Canon G11 Review

 
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Canon PowerShot G11 JPEG Image Quality

In our SLR reviews, we commonly compare high-ISO performance between cameras, using standard crops from our Still Life test shot that show rendering of subtly contrasting detail, shadow noise, and fine high-contrast detail. We don't normally do this sort of comparison for non-interchangeable lens cameras, but felt it was justified here, given the Canon G11's strong appeal to the "enthusiast" photographer. Because small-sensor cameras also require trade-offs in noise vs detail even at base ISOs, we've also extended our comparison to cover the full ISO range of the Canon G11.

Below are crops from Canon G11's in-camera JPEG files compared to JPEG files from the earlier Canon G10, the Panasonic LX3, the Panasonic GF1, and the Canon T1i, all using the camera's default noise-reduction setting (for cameras that provide such an option: The G11 itself has no on/off option for high-ISO noise reduction). We chose these models to compare, as the first four all compete in the "enthusiast pocket camera" market, while the last is an exemplar of an enthusiast SLR that's about 50% more expensive at street price than the G11. (Yes, the Panasonic GF1 is more expensive at street prices than even the T1i, but we think many people considering a camera like the G11 may also be looking at a Micro Four Thirds model like the GF1 as well, weighing the higher price as part of the equation.)

JPEG Image Quality
Canon G11 vs G10, Panasonic LX3, Panasonic GF1, Canon T1i
(
JPEG files shot with default NR settings, Simulated Daylight)
Canon G11
Canon G10
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1
Canon T1i
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1
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Canon G11
Canon G10
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1
Canon T1i
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2
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Canon G11
Canon G10
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1
Canon T1i
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S
O

4
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0
Canon G11
Canon G10
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1
Canon T1i
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S
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8
0
0
Canon G11
Canon G10
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1
Canon T1i
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S
0

1
6
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0
Canon G11
Canon G10
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1
Canon T1i
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2
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N/A
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N/A

Here, we see clear differences between the Canon G11 and its predecessor the G10, especially at higher ISOs. These images do show a trade-off that Canon has chosen to make in the JPEGs, in that they've worked very hard at noise suppression (particularly of chroma noise), but that comes at the cost of some softness in the images. There's no questioning the overall improvement over the G10, though, and on-screen noise levels are markedly superior to those of the Panasonic LX3, it's closest competitor in the category. (The LX3's noise isn't nearly as evident when printed at sizes up to about 8x10 inches as it appears on-screen, though, so we found that its printed results still bested those of the G11 at ISOs of 1,600 and higher.) See our Canon G11 RAW file comparison page for a better idea of the underlying subtle detail that is available in its RAW images: This looks like a camera that would reward a RAW converter with good noise-reduction algorithms quite nicely.

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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