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Canon PowerShot G15 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £550
inc VAT

Immaculate photos and superb controls, but slower than the competition and currently overpriced


1/1.7in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (28-140mm equivalent), 352g

Now that compact system cameras (CSCs) are available for as little as £350, is anyone going to buy a conventional compact camera that costs over £500? Canon clearly thinks so, but then, the G15 doesn’t bear much resemblance to most compact cameras.

It’s built around a 1/1.7in sensor – smaller than CSC sensors but bigger than the ones used in most other compacts. It sits behind a wide-aperture lens, at f/1.8 for wide-angle shots and f/2.8 for telephoto. Together, the sensor size and wide-aperture lens are a potent combination for maintaining high image quality in low light.

Canon PowerShot G15

The G15 isn’t the only camera with this combination of sensor and lens. It has some formidable opponents in the forms of the Panasonic LX7 and Fujifilm X10. The G15 is marginally the heaviest of the three but its chunky body inspires confidence for build quality. We’d be more worried about the floor than the camera in the event of a fall. There’s just enough shape to the textured handgrip to sit securely in the hand, so hopefully it won’t be slipping through fingers too often.

Canon PowerShot G15

This is one of very few compact cameras to incorporate an optical viewfinder – a crucial feature for long-sighted people who struggle with LCD screens, and useful when shooting in bright light when the screen is hard to see. The viewfinder zooms in tandem with the lens, but it’s a small, blurry view that’s heavily cropped compared to what the sensor sees. The viewfinder on the Fujifilm X10 is much better quality. The G15’s screen is much better with its sharp 922,000-dot resolution, but it’s disappointing that it doesn’t share the older G12’s articulated design.

This chunky camera affords lots of room for controls. There’s a wheel and command dial for controlling shutter speed and aperture in manual exposure mode, plus a dedicated exposure compensation dial. The latter encouraged us to adjust the exposure much more often than with cameras that require a button press to bring exposure compensation up on the screen. With dedicated buttons for AE Lock, ISO speed, autofocus point, metering mode and an option to assign white balance to a customisable button, there’s little reason to reach for the menu.

Canon PowerShot G15

Drive mode is one reason, though. We wonder whether Canon chose to hide it away in a menu because the G15’s continuous performance isn’t much to get excited about. It managed 1.8fps for JPEGs, 1fps for raw and just 0.8fps when updating autofocus between each shot. It doesn’t compare well to the Panasonic LX7’s 5fps with updating autofocus. Canon tries to make up for it with a scene preset that captures 10 shots in a second, but with a blank screen during capture and six seconds to recover, for us the compromises outweigh the benefits. General shot-to-shot times are on the slow side, too, at 2.3 seconds in our tests. The LX7 and X10 were almost three times as fast. At least the G15’s flash refresh times are reasonably nippy, at 3.1 seconds at full flash power.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ***
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/1.7in
Viewfinder optical
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 922,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-140mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
File formats JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 350 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI, wired remote
Body material magnesium alloy
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB cable
Weight 352g
Size 79x108x40mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £550

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 15 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/1.8-8 (wide), f/2.8-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 12800
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV
White balance auto, 7 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, red, green, blue, skin tone, noise reduction, dynamic range correction
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes multi, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, HDR, AE bracket, focus bracket