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August 19, 2009

Canon reboots the G11 with megapixel-restraint and twist-and-shout LCD

The Canon G10 was more or less an expected release from Canon, but once again, the invisible hand of the market appears to be twisting Canon's arm, because they have decided to throw an interesting change-up with today's official revelation of the Canon G11.


Canon G11 front view


Canon G11 Defining Characteristics
In a clear slap in the face of the megapixel wars, Canon surprisingly (if not shockingly) downshifts the G11 from the 15mp of the G10 to 10mp, just like the Canon S90. Strategically one would think that Canon should have offered one at 10mp and the other at a higher-megapixel number, thus attracting both megapixel-weary and megapixel-happy buyers. But perhaps the logistics of using two different sensors over-weighed the benefits of such a move - from Canon's perspective.

Another defining characteristic of this camera is the return of the flip-out and twist LCD display, or as we like to call it, "twist and shout". As you may recall from the "GINO Wars" of the G7, that (absence of flip-out display) was one of the things that really annoyed the faithful G-series users at the time.

The display is 2.8-inches and it is a "vari-angle PureColor" with 461K dots, a doubling of the old days of 230K dots. The display rotates 270-degrees on its axis, and travels 170-degrees horizontally.

But the camera keeps the optical viewfinder, giving it a notable advantage over the competition among those who value OVFs.

We are using "GINO" often, so here is a quick definition: "GINO" = G-series In-Name Only - a name that goes back to when the G7 was initially announced and did not have all the expected features of the previous G-series models, and created a huge debate among Powershot users.


Canon G11 Sample Pictures
Canon has made available three full-size JPEG samples on its own website. To find them, locate the red "View Sample Images" link and click on it. There is no direct link to the pictures. Warning: one of the pictures shows insects performing biological activities! The other two pictures are a wise owl (Canon's CEO portrait?) and a lovely lady with flowers portrait.


The User Manual is available online [New!]
The nearly 200-page user manual has just been added to the website as a PDF file. It is around 5.6MB and you can locate it at the bottom of the Drivers and Downloads page. Happy reading! :-)


Other Points of Interest
The lens is a 5X optical zoom with image stabilization, with a practical focal range of 28-140mm (equivalent). But in a slight surprise, the lens starts at f2.8, unlike the S90 whose lens starts at f2. However, the G11 appears to have slightly larger apertures as it moves to the telephoto end of its range.

The sensor is a ten megapixel 1/1.7" CCD, presumably the same as the S90. It features DIGIC 4, and the option of RAW or RAW+JPEG which is always a nice touch.

Speaking of the sensor, one dpreview forum user may have found the actual Sony sensor used, complete with a PDF file - check it out in this Canon Talk thread. [New!]

The ISO goes all the way to 3200, and that alone probably increase sales for Noise Ninja and friends :) Just like the S90, it has the new "Low Light" mode and promises improvement noise-wise, which of course is always welcome and expected considering the move to a 10mp sensor.

The burst mode is not exactly a sports-shooters dream, as the normal rate is 1.1fps. Ouch! Speaking of fps, while the camera has HDMI out, the video is 30fps VGA. Not a big deal for photography-priority buyers, but those who enjoy HD-Video may be disappointed.

This is more expandable than the S90, as it takes standard Canon hot-shoes, also accepts an optional tele-converter, and has an optional underwater housing, the new WP-DC34 that goes for $200. Just in time for next summer :-)

These days marketing won't allow a release to go forth unless it has a new face-related feature, which may perhaps explain the new Face Self-Timer. Although to be fair, some of these features are actually practical :)

The camera uses the existing NB-7L lithium-ion battery, and it has a CIPA estimate of 390 with the LCD on. But the estimate that will have OVF fanatics singing is 1000 shots with the LCD turned off.


Canon G11 back view


Early Reactions
The Color Blind Photographer is excited about the move to 10mp.

Scott Wyden wonders whether 10mp are enough for those who want to use the G11 professionally.

The Travel Photographer would need a lot of convincing before parting with the asked price of $500

Crunch Gear applauds (corrected url) the move to fewer megapixels, and it includes a Sony F828 reference.


Price and availability
The camera is expected to be released in October with a starting price of $500. You can already get in line for it by placing a pre-order at Amazon, where they also list the underwater housing, model WP-DC34.

The UK prices are listed at AP UK.


Further Reading
+ Canon product page (corrected url)
+ pictures of the camera-body at Pocket Lint
+ Imaging Insider
+ PDN Gear Guide
+ this is probably the Sony sensor inside these
+ spec-comparison of similar-size models at CNet


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