact. Stunning video as well.

Why you’d buy the Canon Powershot G15: easy to follow control layout.

Why you wouldn’t: a tilting LCD screen would make it a much better camera for stills and movie work.

A little beauty! It could happily sit in my kit bag.

Canon Powershot G15 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 15mm CMOS.
Metering: Evaluative, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens: f1.8-8.0/6.1-30.5mm (28-140mm as 35 SLR equivalent)
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, manual.
Shutter Speed: 15-1/4000 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4000×3000 to 640×480.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
Viewfinder: Optical turret and 7.5cm LCD screen (922,000).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV output, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 125x87x110 WHDmm.
Weight: 352 g (inc card and battery).
Price: Get a price on the Canon PowerShot G15 at Amazon.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Canon Powershot G15
Author Rating
4

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • Michal

    “Don’t know about you, but I shudder when I read that a camera company has described a lens or a camera as being ‘bright’. I presume they mean that the lens involved is what used to be described as ‘fast’” – “bright lens” is an often used expression (163 thousand Google results).

    “119.7×76.8×63.8cm” – so this camera is over one meter wide.. wow!

    119.7×76.8×63.8cm vs 125x87x110cm – “half the size”? Well… no. Its volume might have doubled but its external dimensions hardly changed except for its thickness.

  • Barrie Smith

    Right!
    Dimensions: 125x87x110 WHDmm. Should have been:

    106.6×75.9×40.1 WHDmm.
    The copy and past function does not work on some docs. Like the G15 PDF manual!

  • Allan Benoit

    “Quality: the images I took leapt off the screen. These are some of the best I have ever seen from a digital compact.”

    Unfortunately the images used in the review are exactly blowing my socks off. Even the standard still life pics seem to be underexposed.

  • http://www.cmhproperties.com/ Charles Mackenzie-Hill

    What a shame they removed the tilting screen! I wounder if its worth a wait for the G16 . Seems to be a deal breaker for some including me. Tilting screen would make this camera an excellent b camera for video use

    Will have to take the gamble and wait.

  • http://www.ferbhinlor.com Ferb

    It’s so funny to see the photo, a women in McDonald and I know what you’re thinking HAHA.

  • tfeltz

    The G1 actually came out in 2000, not 2006. See http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong1

    As for the tilting screen, it is of course a trade off. The fixed screen makes the camera thinner (about 1cm thinner and thus more pocketable than its close competitor, the Nikon P7700).

  • Wally Kringen

    Barry seems to take exception to the term “bright lens”. Since this camera is aimed at novices mostly, (not counting the advanced photogs who want a second, pocketable camera), bright is a decent term for a very light-sensitive lens. The term “fast lens” is misleading to every novice – always taken to mean something about shutter speed.

  • Barrie Smith

    I agree Wally

    ‘bright’ is not an appropriate term, nor is ‘fast’, for a lens with a large aperture.

    Anyone got a better word?

  • Gary

    As far as words are supposed to convey some sense, I find that “bright” is the -perhaps most- correct one to describe a lens that transmits a lot of light to the film (or sensor).
    “Fast” describes a film (or…) that doesn’t need a lot of light or time to capture an image. A bright lens saves you from using a fast film (or…).
    The French word is “lumineux”, which has to do with light, not speed. The same for the German word: “lichtstark”, light-strong.

  • Robbie Lintree

    Terrible review. Careless factual errors (G1 released in 2006?) (incorrect dimensions and weight of G15) make me distrust everything this person writes. What he drunk when he wrote this? On drugs?

  • Barrie Smith

    Burgundy. Should have been Bourbon.

  • Geoff

    Give Me a Break! Nitpickers & Stone Throwers can’t stand them. I found this informative thank you.
    And that person who said “Drunk and on drugs”Bury your head in shame.Stick to your facebook and get off these forum’s.What a stupid remark.

  • Robbie LIntree

    Reviews should be factually correct. Anyone that disagrees is stupid. “I found it informative” lol. Hey, give ME a break. What information “informed you”? The mistaken information? Maybe you’re loaded with mistaken information. But you see, son, it’s not YOUR fault, it’s purveyors of errors, lies and falsehoods.

    And (by the way) facebook is for stupid and socially stunted people.

Some older comments

  • Robbie LIntree

    January 19, 2013 07:57 pm

    Reviews should be factually correct. Anyone that disagrees is stupid. "I found it informative" lol. Hey, give ME a break. What information "informed you"? The mistaken information? Maybe you're loaded with mistaken information. But you see, son, it's not YOUR fault, it's purveyors of errors, lies and falsehoods.

    And (by the way) facebook is for stupid and socially stunted people.

  • Geoff

    January 15, 2013 03:04 am

    Give Me a Break! Nitpickers & Stone Throwers can't stand them. I found this informative thank you.
    And that person who said "Drunk and on drugs"Bury your head in shame.Stick to your facebook and get off these forum's.What a stupid remark.

  • Barrie Smith

    January 12, 2013 08:45 am

    Burgundy. Should have been Bourbon.

  • Robbie Lintree

    January 10, 2013 01:57 pm

    Terrible review. Careless factual errors (G1 released in 2006?) (incorrect dimensions and weight of G15) make me distrust everything this person writes. What he drunk when he wrote this? On drugs?

  • Gary

    December 30, 2012 02:00 am

    As far as words are supposed to convey some sense, I find that "bright" is the -perhaps most- correct one to describe a lens that transmits a lot of light to the film (or sensor).
    "Fast" describes a film (or...) that doesn't need a lot of light or time to capture an image. A bright lens saves you from using a fast film (or...).
    The French word is "lumineux", which has to do with light, not speed. The same for the German word: "lichtstark", light-strong.

  • Barrie Smith

    December 29, 2012 07:25 am

    I agree Wally

    'bright' is not an appropriate term, nor is 'fast', for a lens with a large aperture.

    Anyone got a better word?

  • Wally Kringen

    December 27, 2012 06:49 pm

    Barry seems to take exception to the term "bright lens". Since this camera is aimed at novices mostly, (not counting the advanced photogs who want a second, pocketable camera), bright is a decent term for a very light-sensitive lens. The term "fast lens" is misleading to every novice - always taken to mean something about shutter speed.

  • tfeltz

    December 16, 2012 11:48 am

    The G1 actually came out in 2000, not 2006. See http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong1

    As for the tilting screen, it is of course a trade off. The fixed screen makes the camera thinner (about 1cm thinner and thus more pocketable than its close competitor, the Nikon P7700).

  • Ferb

    December 15, 2012 05:05 pm

    It's so funny to see the photo, a women in McDonald and I know what you're thinking HAHA.

  • Charles Mackenzie-Hill

    December 13, 2012 07:27 pm

    What a shame they removed the tilting screen! I wounder if its worth a wait for the G16 . Seems to be a deal breaker for some including me. Tilting screen would make this camera an excellent b camera for video use

    Will have to take the gamble and wait.

  • Allan Benoit

    December 12, 2012 10:33 pm

    "Quality: the images I took leapt off the screen. These are some of the best I have ever seen from a digital compact."

    Unfortunately the images used in the review are exactly blowing my socks off. Even the standard still life pics seem to be underexposed.

  • Barrie Smith

    December 12, 2012 03:41 pm

    Right!
    Dimensions: 125x87x110 WHDmm. Should have been:

    106.6x75.9x40.1 WHDmm.
    The copy and past function does not work on some docs. Like the G15 PDF manual!

  • Michal

    December 12, 2012 11:52 am

    "Don’t know about you, but I shudder when I read that a camera company has described a lens or a camera as being ‘bright’. I presume they mean that the lens involved is what used to be described as ‘fast’" - "bright lens" is an often used expression (163 thousand Google results).

    "119.7×76.8×63.8cm" - so this camera is over one meter wide.. wow!

    119.7×76.8×63.8cm vs 125x87x110cm - "half the size"? Well... no. Its volume might have doubled but its external dimensions hardly changed except for its thickness.

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