Buy a Canon G12 and you'll have spent well over £400, so it's only fair to expect superlative image quality. Like the G11, the PowerShot G12 has a 28-140mm f/2.8-f/8 lens and offers exactly the same ISO range – from 100 to a sky-scraping 3200.
Between ISO 100 and 800 there's precious little difference in our test images. While the Canon G12 is never going to trouble even the cheapest of DSLRs, it's streets ahead of lesser compacts and is roughly on-par with more expensive cameras, such as the micro Four-Thirds Olympus E-PL1.
After ISO 800, our test images begin to soften noticeably, but while our test images taken at ISO 3200 are demonstrably softer and noisier than shots taken at lower settings, there's no argument from us that the Canon G12 is a superb low-light camera.
And, in the event that you find a situation in which high ISOs are undesirable, those with Canon accessories will be pleased to note the hotshoe on top of the camera, which is compatible with all manner of Canon Speedlite and wireless flash transmitters.
Adding to the Canon G12's suitability for low-light performance is the fast lens – f/2.8 not only means you can take pictures in severely reduced light, but it also lends the PowerShot G12 well to nature and macro photography, offering the ability to make use of greatly reduced depth of field.
Our outdoor shots bear out the conclusion that the Canon G12 is capable of some excellent results. It's arguably better at handling chromatic aberration than the G11, with leaves against a high-contrast sky resisting purple fringing extremely well. We also found that the PowerShot G12's lens was sharp throughout the range of available apertures. It's a hugely competent performer.
The Canon PowerShot G12 does well in macro mode, offering the ability to make use of greatly reduced depth of field: 1/100sec at f/2.8, ISO 100
The Canon G12 is better at handling chromatic aberration than the Canon PowerShot G11: 1/30sec at f/8, ISO 100
The Canon G12 boasts a versatile zoom range with the same 28-140mm f/2.8-f/8 lens as its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot G11, which you can see evidenced in this close-up of the building obscured by trees in the centre of the image above: 1/20sec at f/8, ISO 100