Canon G11

Canon G11 Review

Car manufacturers are reducing the displacement of their engines, thus reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Canon is doing the same, reducing the number of megapixels in the new PowerShot G11 professional compact camera by around a third compared to its predecessor, the G10. The annoying image noise is to be reduced and the image quality – especially at high ISO sensitivity – significantly improved.

Short evaluation


  • Very good image quality with excellent noise behaviour
  • Excellent operating concept
  • Professional functional diversity
  • Pivoting and folding monitor


  • Unjustified high price
  • Video only with VGA resolution
  • Slightly slower autofocus
  • Low continuous shooting speed


Ergonomics and workmanship

To call the Canon G11 a compact camera is difficult as it isreally big and with a good 400 g weight. The only thing that makes the G11 suitable for coat pockets is the lens that is sunk deep inside when the camera is turned off. Nonetheless, the Canon G11 is a pleasure to hold in your hand: the metal and plastic case looks very robust and continues the good tradition of Canon’s professional G series. For the first time since the G6, it even offers a swivelling and folding monitor. However, with a diagonal of 2.8″ it is slightly smaller than the 3″ monitor of the G10. It also makes the new G11 a little chubbier and – what weighs even heavier: The folding and swivelling mechanism takes up so much space that the typical Canon selection ring on the back has become smaller. Those who do not have pianist’s hands will have a hard time with the shrunken rotating ring, especially as there are five selector switches inside the ring, which are operated unintentionally by the ball of the thumb when the pianist takes hold of them. The bottom line, however, is that the advantages of the movable monitor outweigh the handling – the live image can be seen from almost any recording situation. The very brilliant monitor image also contributes to this, even though its resolution of around 460,000 pixels is now surpassed by some compact cameras. There one will look only rarely through the likewise available optical viewfinder, particularly since this shows only good three quarters of the picture section.


The G11 has thankfully retained the dedicated rotors for ISO adjustment (ISO 80 to 3,200 and Auto) and exposure correction (maximum +/- 2EV). The illuminated setting markings and the recessed power switch are very nice. The zoom rocker is ergonomically placed around the shutter release as a rotary knob. Unfortunately she reacts a little spongy; the desired image section can’t always be adjusted at first go.

The most important shooting modes can be selected via a rotary knob on the top of the G11, other scene modes are accommodated in the menu. It’s convenient that two symbols for user-defined setting sets can also be found on the selector wheel. Thus, the hurried photographer quickly falls back on his preferred settings. The menu lists are quite long, but frequently used commands can be summarized in the personalized “My Menu”. The PowerShot G11 shows that, despite its wide range of functions, Canon has sought and found clever solutions for ease of use. This also includes the Fn button in the center of the rotating bezel: it opens a quick selection menu in which the most important setting options (for example for white balance, image size and quality or flash exposure correction) are summarized. The G11 is ready for operation one blink of an eye later.


As one of the very few in its class, the G11 offers a fully-fledged flash connection for system flash units. The remote release connection is also not a matter of course for compact cameras. Also on board are an HDMI socket and a tripod thread made of solid metal. Unfortunately, it’s not in the optical axis.

What has remained is the zoom lens with an initial aperture of 2.8 to 4.5, which is quite fast and has a focal length of 28 to 140 millimetres (KB). This means that the latest addition to the G series remains a perfect travel and reportage camera. In macro mode, the subject may be approached by one centimeter in the wide-angle position, in telephoto mode the close-up limit is 30 cm. Canon’s PowerShot G11 also features IS optical anti-shake technology, where a group of lenses in the lens compensates for the camera hand’s trembling movements – it can even be configured to pull along.

The PowerShot G11 with its 18 scene modes takes care of exposure and correct focusing fully automatically if desired. Ambitious photographers can also set the G11 semi-automatically (with aperture or time preselection) and even completely manually (including focus). This offers space for creative experiments, especially since manual focusing is supported by two very practical aids: On the one hand, there is an electronic viewfinder magnifier that magnifies the contents of the focus field. On the other hand, the autofocus is activated as “Safety MF” immediately before triggering and optimises the preset focus setting if necessary. The G11 supports the creative interplay of sharpness and blur in the image with a switchable gray filter. This reduces the light sensitivity by three f-stops and makes it possible to shoot almost always with the aperture open, thus ensuring an interesting sharpness gradient in the image.

One of the professional details is that the G11 can record in RAW format if desired, or write any recording to the SD memory card as a RAW or JPEG file. The video function, on the other hand, is not quite up to date with a maximum of 640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps. After all, many functions are available during video shooting, such as zoom, manual focus or the setting of a color temperature for white balance. The variety of image processing options is impressive: For example, the “i-contrast” function can be used to optimise the display of shadows and highlights, and “My Colors” gives the photos a very individual colour or black-and-white look. It’s just a pity that the G11 can no longer be remote controlled from the PC, unlike earlier models.



Picture quality

Canon has reduced the resolution of the 1/1.7″ sensor compared to the G11’s predecessor by about a third to 10 megapixels. Thus the light-sensitive area per pixel grows significantly. The noise behaviour benefits from this in a visible and measurable way: up to ISO 800 it is at a low level, only at higher ISO values does it rise slowly. Although the G10 also shows a similarly good-natured noise behaviour (for test protocols with costs see further links), in a direct comparison the images of the G11 do, however, look much better: Canon admits that it has a very fine-grained brightness noise, while the G10 already starts to reproduce dark image areas with coarse spots from ISO 400. So the G11 may adorn itself with one of the best marks for image noise ever awarded to compact cameras by our test laboratory! In practice, this means that noise is excellently low up to ISO 200, and image quality is more than usable at ISO 400. However, even higher ISO levels can no longer meet ambitious demands, but they are great for home photo albums.

The PowerShot G11 doesn’t do quite as well in terms of “resolution”. With 80 percent of the theoretical efficiency optimum, this is respectable, but clearly lags behind the resolution values of the G10. On the other hand, the G11 succeeds very well in taming strong motif contrasts: Up to ISO 200, it provides excellent input dynamics for compact cameras with almost 9 f-stops. The G11 also has sharpening under control: The shots look crisp, but by no means oversharp, there is no white or black clipping. There is also nothing to criticize with the edge darkening: Only in the wide angle area the outermost picture corners are slightly darker than the rest of the picture – this is not visible in the standard case. With wide-angle photos, a minimal barrel distortion can be measured, which is completely irrelevant in photographic practice. In the other focal length ranges, the lens records almost distortion-free.

The image quality of the PowerShot G11 is excellent without any mistakes, even up to ISO 200. The camera delivers very nice colors without making the pictures look overly colorful. It should be emphasized how reliably the G11 takes balanced exposed photos. The fill-flash is reserved, the foreground, which is often flashed by compact cameras, doesn’t exist with the G11. The autofocus works just as reliably as the automatic exposure control – unfortunately it is not very fast. On average, it takes a good half a second for the G11 to focus and react to the shutter release. Canon could also improve the black level in the output dynamics – it’s a bit too high, as with so many cameras.

Bottom line

Back from 15 to 10 megapixels resolution – the Canon PowerShot G11 has significantly improved this measure! The somewhat bulky compact camera delivers an image quality that is really worth seeing in this class and, in terms of “noise”, can certainly hold a candle to cameras with larger sensors at low ISO numbers. The operating concept and equipment of the G11 are at a high level. It is therefore recommended as a sophisticated compact camera, e.g. for travel and reportage photography. The folding and swivelling monitor reintroduced with the G11 also predestines the camera for use on the road. Video resolution and AF and shutter speeds are no longer up to date. The price of around EUR 600 must also be regarded as very ambitious: There are already SLR cameras that are not so handy, but deliver a much better image quality and, thanks to interchangeable lenses, adapt well to any shooting situation.


Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Canon
Model PowerShot G11
Price approx. 590 EUR
Sensor Resolution 10 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 3.648 x 2.736
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2,8-4,5/28-140mm
Filter threads optional
Viewfinder optical
Diopter compensation -3 to +1 dpt.
LCD monitor 2,8″
Disbandment 460.000
rotatable yes
swivelling yes
as viewfinder yes
Video output Composite, HDMI
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/Babies yes
Countryside yes
Sports/Action yes
more 14 other scene modes
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Lightning bolt yes
Flash connection System flash shoe
Remote release yes
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHC
Video mode
Size MOV
Codec H.264
Resolution (max.) 640 x 480
Frame rate (max.) 30 images/s
automatic ISO 80-800
extended up to ISO 12.800 (with reduced resolution)
manually ISO 80-3.200
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Light bulb yes
Other Underwater, Lightning
Manual yes
Number of measuring fields 9 or 1 (position and size freely selectable)
AF auxiliary light white (LED)
Speed approx. 0.4-0.8 s
Languages Yes
more 21
403 g
Zoom adjustment motorised via ring rocker
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Triggering during storage possible. yes
Battery life approx. 390 pictures according to CIPA
– = “not applicable” or “not available”

Short evaluation


  • Very good image quality with excellent noise behaviour
  • Excellent operating concept
  • Professional functional diversity
  • Pivoting and folding monitor


  • Unjustified high price
  • Video only with VGA resolution
  • Slightly slower autofocus
  • Low continuous shooting speed

Canon G11 Datasheet


Sensor CCD sensor 1/1.7″ 7.6 x 5.7 mm (crop factor 4.6
)10.0 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 2,1 µm
Photo resolution
3.648 x 2.736 pixels (4:3)
2.816 x 2.112 pixels (4:3)
2.272 x 1.704 pixels (4:3)
1.600 x 1.200 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Colour depth k. A.
Metadata Exif (version 2.2), DCF standard
Video resolution
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
320 x 240 (4:3) 30 p
Maximum recording time 60 min
Video format
MOV (Codec H.264)
Audio format (video) WAV


Focal length 28 to 140 mm (35mm equivalent
)5x ZoomDigital Zoom
Apertures F2.8 (wide-angle
)F4.5 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus Functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter threads 58 mm

Viewfinder and Monitor

Viewfinder Optical viewfinder
Monitor 2.8″ TFT LCD monitor with 461,000 pixels
Video viewfinder Diopter compensation


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 15 s (automatic)
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Exposure compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 80 to ISO 3,200 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Fireworks, high sensitivity, indoor shooting, children, foliage, night scene, portrait, sports/action, beach/snow, underwater, fully automatic, 0 additional motif programs
Picture effects “My colours” function with a total of 9 settings
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp with 2 presets, Incandescent lamp, Manual
Continuous shooting 1.1 frames/s at highest resolution
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash shoe
: Canon, standard center contact
Flash range 0.5 to 7.0 m at wide-angle0
.5 to 4.0 m at telephoto flash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction


Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Canon NB-7L (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V)
Playback Functions Red eye retouching, playback histogram, image index
Voice memo Voice memo (WAV format)
Face recognition Face recognition
Picture parameters Noise suppression
Special functions Orientation sensor
Ports Data interfaces: USB USB Type
: USB 2.0 High Speed Video Output
: yes (HDMI Output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods Canon Direct Print, PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous DIGIC-IV Signal ProcessorDual
Anti-Noise SystemiSAPS-Intelligent
Scene Analysis TechnologyFace
Detection AF Self-timer
with Face Detection AF mode
switchable (single-frame focusing, focus tracking, Face Detection)
Noise Reduction in Long ExposuresPlayback Zoom
(2 to 10x)
Automatic Image AlignmentMy-Camera Mode
for Personalizable Welcome Screens and Camera Tone User-Defined
SettingID PhotoPrint Function
for Direct Printing of Portraits/Passport Photos with 28 Different Picture Size TemplatesMovie-P

rint function for direct printing of individual images from a video sequenceEnergy-saving switchingAutomatic

bracketingPTP image transmission protocolCustom timer
with adjustable lead time from 0 to 30 s and adjustable number of trips from 1 to 10 Image optical
image stabilizerIntegrated
ND neutral density filter

Size and weight

Weight 400 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 112 x 76 x 48 mm


included accessories Canon NB-7L Special Battery ChargerUSB-Connection CableAV-CableRising StrapCamera Software
optional accessory Canon ACK-DC50 Power SupplyCanon
NB-7L Special BatteryCanon
TC-DC58D ConverterCanon
WP-DC34 Underwater HousingCamera Bag
USB 2.0 High Speed


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