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Best Digital Compact Camera: Canon Powershot G10, G11

Updated on January 16, 2015

A review of The Best Compact Digital Camera: Canon PowerShot G10 and G11

The Canon Powershot G10 is a top of the range compact digital camera from one of the best producers of photography equipment. It is aimed at users of SLR cameras who occasionally need something a bit smaller, but still need good quality photographs and easily accessible controls, or people who just want the best possible results from a compact camera without the extra weight of an SLR.

The Canon Powershot G10 (and G11) outputs RAW (CR2) format photo files, which is essential for professional/prosumer users. Most compacts do not output RAW format. If you use GIMP (FREE) photo-editing software you will need to upgrade to GIMP 2.6.7 to support the Canon G10 CR2 output. All versions of GIMP will however support the standard JPEG output from this and most other compact cameras.

The Canon Powershot G11 is a newly launched, very similar camera, with fewer, bigger pixels (just 10MP instead of 15MP) and with a movable rear screen. The reduction in pixels obviously reduces the resolution of the pictures, when compared to the G10, but also the noise when used in low-light (covered this in more detail later)

If you are thinking of buying the Canon Powershot G10 or any compact camera please have a look at my review below and my photographs taken with this excellent little camera.

I did a lot of research into what is the best quality compact digital camera (for me anyway) and came to the conclusion that the Canon Powershot G10 is the one for me. There are however a few other contenders and you may argue that this Canon isn't that compact, although if, like me you use a classic SLR camera it will seem very compact.

This article looks at the picture quality, noise, sensor quality and the manual and automatic controls and how this compares with digital and film SLR cameras.

The Canon G10 Controls: Back

The back panel is much like any modern compact camera, with a large LCD screen and several buttons for menu functions etc. There is a good, large multi-purpose control wheel which makes scrolling, selecting and controlling other camera functions very easy. It is far easier to use these controls than with most cheaper cameras where most functions are buried deep in several layers of menus. Manual controls, including manual focus are very easy to access.

The Canon is very well made with chunky controls and good solid metal case. It is larger than almost any other compact camera, but the lens still retracts entirely into the body, so it can be put in a large pocket or handbag.

One unusual feature these days is it also has a proper optical view-finder.

The Controls: Top Panel

The Canon Powershot G10 is unusual in that it has a selection of big high quality controls on the top-plate. This makes it look a feel like a proper camera (O.K. so I'm a bit old fashioned) with even more mechanical controls than most modern SLRs. Sensor sensitivity (i.e. the ISO or ASA setting) is adjustable with a large rotary control and there is even a exposure compensaton control accessible without using menus which makes for very quick manual operation or overriding of the automatic functions. Exposure functions are also easy changed with a large dial instead of menus.

Sample Photo: A Duck

Sample Photo: A Duck
Sample Photo: A Duck

The Lens

Canon 5x Zoom Lens 6.1mm to 30.5mm (35mm equivalent of 28 to 140mm) aperture of f2.8 to f4.5

This is a very good quality lens for its size, better than most of the competition, although not as good as many lenses that could be attached to an SLR camera. There is some very slight chromatic aberration in some situations, but the pictures are generally sharp and in focus.

Canon Powershot G10 and G11: Specification - Canon Powershot G10 vs G11?

The Canon G10 has 14.7 Mega pixels and a fairly small CCD sensor (although fairly large by compact standards: 1/1.7"), so this is not perfect, but has an old style metal case with very tough, heavy construction and all the control a professional could need (it even outputs RAW files - essential for post-processing the photos). It sufferes a little from noise problems like so many compacts, but less so than most. It also has a good wide-angle lens (28mm)

The Canon Powershot G11 specifications are the same, except where specified:

3.0 inch LCD with 461,000 pixels (new adjustable screen in for the G11)

14.7 Megapixels (10 MP for the G11)

28-140mm (35mm equiv.) lens with 5x optical zoom + 4x digital zoom

ISO sensitivity: 80 to 1600 or Auto (80 to 3200 for the G11)

8 shooting modes, 18 Scene Modes

Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual Exposure Mode

Exposure Compensation and ISO dials

DIGIC IV Processor: Face Detection AF and Intelligent Contrast

In the box you get the following:

Camera

Battery Pack (NB-7L)

Battery Charger (CB-2LZ/CB-2LZE)

Interface Cable

AV Cable (AVC-DC300)

Neck Strap (NS-DC8)

Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk

Canon Warranty

User Guide (Getting Started)

Canon Digital Camera Manuals Disk

So which is better? The Canon Powershot G10 or the G11?

The G11 has the new trendy movable screen, which I have never found a need for, but for some people this would be a big selling feature. The reduced resolution would very rarely be an disadvantage for the G11, and although the G10 has more pixels they are of a lower quality and less usable in darker conditions, so the increased resolution of the older camera would not always be a benefit. In bright conditions the G10 however performs extremely well. If a G10 can be found at a reduced price, because the new G11 has been launched, it could be a bit of a bargain. Both are very good cameras.

The Results: Some Photos - Comparison with The Nikon D80

Now for some photographs...

I regularly now use three different cameras: A Nikon F4s with slide film (A classic professional camera favoured by the Paparazzi and Sports photographers); a Nikon D80 (a good quality mid-range 10 Mega Pixel DSLR costing more than the Canon G10) and The Canon Powershot G10.

So which one is the best?

That's a difficult question; The D80 is more flexible with interchangeable and much bigger higher quality pixels whereas the G10 has more pixels, giving higher resolution (and potentially more noise) and is much smaller and portable. The F4 is a different kind of beast and to do an exact comparison would take ages for the film to be developed, then scanned (arguably this should win the contest but with far more effort), so I shall do the comparison between the two digital cameras and compare with a similar picture I took on the F4S a while ago, from the same spot.

I shall use the view out of my lounge window as a simple test (Richmond Hill, West London, England, if you're interested)

The picture above is taken with the Canon, unprocessed, straight from the camera, then below I have cropped pictures from the Nikon D80 and the Canon PowerShot G10. Notice the extra resolution of the Canon in the cropped images.

Conclusion

In this very superficial test the Canon PowerShot G10 appears sharper than the Nikon D80, in this case, but this was an easy test. In darker conditions where noise may be a problem or shooting animals on safari I would expect the Nikon D80 to win and with the Nikon there is at least the option of different expensive interchangeable lenses (Pictures to be added once I have done the tests) but the point of this exercise is to show that a good compact camera can give very good results, comparable with a good SLR when the conditions are right.

The Nikon F4S film camera, using Fuji slide film scanned at 4000dpi with a Canon FS4000US film scanner gave the most detail, but clearly visible grain/noise in the cropped images, making the resulting picture harder to post-process.

Same Picture with Nikon D80

Same Picture with Nikon D80
Same Picture with Nikon D80

Similar Photo Taken with Nikon F4S (film Camera)

Similar Photo Taken with Nikon F4S (film Camera)
Similar Photo Taken with Nikon F4S (film Camera)

Cropped a bit (Canon G10)

Cropped a bit (Canon G10)
Cropped a bit (Canon G10)

Cropped a bit (Nikon D80)

Cropped a bit (Nikon D80)
Cropped a bit (Nikon D80)

Cropped a bit (Similar Photo on Nikon F4S)

Cropped a bit (Similar Photo on Nikon F4S)
Cropped a bit (Similar Photo on Nikon F4S)

Cropped a lot (Canon G10)

Cropped a lot (Canon G10)
Cropped a lot (Canon G10)

Cropped a lot (Nikon D80)

Cropped a lot (Nikon D80)
Cropped a lot (Nikon D80)

Cropped a lot (Similar Photo Taken on Nikon F4S)

Cropped a lot (Similar Photo Taken on Nikon F4S)
Cropped a lot (Similar Photo Taken on Nikon F4S)

Alternative High Quality Cameras

At the top-end of the range of compact cameras there are a few others that compete with the Canon Powershot G10 (described above) all offering similar features to the Canon, but all a bit smaller (i.e. compact):

Nikon Coolpix P6000 - similar to the Canon, with almost SLR type of controls and very well made

Ricoh GX200 which has an optional LCD view-finder that can be attached

Panasonic DMC LX3 - excellent sensor and a very wide-angle lens

Sample Photo: Richmond Park

Sample Photo: Richmond Park
Sample Photo: Richmond Park

Canon Compact Cameras on eBay

The Canon Powershot G9 was the predecessor of the G10, with very similar build quality and features and a 12 Mega Pixel sensor.

Sample Photo: Fallow and Red Deer in Richmond Park

Sample Photo: Fallow and Red Deer in Richmond Park
Sample Photo: Fallow and Red Deer in Richmond Park

Sample Photo: Red Deer in Richmond Park

Sample Photo: Red Deer in Richmond Park
Sample Photo: Red Deer in Richmond Park

Sell Your Digital Photos On-Line

There are many ways of selling photos on-line, such as professional photo libraries or even eBay. Alternatively there are web-sites that pay you to upload photos and you get paid for internet traffic to your photos, but, perhaps the easiest way to create an income directly from your photos is by selling products featuring your photos, such as postcards, greeting cards, fridge magnets, T-shirts etc. and Zazzle website allows you to upload your photos and automatically general virtual products in your gallery, which then can be made available for sale (the products only get made physically when someone orders them) and you can choose how much commission you would like to receive (e.g. 10%, 15%, 20%...)

Here is my Zazzle Gallery which makes me a nice steady extra bit of income.

Here are few examples:

Posters:

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    • profile image

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    • jeremecausing profile image

      Jereme Causing 5 years ago from Philippines

      nice review

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Got the Nikon D3100 beautiful camera

    • profile image

      irawanok 5 years ago

      i hope i could buy it someday

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 5 years ago

      I love my Canon Rebel

    • profile image

      canonpowershotprice 6 years ago

      I have canonpowershotsx210 which is also very compact but after seeing this lens and reading the comparison i think G10 would have been better choice . Thanks for this excellent lens

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I love my g11. It is an amazing camera.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I have a Canon PowerShot A720 which I use with an add-on telefoto lens. Best digital camera I've owned... thanks for the info, looks like the G10 would be a great upgrade :)

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      [in reply to OhMe] Thanks very much. Some of the other Canon compacts, like your Powershot A560, do have the advantage that they really are compact and do fit in your pocket. I have to carry my G10 in a pouch attached to my belt, because, by compact standards it is a bit on the chunky side.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I use the Canon PowerShot A560 and love it. It fits into my jean's pocket and my Flip Ultra goes in the other pocket. Great review on the Best Digital Compact Camera: Canon Powershot G10, G11. Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I need a new camera, I just see a white viewer screen.

      Will be shopping around for best bang for my buck.

      Would love a own a canon. Thanks for sample photos!

      This is very helpful and well done Andy.

      Blessed by a Squid Angel today!

      Susie

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yup, my first reation to the picture of the the Canon G10 was, "that's compact"! I still havn't invested in a digital camera, but I must be getting closer to getting one since I stopped by here. You provide such an excellent overview that I'm sold on the G10 right now--hopefully they won't all be gone by the time I finally get around to the purchase of one. Even on a reviw of cameras, you are able to give that wonderful sense of being on a tour with you!

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      [in reply to thewishpearl]

      I have a Nikon D80 (Nikon D80 which has now been replaced in the Nikon range by the D90 and is an excellent mid-range SLR, but my main camera is still a film camera: a Nikon F4s which I intend to replace with a D3 or D700 soon.

    • profile image

      thewishpearl 7 years ago

      I have a Canon G10 and just love it! I bought it for many reason the main one was because I wanted to start taking decent quality pictures without having to drag around my older cumbersome Nikon EM 35mm camera. I would like to also purchase a SLR. Which one do you have?

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • Andy-Po profile image
      Author

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      I think I have got nine cameras at the moment, but I only use three of them.

      Yes. I still love the SLRs best, but sometimes you just need something a bit smaller and I've been so impressed with the quality of the latest compact cameras.

      [in reply to Jimmie]

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Yeesh, Andy! How many cameras do you HAVE? :-)

      Great review. I love my SLR, BUT it's so darn BIG. Not easy for toting around town. I'm still not used to that. So I still pop my compact in my purse sometimes.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Nice cameras and pictures. Great lens.