By Gavin Stoker | on January 31, 2010
Pros: Solid build; comprehensive feature set and manual control; rangefinder-like dials; good results (low noise) if sticking at ISO 3,200 or below.
Cons: Pricey; bulky; no HD video; less pixels than offered by its G10 predecessor; poor continuous shooting speed (1.1fps).
The G11 sits at the pinnacle of Canon’s consumer models, and follows on from last year’s G10. Canon calls it the ‘ultimate compact’ and it costs almost as much as a standard digital SLR, so what goodies can we expect for that money?
Curiously, the G11 has a lower-resolution sensor than the G10 – 10.1 megapixels, rather than 14.7 megapixels. It also has a smaller LCD screen at the rear for composing and reviewing shots – it’s 2.8 inches rather than three inches. The result is greater sensitivity to light, with an ISO 3200 mode manually selectable that can be expanded to a digital SLR-like 12800 (at 2.5 megapixels) for shooting in near-darkness.
The screen may be smaller, but only because it now tilts and swivels. This enables shooting (JPEG or maximum quality Raw files) from awkward angles – such as over the heads of a crowd or low to the ground.
Annoyingly, the full manual comes on CD, with only a slim quick-start paper guide. Pick the camera up, though, and you can feel where the money has gone. Like Canon’s digital SLRs, the G11 feels solid in the hand, with rangefinder-like top plate dials for adjustment. There’s a sloping front grip, but it’s hard to place your thumb when shooting handheld – it hovered dangerously over the delete button.
The G11 powers up in a second or so. Its image-stabilised 5x optical zoom lens extends to a maximum 28mm wide-angle setting, with 140mm available at the telephoto end. You can’t swap the lens, but the broader-than-average focal range allows creative possibilities from landscapes to portraiture.
Sticking to the user selectable settings (up to ISO 3200) reaps better results than pushing the G11 to the maximum ISO 12800. Indeed, shots taken at ISO 3200 matched that at the lower ISO 800 from rivals for noise, which is impressive.