Canon G11 review

The most hotly anticipated compact camera of the year

Canon G11 review
The Canon G11 is one of the most hotly anticipated cameras of the year

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Trying to market a high-end, premium-priced compact in tough economic times is not going to be easy, and Canon deserves credit for squeezing so many powerful features into the PowerShotG11 while still keeping it portable and easy to use.

The G11 is a great low-light performer, and this, combined with the intelligent metering modes, AF, and generous picture presets, means that it's quite difficult to take a bad photograph with this camera.

But it's not perfect by any means, and anyone considering shelling out five hundred quid should consider the following points.

We liked:

The PowerShot G11 is a very flexible compact with many power features normally associated with SLRs.

As well as the ability to shoot in RAW and take quality low-light shots without flash, the G11 is fast and intuitive, with generally unflappable metering and AF systems.

Build quality is good without making the camera too heavy, and the swivelling LCD is ideal for shooting from awkward angles - or taking candid shots of people without them realising!

As for the camera design and menus, while they're not perfect, the combined shooting mode/ISO dial is a stroke of genius - as is the dedicated exposure compensation wheel. SLR designers take note! The 6x optical zoom is quiet and versatile, too.

We disliked:

Earlier G series PowerShots were real objects of desire, but the PowerShotG11 is unlikely to elicit many lustful glances.

The swivelling LCD housing means it's quite a fat and awkward camera, and while Beth Ditto fans may disagree, portly doesn't mean sexy in our book (thanks to breakthroughs like Micro Four Thirds, budget SLRs are getting smaller and neater by the day, too).

What's more, it's alarmingly easier to activate the G11's rear buttons by accident, and both image preview and menu choice selection can be sluggish.

Then there's the underwhelming movie mode.... Sooner or later, you come up against that hefty price tag. For £500 you can get a perfectly good budget SLR; a few hundred quid more gets you a quality mid-range SLR with HD video...


For G series obsessives, or well-heeled owners of Canon SLRs seeking a backup camera, the G11 makes sense.

There's certainly a lot to like about this camera, but its relatively high price, combined with some design and usability niggles, mean that less partisan buyers should weigh up the pros and cons before handing over £500.

While the PowerShotG11 ticks a lot of boxes, it doesn't tick all of them, so if slim dimensions and quality video performance are as important as advanced creative options, you may be better looking elsewhere.

And remember, however good this compact camera sounds on paper, the restrictions of its design mean it will never outshine a similarly priced D-SLR.