Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PowerShot Comparison: Canon G12 vs G15 vs s110–Part II

Canon PowerShot s110, G15 and G12 Front View
Canon PowerShot s110, G15 and G12

In my previous article, I began my observations of the difference between the new G15 over the G12 and G1X as well as the s110. In this article I just focus a bit on image quality using my well-known bookshelf test and a couple portrait photos taken by both the s110 and G15.


I only had a short time to shoot a small set of portraits with this camera this weekend, but the following were done in natural light on a very gloomy and rainy day in Seattle. The images chosen were the sharpest (not necessarily the best photos) of the handheld images taken. Honestly, even under these decent conditions I really struggled to get a sharp shot. Both cameras ended up going to ISO 800 (both set to Auto ISO and Av to the minimum f/stop number for the focal length shown).

Both images are untouched in-camera JPEG originals with camera default settings shot in Aperture Priority at the minimum aperture for the zoom level chosen. Blurry shots are omitted.

s110 f4, 1/25 sec ISO 800 at 11.934mm focal length, Auto White Balance (AWB)
Click for Full-Size Original In-Camera Image

The s110 has a wider angle lens and it quickly felt like I was getting in the models personal bubble when I tried to shoot at f/2, so I settled on f/4 and the 12mm focal length. Of all my handheld test shots, this was the sharpest but I was a bit disappointed with the indoor performance.

G15, f/2.8, 1/40 sec ISO 800 at 30.5mm focal length, AWB
Click for Full-Size Original In-Camera Image

The G15 isn’t as wide as the s11, but it’s aperture range is more helpful indoors. The brighter lens of the G15 allowed me to zoom in more and use faster shutter speeds to get the shot. Overall the G15 was definitely easier to use indoors under these conditions (which are a dream for a DSLR shooter).

While I still had my share of blurry shots from the G15, I was still pleased with what this camera had to offer under these tough conditions when photographing people. Neither of these shots are going to win awards, but the image quality was decent for a point and shoot.

For those who are wondering, my subjective opinion of the much heavier G1X is that definitely does a better job at shots like this (especially at ISO 800), but I’d still prefer my X10 in conditions like this over all the Canon models.

Bookshelf Test

Click for 100% Zoom Image
Close examination of the text “Her Family” showed that the G15 had a pretty clear advantage at detail preservation at higher ISO’s over the s110

You can see more images and pixel peep to your heart content at the following galleries:

My high level subjective observations were as follows:

  • The s110 lens outperforms the G15 when wide open (f/2 and f/1.8 respectively), but at f/4 the G12 appears to be sharper than the s110.
  • ISO performance has improved over the G12 for both the G15 and s110, but the G15 as a slight edge at higher ISO’s.
  • Both the G15 and the s110 outperform the G12 at higher ISO’s, but it’s also clear that they use a more aggressive noise reduction algorithm that doesn’t seem as good at preserving detail as what you’d find in Noiseware or Dfine. As a result, I’d probably not exceed ISO 1600 on the new cameras (which is equivalent to ISO 800 on the G12).
  • The dynamic range of the s110 seems to be the best, even though I expected them to be identical.
  • Overall none of the Canon point and shoots are high ISO top performers, so don’t count on these cameras for your low light shooting needs.


There was less image quality progress made on this generation of camera updates than I expected. That’s a shame too because Canon used to be a trusted name for compact cameras, but there’s so many competitors like Fuji and Nikon that are really trying to up their game. As a result I’d give them a mediocre image quality rating, but the s110 has such great portability that it might make it worth while to sacrifice some image quality.

If a friend asked me on the street what point and shoot they should get, I’d still say the Fujifilm X10. If they said, what Canon should they get I’d say I’ve switched camp from the G series that I loved in the past and now favor the smaller s110.

s series camera owners have a lot of reasons to justify an upgrade, but G series owners should stay put. I wouldn’t tell them to rush out and buy a G1X either as I think that camera is just too big and bulky without the benefit of significantly better image quality.

Where to Buy

B&H loaned me the gear for this article, so I suggest you show them your appreciation by placing your order for a s110 or G15 with them. Click here to order the s110 or click here to order the G15.

Adorama has a kit version of the G15 and a kit version of the black s110 as well as a kit of the white s110.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy


B&H loaned me the new gear for this article but the G12 was my personal camera that I paid full price for myself. If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

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


Tommy Williams said...

I hope you get a Sony RX100 to try out soon. From everything I have read, it should--at least for image quality--set a new bar for compact cameras. said...

Yes I'm looking forward to the new Sony!

rocteur said...

After reading this and other articles, I purchased mine on a Saturday, by Monday the LCD looked funny, upon closer inspection I found a crack right along the LCD on the inside of the LCD, the outside was not cracked.
I took the S110 directly back to the shop who sent it back to Canon saying it would be replaced.

After two weeks Canon refused to replace it stating that it must have been dropped. The camera was with me at all time as I purchased to avoid taking my dSLRs with me all the time.

It had not been dropped or mistreated by Canon refused to replace the camera. They are asking 175 euros to replace it.

Kris said...

Ron - In 2012, I bought a G12 after seeing how much sharper and clearing the family vacation pictures were when comparing mine to my brother's G12 pics. Now, 3 years later, I find myself wondering if I should be upgrading to something else. Seems like most everyone is taking pictures with their phones while I pull out my bulky G12 and get laughed at for being old school. What is your opinion on point and shoots like the G12 vs camera phones. Are they obsolete? said...


No, they aren't obsolete but the iPhone 6/6+ definitely changed the game. The problem with phones though is that they lack any real control, so if you are the type that just points and shoots with no thought about anything more than zoom then the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy makes sense. If you care to control your ISO, Aperture, and/or Shutter Speed then P&S cameras still make sense.

The G16 is an improvement over what you have now. The x30 and pricey Sony RX100 III are what I am recommending these days. Sony just came out with a mark iv, but it's stupid expensive.