Canon PowerShot G15 Review: A Professional’s Point and Shoot

by Reads (71,490)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 9
    • Features
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Expandability
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 8.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Great image quality
    • Professional level mode dial with lots of physical buttons
    • Fast f1.8-f2.8 lens
    • * button
    • Solid build
  • Cons

    • Below average viewfinder
    • Non-articulating screen will bother some
    • Some AF hunting in very low light

Quick Take

As the newest member of Canon's G Series cameras, the Canon G15 does not disappoint. It has a 12.1 MP sensor and a 5x zoom.

It takes a lot for me to love a point and shoot cameras. In fact, I find very few that fit the needs of a seasoned professional. Sometimes they lack basic features I am looking for or they just can’t capture an image with the quality I am used to. But that all changed when I got my hands on the Canon G15. This point and shoot camera is a thing of beauty starting with the full manual controls and going all the way to the fast, accurate autofocus. My objections with this camera are few and far between. And with a $450 price tag, deciding to purchase the G15 is a no brainer.

The Canon G15 is a step up from most point and shoot cameras. The camera features a 12.1-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor with the latest generation Digic 5 Image Processor. This sensor is on the larger size for point and shoot cameras. Also, the Digic 5 has some pretty significant improvements over the last version. The Processor has increased speed and power. It also has improved noise reduction to help the camera reduce grain in high ISO images. 

Speaking of high ISO, the G15 has high ISO sensitivities up to 12800. Want to take images in low light conditions? No problem. Working in unison with Canon’s proprietary HS system, the camera will be able to produce better images in low lighting situations.

The G15 has a newly redesigned 5x zoom lens that has an equivalent focal length of 28-240mm in 35mm standards. The lens has a wide open aperture of  f1.8 (wide angle)-f2.8 (telephoto) allowing photographers to shoot with a shallow depth-of-field for soft, defocused backgrounds. For professionals and amateurs alike, being able to capture a subject with sharp focus while separating the background with smooth blur can be a very important feature.

The camera also has the ability to shoot 1080p full HD video with a dedicated video record button. In video mode, the user can make use of the full range of the zoom. Also, video is recorded in stereo sound. The camera accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards.

Build and Design
The PowerShot G15 is a compact digital camera with a solid, sturdy body. It has a rectangular build with slightly curved edges. It sits solidly on a table and will not fall over due to its sturdy base. The camera is on the larger side of the compact camera genre with measurements of 4.20(w)x2.99(h)x1.58(d) inches and has a little more weight than average at 12.4 oz. The camera easily fits in a jacket pocket or fits nicely into a purse, but slipping it into a jeans pocket will prove to be a bit cumbersome. The size and weight was a welcome feature for me since I am used to lugging around large DSLRs. Point and shoot cameras with small stature and tiny buttons don’t do much for me. I really want a camera with some meat on its bones and the G15 delivers. Don’t get me wrong though, the camera is easy to carry for long lengths of time and will not be a burden on long trips. 

Ergonomics and Controls
The Canon G15 is a well designed camera. Ergonomically, the camera is easy to hold for long amounts of time. It has a small raised hand grip with a textured surface. The back of the camera also features a thumb grip which also has the same textured surface as the front. For my hands, the camera is most comfortable to hold when I let my pinky finger drop off the bottom of the camera. 

The camera controls are well thought out and perfectly positioned. As a professional photographer, the G15 is a delight to use. All of the important controls are located on the outside of the camera instead of being lost in a sea of in-camera menus. Starting on the top left side of the camera, the G15 offers a pop-up flash with a slide lever for manual control. The top middle of the camera features a hot shoe mount. To the right of the hot shoe is an exposure compensation dial with 1/3 increments and a mode dial that is nestled on the top left of the exposure dial. Both of these dials move with a click response that requires a slight amount of force so that you do not accidentally change them. To the right of the exposure dial is the on/off button which turns green when activated. Above that is a traditional zoom lever and shutter release. 

The back of the camera is just as laden with physical buttons as the top. On the back left side of the camera is a shortcut/special button that allows you to access a most used setting. It also allows you to save an image to a print list designed to work seamlessly with Canon printers. In the middle is a small viewfinder equipped with a diopter in order to help compensate for less than 20/20 vision. To the right of the viewfinder is the playback button. It took me some time to get used to the placement of this button as I am used to them being lower on the back side of the camera. But once I got familiar with the placement I realized that it was much easier to use. All I had to do was slide my thumb over about an inch from the thumb rest and there it was. Housed on a dedicated button on the right top corner of the thumb rest is the movie record button.

Except for one of the neatest features of the camera, the * button, others below the thumb rest are the typical point and shoot buttons and four way toggle with a spinning wheel. The * button allows the user to access the aperture and shutter in a very unique way. Pushing the button bring up a small screen on the display that gives photographers the ability to adjust the shutter and aperture at the same time to perfectly expose the image. For example, if you want to take an image with a f2.0 aperture, but don’t want to take the time to adjust your shutter speed you just touch the * button and then turn the spinning wheel around the four way toggle. Want to quickly change it again? No problem. This button makes changing your settings extremely quick and easy.   

To say this camera is jam packed with physical buttons might be an understatement. I loved not having to access the in-camera menu every time I wanted to change my settings and I really appreciate the way Canon was able to include so many dials and functions on the body of the camera. 

Menus and Modes
The in-camera menu on the Canon G15 is simple and intuitive. There are two easy-to-navigate pages and one totally customizable page for the users favorite settings. The in-camera menu, for example, will allow you to choose your desired digital zoom, let you choose your focus points, and allow you to access all of the basic camera settings. 

The Mode dial is accessed on the top of the camera. It has a full range of automatic and manual settings including auto “green” mode, manual P,S,A and M modes, custom 1 & 2, movie mode, movie digest mode, HDR mode, and scene selector mode. Whether you prefer a fully automatic camera experience or one that is fully manual and customizable, the G15 has got you covered. 

The Canon PowerShot G15 offers a 3-inch TFT LCD monitor with 922,000 dots. The screen is bright, crisp and easy to use. The only drawback to this display is that it is a fixed screen and does not swivel or tilt. Most of the time this is not an issue, but there are the occasions where a tilting LCD screen could come in handy. For me, this is not a deal breaker as I am used to cameras without tilting LCDs. Because the screen offers such a high resolution, viewing the display in a multitude of environments was not an issue besides some glare on the sunniest of days. 

The G15 also offers an optical, real-image zoom viewfinder. This viewfinder is probably my biggest complaint about the camera. It is small, basic, and pretty useless. For someone who loves using a viewfinder, I found myself never using it. It was just easier to compose my images on the LCD screen. Again, this was not a deal breaker for me. Because the LCD screen was such good quality I simply did not miss the viewfinder.

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