Hands-on review: Canon G16


Hands-on review: Canon G16

The Canon GXX series has long been considered the natural back-up camera for DSLR users, especially those already familiar with the Canon brand.

As such, the outward design of this range has changed little from its first incarnation. The Canon PowerShot G16 is no different, looking outwardly almost identical to the year-old Canon PowerShot G15 it replaces. But of course, inside there have been a few notable changes.

First up is the sensor. While it remains the same pixel count, at 12.1MP, and physical size, at 1/1.7-inch, Canon says that the CMOS sensor is a completely new design, featuring back illumination.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

The Canon G16 now includes inbuilt Wi-Fi, something which Canon’s David Parry says is "pretty much essential" for new compacts.

What Canon is most keen to shout about, and perhaps the most exciting new feature, however, is the Digic 6 processor. This is Canon’s latest generation of processor which enables some pretty special things, most notably an impressively fast 9.3fps (JPEG, without continuous autofocus), which doesn’t have a buffer – in real terms that means you can, in theory, keep on shooting until your card runs out. It also means you can shoot a sequence, stop shooting and be ready to shoot again.

It should also mean that low light performance is once again improved. The Canon G16 is capable of shooting at up to ISO 12800. Canon also claims that AF speed has been significantly improved – apparently it is 41% quicker than its predecessor, the Canon G15.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

Two new creative modes have been created for this camera. Background Defocus shoots two photos, one completely in focus, one out of focus, then combines the two images to produce DSLR-style background defocus effects. This is done in-camera automatically.

The second is Star Mode, which has been designed with night time photographers in mind. Canon says that it is so confident of the camera’s low light capabilities that it actively wants to encourage photographers to use it in pitch black conditions.

Star Mode is a fully automatic mode that triggers the best settings for capturing night time skies. It’s also capable of recording star trials and creating time-lapse movies – again, all captured and created within the camera without the need for post-processing. HDR mode has also been improved to include new digital filters.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

Manual Focus Peaking has been introduced for the first time in a Canon compact camera. It’s a technology that has existed in Canon’s range of video cameras before, and we have seen it from other manufacturers fairly recently. The sensitivity of focus peaking can also be set depending on how strong you want it to be. Different colours can also be set, which can be useful depending on the subject you’re shooting.

As found on the Canon G15, the Canon G16 features an f/1.8-f/2.8 5x optical zoom lens, with a maximum wide-angle of 28mm. At its full telephoto zoom it offers a 35mm equivalent of 140mm and a maximum f/2.8 aperture.

The exterior of the camera is pretty much identical to its predecessor, the Canon G15. Canon says that this is because it has been honed throughout the years and is one that consumers feel comfortable with.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

Canon has also announced a replacement for the Canon S110 in the shape of the Canon S120. That takes a lot of the features of the Canon G16 but places them in a slimmer body, and is worth investigating if you’re looking for something a little more pocket-friendly.

When the original Canon G series camera launched it had far less competition that it does in the current market. Probably the biggest competitor for this camera is the Sony RX100 II, as well as the Nikon P7700.

The Canon PowerShot G16 will have a full price of £529.99 (around US$830/AU$920), making it slightly more expensive than the Nikon but a fair bit cheaper than the Sony.

Build quality and handling

Canon PowerShot G16 review

Much of what can be said about the Canon G16’s build quality and handling is true of its predecessor, the Canon G15, so it may be a good idea to give that review a read over to find out more.

The Canon G15 slimmed down considerably from the Canon G12 by removing the articulating the screen, and Canon has evidently received sufficient positive feedback to keep the same design for the latest iteration of the camera.

Canon isn’t shy about targeting cameras at the advanced photographer – it often refers to DSLR owners in marketing materials. This is reflected in the number of dials and direct access buttons found on the camera.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

On the top are two overlapping dials. First there’s a mode dial for switching between the various exposure options on the camera, including fully automatic and semi-automatic modes (aperture priority and shutter priority).

Slightly underneath this dial is the exposure compensation dial, which is handily reached by the thumb and is something that was a welcome addition to last year’s Canon G15.

The back of the camera sees a fairly wide array of buttons and dials, including one for changing autofocus point and a direct button for changing sensitivity. It’s a shame that Canon still hasn’t included a touchscreen on the G series of cameras, especially since it produces an excellent one for the S range.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

This means that everything is operated by button control – but then again, maybe it’s all about the type of photographer that Canon wants to appeal to with this, the traditionalist.

Anyone who is stepping up from another Canon compact camera, or perhaps an older G series model, should be very much at home with the Canon G16.

Performance

As always, it’s difficult to give any kind of definitive statement of performance at this stage, but early indications for the Canon G16 are very good.

We already know what Canon is capable of with this range, and equipping it with a new, back-illuminated sensor and Digic 6 processor should see some fantastic results – we’re really looking forward to testing it properly.

Canon PowerShot G16 review

Canon says that AF speed has been significantly improved. In our brief time with a pre-production version of the camera, focusing did seem to be pretty speedy and accurate, but we’ll be keen to put that properly through its paces once a full production sample becomes available for our full Canon G16 review.

Digital filters and creative modes have not been an area that Canon has traditionally excelled in, but it’s interesting to see the addition of Star Mode. It’s an unusual but intriguing prospect that sounds like it should be fun to use, and in theory it could produce some excellent results.

We were reasonably impressed by the low light performance of the original Canon G15, but since its announcement, cameras such as the Sony RX100 II have surpassed it. We’ll be interested to see what the combination of a new backlit sensor (the same technology the RX100 II uses) and the Digic 6 processor can achieve, bearing in mind that the Canon G16’s sensor is significantly smaller than the Sony’s.

Initial verdict

Canon always produces solid performers in its G series cameras. While that’s appealing to the traditionalist crowd, it is now fighting a harder battle than ever before to keep market share in the crowded premium compact camera market.

While we’ve no doubt that the Canon PowerShot G16 will be capable of producing fantastic images, it will have to go some way to beat the excellent Sony RX100 Mk II. It’s interesting that Canon has decided to keep the same (relatively) small sensor for the latest G series and hasn’t been tempted to go down the same larger route as the Sony. Whether image quality will suffer because of this remains to be seen.

We’re excited by some of the new introductions to the Canon G16, most notably the Digic 6 processor. It’s also good to see a traditional manufacturer such as Canon acknowledging the importance of Wi-Fi on modern cameras.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of the Canon G16 as soon as possible.

First reviewed 22 August 2013

For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/cameras-and-camcorders/cameras/compact-cameras/canon-g16-1174629/review?src=rss&attr=all

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