Tuesday, January 7, 2014

REVIEW: Canon PowerShot G16–The Best G Series Yet? (G15, s120 & Fujifilm X20 Comparison)

Canon Power Shot G16 Point-and-Shoot Camera
Canon PowerShot G16 Point-and-Shoot Camera

The Canon G12 was my favorite G series camera with great features like an ISO wheel and articulating display. However, between the release of the G12 & G15 I found a new love – the Fujifilm X10 and moved away from the G series. What were once considered the affordable pro’s point and shoot, they had fallen behind the times from an image quality perspective. The G16 comes along and tries to change that with better image quality thanks to improvements like the DIGIC 6 processing unit. New usability features also include wireless file transfer and a monster burst mode that goes Up to 12.2 fps for up to 6 frames and Up to 9.3 fps for up to 522 frames. Indeed, in my testing it was a beast that makes it the best G series ever for parents with active kids.

Compared to the G15 – Should you upgrade?

Canon PowerShot G16 Rear View
Canon PowerShot G16 Rear View

Sadly there is no articulating display like the G12
or touch screen like the
s120

Physically there’s no significant differences between the G15 and G16 beyond the typical shuffling around of buttons and new WiFi label. I covered the WiFi features previously in my s110 review, and the only thing I noticed is that it seems to be faster with integrated cloud support.

Where the G16 really shines is that overall it feels much faster and the DIGIC 6 processor make it the best G series yet in terms of internal image processing/handling.  This begs the question, should existing owners upgrade? I’d say yes if you have kids or if you long for Wi-Fi transfer and are dissatisfied with Eye-Fi. If you just use it as a travel or hobby camera and don’t have kids, then I’d probably skip upgrading at this time to see what the next generation holds.

Here’s a link to the G15 gallery of images, including the bookshelf images that you can compare to the G16 gallery.

Compared to the Canon s110/s120 – Is the s120 just a small G16?

Canon PowerShot s120
Canon PowerShot s120

At the time this article was written, the s110 and s120 were both available. Due to the holiday season orders, I was only able to test with a s110. I’ve had hands on use of the s120 already, and the big improvement it offers is the DIGIC 6 processor also found in the G16. Beyond this they are near identical, so consult my s110 review to see my thoughts on S versus G series.

Canon s120 Rear View
Canon s120 Rear View

I’ve always been a fan of the physical size of the Canon S-Series compact cameras, and the controls are very nicely laid out. With excellent improvements in video autofocus and a very handy touch screen, both the s110 and s120 offer the best ease of use on the market. For as nice as the G16 is, it’s lack of a touch screen give the smaller S series an advantage in quickly changing the focus point. Specifically, the s120’s ability to tap to set the focus point (and optimally shoot), as well as swipe to change pictures and pinch to zoom make it feel more phone like – but in a good way. With that said, you do lose two buttons and a knob from the G series which makes for much faster access to important features, but the S series adds a control ring by the lens that gives you the knob back (and it’s programmable).

Personally I find the G series additional buttons more handy in the field, but with the touch screen and control ring the S series is pretty darn close. If I had to chose, I’d probably go for the G16 but I think most would find the s120 to be just as good. The gap between the two cameras has been closed, so the decision is really about ruggedness and the presence of another physical  button. In the end, I do find that the s120 is basically a smaller G16 so if you can live without the extra controls you’ll probably be just as happy with the smaller s120.

Compared to the Fujifilm X20

Fujifilm X20
Fujifilm X20 (also available in black) - Review

I was a huge fan of the Fujifilm X10 so I automatically upgraded to the X20 when it came out. While I’ve been a little disappointed in that camera (no EXR mode button and poor video), it has served me well. As a former G series owner of multiple previous units dating back to the G9, I’ve moved forward with the Fujifilm X series and never regretted it.

As you can see from the images here, there’s A LOT more physical controls which comes at the cost of a larger physical size (click here or watch the video later to see the size differences). What’s more you get better in-camera processing of the images which means that for the things I use a point and shoot for – I’m done – no additional post processing is required. That’s not true with the G16, which I consider to be at the same starting point as a typical DSLR.

Fujifilm X20 Rear View
Fujifilm X20 Rear View

From behind is where the additional buttons really start to show, and that pretty much sums up why I like using the X20 over the G16. The G16 definitely has a better burst mode, video quality, and indoor focusing performance. However, the X20 is the best of the X series in this department too so I never find myself frustrated by the X20.

I’d still pick a X20 over a G16 for my needs, but if I were looking to downsize from a X20 I’d probably give the s120 a serious consideration and not automatically go straight for the G16.

Bookshelf Test

These are taken from in-camera JPEG’s with zero modifications taken during everyday life events. Nearly all were taken in Aperture Priority (Av) mode using a timer and a tripod with stabilization turned off. The goal of these samples is to have a common measuring stick in a controlled environment by which you can measure the lens and sensor performance. What’s more you can also compare these to bookshelf shots of other cameras that I’ve reviewed to get an idea of how a camera really compares. See my other camera reviews for links to additional bookshelf images.

Visit http://photos.ronmartblog.com/canon/G16 for a full gallery and click the images to see the full-size originals. All images are copyright Ron Martinsen – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may view them, but you may not store, edit, print, distribute or otherwise reuse any images without written consent.


f/2.8 @ 30.5 mm, 3.2s, ISO 100, No Flash

Click for full size

Overall I found the results to be excellent with good details in the shadows, but the auto white balance was a bit on the cooler side. There’s also not the vibrant warmth you get from Fujifilm's default images, but that can be accomplished via post-processing.


f/2.8 @ 30.5 mm, 1/10, ISO 3200, No Flash

Click for full size

At ISO 3200 things start to get a bit rough, but the image is usable for web and normal print sizes.

Here’s ISO 6400 from RAW in Lightroom 5.3:

image

This is what I call “salvageable” noise because with the default settings of Noiseware (Tutorial) and some selective sharpening I get an image that would show on the web or print just fine when viewed at normal web/print sizes (not 100% as shown here):

image

Using the default in-camera noise reduction I’d probably never shoot above ISO 3200 and I’d try to stay at 1600 or lower whenever possible.

Walkthrough Video

In this video walkthrough I compare the physical size of the Canon G16 to my point and shoot, the Fujifilm x20:


Click here to view on YouTube

Real World Sample Photos

These are taken from in-camera JPEG’s with zero modifications taken during everyday life events. Nearly all were taken in Aperture Priority (Av) mode unless otherwise noted, and all were handheld. The goal of these samples is to show you exactly what you’d expect to get if you were taking your own real world shots.

Visit http://photos.ronmartblog.com/canon/G16 for a full gallery and click the images to see the full-size originals. All images are copyright Ron Martinsen – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may view them, but you may not store, edit, print, distribute or otherwise reuse any images without written consent.


f/1.8 @ 6.1 mm, 1/1000, ISO 6400, No Flash

It should be noted that this is the only one of 4 cameras I was testing
that rendered the color of the the Bull Crap bag accurately


f/4 @ 9.54 mm, 1s, ISO 100, No Flash

Shot using a Leica Tabletop Tripod and Leica Large Ball Head combo


f/5.6 @ 15.22 mm, 4s, ISO 100, No Flash

Shot using a Leica Tabletop Tripod and Leica Large Ball Head combo


f/5 @ 9.54 mm, 8s, ISO 100, No Flash

Shot using a Leica Tabletop Tripod and Leica Large Ball Head combo


f/5.6 @ 16.15 mm, 1s, ISO 100, No Flash

Shot using a Leica Tabletop Tripod and Leica Large Ball Head combo


f/2.8 @ 6.1 mm, 1/30, ISO 400, No Flash, Macro Mode


f/1.8 @ 6.1 mm, 1/20, ISO 100, No Flash

Somewhat shallow depth of field is possible – compare to f/8 below


f/8 @ 6.1 mm, 1s, ISO 100, No Flash

f/8 is the largest f-stop number, so this is pretty sharp considering that fact


f/1.8 @ 6.1 mm, 1/60, ISO 3200, No Flash

I wasn’t super happy with the way red was rendered but I felt ISO 3200 was fine for this shot

See more images at http://photos.ronmartblog.com/canon/g16.

Real World Sample Video

I hate doing video, so my apologies to those videophiles out there but here’s a couple sample videos I took with this camera. These are originals uploaded to Zenfolio shared for your viewing enjoyment:


Click here to download the 1080p version

There seems to be some new issues caused by Zenfolio as I see some shifting in the images that doesn’t occur in the original. You can see the quality of the image though which I find to be a bit on the soft side. The original wasn’t completely smooth (partially due to me and partially due to the video itself).


Click here to download the 1080p version

Conclusion

This is a decent point and shoot that I think will please current and former G series owners – except those who have owned models with the articulating screen (like the G12). I like it and the burst mode performance is a huge benefit to parents who are at the top of their budget with this camera. With that said, I think many will find the s120 to be just as good in a smaller form factor and its touch screen will be familiar to smart phone users. Personally, I still prefer the Fujifilm X20 and some will prefer the Sony RX100 II image quality.  As a result I won’t be upgrading my point and shoot, but I’m glad to see this model catching up with the times again – if only it had the s120 touch screen, control ring and the G12 articulating LCD!

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order the G16 from B&H web site. My friends at Amazon have it available here.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

No comments: