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By Mike Joubert 8 January 2010

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Let’s just get this out of the way – we are big fans of the Canon G-series here in the TechSmart office. It is the definitive compact camera range, and an excellent alternative to lugging around a big dSLR. While the G11 is a lovely piece of equipment and offers functionality (and a price tag) not even found on some entry level dSLRs, it’s not all plain sailing.

Vari-angle Screen

The latest G11 offers some interesting improvements over the G10, with the most obvious of these being the inclusion of the 2.8” tilting vari-angle LCD screen. Canon has still not addressed the optical viewfinder problems found on previous models, and on the G11 it is as dismal as ever, leaving the LCD screen as your primary solution. With the ability to tilt the screen to shoot difficult angles the benefits are obvious, but it left us in two minds. One of the main problems is that in order to use the tilt, you have to fold the screen outwards and then tilt it. We would have preferred the tilt-screen solution found on Sony’s new Alpha range, with it being able to tilt while remaining in position at the back. It saves time as well as the awkwardness of having to snap while the screen is not directly behind the lens. The vari-angle screen also adds bulk to the camera, making it only just pocketable, plus it cuts 0.2” off the previous 3” screen found on the G10, although the number of pixels on the screen remains the same at 461 000.

Less Megapixels

Canon dropped a megapixel bombshell since the G11 with 10 megapixels actually includes 4 megapixels less than its predecessor the G10 (check out our comparision). Now if that isn’t an admission that the megapixel war was mostly about the marketing then nothing is. The G-series historically struggled to shoot with low noise on anything above 400 ISO, so basically the fever pixels on the G11’s sensor is a move to give them better exposure to light, resulting in less noisy images. We will gladly trade megapixels for better detail in dark or shadow areas, and this is a big plus for the G11. Low light capabilities on the G11 are also pumped up with Canon upping the ISO to 3200 and including a low-light shooting mode directly on the top mode dial. Graininess remains a problem, but it is markedly better than the G10.

What else?

Apart from the tilt screen there are no major cosmetic changes to the G11. The extra manual dial for exposure first found on the G10 is left intact, which along with the ISO- and mode dials are some of the best features of the G-series, contributing to it it''s old school robust feel. We would have been content with that if we didn’t get our hands on Canon’s S90 beforehand. The sexy S90 seduced us with its excellent programmable front dial ring, bringing along excellent functionality such as Step Zoom that increases a compact camera’s usual slow zoom. If Canon can somehow incorporate this in the G12 (despite the obvious trouble from the converter ring) it will be a marvelous machine.

No HD recording

Another feature that you would have to wait for is HD video recording, since it is sorely lacking on the G11. These days it’s a feature that’s becoming so important that we would rather wait to see if the G12 will include HD video recording than make a hasty purchase. The G11 does include an HDMI port, so at least you can view your pics in high def.

Conclusion

The G11 with its RRP of R6799 doesn’t come cheap and is actually priced higher than some entry-level dSLRs. While the vari-angle LCD screen might help you out with tricky shooting angles, it failed to truly impress us. Plus the lack of HD video recording is a feature that is sorely missed. A browse online revealed little in the form of a price drop on the G10, so in a choice between those two models we would rather go for the G11. But to be honest we would sit tight till the G12, which should include HD video and a couple of nice extras. It will also be interesting to see what the pressure from Panasonic and Olympus'' Micro Four Thirds compact cameras with interchangeable lenses will put on the G-series. There can only be good things coming.

PROS
Better low light capabilities and ISO, HDMI port, includes RAW software and improved detail in shadow areas.
CONS
No HD video, tilt screen fails to impress, optical viewfinder a problem
USER COMMENTS

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