The Canon Powershot G15 is the latest serious compact from Canon, and is even smaller than the Canon Powershot G12 it replaces. It is available to purchase now with prices starting at around £500.
Canon PowerShot G15 Features
The G15 has a 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and 5x optical zoom f/1.8-2.8 lens, ideal for shooting in low light and is a 35mm equivalent of 28-140mm. To help counteract shake there is Intelligent IS - a 4-stop optical image stabiliser. For faster shutter speeds in low light you can shoot right up to ISO 12800. For shooting fast moving objects there is quick auto focus and high-speed burst HQ which can record at 10 fps in full resolution.
To make picture taking as easy as possible there is Smart Auto which automatically chooses the correct camera settings from 58 scenes (21 in movies). If you'd prefer more control there are full manual controls, including shutter and aperture priority modes. There are also a number of creative picture taking modes, including miniature, toy camera, fish-eye and more. There is also a High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, which takes pictures at different exposures and combines them to create a detailed, high-contrast image.
To expand your shooting options there are a range of accessories available which includes a 58mm Lens Filter Adapter, Canon Speedlite flashes and a Waterproof Case for shooting underwater in depths down to 40m.
Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD in stereo with optical zoom and can be connected to a HDTV via a HDMI-CEC connection. The G15 can also shoot high-speed videos.
The G15 has an extremely solid, well-built body and is reassuringly heavy. To aid grip there is a rubberised hand grip and rubberised area for your thumb. One of the most notable changes is the lack of the articulating screen, although its size has increased from 2.8 to 3.0 inch as well as doubling the screen resolution to 920k dots. If you prefer to compose your shots via a viewfinder, the G15 has an optical one, it's of decent quality but isn't really well positioned as the camera can rest on your nose. During testing, the images looked a little flat on the screen, but look much better when transfered to a computer.
There are an ample number of buttons to make it quick and easy to adjust the camera settings, on the top is a mode dial and a dial for changing the exposure compensation. On the front is a dial for changing camera setting such as aperture and shutter speed. On the rear is are dedicated buttons for ISO and metering mode as well as menu and function, the latter allows you to change other settings such as white-balance and image size. There is also a star button, you can use this to set your exposure for your subject, then recompose, meaning even if your subject is in the corner of the image, it'll be perfectly exposed. The front and rear dials as well as the S button can be customised from a number of settings including i-contrast and aspect ratio.
If you do have to enter the menu system, it's well laid out and easy enough to understand. To make sure your pictures are straight there is a Dual Axis Electronic Level display helps achieve shots with a straight and perfectly levelled horizon.
Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to CIPA test results, we managed in excess of this and the battery is still showing as full. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting (JPEG)
Continuous Shooting - Flash (JPEG)
Continuous Shooting - RAW
Continuous Shooting - Flash (RAW)
High-speed Burst HQ
All of the continuous shooting mode recorded at full resolution, but for the fastest you need to switch to High-speed Burst HQ although you can't shoot in RAW when using this mode.
Canon PowerShot G15 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Canon PowerShot G15 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with excellent colour reproduction. Portraits have very pleasant skin tones which are free of red-eye when using the flash. To freeze the water movement in the third picture above, we have been able to shoot with the aperture wide open 1/1000 sec at ISO 800. It is worth noting that when shooting with the HDR mode you need to use a tripod as the camera doesn't shoot the required frames quick enough for hand-held HDR shooting.
Canon PowerShot G15 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is excellent throughout the images at both ends of the lens, with an excellent control over purple fringing. Dynamic range is good but can be corrected with three options - auto, 200% and 400% to give you even more detail in the highlights and shadows. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm which allows you to get really close for fantastic macro shots with lots of detail.
Canon PowerShot G15 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Images are noise free at ISO 80 and 100, with only very minor increases when increasing to ISO 200, 400 and 800. At ISO 1600 there is a little softening in places with images at ISO 3200 having some with white dots appearing. At ISO 6400 you see quite a significant loss in image quality, with the whites dots having more of a presence and much softer images produced. At ISO 12800, there's plenty of noise with a fair amount of image detail lost, but it's not all that bad for a compact camera at such a high ISO speed.
Canon PowerShot G15 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - The auto white balance (AWB) doesn't cope well under the incandescent lights, with an orange cast in the image. The incandescent preset does a much better job. When switching to the fluorescent lights, the AWB copes really well. There are two fluorescent preset, white fluorescent preset copes well, the daylight fluorescent preset doesn't do so well, but that's to be expected when indoors.
Canon PowerShot G15 Digital filters
Digital Filters - Creativity options are a plenty on the G15 - there are numerous my colour modes and lots of digital filters, with plenty of examples above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD and quality is excellent. Head over to the ePHOTOzine Youtube page to see examples using the optical zoom and high-speed video mode.
Value For Money
The Canon PowerShot G15 is available for £529.00. This makes it one of the highest priced serious compacts available and for similar amounts you could also look at entry-level DSLR's and mirrorless compact system cameras. Read our best serious compact cameras article for more information.
The G12 has been sitting at the top of our best serious compact cameras article for some time now and we were expecting great things from the G15 and we certainly aren't disappointed. It's scored almost exactly the same, just missing out on value for money as it is more expensive than the G12 was at the time of review, although the price is bound to drop before too long. So if your budget can stretch this far you'll be extremely happy with your purchase.
There are bags of features, in a very sturdy, well-built body and image quality to match. We love the 10 fps continuous shooting and fast f/1.8-2.8 lens. There wasn't much we could find that we didn't like, although if you have a large nose, you might find the optical viewfinder is a little uncomfortable to use. Overall, the Canon Powershot G15 is a pleasure to use and we are happy to highly recommend it.
The Canon Powershot G15 packs impressive features, handling and performance into a compact body.
Canon PowerShot G15 Pros
Fast f/1.8-2.8 lens
Full 1080p HD video recording
10 fps continuous shooting at full resolution
Much improved screen resolution
1cm minimum focusing distance
Excellent image quality
Images are usable throughout the ISO range
Plenty of creativity modes
Canon PowerShot G15 Cons
Some may have preferred the articulating screen that the G12 had
Using the optical viewfinder may be a little uncomfortable for some
Price puts it up there with mirrorless cameras and entry-level DSLRs