Canon PowerShot G11 Announced

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New Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera Canon has added a new model to its revered G-Series PowerShot digital camera line. The new Canon PowerShot G11 follows in the footsteps of its high-end compact camera predecessors with lots of manual controls and an emphasis on image quality. It has a new 10-megapixel CCD sensor, RAW shooting and a “High Sensitivity System” for better quality images in low light. The lens is a 5x wide-angle zoom with OIS optical image stabilization. The G11 also brings the tilt-swivel LCD back to the G-Series with a new 2.8-inch Vari-angle PureColor System LCD.

It’s curious that Canon follows their 14.7-megapixel PowerShot G10 with a 10-megapixel camera. Photo industry journalists have been saying for years that more megapixels is mostly marketing and sometimes increasing the number of pixels actually decreases image quality. Is Canon finally letting go of megapixel marketing? Panasonic decided to leave resolution alone on their popular Lumix LX3, high-end compact camera. Their strategy was to use a slightly larger sensor to improve real image quality instead of just increasing the number of pixels. Perhaps Canon has done the same thing with the G11? If so, I think it’s a great decision. I don’t think anyone using the G10 really needs 14+ megapixels of resolution. Pro photographers who need the best image quality will just pack a DSLR. Compact cameras are always a compromise – you trade some features and quality for a smaller camera. Better to compromise resolution for cleaner image files. A side benefit of less resolution is a faster camera – smaller image files should mean faster shot-to-shot times and more frames-per-second. What’s your real priority – more pixels or getting the shot?

Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera

There isn’t much information about the new 10-megapixel PowerShot sensor, but I’m working on finding out more. Interestingly, it’s listed in the press release not as a sensor, but rather as a “brand new 10.0-Megapixel High Sensitivity System.” This is an interesting distinction. The “system” combines the new sensor with DIGIC 4 image processing for “improved low light image performance.” I assume this means better noise control at high ISO settings. A new Low Light mode analyzes a scene and automatically sets sensitivity up to ISO 12,800, depending on the subject and lighting conditions. Larger pixels should mean lower noise. So maybe part of the reason Canon decided to decrease resolution was for better high ISO performance. It will be interesting to see how good it is.

Key Canon PowerShot G11 features and specs:

  • New 10-megapixel CCD sensor
  • RAW shooting
  • DIGIC 4 processor
  • 5x 28-140mm zoom lens with OIS optical image stabilization
  • 2.8-inch Vari-angle LCD display
  • Auto, manual and scene modes, including Smart AUTO intelligent scene mode
  • ISO 3200 sensitivity (ISO 12,800 in new Low Light auto mode)
  • Smart AUTO intelligent shooting mode
  • Flash hot shoe

One thing that’s noticeably missing from the feature list is HD video capture. Maybe Canon is trying to differentiate this camera from the “hybrid” cameras and dedicated digital camcorders. But the new PowerShot G11 only captures 640×480 video. So if video is a priority, best not chose the G11. This camera is for photographers-only.

The new Canon PowerShot G11 should be in stores and available from online dealers in October. The suggested retail price for the G11 is $499.99.

Official Canon PowerShot G11 Press Release >>

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Canon PowerShot G11 Digital Camera
Canon PowerShot G11 - Rear Vari-angle LCD Display

About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • I would buy the G10 which will probably be price reduced as a result of the G11 being out. I have the G10 and it is a great camera. I don’t like the flip out screen of the G11. I DO like the additional megapixels of the G10 and I don’t see the other improvements in the G11 significant. So, if I have a G10 at a lesser price or equal price to the G11, I would buy the G10. It is an awesome camera. The only thing I might like would be the ISO 3200 sensitivity.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks a lot for the comment, Brad. I actually love tilt-swivel LCDs and I’m glad to see it back on the G11. I think they’re great for tripod-mounted landscape photography and macro shooting. But I think the most interesting thing about the G11 is the lower resolution. Larger pixels should mean better image quality. You said you’d like ISO 3200 sensitivity. But what if the G11 looks like the G10′s ISO at ISO 400 or 800? Would that be worthwhile? What if it’s able to shoot and save faster in RAW mode because the file sizes are smaller? I think all of these things are very worthwhile. I’d happily trade noisy 14.7-megapixel resolution for clean ISO 800 files.

  • Jon says:

    I’m a little disappointed in the specs listed on canon’s website, specifically the fps shooting speeds.
    The G11 is slower than the G10.

    G11 Normal: approx. 1.1 fps; AF: approx. 0.7 fps; LV: approx. 0.8 fps (Large/Fine)

    G10 Normal: approx. 1.3 fps; AF: approx. 0.7 fps; LV: approx. 0.7 fps (Large/Fine)

    These look to be times based on JPEG shooting, since they are followed by “(Large/Fine)”
    The only thing I can surmise is the noise and CA reduction algorithms are more complex and are taking more time to process.

    Any other ideas?
    Because I think it is pretty unacceptable to have a slower shooting speed when the MPs have been reduced by approx 30%.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for adding those frame rate specs, Jon. I should have checked those.

    I agree with you 100% about the frame rate being disappointing. One of the potential benefits of reducing the image size is being able to move and process image files faster. So either they’re doing some seriously heavy processing to keep the noise down, they reduced the compression or they just didn’t bother.

    And I’ll just throw this out there. It needs to be mentioned every once in a while. Instead of making compact cameras with compromised performance, I’d like to see a camera maker step up and give us DSLR speed and image quality in a compact camera. Go ahead and charge us a premium price for it. But give us all the auto focus speed and accuracy, no shutter lag, and an APS-C sensor. Why not? Forget the marketing surveys – do it for the honor!

  • Mike says:

    Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with this release. I was holding off on purchasing the G10 primarily because of the extreme noise driven by the 14+Mpx CCD sensor. Although I really don’t mind the megapixels going down to 10 (in fact I prefer it), I was a bit disappointed with the choice to continue to use CCD sensor instead of CMOS. CMOS chips have been known to produce less noisy images and not to mention avoid blowing out highlights. Additionally, I was expecting Canon to return to HD video which was available in the G9. The lack of this along with a slightly lower frame rate has taken the wind out of my sails. The swivel screen is fine but, overall I just don’t see this as a great improvement. This camera could have been so much better, and instead they settled for mediocre.

  • Photo-John says:

    Have you considered the Olympus E-P1? Image quality is great and it has 720p video. Auto focus is the E-P1′s weak point. Although it’s not bad if you compare it to compact cameras instead of DSLRs.

  • Pops says:

    Lower pixels for better low light, great. Flip out screen, great. No HD video? What were they thinking?

  • Rick says:

    I’ve been looking for a more portable camera to go along with my Canon 40D SLR. The noise in the upper ISO’s (400) put me off. We have limited information so far as Canon has only put up ISO 80 sample images on their website, but after looking at them I am very optimistic. Here’s what I did…I downloaded the images of the women that were available for the G10 and the G11. I opened them in Photoshop to compare them. The detail in the image shot with the G11, to my eye is far superior. Pretty close to what I get from my DSLR. To make it fair, I downsized the G10 image to the dimensions of the G11. Still…no comparison. So, I’m looking for sample images at higher ISO’s before I make up my mind. But, if the images are clean at ISO 400, I’ll stand in line to buy one.

  • dab says:

    I think the biggest mistake was the video downgrade…!. as for the comment about putting a APS-C sensor into compact, bigger sensor means bigger lens. I wouldn’t mind a small increase in sensor size and lens size for low light improvement. I have been very happy with my G9 as it is small enough to carry everywhere but for quality in low light I have to pull out the DSLR. I will wait for the G12…. good comments from everyone :-)

  • Photo-John says:

    It’s true that a bigger sensor means a bigger lens – or maybe a shorter zoom range. We used to have pocket-sized 35mm film cameras, so it’s totally possible. More and more I’m finding myself looking at the pocket-sized superzooms like the Panasonic ZS3 and Canon SX200 IS. There is some image quality compromise. But they fit in your pocket and give you an incredibly versatile zoom range. The G-Series cameras have been too big for my taste since I stopped using my G2.

  • francois says:

    Yes, good comments everyone! I’m learning more from the comments as I do from the press release. I too am a G fan member and am currently on the G9 jedi level.

    What’s going to sell this camera is indeed picture quality alone. I think we’re going to be underwhelmed with the specs. So I’m excited to see those.Low light sensitivity is quite exciting as well. I love using the ISO knob on the G9 but I don’t dare go beyond ISO 400.

  • Tony says:

    Regarding HD video, according to some extremely long and contentious threads over at dpreview, it seems that the particular CCD Canon is using for the G11 cannot output HD video at a fast enough frame rate to be practical. Personaally, I would rather have better picture taking capability over video. If the VGA video is of sufficient quaality, it will be fine for those times when I absolutely need a moving image to describe the scene.

    As for me, I’ve been on the fence between the G10 and the LX3 for months. The G11 is just what I’ve been looking for and will be the perfect bridge between the A630 and A570 I’ve been using and a dSLR, most likely a GH-1. That combo will give me excellent carry-everywhere photo capability with a fabulous dSLR with excellent HD video and interchangable lenses when I need it.


  • Mr. Reeee says:

    Personally, I think video in a still camera is cute trick, but not particularly useful. Superior low-light performance, sharp, color-correct imagery (with excellent macro) is what I’m buying a still camera to produce. I can’t bring myself to lug a huge DSLR around, especially when traveling or shooting project process photos.

    Dropping the megapixel rate to 10 is a great move. Decent low-light images are next to impossible to produce with high-megapixel counts and the small lenses in this type/size of camera.

    I’m actually thrilled to see the swivel screen. I love the old Nikon CoolPix split body cameras (I still use a CoolPix 4500 for macro shots) and the G11′s swivel screen seems a good alternative. If you’ve never used one, it’s great for shooting low to the ground, over your head or from the hip… PERFECT for shooting people in the street and calling less attention to yourself!

    I’d like to see how the G11 compares to the Leica D-Lux 4, which is the other camera I’m considering. Hopefully Digital Photography Review will do an extensive G11 review.

  • Mark says:

    The G11 is improving but I’ll wait until it has what I really want. I love the size, the color of the body, its clean looks, and the swivel screen. I’ve been shooting for years but find that it is more difficult than it used to be to get a worm’s eye view or shoot over the top of a fence while I’m traveling from place to place on my bike and documenting the world around me. I also like idea of a higher ISO sensitivity. However, what I am looking for in the “perfect” Canon G Series camera is everything above, plus: SLR-equivalent shutter speed to capture the moment (not the moment after), HD Video, and a retractable lens that opens to 24mm instead of 28mm. There are many, many situations in which a 24mm wide angle view is much better than a 28mm. So I’ll wait … and hope. The price is fine and it would be nice if Canon kept their “upgrade” program which allows fans like me to upgrade without having to make a major economic decision.

  • LarryT says:

    I, for one, would like to see a similar camera from Canon with at least a 4/3rds-size sensor and a small zoom (28-70 equivalent). If the camea is a bit larger, so be it, but the noise improvement would far outweigh the trade-off of physical camera size. Also, an improved optical viewfinder would be nice. I looked at the Olympus Pen, but not having an optical viewfinder put me off. For an improved point and shoot I don’t need interchangeable lenses either. For that I will go to my DSLRs. Canon, please build me a G12 (with the larger sensor/lens/viewfinder) camera….. please….

  • JohnZ says:

    Why not take the G10 and downsize the pixels in the camera to 9 megapixels. Is that not doing pretty much the same thing?

  • Say G Sun says:

    Alas…the answer…G 12.
    The waited would be applaused…

  • Dan C says:

    One of my all time favorit camera which I’m still using is the 6MP Epson RD1 (6 years old), the quality from this 6MP still beats all 12MP campact around today. The reason is simple, the CCD is much larger and the image processing is still one of the best around, hence for the quality. I can easily make prints to A2 (20x24inch) with easy or push to A1 (24X36inch) prints with Genuine Fractal Print Pro. I believe the G11 is heading the same direction, by using a larger imaging chip to reduce noise and improve image quality is a clever move IMO.

    Obviously the quality of image will speaks for itself, so we have to wait and see. I have no care for HD movie capability. As I’ve yet to find any HD video camera quality could beat the Canon 5D MKII or the much more expensive RED camera.

    Refering back to an earlier comment regarding the Olympus EP1, I bourgh one of the very first batch and the noise is so bad that I returned my camera to the shop the following day. Unless the sample I had was a lemon, otherwise I’ll blame it to the size of the micro 4/3rd chip for the noise. So again, size do matter. :)

  • David Money says:

    I nearly bought a G10 but backed off when I found that the format was 4:3 and a panorama format. As I regularly use a Canon 40D, and wanting a compatible pocket camera, I do want the same format for both ie 3:2. All of my saved digital photos get printed and usually put in albums so reformatting 4:3′s is a real nuisance. And the G11 hasn’t fixed this one! Surely it can’t be that difficult for Canon to provide a 3:2 setting for the sensor?

  • i like canon g11 but i think it should zoom more than 5X because i want to buy point and shot digital camera that can zoom 10X

  • Lan says:

    i have a new canon G11 and i took some movie clips which i have been trying to edit in windows media player…
    the story board lets me drag a JPEG of the clip but when i play it … its just black screen, no sound,
    does anyone know how to help me?
    desperate !!!

  • Naz says:

    I Love my G10.. its far more better than the G11.. I wont exchange my G10 for G11.. 14.7MP, would you?

  • Photo-John says:

    Yeah, I would trade the G10′s 14.7 million pixels for the G10′s 10 million. The reason is image quality. It’s not all about the number of pixels. Canon decided to use the new 10-megapixel sensor for a very good reason. Both the G11 and G10 use the same size sensor. So on your camera they have to cram almost 50% more pixels into the same area. Bigger pixels mean better image quality – espcially at high ISO settings. This is the reason experienced photographers were so excited about the G11. I haven’t actually used the G11, but I have used the S90, which has the same sensor. And it has, hands-down, the best image quality I’ve seen in a point-and-shoot camera.

    I’m not criticizing your G10. It’s a fine camera for sure. But it’s important that people know why Canon chose to use the 10-megapixel sensor. People need to get past the “more pixels is better” concept that camera marketing people have been pushing at us for years. Canon finally let go of that with the G11 and S90.

    If you want to see sample photos, check out my Canon PowerShot S90 preview article and video:

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