Canon PowerShot G12 – Now With HD Video

2010 Photokina Canon Featured News Uncategorized

Canon PowerShot G12 - Now With HD Video!The Canon G-Series has long been one of the go-to choices for professional photographers and serious enthusiasts who want a high-powered compact camera. Like the recently announced PowerShot S95, which shares the same sensor, the new Canon PowerShot G12 is more of a refresh than a completely new camera. The most important change is the addition of 720p HD video with stereo sound. Like the S95, S90 and G11, the new G12 uses the same 10-megapixel HS System sensor. With the exception of a new control button on the front of the body, the basic camera design remains the same, too.

The new G12 is bound to get lots of attention – Canon’s G-Series cameras always do. The combination of great image quality, RAW format and lots of manual control make them very appealing to serious photographers. The only real complaint about the G11 and S90 was that they didn’t have HD video. On the They did have the best image quality I’d ever seen in a compact camera. I didn’t actually test the G11 but I got a lot of hands-on time with the S90, which also uses Canon’s “High Sensitivity System,” re-branded the “HS System” in the new S95 and G12 cameras. I was really impressed with the image quality from the S90′s 10-megapixel “High Sensitivity System” sensor – especially in low light. It was the closest I’ve seen to digital SLR quality in a compact camera. And unlike previous RAW-capable compacts, shooting RAW was as quick and easy as shooting JPEGs. And now you can have that same image quality along with 720p HD video – something the G11 didn’t offer.

Canon PowerShot G12 digital camera - front and back

There are a few other changes to the G12, although for the most part it’s a G11 with better video. The new camera has a dedicated video button, an HDR scene mode, Smart Auto shooting mode and a new control button on the front of the camera.

Canon PowerShot G12 Key Features & Specs:

  • 10-megapixel High Sensitivity (HS System) CCD sensor
  • DIGIC 4 processing
  • 720p HD video with stereo sound
  • 5x 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 image-stabilized zoom lens
  • 2.8-inch, 461k-dot tilt-swivel LCD
  • Flash hot shoe
  • New High Dynamic Range (HDR) scene mode
  • Improved Smart AUTO mode with 28 shooting scenes

In spite of the excellent image quality from Canon’s “High Sensitivity System” and the amount of positive attention I know the G12 will get, I have nothing more than a professional interest in the camera. In other words, it’s not a camera I would buy. I loved the Canon PowerShot S90 and I’m sure I’ll love the new S95, too. But at this point in time, if a “point-and-shoot” camera (that’s in quotes because both the S95 and the G12 are really much more than simple point-and-shoot cameras) doesn’t fit in my pocket, I’m not interested. Since the introduction of compact interchangeable lens a.k.a. “EVIL” (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) cameras, I don’t see the point of the G-Series anymore. Unless Canon evolves the G-Series into their own interchangeable lens compact camera, that is. If they do that, then the G-Series could be a category crusher and I’ll be first in line to buy one. But the G12 is too big to compete with real pocket cameras and not powerful enough to compete with the Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and Olympus interchangeable lens compact system cameras. Like I said, I have no doubt the G12 will get a great reception and tons of people will buy it. But personally, I think its time has passed and I’m holding out for the next generation, Canon GX interchangeable lens compact (I made that up – but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen).

For those of you who can’t wait (or dream of) for the imaginary Canon GX I see in my blurry crystal ball, the new Canon PowerShot G12 is supposed to be available this fall for a projected retail price of $499.99.

Official Canon PowerShot G12 Press Release >>


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Canon PowerShot G12 high-end compact digital camera - front

Canon PowerShot G12 - rear 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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  • Mike says:

    I’m with you. I don’t think I’d buy this camera. I have a 7d and want a light, compact, slick P/S. But, it looks like a good product and a friend who has a G8 loves the product type.

    I have another friend who bought a G series camera to use it in a full on underwater housing. That’s pretty cool. But i bet the housing cost more than the camera.


  • rayaz says:

    The G12 is a sure sign of how money conscious, and not customer focussed the vendors are. The G11 is barely over an year old, and they now have G11 Version two being badged as a G12.

    At a time even basic $50-100 web cams were giving HD, the G11 came with no HD video with the theory the sensor could not do HD, and that it would compromise the picture quality. It seems a mildly tweaked sensor, possibly the same is now capable of doing HD video. So does this mean the G12 should now be inferior to the G11 in picture quality considering it has the same lens?

    The lack of ability to optically zoom for videos continues to be present in the current model.

    On the whole with the so many EVIL range of cameras in the likes of GF1, Oly E-series, Samsung NX100 and the Sony NEX series competing with the G12 on size, and competing models the LX5 and Samsung EX1/TL500 all being much smaller the canon G12 is indeed in no mans land, and recently updated Canon s95 also further seals the lack of purpose for the G12. Yet i am sure Canon loyalist would buy it in the thousands, all thanks to Canon marketing rather than innovation and quality.

  • Zetton says:

    I completely agree with everything the author says. Spot on. This kind of money for a non-pocketable camera? One word, – EVIL. Every once in a while I get tempted with a fine camera like the G12. Then I come to my senses and realize all the compacts will give me about the same image quality due to their small sensor size. When I just want to bring a camera I want one I can put in my pocket. If it’s not pocketable, might as well go with my compact Nikon DSLR. I’ll stick with my Finepix F20 that I can slip in my pocket and pass on this.

  • Elva says:

    I agree that the G series sensor is far too small to compete with such as the Sony Nex etc, and Canon have nowhere to go with it, but I wonder why -pardon my technical ignorance-Canon cannot just put a big sensor in the G12 or a similar fixed lens compact?? Is it technically impossible,and is it that they are afraid of killing off the lucrative market for DSLRs? Is the DSLR in fact being maintained beyond its true technical life simply because a fixed lens compact that would perform equally well is possible but would not be marketable at DSLR prices?

  • Franklin says:

    I don’t understand why camera companies keep making point and shot cameras that won’t zoom optically in movie mode. This is a deal killer for me, no matter how good the HD video is.. – I would like to have the ability to optically zooms in movie mode even if it made the microphones pick up some zooming noise.

  • Honeybadger says:

    I’ve had the G9, G10, G11, & now the G12, I love the camera, as long as your not trying to work on a fast moving subject. The manual controls and the swing out LCD display feel and work great. The lens is fantastic, and when shooting a test shot in the macro mode of my jeans, you can clearly see in sharp relief the fuzz coming off of the cotton threads. And this from a casual hand held shot. I’ve even made the camera bigger by making a handle ala Pentax 67 that really improves the handling of the camera. I keep it in a small ‘across the chest’ camera bag and pull it out quick draw style. By the time you put a zoom on one of these new Sony NEX type cameras you’ve got a big honking camera. (and an ugly one too) If Canon were to put a larger sensor in a Gxx camera, the lens would have to be necessarily larger. I do declare, there are a plethora of powerful cameras out there with software to match their incredible capability, and people are still complaining about some missing feature. I think that the G12 at $450-$500 is a fair price that will give you a state of the art camera. Lets go out and take some pictures. I’ve never got better pics.
    Canon G12 – Nikon D300 – Nikon D40x converted to IR

  • Patia says:

    I think I would like it if it had a longer lens.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for your detailed comments on the G12, Honeybadger. I do think you’d be better off with an EVIL camera like the Olympus E-PL1 or one of the new Sony NEX cameras. They’re also small, have changebale lenses, better image quality, and they cost only a bit more. Still, I’m happy that you’re happy :-)

    Please add your review for the G12 to our user reviews section. We don’t have any reviews for the G12 yet and since you’ve owned a bunch of G-Series cameras your review should be a well-informed one. Here’s a link to the G12 user review page:

  • JP says:

    There are two reasons I’m considering the G12 over most other compacts, it has a viewfinder and shoots raw. I’ve shot a few other compacts that don’t have a viewfinder and it’s nearly impossible in sunlight, I want a viewfinder. The biggest problem I have in deciding whether to buy it or not is, I want to hold one before I buy and no one in my area stocks it.

  • Lazarus says:

    Hey JP…I agree 100% I have Digital SLRS, 35 mm SLRs, Medium format etc. I used too carry a wonderful panasonic pocket 35 mm point & shoot in my car. All produced the cameras wonderfull pictures….but guess which one produced the most memories ….the pocket 35….because I had it with me it was always available. My next most favorite was an old graplex speed 35mm rangefinder…compact prime lens that took beuatiful pictures. That said, the new EVILs, NEXs and related type cameras all require extra lenses and all have no view finders, so they are not really pocketable and never know what I’m focussing on in bright sun because the LCD is useless and what’s more I can’t see my settings.

    My perfect carry camera? A Canon G12 with the Nikon 28-200 mm reach, an LX5 2.0 lens and a brighter 920K pixel LCD with an optical viewfinder or better yet rangefinder. That would give me the reach, the low light sensitivity, reasonable portability, the ability to see or ‘feel’ my settings and still produce an image at ISO 100-400 that I could still crop some and blow up to 13″ What is not to love? Oh yeah, if you want to throw in video…fine but give me a good portable still camera that can do all those things and I’m in heaven….clickin right along.

  • Photo-John says:

    I don’t know what kind of pockets you have but the G12 won’t fit in any of mine. That’s why I recommend the EVIL cameras over the G12. Some of them are about the same size – albeit a bit larger because of the lens. If you’re serious about a G12, I recommend taking a close look at the Canon PowerShot S95 instead. It’s got 85% of the features and 100% of the performance of the G12 in a truly pocket-sized package.

  • DanW says:

    I just stuck my G12 in my T-shirt pocket and my pants pocket. I have walked around plenty with my A-650IS, which is around the same size as the G12, in a pocket. I can’t say I like having something that size in a pocket, but it works out okay. I haven’t taken many photos with it yet, but so far I love it. I will say that the dinky viewfinder is next to worthless. I am used to the nice ones on my D700 and D2X Nikons. But with the flip around LCD, the viewfinder is seldom, if ever, needed, even in bright sunlight.

  • Photo-John says:

    It’s true that you can cram a G12 or similar camera in your pocket. But it’s not very practical and I wouldn’t ever call it a pocket camera.

    You’re right about the viewfinder. It is very small and not very accurate. However, if you ever want to do any action photos, you’ll find it makes your G12 a lot better than a camera that doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. It’s nearly impossible to accurately pan with just an LCD display but even the G12′s crappy optical viewfinder will help you get good, accurately framed panning photos. I wish there were more compact cameras these days that had optical viewfinders. Unfortunately, I think the average person doesn’t realize how valuable they are and everyone is dazzled by a big LCD display.

    Thanks for your comments, Dan. Please write a real review on our Canon G12 user review page. There’s a link for it above at the end of the article. Just click on the orange button to go to the review page. Thanks!

  • Jorg says:

    The Evil cameras would never take the place of a G12 for me.
    First, they are about 30% larger even with a pancake lens.
    Second the lens is limited. How many would you have to carry too get the 28-140 range, a sweet spot for me.
    Third, I don’t have to exchange lenses, a pain in the field, especially in dirty conditions.
    Fourth, go figure the cost of the G12 vs 4/3 with extra lenses.
    If I’m going to go to all that trouble, I’ll just take my D40 which is only marginally larger than the Evil cameras, a lot faster and has better low light capability.
    Fifty, I do a lot of macro. Lets see an Evil camera get down to 1cm.
    No thanks, I see no use for the Evil cameras unless you only have one, don’t mind not being able to pocket it, and can’t somehow carry a little extra for a full size camera… a small niche indeed.

  • lipswithcandy says:

    I fell in love with the Sony NEX5 but I’m a Canon believer! I was wondering if Canon is releasing a camera similar to NEX5
    I’d be willing to wait and get that instead… Does anyone know?

  • Squid says:

    Jorg – I totally agree with all your points. I have a G12 as my ‘portable’ alternative to my DSLR. Where anyone gets the idea that an EVIL is more practical than either a G12 or a DSLR is beyond me. EVILs seem to have all the disadvantages of both, but with few discernible advantages. I do agree that the G12 isn’t pocketable for everyday clothing, but I do a lot of hillwalking and so it fits comfortably into the cargo-style pockets of my trekking gear. I recently bought the G12 to replace my G9, which has provided me with some awesome results. So far, I’m blown away with the G12. My DSLR is an EOS D1 mkIV, so I do demand quality in my backup camera.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jorg and Squid. It takes all types and I had no doubt that the G12 would be popular and sucessful, regardless of what I think about it. I think the main reason I question it in my article is to make sure that the average photographers knows there are alternatives. I’ve been surprised by the number of pro photographers who want a G12 or Panasonic LX5 but don’t even know about the EVIL alternatives. They deserve to be educated and know that they have a more versatile option. I can’t remember if I included a link for it in this article or the comments, but I took an Olympus E-PL1 on vacation and left my DSLR at home, just to see how it worked out. I had no regrets. You can read my Olympus E-PL1 review here:

    We need your Canon G12 user reviews guys! If you’ve got one, please write a review. User reviews are the foundation of the site and you two obviously have experience and opinions. Here’s a link to the G12 user review page:

  • Photo-John says:

    The rumor mill was going there for a while this summer about Nikon and Canon coming out with their own EVIL cameras. I would have expected them to have something this fall and was surprised they didn’t. My guess is that they will both eventually have EVIL camera lines and I think the G-Series should evolve into a compact, interchangeable lens camera. But when that might happen, I can’t say. The next introduction cycle is in the early spring so maybe then. But if you like the Sony NEX and you’re anxious to get to work, then don’t wait. A camera in the hand is the best camera and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Sony NEX :-)

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