• Price: £457.50 plus VAT

  • Company: Canon

  • Pros: Built-to-last aluminium construction. Solid feature set. Optical viewfinder. 5x optical zoom usable during capture of video and stills. Manual top plate dials. Pop-up flash.

  • Cons: LCD screen is fixed. Bulky. Pricey given that a digital SLR could be bought for the same price.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

A good way to think of of Canon's PowerShot G15 is like an EOS digital SLR without a lens mount. It sports a similar rock-solid build – here aluminium – and control layout to an EOS camera, but is of course more compact. Canon claims the G15 17% smaller than its G12 forebear, but the new version doesn’t have a tilting LCD.

The non-removable lens offers a maximum aperture of f/1.8 (or f/2.8 at full telephoto), making it the brightest of Canon’s G-series, so allows for a wider range of low light work plus shallow depth of field effects reminiscent of a digital SLR. The top resolution is 12.1 megapixels from a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor; the same physical dimensions as three of its rivals here. Additionally an image-stabilised 5x optical zoom provides a focal range equivalent to 28-140mm in 35mm terms, making it second only to Nikon’s 7.1x P7700.

While its 920,000-pixel resolution LCD is fixed where we might have again liked it angle adjustable, Canon claims to have improved the autofocus speed by over 50% when compared with its predecessor – locking onto target in 0.17 seconds, a claimed fastest in the range. An advantage over most rivals is that we get an eye-level optical viewfinder too, for those who prefer to hold a camera up to the face, and naturally Full HD video, 24fps capture, stereo sound and an increasingly ubiquitous one-touch record button provided.

A vacant hotshoe allows for accessory flash, while a small, stubby pop up flash with manual activation lever also features.

The front of the G15 has quite a flat profile, which on one hand enables it to slip into a jacket pocket but on the other also means its handgrip isn’t as prominent as we might have hoped. Nevertheless, leather-like padding front and back plus lightweight construction prevents the camera feeling like it might slip from the grasp when shooting and avoids image blur at the telephoto end.

Overlapping shooting mode and exposure dials on the top plate with 11 manual and auto options continue the hands-on feel, whilst the lens surround is removable for the attachment of physical camera filters should users want to get more creative.

Of course, another alternative to anyone seeking a high-end Canon compact would be its maker’s EOS M, which, while build quality is not quite as impressive as the G15, is nevertheless one of the smallest cameras out there to offer interchangeable lenses.

This review is taken from our group test of the four best pocket-sized cameras for creative pros.