The Canon G series is once again the go-to choice for photographers looking for a serious compact camera, reviews say. The Canon PowerShot G15 delivers the total package: It's speedy, durable, easy to handle, shoots very nice photos and videos and fits into a jacket pocket. Only the pricier Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 (*Est. $650), with its big 20-megapixel image sensor, comes more highly recommended in reviews of pocket cameras.
"A joy to use," say the experts at DPReview.com, where the G15 earns a rare Gold Award. "One of the best-handling compact cameras on the market." The Canon G15 is "a nearly ideal size," says Ben Keough at DigitalCameraInfo.com: pocketable, but big enough to handle easily.
Unlike tiny pocket cameras, the G15 has room for a bunch of high-end features. Two textured grips make the G15 comfortable to hold. It has an optical viewfinder (rare for this class), plus a bright 3-inch LCD screen and "the most external controls in its class," DPReview.com says. No lens ring, but you get two customizable control dials -- one front and one rear -- plus a dedicated exposure compensation dial, "a very nice touch," Keough says.
Add it all up, and you've got a "pocketable photographic tool that offers almost the same degree of control as much larger DSLRs," says DPReview.com. Of course, it also offers the usual auto modes if you prefer to relax and let the camera do the work.
Fantastic photo shooter, but few video controls. Quick and capable, the Canon G15 simply shoots great photos with no fuss, reviews say. First, image quality: The G15's relatively small, 12-megapixel sensor doesn't grab any headlines. Neither does its extraordinarily bright lens (at f/2.8 fully zoomed, it's the widest aperture in its class).
They just get the job done. Sharp images, beautifully blurred backgrounds and outstanding low-light performance -- better than some Canon DSLRs in DigitalCameraInfo.com's tests -- impress experts. Owners, too: It's one of the top-rated digital cameras at Amazon.com.
Next, speed: Everything about the G15 works fast in tests. It autofocuses quickly, even in low light. It can shoot up to 10 full-resolution frames per second (fps).
One Amazon.com user needed a fast-shooting camera to photograph volleyball and basketball games in dim high school gyms. "Frankly, I was impressed" with the Canon G15, the owner writes. "The camera focuses really quickly so that instead of having to follow one player and wait for the ball to go to them, I was able to follow the play, point and shoot."
Video looks equally impressive, at full 1080p HD, but "bizarrely crippled video controls" irritate Keough at DigitalCameraInfo.com. You can zoom and adjust exposure, but otherwise, it's autopilot-only. DPReview.com's testers agree that video shooters should skip the G15.
Battery life is strong, at an estimated 350 shots per charge with the LCD screen on.
Built to last. "Bomb-proof build quality" sets the Canon G15 apart from its peers, DPReview.com says. Other experts wholeheartedly agree. "Superb build quality," says Keough at DigitalCameraInfo.com. "Tank-like construction," says Mark Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com.
Owners confirm this. "The first thing I noticed when I took the G15 out of its box for the first time was its impressive build quality," writes one buyer at Amazon.com. Another chose the Canon G15 over the highly regarded Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 (*Est. $650) for just this reason. "It's built to last," this owner says of the Canon G15. "The battery compartment door feels solid as well as the pop up flash" -- two parts of the Sony that strike reviewers as flimsy.
Big-camera features like a hot shoe, but no in-camera panorama. The Canon G15 boasts two almost unheard-of features for a pocket camera: an optical viewfinder and a hot shoe for an external flash (there's a pop-up flash, too). It can also shoot both JPEG and RAW files, giving you maximum editing control. Zoom is 5x, healthy for this class.
Extra features are class-competitive, too. With the High Dynamic Range mode, the G15 can shoot multiple exposures and meld them into a single, more detailed photo. Handheld Night Scene melds multiple exposures into one steady, well-exposed night shot -- no tripod required. And Picture Effects, which includes 10 different effects, like fish eye, miniature and toy camera, "help spice up your images," says Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com.
There's no in-camera panorama feature, though, DPReview.com points out. Unlike many pocket cameras -- even cheap ones -- the Canon G15 won't let you simply sweep the camera across the scene to create an instant panoramic shot. You have to stitch your own photos together later, using supplied computer software. DPReview.com doesn't try it with the G15, but when they try it with the pricier Canon PowerShot G1 X (*Est. $750), the software leaves seams, stitching errors and a bent horizon.
Like others in its class, the Canon G15 has a USB port to hook up to a computer and an HDMI port to attach to an HDTV.
Review Credibility: Excellent DPReview.com calls this a "quick review," but it's more thorough than most sites' full reviews. After testing everything from image quality and video to features and speed, experts here like the Canon G15 so much that they award it their highest Gold Award.
Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Quick Review, Lars Rehm and Andy Westlake, November 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Outstanding image quality and a strong build earn the Canon G15 a nearly perfect score here. After thoroughly testing the camera's performance, features, handling and more, Ben Keough's only real complaint is its "bizarrely crippled video controls."
Review: Canon PowerShot G15, Ben Keough, Oct. 19, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Striking the right balance of size, features and image quality, the Canon G15 earns a "Highly Recommended" tag in this test. Mark Goldstein especially likes the G15's fast lens and snappy performance.
Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Review, Mark Goldstein, Nov. 14, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Jim Fisher awards the Canon G15 an "Excellent" rating. Image quality and handling are outstanding. The pricier Sony Cyber-shot RX100 does better in extremely low light, though.
Review: Canon PowerShot G15, Jim Fisher, Oct. 24, 2012
Review Credibility: Fair Owners here overwhelmingly love the Canon G15. Although criticisms are posted, a large percentage of the 90 or so owner-reviewers award it 4 or a perfect 5 stars for its impressive image quality, speedy performance and easy handling.
Review: Canon PowerShot G15 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013
Review Credibility: Fair The Canon G15 has a nearly perfect rating here, with more than 100 owner reviews posted. One owner wishes Canon had included a memory card, and two love the camera but wish for a better viewfinder. Most everyone else awards it a perfect 5 stars. Some of the reviews are extremely detailed, and some include sample shots.
Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Digital Camera, Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com, As of February 2013