Sunday, July 29, 2012

Canon Powershot G12, a long term honest review.

So it's been 7 months since I got my hands on the Canon G12 and I figured you folks would like to know how my relation is with the little black brick.

G12 with hood/adapter and $5 flea market fish eye lens.

First off I must admit that I couldn't hold back and got a few accessories for the thing right off the bat. I purchased an adapter/hood for it on Ebay for a few bucks which has helped me stretch the boundaries a bit. The adapter was followed by two 58mm neutral density filters from the bay, a polarizer filter from a flea market, a wide angle lens and a fish eye lens from the same source that fit the adapter as well. All this for another $40, good deal. New, this stuff would go for much more.
4 second exposure done in bright sunlight. Possible only with 2 neutral density filters, a tripod and the use of the timer (5 second delay).

The G12 is a Jack of all trades and I'll try to break them down one by one. It does one thing very well and I'm keeping that one for last. Reliability wise, it's been a trooper so far, no issues after 10 000 images +.

Controls and user friendliness

The G12 excels in that department. The big buttons here and there provide instant control without going into the menu. Even if you do have to go in the menu, it is the same user friendly Canon menu that I'm used to. Very simple. I've had experience with the Nikon menus and I prefer Canon's.


Three things I love about this camera's hardware, the screen that flips, the hot-shoe and the viewfinder. Impossible shots are easy with the flexible screen and the possibility to use an external flash adds even more possibilities. The viewfinder is not very precise but it follows the zoom and gives you an idea when you are in very bright sunlight that just blinds the preview screen. The solid build is also quite impressive although I haven't dropped it yet (crossing my fingers!).
G12 with hood/adapter, taped up blinker, vintage flash handle and remote flash (flash must not exceed 6 volts or it will fry the camera's electronics.).


A flurry of modes are available with this thing but the one that counts is Manual mode. Again, with the help of the on-camera controls, this makes for a great camera to learn with, experiment and push things.

Stars shot at 15 second exposure in manual mode. Auto focus was turned off and set to infinity(and beyond!).


Pretty simple stuff to do, the camera does a good job of it. I've seen no major changes from my previous cameras except for bigger file sizes. The images come out looking great as they should. No complaints there.

Macro/close ups

Nice job there as well. Bring it right up to 1cm and it will take the shot no problem. Details are crisp and the colors come through.


The sensor on the G12 is too small for any serious blurred background or bokeh for portraits. One way around this is to use the zoom and make sure that the background is far away from your subject. You will get better looking portraits but nothing near what you could pull with a DSLR.

Street portrait

Action shots

Here's another tricky one. The camera comes with a few things that can help you with action shots: subject tracking, sport mode and continuous shooting. However, I found that the processor is some times too slow in order to follow the action. Let's be honest here, the G12 is not made for action shots. Here's my recipe to do action shots with this point and shoot, shut off auto everything! First off go to manual mode, figure out your best shutter speed and aperture setting. Two, set the ISO manually for the lighting conditions. Three, set your focus to manual at the distance your subject will be. Four, activate continuous shutter mode. Five, anticipate when and where the action will take place. Six, hold the shutter down, follow your subject and pray! One of them might be good. Shutting off all the auto stuff demands less from the processor and seems to accelerate things a bit. The results are not great but sometimes you can get lucky.

Low light conditions

In a lighted room at 400 ISO, this camera will pull off some great shots. Out in the streets at 800 ISO and above you will get a lot of noise on your image. The available low light mode works great but image quality is reduced. Outdoors at night in city streets isn't fantastic. Long exposures with a tripod while using the timer are however amazing.

Typical night shot

Street photography

Here's where the G12 is at its best. This thing was made for candid street shots. Some street photographers take their shots right in the subject's face and some hide in order to avoid contact. I do neither. I'm in the open but I still want a candid shot, so I must make the camera invisible. Mute the sound to eliminate the beeps, tape over that annoying white LED blinker in the front and flip that viewing screen. It is amazing how people ignore you when you are looking down on your screen versus pointing the camera up at them. It is the same viewing position as a TLR and it works great. Use the setting you prefer and the G12 will deliver every time.

Montreal street scene


Is the G12 a semi DSLR or a good substitute for one? Neither. Is the G12 a good all around high end point and shoot? You bet. If you want to learn the basics of photography, you need a manual mode. The G12 is a great option where you can learn the basics and then some without forking DSLR bucks. If you get the hang of it and really enjoy it, you can get a DSLR later. The G12 will still be a useful camera in your bag(If you get bitten by the photo bug, you'll never have enough gear anyways.). If not, toss it in Auto and you have yourself an excellent hardcore point and shoot that is tough as nails. If you feel adventurous, you can even try the different scene modes.

Bottom line, would I buy one again? Yes, I would.

Thanks for reading me.

Gerry :)


  1. Thank you for this! I've been looking to replace my G12, but after reading this, I think I just didn't know how to use all of the manual controls and all that. This just made me appreciate it a lot more!

    1. Glad I could point you in another direction. Experiment and have fun. The rest will follow.

      Gerry :)

  2. I am in Pakistan. ebay do not work in our country. How can i get extra lens for G12??

  3. The extra lens you see was found in a thrift store. I have no idea where you could find such an item.


  4. The 2ND filter you mentioned for the waterfall shot with the 4sec exposure, what stop are they? I tried it but the photo just keep over exposing. What am I doing wrong here?

  5. Make sure you are at the lowest ISO setting (80 I believe on the G12) and activate the internal ND filter in the camera menu. Make sure you deactivate the ND filter once you are done as this will mess with your exposures afterwards if you don<t realize it is on.

    Gerry :)

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  7. Hey Gerry! I know this is a blog you posted a long time ago but may i ask you some questions?
    If you have an adapter to the canon g12, can you use any canon lenses? Im new to photography and i would like to add lenses to my g12 but i just dont get the whole idea.. are there special lenses just for canon g12? Or can i use all lenses if i just have an adapter?

  8. Hello Hannah, the adapter permits the use of filters and other screw mounted additions like the one you see in the picture but not a lens.The "lens" you see in the picture was found in a thrift store and I have no idea what it is.