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Canon Powershot G16 Review

The Canon Powershot G16 adds Wi-Fi and a number of new shooting modes to the popular serious compact. Find out how it performs in our review.

| Canon PowerShot G16 in Compact Cameras
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Canon Powershot G16 (7)

The Canon Powershot G16 updates the Canon Powershot G15 with built in Wi-Fi and a number of other new features, including Star shot, handheld HDR, background defocus and more, and is one of very few cameras that still feature an optical viewfinder, with others either switching to an electronic viewfinder or doing without one altogether.

Canon Powershot G16 Features

Canon Powershot G16 (8)

The Canon Powershot G16 has been developed from user feedback, and offers 12fps continuous shooting for the first 5 shots, followed by 9.3fps until the card is full. It also offers 1080p video at 60fps with stereo sound, as well as high speed video recording at lower resolutions.

Carried over from the Canon Powershot G15 is the same 5x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28 - 140mm in 35mm terms, as well as a bright f/1.8 - f/2.8 aperture and built in optical image stabilisation. The camera features a 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, with ISO settings from ISO80 to ISO12800.

The camera adds a number of new modes, including star nightscape, star trails, and also star time-lapse movie creation. Other modes include handheld HDR, with a number of options including Natural, Art Vivid, Art Standard, and Art Embossed. As well as a background defocus (low/high) to achieve SLR style background blur.

The star nightscape and star trails modes will show you the photo as it exposes on the rear screen so you can decide when to stop the exposure. As well as this it features MF (Manual Focus) peaking in both photo and video modes (pre-recording). 

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.

Canon Powershot G16 (2)

Key Features

  • 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
  • 5x optical zoom lens, f/1.8-f/2.8 lens
  • Intelligent IS for sharp shots 
  • 3inch screen, 922k dots
  • Optical viewfinder
  • DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • FullHD video, 60fps, Stereo sound
  • Video with 5-axis Enhanced Dynamic IS for steady movies
  • High speed video recording
  • ISO80 - ISO12800
  • 1cm macro mode
  • HDR / Starry Sky modes
  • 12fps high speed shooting
  • Wi-Fi connectivity

Canon Powershot G16 Handling

Canon Powershot G16 (4)
The Canon Powershot G16 weighs 356g without battery or memory card, and with these in it feels like a solid camera with a reassuring heft to it, making it feel like a premium product. The metal body and ample rubber grip around the front, with a smaller rubber grip on the back, make it good to hold, and the battery and memory compartment has large clips which look built to last many years.

Two LEDs next to the optical viewfinder give quick information regarding whether the shot is in focus, or the flash is going to go off. If you prefer to compose your shots via a viewfinder, the G16 has an optical one, it's of decent quality, although only shows roughly 80% of the view, so for accurate composition the screen is recommended. If you want to use the optical viewfinder fulltime, you can switch the screen off completely.

There are ample 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 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 on screen. 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 and movie can be customised from a number of settings including i-contrast and aspect ratio. You can also save your settings to the 2 custom modes on the dial: C1 and C2.

Image stabilisation is effective and active when composing shots, as well as when using manual focus, with the camera letting you zoom in to 2x and 4x to, and when focus peaking is used, it helps you ensure sharp shots. 

Canon Powershot G16 (5)

If you do have to enter the menu system, it's well laid out and easy enough to understand with built in help to explain settings. There is also a "My Menu" section where you put your most used settings to make accessing them even quicker. 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.

Canon Powershot G16 (6)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to Canon / CIPA test results, although this can be extended to 480 shots with eco mode activated in the menus. 

Speed - 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.

Shutter Response <0.05s
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2-0.3s
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2-0.3s
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.7s
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.8s
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.1s
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
11.9fps, 5 shots, then 9fps
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.8s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 3fps (5 shots)

Focus and shutter response is very quick, although focus in low light can be slower, causing you to miss shots. Continuous shooting is very quick when shooting JPEG images, shooting at roughly 12fps for the first 5 shots, and then 9fps for the rest of the shots until your card is full. Raw shooting is much slower at 3fps for just 5 shots. Shot to shot times are also good, whether shooting JPEG or raw. 

Canon Powershot G16 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 G16 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Exposure is reliable with the camera producing images with saturated colours and the built in image stabilisation does a good job in low light. Portraits have very pleasant skin tones which are free of red-eye when using the flash.

Canon PowerShot G16 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The camera takes photos with very good detail, with good detail into the corners, whether using wide-angle or full optical zoom, with low levels of purple fringing or chromatic aberration. Focusing is reliable, unless in dark conditions where the camera can struggle at times. Barrel or pincushion distortion is very minimal whether shooting wide-angle or telephoto shots, with barely any signs of vignetting and the lens is resistant to flare even when shooting with bright light sources in the frame. Macro performance is impressive with the camera capable of focusing on subjects just 1cm away from the front of the lens. 

Canon PowerShot G16 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The ISO range goes from ISO80 to ISO12800. Noise is low at ISO80, ISO100 and ISO200 with good detail. At ISO400 some noise becomes visible, however detail is still good. At ISO800 noise increases slightly, however detail suffers quite noticeably. At ISO1600 noise is well controlled, even though it increases slightly, and the level of detail drops further. At ISO3200 noise increases again, with a slight decrease in detail, although results should still be usable. Unfortunately, the same can't be said at ISO6400 and above, where noise starts to become dominant, and detail suffers. However ISO6400 may still produce a usable image when re-sized and colour reproduction is still good. ISO12800 is best avoided. 

Canon PowerShot G16 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm result under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a much more neutral result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting, with the fluorescent preset giving a slight yellow cast. The camera gives good results under mixed lighting using the auto white balance setting. 

Canon PowerShot G16 Outdoor images

Dynamic range is good, and the camera has a number of different ways to extend recorded dynamic range, including: Shadow correct (on/off), Dynamic range correction (Auto, 200%, 400%) which will avoid over-exposure, as well as a handheld HDR mode that combines a number of shots taken at different exposures. The options for HDR are: Natural, Art standard, Art vivid, Art bold, and Art embossed.

Canon PowerShot G16 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a number of scene modes and filters available including Star, Handheld nightscene, HDR, Nostalgic, Fish-eye, Miniature, Toy Cam, Background defocus, soft focus, monochrome, super vivid, and poster effect. Pressing the ISO button in some of these new filters will give you additional options, while others can be adjusted using the front control wheel.  The options for Star are: Star nightscape, Star trails, Star time-lapse movie, and options for Background defocus are: Auto, Low, Medium, and High.

Video - The camera records FullHD 1080p video with stereo sound, at 60 or 30fps, as well as high speed video modes at QVGA 240fps, and VGA 120fps. Optical zoom is available while recording, as well as a wind filter, and dynamic 5-axis image stabilisation making videos smooth even when handheld, and combined with 60fps recording video quality is very good. Manual focus is available as well as focus peaking, prior to recording the video, although unfortunately not during video recording. An example with optical zoom can be seen on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.

Value For Money

The Canon Powershot G16 is available for £529 which makes it one of the more expensive serious compacts available with the following cameras it's closest competitors:

Olympus Stylus XZ-2, tilting touch screen, £265
Nikon Coolpix P7700, vari-angle screen, £299
Panasonic Lumix LX7, f/1.4 lens, £309
Canon Powershot G15, optical viewfinder, £311
Panasonic Lumix LF1, EVF, Wi-Fi, £339
Fujifilm X20, optical viewfinder, £399
Nikon Coolpix P7800, EVF, vari-angle screen, £499
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, large sensor, tilting screen, £590

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon Powershot G16 Verdict

The Canon Powershot G16 offers a number of improvements over the previous model, including a number of new and useful shooting modes including Handheld HDR, Star modes, and built in Wi-Fi for quicker sharing, although the lack of remote shooting will be disappointing to many.

Photos are impressive with excellent colour, detail and exposure, with numerous options to expand dynamic range. Video quality is very good with 60fps full HD video recording and 5-axis image stabilisation making even handheld videos very smooth, with quick focusing speeds. Continuous shooting is extremely rapid, shooting at 12fps, and shot to shot times are also good, even when shooting raw. While the Canon Powershot G16 may look almost identical to the previous model, it has a good number of improvements to make this camera highly recommended. 

  The Canon Powershot G16 offers excellent image quality and features not found on other compact cameras.

Canon Powershot G16 Pros

Excellent image quality
Fast f/1.8-2.8 lens
Handheld HDR
Wi-Fi connectivity
12fps continuous shooting
Optical viewfinder (although small etc)
Excellent build quality
Manual focus with focus peaking
Dual axis electronic level
60fps FullHD video recording
5-axis IS for videos
Eco mode extends battery life

Canon Powershot G16 Cons

Lacks automatic panorama creation
Optical viewfinder is small
High price


Canon PowerShot G16 Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/2.8
35mm equivalent28mm - 140mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4000
Pixels (H)3000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/1.7 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
  • 4:5
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution922,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Fixed
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting12fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-10L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)350shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsPowerShot G16 Digital Camera, Battery Pack NB-10L, Battery Charger CB-2LC, Neck Strap NS-DC11, Digital Camera Solution CD

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot G16

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport the cheapest Bugatti at 2.2 million EurosSunset on the duddon estuaryHaving a giraffeBig sky’sDryeid   out flowersIn the windowcurly whiskersOver the duddon estuarymirroringFront door sunsetStorm before the sunsetCouples- seriesMonochrome Manchester SeriesBeacon of loveManchester streets

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19 Oct 2013 6:57PM
I'll stick with my G12 till they reinstate the swivel screen.
30 Oct 2013 5:10PM
Thanks for the review. I was surprised to see the, "Raw shooting is much slower at 3fps for just 5 shots". Does this mean that it actually will only shoot in RAW for 5 shots in a row? Perhaps this was due to the kind of memory card you used... Barney Britton from DP Review says, "...Raw shooters will be pleased to note that with a midrange UHS-I card installed, the G16 can shoot Raw+JPEG captures continuously at approximately 1.6fps for as long as you can hold your finger down, and doesn't lock up when the images are being written to your memory card."

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