Canon’s PowerShot G11 is the latest model in the company’s flagship G-series, designed to satisfy the demands of enthusiasts who want a powerful compact or a pocketable backup to a DSLR. Announced in August 2009, it’s the successor to the popular PowerShot G10, although that model will co-exist in the range while stocks last.
The G11 shares a number of key specifications with its predecessor, including a 28-140mm equivalent 5x stabilised zoom, full manual exposure control, flash hotshoe, RAW recording, and a retro-styled body which looks virtually unchanged from the front and top.
The two big differences with the new G11 concern its sensor and screen. The earlier G10 sported a 14.7 Megapixel sensor, but rather than boost this further, Canon’s taken a leaf from Panasonic and reduced the resolution to 10 Megapixels in an attempt to improve sensitivity and reduce noise. In terms of the screen, the G11 swaps the 3in fixed panel of the G10 for a fully-articulated 2.8in version – it may be a little smaller, but it’s a fair trade for the compositional flexibility and both panels share the same 460k resolution for a detailed image.
Canon’s also equipped the G11 with scene detection in Auto, a new Low Light mode which can select sensitivities up to 12,800 ISO at reduced resolution of 2.5 Megapixels, and an HDMI port for connection to HDTVs, although like its predecessor, there’s still no HD (or even widescreen) video recording.
The retro-styled body remains essentially the same as the earlier G10, with the three separate dials for adjusting the exposure compensation, sensitivity and shooting mode. Along with the thumb wheel on the rear, these large and satisfyingly tactile controls make the G11 quick and easy to operate. As before, the G11 also features full PASM modes for manual control over exposure.
Completing the picture as mentioned earlier is a flash hotshoe, which allows the G11 to use selected Canon Speedlite flashguns, and if you mount the Speedlite 270EX, 430EX II or 580EX II models, you can even enjoy the same built-in control over them as Canon’s DSLRs.
So the new PowerShot G11 may still not feature HD video recording, but the inclusions of a flip-out screen and potentially better low light performance do however bring it closer to the heyday of classic G-series models of the past. It also allows it to take the lead in a number of respects over arch rival, the Panasonic LX3. In our full review we’ll discover whether the G11 really delivers on the promise of lower noise than its predecessor, and ultimately if it’s destined to become the compact of choice for demanding enthusiasts.
We tested a final production PowerShot G11. Following our convention of using default factory and best quality JPEG settings to test cameras unless otherwise stated, the PowerShot G11 was set Large Fine quality, Auto White Balance, Evaluative Metering and with ‘My Colours’ switched off (the default setting for contrast, saturation and sharpening). Due to a number of operational similarities, some sections of our earlier G10 review have been used here.