Canon PowerShot G16: Performance

by Howard Creech Reads (391)
Editor's Rating

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 9
    • Features
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Expandability
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.80
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


This where the rubber meets the road and the G16 rises to the challenge nicely. Basically, I judge cameras on one simple criterion–does the camera do exactly what I want it to do or does it get in my way? The Canon G16 does exactly what you tell it to do and it does it with efficiency and alacrity.

Shooting Performance
Canon claims the G16’s autofocus is almost 50% faster than the G15’s AF. I haven’t used the G15, so I can’t address that claim. However, I found the G16 to be remarkably fast to find and lock focus on my subjects – as fast (or faster) than any P&S digicam that I have ever used. From turning the camera on to first capture is about 2 seconds. The new DIGIC VI processor is responsible for the G16’s quickness.

Here’s what I mean: the G15 (with the DIGIC V processor) could capture about 2 fps while the new DIGIC VI equipped G16 can capture up to 9.3 fps (JPEG, without continuous AF) and there’s no buffer–which means users can, theoretically, keep shooting until their memory card is filled or the battery bites the dust. It also means users will never have to wait for the buffer to clear before they can shoot again. There is no discernible shutter lag in good lighting and exposure is essentially real time. Even in dim light (where the G16 may occasionally hunt for focus) it requires no more than 1.0 to 1.5 seconds to lock focus on and capture your subject.

It appears that all new premium digital cameras must feature Wi-Fi connectivity and the G16 is the first G model to provide this “hot button” feature. Although it’s not the most comprehensive Wi-Fi configuration available, the G16 allows users to either connect to their smartphone or tablet via a free app or to their desktop or laptop via a home Wi-Fi network. Personally, I am much more impressed with the new sensor and new processor than I am with the addition of Wi-Fi. I can wait until I get home to download and share my images.

The Canon G16 accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory media and supports both RAW and JPEG formats–so those who like to engage in post exposure image manipulation will be happy. Images can be recorded in 16:9, 3:2, 4:3, 4:5, and 1:1 formats, which is pretty neat–especially if you like displaying your favorite images as traditional 8×10 or 11×14 enlargements.

The G16’s built-in flash works about as well as any on-board flash is likely to work. It is too close to the lens axis to provide red-eye free supplemental lighting–especially for close portraits, but it can be useful for fill lighting and balancing ambient lighting. What’s much more useful is the inclusion of a dedicated hot shoe–which means that Canon external speedlights can used (with all/most features) for supplemental lighting chores.

Lens Performance
The Canon G16 features an f1.8-f2.8/6.1mm to 30.5mm (28mm-140mm equivalent) 5x optical zoom lens. This is a very useful focal length range since about 75% of all photos are shot in the moderate wide-angle to short telephoto focal length range and this is the optimal range for street shooters who tend to work fairly close to their subjects. The f1.8 maximum aperture gives the G16 a real advantage over the standard f2.8-f3.5 maximum apertures of the vast majority of P&S digital cameras. The f2.8 minimum aperture is also substantially faster than the f5.6-f5.9 minimum apertures of the vast majority of P&S digital cameras. In addition to the useful focal length range and impressive speed of the G16’s 5x zoom–this optic is first rate across the board optically – sharp, bright, and hue accurate.

Video Quality
Video clips produced by the G16 are easily equivalent to video clips produced by consumer level video cameras. Simply think out your video, compose your opening shot and push the red stop/start video button–your video will begin immediately after you push the button, with no lag, and end immediately after you push the button again. Video is recorded at 1920 x 1080i @ 30fps (and other resolutions and frame rates) with stereo audio.

Image Quality
The G16’s image files are (like all Canon P&S digital cameras) optimized for bold bright colors and hard-edged but slightly flat contrast. Viewed on my monitor, G16 images look a lot like the Ektachrome slides I shot during an earlier photographic era. Overall, reds are a bit warm, blues are a little brighter than they are in real life, and greens/yellows are impressively vibrant. The G16’s images are highly-detailed and surprisingly sharp, although I did have some minor problems (the AF system couldn’t seem to lock focus a couple of times) in Macro Mode and a very small percentage of my close-up shots came out blurry. In bright outdoor lighting, highlight detail was only rarely blown-out, which indicates some very impressive exposure engineering. Shadow detail capture is equally impressive–the best I have seen to date with a P&S digital camera.  Image quality is simply amazing for a P&S digicam. It is essentially equivalent to the images produced by the kit lenses of most of the entry-level DSLRs currently available–maybe even better due to the fantastic aperture range.

The G16’s ISO range covers ISO 80 to ISO 12800 and obviously the lower the ISO number the better the image quality. The G16 not only produces excellent images in the ISO 80 to ISO 200 range–like most of its competition, it also produces usable images in the ISO 400 to ISO 800 range. In fact the G16’s ISO 400 images are almost as good as the ISO 100 images I recorded a dozen years ago with the G2. How is that for a dozen years of technological advances? The G16 is a perfect choice for natural/available light fans and one of the best available choices for low light shooters. The camera features a comprehensive selection of White Balance options including Auto White Balance. The G16’s AWB mode is one of the best I have seen. It is consistently and dependably accurate in all but the most extreme lighting scenarios.

Sample Images

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