While the G12 retains the range of automatic shooting options along with manual modes and plenty of user inputs afforded by the G11, it unfortunately also retained some of the somewhat disappointing performance numbers generated by the G11.
Power up time is only average - the G12 presents a focus icon in a bit over 2 seconds after power on, and a first shot takes about 2.75 seconds. Single shot-to-shot times run about 2.75 seconds with a class 10 SDHC card. Shutter lag measured out as 0.04 seconds (although in truth it doesn't feel that slow), still quick enough to catch a couple of Anna's hummingbirds contemplating a snack at one of our feeders.
AF acquisition times proved to be about 0.50 seconds in good light, not among the best in the class and a bit off what we saw with the G11. (The hummingbirds were shot with prefocus on a set spot, then waiting for them to fly into that area). Continuous shooting rates came up at 2.1 fps - about as advertised - and the G12 shoots at over 4 fps in the low-light mode (at greatly reduced resolution). Tracking moving subjects is hamstrung by a screen blackout after the first shot of the sequence, and the camera is always one shot behind on display.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR||0.01|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5||0.01|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot G12||0.04|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR||0.19|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55||0.28|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5||0.40|
|Canon PowerShot G12||0.50|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5||3||3.3 fps
|Canon PowerShot G12||∞||2.1 fps
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55||4||1.9 fps
|Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR||4||1.6 fps
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Flash range is listed as 23 feet at wide angle, 13 feet at telephoto, both with auto ISO. Using the 80 and 100 ISO sensitivities that provide the best noise performance will cut into these distances significantly. Canon lists recycle time as "less than 10 seconds" but using auto ISO and wide angle in moderate light provided times in the 2 to 5 second range; a seemingly full discharge (aperture priority, f/8, telephoto, in complete darkness) took about 8.5 seconds. And if the flash doesn't quite get the job done, the G12 offers "i-contrast" as part of the replay menu - you can select auto, low, medium or high levels of enhancement to brighten dark images. Here's another Anna's that came out a bit dark and the same shot after in-camera processing with i-contrast:
The flash did a good job not overpowering close up subjects - here are a hibiscus and an oleander at near-macro distance:
I found the shutter button action to be light - there is a barely discernable detent when the button reaches half-push for focus purposes, and it is a simple matter to go right past focus and initiate capture (without focus) without intending to, particularly if you're rushing a shot. You get used to the feel eventually, but even after acclimating to the camera rushed shots would sometimes be taken without acquiring focus.
Battery life, as mentioned earlier, is about 370 shots with the LCD, and 1000 using the viewfinder. Most folks will probably use the monitor, so a spare for all day shooting sessions is a good idea if you're a monitor person.
While the 5x zoom of the G12 is unchanged (at least in length and maximum apertures) our review unit showed a bit of moustache distortion (versus barrel in the G11) at wide angle. Moustache looks like barrel distortion in the center of the image, then starts to pincushion toward the edges. It is sometimes called gull-wing distortion. Corners were a bit soft, edges a little less so. There was just a hint of purple fringing at wide angle in some high contrast boundary areas, but 200 to 300% enlargement is required for it to be readily apparent - it would take an eagle eye to spot it at 100%.
The telephoto end turned in an excellent performance - geometric distortion was not apparent and edges and corners of the frame were quite sharp. Some purple fringing was present at high magnifications, but to an even lesser degree than at wide angle.
Close focus distance for the lens can be as close as 0.4 inches, although these roses are a little further back than that.
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