Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Canon G16 275 wide.jpg
  • 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor
  • DIGIC 6 image processor
  • 5x optical zoom lens
    • 28-140mm
    • f/1.8 to f/2.8 aperture
  • Continuous shooting speeds of up to 9.3 frames-per-second
  • Full HD 1080/60p video recording
  • Wi-Fi
  • Star Nightscape
  • Star Trails
  • Star Time Lapse Movie
  • HDR Scene Modes
Pros
  • New DIGIC 6 image processor creates high-performing camera
  • Autofocus works extremely quickly
  • G16 has almost no shutter lag and minimal shot to shot delays
  • Continuous shooting modes in JPEG are impressive
  • Very good image quality versus other fixed lens cameras
  • Can shoot in RAW or JPEG or both
  • Strong macro performance
  • Full HD video up to 60 frames per second
  • High quality f/1.8 lens
  • Plenty of manual control features
  • Easy to use in fully automatic mode
  • Optical viewfinder included
  • Solid construction and feel
  • Good battery life that can be extended by using the viewfinder to frame photos
Cons
  • Price is a little high
  • Optical zoom is limited to 5x
  • Camera body is a little chunky
  • No touch screen LCD
  • No articulated LCD
  • Wi-Fi is tricky to set up and use
  • Menu design could be better
  • Camera's burst mode performance slows noticeably in RAW mode
  • Very few movie control options
  • Optical viewfinder is very basic with no shooting information displayed
  • Can't match image quality of mid-level DSLR cameras
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.1 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.2 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 2.0 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 1.8 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 2.9 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.7 seconds with review Off
  • Continuous = 10 frames in 1.0 seconds @ 12M
  • AF Continuous = 10 frames in 3.2 seconds @ 12M
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Don't let the high price tag on the PowerShot G16 cause you to skip past this camera, even if you own the G15 already. The upgrade of the image processor inside the G16 gives it noticeably stronger performance speed and image quality versus its predecessor. The G16 is a little chunky and its small 5x optical zoom lens will disappoint some photographers, but this camera's performance speeds and image quality both are outstanding, as long as it fits in your budget.
Pick This Up If...
You need an advanced fixed lens camera that has almost eliminated shutter lag and minimized shot to shot delays, but you can live with a limited optical zoom measurement.
As with many camera manufacturers, Canon has looked for ways to give enthusiast photographers the ability to have a relatively thin digital camera that provides more photography power than what's typically found in thin point-n-shoot models, resulting in the G series.

Canon has now released the latest in that line of fixed lens cameras aimed at more advanced photographers, the PowerShot G16. It looks and operates a lot like its predecessor (the G15), but the G16 includes a handful of nice new features that aren't immediately obvious at first glance.

The G16 includes the latest version of Canon's image processor -- the DIGIC 6 -- which provides improved quality for both still images and movies and faster performance. HD movies now can be shot at 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second and the camera's still image burst modes are very impressive. You'll also find built-in Wi-Fi capabilities with the new version. The G16 offers the same image sensor, optical zoom setting, and minimum aperture setting that the G15 offered.

With a 1/1.7-inch, 12-megapixel image sensor, the PowerShot G16 isn't quite able to match the image quality you'd find in a typical interchangeable lens camera. But, the G16 certainly will provide significantly better image quality than what you'll find with the lower-end of the PowerShot line of point-n-shoot cameras, thanks to both its larger image sensor and its fast f/1.8 lens.

Those who are used to the 10x and larger optical zoom lenses found in ultra thin cameras today may be disappointed that the chunky PowerShot G16 only has a 5x optical zoom lens. You can attach an optional tele-converter to the G16 to give it a little more telephoto capability though.

If you can live with the limited optical zoom, you're going to appreciate the strong image quality of the PowerShot G16. This is where the new image processor and the 1/1.7-inch CMOS image sensor pay off. It's also nice to have the ability to shoot in JPEG or RAW (or both formats at the same time), providing a lot of flexibility with how you want to handle your photographs.

Noise is minimal with this model, at least until you surpass an ISO setting of 800. Automatic exposure settings and the camera's autofocus are generally accurate with the G16.

Video performance is good with the PowerShot G16. It unfortunately doesn't offer a lot of manual control options over the video settings, but the camera's automatic settings create adequate video clips. The 5x optical zoom works extremely slowly in video mode, which may frustrate some photographers.

When shooting still images though, the DIGIC 6 image processor gives the PowerShot G16 some very impressive response times, well above average versus other fixed lens cameras. You easily can shoot still images at speeds of 10-plus frames per second at full resolution in burst mode without pre-focusing on the scene. This camera has almost no shutter lag, even when shooting with the flash, and its shot to shot delays are minimal. This is an impressive camera in terms of performance speeds.

The physical design of the G16 is pretty nice too, with plenty of advanced features, although this camera is a little chunky, measuring 1.6 inches in thickness. It can be tough to fit the PowerShot G16 into an average-sized pocket. If you're used to the extremely thin designs that populate the PowerShot family, you may need to readjust your thinking to appreciate the G16.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from serious photographers is that so few fixed lens digital cameras in today's market contain an optical viewfinder. As it did with all of its G series PowerShot models dating back more than a decade, Canon included a viewfinder on the G16, and it is a nice option to have. You also can frame photos using the extremely sharp and bright 3.0-inch LCD screen, although the LCD is not an articulated screen, which would be a nice feature to have in this price point. Having the viewfinder available allows you to counteract screen glare when shooting in sunlight, as well as saving battery power versus using the LCD. Unfortunately the viewfinder doesn't display any shooting information.

You'll also have the option of attaching an external flash unit to the PowerShot G16 through the hot shoe, providing more flash power. If you choose to stick with the built-in popup flash unit though, you'll be pretty pleased with the results.

The G16 includes an EV dial cleverly stacked under the mode dial that provides easy access to both dials while saving space. The PowerShot G16's design doesn't have a lot of extra dials and buttons, as you can find with some advanced cameras, which allows this camera to remain easy to use. 

There are quite a few manual control options with this model, giving you the ability to make the G16 work in exactly the manner you want. Canon included a long list of customizable buttons and features available through the on-screen menus, which is great for those more experienced photographers. There's even a very basic manual focus capability that's controlled through the four-way button. But, this model also works well as a simple automatic camera, giving novices the ability to pick up the G16 and begin using it successfully immediately.

Canon has added built-in Wi-Fi to the G16's set of features versus what was offered with the G15, which makes it easier to share your photos with social networking web sites. However I found it was a little difficult to get the Wi-Fi feature set up, and it didn't always connect easily. You may have to download extra software to your computer or an extra app to your smartphone before you'll be able to attempt to make the Wi-Fi feature work. This feature is nice to have, but it could have been designed better. Those who don't know anything about wireless networking may struggle to make the G16's Wi-Fi work properly.

Another area where I'd like to see Canon improve the design of the PowerShot G16 is with the on-screen menus. The menu design has been pretty consistent for the past few years with nearly all PowerShot cameras, and the G16 is no exception. There are so many ways to implement graphics and other easy-to-understand menu features that Canon is missing with this model's on-screen menus. These menus just don't stack up to menus provided on cameras from some other manufacturers. Hopefully Canon will undertake a menu redesign for its PowerShot family soon.

Finally, I must list one of my pet peeves with a trend I'm seeing from some camera makers. Canon chose not to include a USB cable with the G16. I simply cannot understand the rationale behind this decision, especially for a camera with a $500 suggested retail price. Obviously Canon included Wi-Fi with this model, and some who purchase the G16 will have an old USB cable they can use. Others will just insert the memory card directly into a computer to download photos. But, there will be some photographers who must rely on the USB cable, but who won't realize the package is missing this key component until they're ready to download photos for the first time. This will lead to an incredible level of frustration for these photographers that simply doesn't need to happen. 

Bottom Line - The Canon PowerShot G16 certainly has a lot of really nice features to it, as Canon has spent over a decade honing its G line of PowerShot cameras. The latest versions have been aimed at enthusiast photographers looking for a relatively thin fixed lens camera, and the PowerShot G16 fits easily inside that design track. The G16 provides outstanding image quality, quick performance, and a fast f/1.8 lens, all in a model that measures only 1.6 inches in thickness. While the G16 is a bit thicker than most beginner-level cameras, it's still smaller than most interchangeable lens cameras. Even though the G15 and G16 don't look all that different physically, the PowerShot G16 offers enough advancements from last year's model that G15 owners will want to at least consider an upgrade, despite the G16's high starting price. The G16 now offers built-in Wi-Fi and a few new shooting modes versus last year's model for example. However the biggest upgrade in the G16 is the DIGIC 6 image processor, which provides significant performance improvements across the board versus the G15. The two biggest drawbacks that hold the G16 back are its limited telephoto capabilities with a 5x optical zoom lens and its starting price that compares to an entry-level interchangeable lens camera. These drawbacks mean the PowerShot G16 won't appeal to everyone, but for those photographers desiring above average image quality, high performance levels, and plenty of manual control features in a fixed-lens camera, the G16 is well worth considering, even if you already own the G15.


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