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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.
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.

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Canon Powershot G15
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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

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

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