Canon PowerShot G15 Review

Canon PowerShot G15 Review

As is well known, Canon’s innovation cycles are very short. As soon as one model is available, the next one is already announced. Now Canon is taking an even faster route with the G series: with the new model, two versions are simply skipped and the G12 goes straight to the Canon PowerShot G15.

This probably means that a lot of new features have been added here to justify this version jump.

After all, the predecessor had a good reputation with only a few requests for improvement. Canon’s biggest innovation has been the lens, whose speed has increased by over one f-stop across the entire range.

Whether the Canon PowerShot G15 has become the optimal “professional compact camera” with this fine-tuning is something our test will clarify.

Canon PowerShot G15 Pros And Cons


  • Provided with many features
  • Operation partly as used to from system cameras
  • Consistently high image quality
  • Robust housing


  • Quite large for a compact camera
  • Zoom noise heard in the video
  • Optical viewfinder small and inaccurate
  • Slightly sluggish autofocus


The PowerShot Canon PowerShot G15 is equipped with a new 1/1.7-type CMOS sensor that allows even higher light absorption than the previous model.

It has a resolution of 12.1 megapixels and is part of Canon’s HS system which is completed by the Digic-5 processor. This allows ISO settings up to 12,800. Canon has also worked on the AF system.

The Canon PowerShot G15 achieves an AF speed of approximately 0.17 seconds in the wide-angle position, based on CIPA guidelines. This represents a 53 percent improvement over the G12. This makes the Canon PowerShot G15 the fastest compact camera Canon has ever produced. In High-Speed Continuous Shooting HQ mode, the Canon PowerShot G15 achieves ten frames per second at full resolution.

Full manual setting options for aperture, shutter speed, white balance. and ISO sensitivity are available for control.

In addition, there is a wealth of automatic recording functions. SmartAuto, the already well-known scene recognition, now distinguishes between 58 shooting situations.

FaceID recognizes already registered faces and the multi-range white balance adjusts the color temperature for indoor shots even to light sources of different characteristics.

The RAW recording mode leaves all possibilities open for post-processing. In terms of operation, the Canon PowerShot G15 relies on a two-level selection wheel positioned on the top of the camera, a front selection wheel and a special movie and short keys.

In addition to the optical viewfinder with dioptric correction, the Canon PowerShot G15 offers a three-inch PureColor II G display with a resolution of 920,000 pixels and a protective layer of hardened glass. It can no longer be rotated and swiveled, but is larger and has a higher resolution than the G12. In return, Canon has shrunk the case by around 17 percent. The Canon PowerShot G15 measures 106.6 x 75.9 x 40.1 mm and weighs 352 grams with battery and memory card (type SD, SDHC or SDXC).


Ergonomics and Workmanship

To call the Canon PowerShot G15 a compact camera is a bit daring. Its dimensions easily match or even exceed those of one of the current mirrorless system cameras. When switched off, however, the powerful and now much faster lens is almost completely hidden inside the housing.

So the Canon PowerShot G15 even fits into an admittedly large trouser pocket or back pocket, but in any case into a jacket pocket.

Nothing has changed in the design, and that is definitely meant positively: super solid material (metal chassis with plastic shells), great feel and a pleasant 350-gram weight. Canon has sacrificed the folding display in favor of a case that is just under an inch slimmer. This is certainly a step backwards for some photographers, but others will be happy about the more compact and closed form.


The nevertheless massive impression is supported not least by the rotary switches on the upper side, which are arranged in two offset tiers.

The mode selector on the top allows a comfortable program selection between thumb and forefinger but unfortunately adjusts itself a bit too easily when handling. A lock would be desirable here.

With the lower switch, the exposure can now be corrected by plus/minus three f-stops in one-third steps with the thumb, which can even be done with the camera on the eye. With the G12, the ISO sensitivity was still accommodated here, exposure corrections had to be made with a switch on the left side of the housing with the other hand.

This has now been replaced by a flash release in the current version, as the Canon PowerShot G15 designers have recessed the light dispenser in the housing. At least this has the advantage that the light is no longer emitted quite so close to the optical axis. For the intended target group of ambitious photographers, who always want to have all parameters under control, this clean-up work has been quite successful.

The small rotating ring underneath the shutter release has been retained, which can be used to set aperture or time very quickly.

On the back there is now a video shutter release, which is slightly recessed on the outside next to the thumb cavity and can hardly be pressed accidentally. The laborious switching of the program selector is therefore no longer necessary.

With the other keys, everything has largely remained the same: Around the centrally arranged cross rocker, which is at the same time designed as a rotating ring, four additional pushbuttons are mounted.

They offer direct access to the quite extensive menu, the measuring fields for autofocus and exposure and the AE lock. The display occupies three-quarters of the back of the vehicle and now, with a resolution of 922,000 pixels, is catching up with cameras of the luxury class.

The fact that it can no longer rotate and swivel is somewhat compensated by its great angle independence. You can display all the usual information, a grid, a histogram and a spirit level, which sensitively indicates both the horizontal tilt and the angle of the camera.

The viewfinder is still somewhat small and “tunnel-like” and is only to be understood as an addition for unfavorable lighting conditions.

Neither the sharpness nor the exact framing can be controlled, and unfortunately there are no marks for parallax compensation in close up photography.

The hot shoe is on the top of the viewfinder body. It can not only control Canon system flashes, but also triggers any standard flash unit and studio flash systems. Operating the Canon PowerShot G15 in the studio is rather not her domain, though, so it doesn’t make it so much that the battery and memory card on the tripod aren’t accessible.

The flap of this compartment is reasonably solid, but slips out of the lock a little too easily when you want to pull the camera out of a tight pocket.

Behind a small flap on the side you will not only find the usual connections for Video/USB and HDMI but also a 2.5 millimetre jack socket for the remote control.

Thanks to the two rotary switches on the upper side and the wheel below the shutter release, the Canon PowerShot G15 can be operated very quickly and for system camera users, it’s very easy to use.

With the Canon-typical quick menu, all other relevant parameters are set conveniently and directly. If you still go to the menu, you will only find three tabs with very long lists. In the first one – depending on the selected program – up to 24 recording parameters can be configured, with the second one 21 camera parameters can be adjusted.

So the menus are quite long, so the third tab helps, in which you can create an individually adapted menu with the most important menu items.

Equipment And Features

As befits a top model, the Canon PowerShot G15 is equipped with everything a photographer’s heart desires. Time, aperture and program modes can be reached just as quickly with the mode selector as scene auto or manual scene selection.

Interesting in the effects mode, besides many gimmicks, is the HDR automatic, which is still not able to compensate for wobble. A tripod is therefore strongly recommended. With the “film-diary” the Canon PowerShot G15 saves the last four seconds before the photo as a film, whereby all clips are packed into one file. This can be a quite entertaining little film at the end of a photo day.

Frequently used settings can be stored on two additional positions and for purists, there is, of course, manual operation.

The Canon PowerShot G15 owner is supported by the histogram, the focus magnifier, the spirit level, and the very binding display.

Even in autofocus mode, you can have the area that is in focus enlarged if you wish, so that you can keep the focus exactly, great! Only the manual adjustment of the sharpness is a bit tricky with the rotating ring of the cross rocker or the arrow keys.

The close-up limit allows direct contact with the lens at the short end of the focal length, while the telescopic position requires a distance of about thirty centimeters.

This makes it possible to take full-format photos of half a postcard. The AF has some difficulty with the close-up range and prefers to focus on distant objects. In the extreme close-up range, however, manual focus is better anyway. The Canon PowerShot G15’s facial recognition system is very popular.

It can even store and recognize up to twelve people with different facial expressions and perspectives. This works surprisingly well, better than object tracking. The lens captures its target well with moderate movement, but the sharpness follows the subject a little too slowly. This is exactly what happens in video mode: The AF is constantly trying to keep the focus but follows pans or movements only slowly.

Fast movements are certainly not the domain of the Canon PowerShot G15. But if you take the high-speed mode into account, things look different again: with up to 240 frames per second, the Canon PowerShot G15 shoots movies at a resolution reduced to 320 x 240 pixels. With this 8x slow motion, the Canon cannot really be called slow.

The PowerShot also achieves a fast 10 frames per second at full resolution, but only for one second. After that, it is busy saving for a few seconds and is not responsive.


The flash must be folded out manually, but then it provides all the usual functions. Pressing the flash icon toggles between slow sync and normal flash.

If you want to set more, press the menu button and have direct access to all other parameters. One does not really trust the built-in light dispenser too much but is pleasantly surprised.

The illumination is okay up to the corners, color neutral and sufficiently bright for many situations. In addition, the flash is ready for use quite quickly, unfortunately, it cannot remotely control any system devices.

It goes without saying that the Canon PowerShot G15 also records in raw format. The editing options in the camera are sufficient for basic corrections: rotating, cropping, automatic contrast enhancement (i-Contrast) and red-eye correction can be saved in a new file afterwards.

The image database can also search for similar images and combine them into groups. Videos can be cleaned very conveniently at the beginning and end to remove unnecessary material.

All in all, like its predecessors, the new G-Series PowerShot is extremely complete, so the most important innovation is the lens. With a light intensity of 1:1.8 at 28 millimeters (KB), it is already something special.

Also at the long end, it can convince with F2.8. In combination with the excellent image stabilizer of the lens, the Canon PowerShot G15 allows you to take pictures almost anywhere, even without flash.

Despite the high light intensity, it hasn’t gotten much bigger and even with the full 5x zoom it only moves out of the camera by about four centimeters.

Unfortunately, during video recordings, the zoom noise is clearly audible, at least in quiet passages, although the Canon then reduces the zoom speed considerably.

The wide range of accessories available greatly expands the possibilities of the Canon PowerShot G15. The underwater housing for around 280 dollars will tempt many divers to reach for the Canon PowerShot G15. But there is also a 1.4x teleconverter, attachment lenses and a ring flash for macro photography. The Canon PowerShot G15 is almost as expandable as a system camera.

Image Quality For The Canon PowerShot G15

First of all, it should be mentioned that Canon has built into this model the 1/1.7 inch sensor, which is large for compact cameras. This is a good prerequisite for good image quality significantly above that of normal compact cameras.

When analyzed through the testing software, the PowerShot Canon PowerShot G15 showed that although it doesn’t produce any particular top results, it takes consistently good pictures at all apertures from the center to the edge of the frame.

In relation to a 35mm sensor, the resolution already reaches almost 40 line pairs per millimeter with an open aperture and this with only slight losses at the edges. F-stop only brings little improvement, so the camera can be used with an open aperture.

The low chromatic aberration, which never penetrates into the noticeable area, certainly contributes to the good sharpness impression. Distortion and vignetting are probably also well controlled by Canon with the help of a software correction, but there are no visible disadvantages.

The Canon PowerShot G15 has little recourse to artificial software sharpening, which shows the low tendency to sharpening artifacts. The images of the Canon PowerShot G15 can therefore, tolerate some sharpening if the photographer considers it appropriate.

This is an enormous advantage for subsequent image processing. The transfer of tonal values is also favorable in this context: Rather soft and careful, so that individual reworking is possible.


When it comes to noise, the Canon cuts a fine figure up to ISO 1.600. The grain size is very small, color noise is hardly important and the signal-to-noise ratio only drops below the critical value of 35 dB above ISO 1,600.

However, fine details become visibly softer from ISO 800. The input dynamic is very even at around 10 f-stops and only drops below 9 f-stops above ISO 3,200. Somewhat strangely, the nominal maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800 is not only not achieved but is actually lower than the previous level.

This does not become visible in the image due to underexposure, only the visible noise increases significantly. The photographer should avoid these high ISO settings. Color fidelity and white balance are very accurate.

The tendency towards warmer color reproduction is also present in this camera, but not particularly noticeable. With the Canon PowerShot G15, the smallest light is the focusing speed. At almost half a second, it is not particularly slow, but in recent years technology has made considerable progress, especially in the upper price segment.

Current contrast autofocus systems are at the level of good phase measurement. Fast cameras now take no more than a fifth of a second to bring the object into focus. But the pure shutter release delay of the Canon PowerShot G15 is a good 0.1 seconds.

Lens Of The Canon PowerShot G15

To achieve the high speed of the new lenses, Canon has dug deep into its wealth of experience. The lens of the Canon PowerShot G15 incorporates new lenses with a high refractive index and multiple coatings for optimized transmission of wavelengths in the nanometer range.

This is intended to maximize light absorption with effective suppression of stray light and reflections.

The fivefold optical zoom offers a light intensity of F1.8 at 28 millimeters wide-angle to F2.8 in the telephoto range at 140 millimeters. The optical system is supported by a new image stabilization system for up to four exposure levels.

Intelligent IS automatically detects the shooting situation and selects the appropriate stabilization mode from seven modes. In addition to Normal IS, Macro IS and Tripod mode, this includes, for example, the Panning IS. During pans, for example during car races, the camera only stabilizes perpendicularly to the panning movement. Dynamik IS helps with video recordings against trembling hands or walking movements.

The Powered IS, familiar from Canon camcorders, reduces blur when shooting movies with a large zoom. Then there is a combination of dynamic range and macro IS, which is used when shooting short distance film. Filming is done in 1,080p Full-HD with 24 frames per second with stereo sound. The optical zoom remains operational just like the automatic focus.

Conclusion: Is The Canon PowerShot G15 Worth It?

The Canon PowerShot G15 is a workhorse. Solid housing, packed with functions, quick operation of the most important settings as with a system camera and excellent, consistently high image quality over the entire focal length and aperture range. As “always with you” snapshots maybe a little too big, but safe to handle even for big hands.

The new fast lens is a joy, but whether it justifies the version upgrade is a matter for everyone to decide for themselves. In any case, the Canon PowerShot G15 can be called an optimized G12.

If you have always been fond of a camera that replaces a system camera within certain limits, you will find it here. Especially as the range of application can be considerably extended with accessories such as teleconverter or underwater housing.


Manufacturer Canon
Model Canon PowerShot G15
Price approx. 650 dollars at market launch
Sensor Resolution 12 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.000 x 3.000
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F1.8-2.8/28-140mm
Filter thread
Viewfinder yes
Dioptre compensation -3 to +1
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 922.000
as Viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI (each PAL/NTSC)
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure
Scene mode programs
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 23 additional scene modes available
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection System hot shoe
Remote release yes
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode
Format MOV
Codec H.264
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
at frame rate 24 frames/s
automatically ISO 80-1.600 (upper limit adjustable)
extended ISO 80-12,800
manually ISO 80-12,800
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Underwater
Manually yes
Number of measurement fields 9
AF auxiliary light white
Speed approx. 0,4 s
Languages English
More 29 additional languages
(Ready for operation)
350 g
Zoom adjustment motorized via ring rocker
Single-handed operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Triggering during storage possible.
Battery life approx. 350 pictures according to CIPA
– = “not applicable” or “not available

Brief assessment


  • Equipped with many features
  • Operation partly as used to from system cameras
  • Consistently high image quality
  • Robust housing


  • Quite large for a compact camera
  • Zoom noise heard in the video
  • Optical viewfinder small and inaccurate
  • Slightly sluggish autofocus

Canon PowerShot G15 Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor 1/1.7″ 7.6 x 5.7 mm (crop factor 4.6) 12.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 1.9 µm
Photo resolution
4.000 x 3.000 pixels (4:3)
2.816 x 2.112 pixels (4:3)
1.600 x 1.200 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 24 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 24 p
Maximum recording time 29 min
Video format
MPG4 (Codec H.264)


Focal length 28 to 140 mm (35mm equivalent) 5x zoom Digital zoom 4x
Aperture F1.8 (wide angle) F2.8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light

Viewfinder and Display

Viewfinder Optical viewfinder
Display 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 922,000 pixels


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 1 s (Automatic) 1/4,000 to 15 s (Manual)
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function HDR function
Exposure Compensation -3.0 to +3.0 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 80 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Automatic, Fireworks, Skin, Night Scene, Portrait, Beach/Snow, and Underwater,
Picture effects Blue, green filter, HDR effects, miniature effect, red filter, toy camera, soft focus, Colorkey, ColorSwap, saturated colors
White balance Clouds, sun, shadow, flash, underwater, fluorescent lamp with 2 presets, incandescent light
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 5.2 fps at highest resolution and max. 10 stored photos
Self-timer Self-timer with a distance of 10
Recording functions Live histogram

Flashgun Of The Canon Powershot G15

Flash built-in flash shoe: Canon, standard center contact
Flash range 0.5 to 7.0 m at wide-angle 0.5 to 4.5 m at telephoto
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, manual flash power (3 levels), red-eye reduction

Equipment And Features

Image stabilizer Lens shift (optical)
Power supply 1 x Canon NB-10L (Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V) 350 images according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Red-eye retouching, image index
Face recognition Face detection, blink detection
Connections Data interfaces: USB – USB type: USB 2.0 High SpeedVideo output: yes (HDMI output Mini (Type C))
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous DIGIC 5 image processor with iSAPS technology Optical
Image Stabilizer (Lens Shift) up to 4 EV adjustable Tracking
AF, Continuous AF, Face Detection, Flexizone AFiContrast Built-in Neutral Density Filter (3EV)
Video effects (21) including Miniature, Black & White, Super Slow MotionMTP
and PTP Transmission protocols when connected to a PC

Size and weight

Weight 352 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 107 x 76 x 40 mm


standard accessory Canon CB-2LCE Battery ChargerCanon
NB-10L Battery ChargerUSB-Connector CableFront Lens CapStrapLoopBoop StrapImage Editing SoftwareImage Browser EX for Windows and for MacintoshImage Editing Software
PhotoStitch for Windows and for MacintoshImage Editing Software
Digital Photo Professional for Windows and for Macintosh
additional accessories Canon ACK-DC80 AC AdapterCanon
HTC-100 Audio / Video CableCanon
NB-10L Special Battery Power SupplyCamera Bag
USB 2.0 High Speed


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