Canon PowerShot G15 Camera Review

The Canon G15 follows the G12. The new model has a massive, robust, and heavy body and has major changes from its predecessor.


The G15 is Canon’s newest high-end compact system with a 12MP sensor (1/1.7”), a large LCD screen, and a lot of manually controlled image parameters. It allows the user to shoot Full HD video.

Due to its very compact high-speed lens system (f/1.8 to f/2.8 with a 28-140mm range) the camera is able to record images with a shallow depth of field plus offers improved low-light shooting at longer zoom settings.

While the G12 had a swivel monitor, the G15 offers a fixed 3” LCD screen with a high resolution of 922,000 RGB dots. The setup dial on the back (which encircles the control field) and the additional dial on the top allow for fast and efficient set up of all parameters.

In addition to the large mode dial, the G15 offers another dial to control the EV compensation in very convenient fashion.

The camera offers a combination interface for USB data transfer and TV output, an HDMI interface for high-resolution image presentation, and an interface for an optional remote control.

These include a fixed LCD monitor (the G12 offered a swivel monitor); a 12MP 1/1.7” image sensor (the G12’s sensor was 10MP); and perhaps most significantly, major changes to the lens system. The focal length of the lenses of both cameras is identical (a 5x zoom lens with 28-140mm equivalent) and both have a built-in image stabilizer, but the zoom changes on the G12 were f/2.8 to f/4.5 while the G15 aperture changes are f/1.8 to f/2.8, which allows for images with a shallower depth of field effect and some added light gathering at longer zoom ranges.

The camera offers automatic exposure programs, including an automatic scene detection mode as well as manual operation and settings of all exposure parameters (P, Tv, Av, M modes) via the large mode dial on the top. In addition, the G15 offers two user-defined modes (C1, C2). The exposure compensation setup is very handy with an additional dial (right below the mode dial) to change exposure parameters by +/- 3 EV stops. The setup dial near the shutter release button and the additional dial on the back add up to a handling system that allows the user to change all parameters quickly and efficiently.

The camera does have an optical viewfinder, but like all PowerShot G models it is very small and doesn’t allow for manual focusing, but it can be quite useful when shooting under bright light conditions.

The camera is very fast. The automatic focusing system worked well even under low-light conditions and the focusing/exposure setting/shutter delay is nearly as low as when shooting with SLR systems. In burst mode the camera is able to shoot up to 2.4 frames per second (fps). When using the higher speed mode (with fixed focus) it will record up to 10 fps for 1 second (the image buffer allows you to shoot up to 10 images in a burst).

The camera is able to record Full HD video with 1920x1080 pixels at 24 fps. The movies are saved as MOV files with H.264 compression. By reducing the video resolution to 1280x720 pixels, the G15 is able to record movies at up to 30 fps. An additional shutter release button on the back starts video recording.

The sharpness in the standard test box shot is good, even though the anti-noise filtering is already visible and smooths the image details somewhat. The image is nearly perfectly exposed (P mode) and shows natural-looking colors.

The reproduction of skin structure and color is good, even though the skin tones have a slightly high magenta rate.

The automatic white balance system worked quite well under all lighting conditions. The color test chart was reproduced with a slight shift into the cooler color areas (darker gray tones) and slightly into the yellow direction, noticeable in the brightest gray nuances.

Image Quality
The automatic white balance system worked quite well under all lighting conditions. The color test chart was reproduced with a slight shift into the cooler color areas (darker gray tones) and slightly into the yellow direction, noticeable in the brightest gray nuances. This is also noticeable in the standard test box shot and the portrait shot. The skin tones are fine, but show a little shift into the magenta direction. Just like all Canon cameras, the G15 boosts rich red tones by a shift into the yellow- and orange-colored areas, resulting in high saturation.

Sharpness: The performance in our resolution and sharpness tests is good. The camera reproduced the ISO 12,233 chart with a maximum of 2677 lines. The electronic sharpness filtering is on a low level and the camera reproduced the chart with an overshot effect of only 15.2 percent, which is a low result for compact cameras in general. The discreet/unobstrusive oversharpening is also noticeable in fine structures in our standard test images, like in the hair of the model in the portrait shot or the structure of the background in the standard box shot. The slightly smooth look is also a result of the anti-noise filtering.

Noise: The Canon G15 showed a good performance in our noise tests: between ISO 80 and ISO 800 luminance noise is very low. Color noise gets noticeable in images taken at ISO 1600, but is still acceptable. Color clouds are noticeable in images taken with ISO 3200 and higher. These results are also a consequence of the anti-noise filtering. These effects are already noticeable in lower ISO speed settings.

Up to ISO 3200 the noise artifacts look a little like the classic grain pattern of high-speed film. In images taken with higher ISO speed settings the combination of anti-noise filtering and additional sharpening will cause a massive amount of the typical “impressionist filter” look with clearly reduced details in image elements with fine structures.

The dynamic range results are very good for a compact camera. Besides the high maximum of 11.3 f/stops, it is remarkable that the camera offers high dynamic range results up to high ISO speed modes, with a range of more than 10 f/stops up to ISO 1600.

Lab results and test images by BetterNet, our TIPA-affiliated testing lab. Edited by George Schaub.


+ High-end compact camera with manual control of exposure settings and nearly all parameters
+ High-resolution images and very good color reproduction
+ Full HD video

- Missing swivel monitor
- Very small optical viewfinder
- Missing lens ring (for manual focus control)

The Canon PowerShot G15 has a list price of $499. For more information, visit