BUILD AND DESIGN
The G12 offers the retro look of a classic rangefinder camera, and its metal and composite body’s fit and finish are first rate. Given the $500 MSRP that places the price of admission to the G12 club at the fringe of entry-level DSLR country, they should be. The camera is finished in rich-looking flat black paint with a light texture. This is a large and heavy “compact” in relation to most 5x point and shoots – measuring out at 4.41×3.0x1.9 inches and over 14 ounces with battery and memory card onboard – and not something that slips casually into a shirt pocket.
Ergonomics and Controls
The rounded-edge, rectangular body of the G12 features a slightly built-up grip in the right front that provides a secure feel to one-handed shooting. The flash is positioned at the top left edge of the camera body and invites total or partial blockage by fingers of the left hand in two-handed holds.
The top and back of the body are covered with controls. The shooting finger falls naturally to the shutter button but the thumb lies across the menu button, control dial, metering and delete buttons on the camera back. Even so, unintended activations were not a problem. As with the G11, external controls allow fairly quick access to a number of shooting settings you might want to change on the fly, such as ISO, metering method, white balance and others – depending, of course, on whether you’re shooting in a mode that permits inputs. The front dial is a nice addition and will be appreciated by folks shooting in the manual modes.
Menus and Modes
Folks familiar with Canon compacts will feel right at home with the menu set on the G12, and newcomers to the brand will find the camera highly intuitive to manage and set up, even without benefit of the user guide. After pressing the menu button, menus or menu items are selected via the control wheel and the camera displays a brief explanation of the function of the specific item in question.
There are ten primary shooting modes:
- Auto: Camera handles all settings, user has inputs limited to image size, flash enable and self-timer.
- Low Light: An auto mode recommended for candlelit or similar scenes, with camera handling all settings, including setting ISO between 320 and 12800, and resolution to 2.5 megapixels – user inputs limited to image quality and shooting rate.
- Quick shot: An auto mode requiring use of viewfinder – camera continuously adjusts focus and exposure of subject in viewfinder, user has inputs (displayed on monitor) including white balance, my colors, image quality and size, self-timer and flash enable. Continuous focus and exposure deplete battery more quickly than other shooting modes.
- Scene: An auto mode offering 15 specific shooting scenes plus stitch assist, color swap and color accent – user inputs limited to image size, shooting rate and flash enable.
- Program auto: Camera handles shutter and aperture, user has significant inputs including white balance, my colors, exposure bracketing, flash compensation, in-camera neutral density filter, shooting rate and image size.
- Shutter priority: User sets shutter speed, camera sets aperture and user has same inputs as program auto.
- Aperture priority: User sets aperture, camera sets shutter speed and user has same inputs as program auto.
- Manual: User sets aperture and shutter, has same inputs as program auto.
- Custom1/Custom2: User can register settings of their choice that are recalled by selecting either mode, including program auto, shutter and aperture priority and manual shooting modes, items set in any of those modes, items in the shooting menu, zoom position, manual focus position and my menu items.
- Movie: Allows user to capture video at 1280×720 in Motion JPEG format and 24 frames per second (fps), 640×480 or 320×240 pixel resolution, both at 30 fps. User can also input white balance, my colors and neutral density filter enable. Movie length is limited to 4GB or 29 minutes and 59 seconds but may not reach those limits depending on the individual memory card. Canon recommends a class 4 or higher SD card.
The 2.8-inch LCD monitor has a 461,000 dot composition and offers 100% coverage. It can swing through 180 degrees and rotate along its long axis through 270 degrees. The monitor is adjustable for 5 levels of brightness and the ability to articulate can be of help in bright outdoor light, where the monitor can sometimes be difficult to see for image composition.
The camera has an optical view finder, but coverage is only 77% and makes the VF useless for accurate image composition – the image seen and composed through the finder does not include significant area on all sides that appear in the actual image that is captured. No data is presented on the VF screen – two small circular lights that appear in your peripheral vision when using the VF indicate when the camera has achieved focus. The VF does have a diopter adjustment for varying degrees of eyesight acuity. One major advantage of the viewfinder is power consumption, or rather, lack thereof. Canon rates the G12 for a battery life of 370 shots using the monitor, but 1000 shots using the viewfinder.