Canon G16 Review

Camera Reviews > Canon Cameras > Canon PowerShot i Express Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot G16
Resolution: 12.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/1.7"
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(28-140mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
ISO: 80-12800
Shutter: 250-1/4000
Max Aperture: 1.8
Dimensions: 4.3 x 3.0 x 1.6 in.
(109 x 76 x 40 mm)
Weight: 12.5 oz (355 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $500
Availability: 10/2013
Manufacturer: Canon
5.00x zoom
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot G16
Front side of Canon PowerShot G16 digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot G16 digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot G16 digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot G16 digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot G16 digital camera

G16 Review Summary: Canon's ever-popular G-series enthusiast compact cameras gets a speed boost and Wi-Fi with the PowerShot G16. The new DIGIC 6 processor provides a welcome increase to autofocusing speed and frames per second shooting. The G16 features the same fast f/1.8-2.8 lens with a 5x optical zoom as its predecessor, but it's coupled to an upgraded 12-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor. Sadly, the G16 shares the same lack of an articulating LCD monitor (present in the G12), but even so that kept the camera's design slimmer and more comfortable to use, if not ultimately pocketable.

Pros: AF speed vastly improved; Increased continuous frames per second (JPEGs at 12.5fps vs 10fps in G15); Solid build and ergonomic, comfortable feel; Excellent f/1.8-2.8 5x optical zoom lens; Advanced photographic features, including PASM dial and RAW capture; Dedicated ISO button; Customizable buttons; Excellent macro mode; 1080p/60fps Full HD video.

Cons: LCD screen not articulated; Larger design makes it not very pocketable; Optical viewfinder not very accurate; RAW burst shooting still slow; Wi-Fi is clunky to set-up & no remote shooting capabilities; No built-in GPS.

Price and availability: The Canon G16 is currently available for a suggested retail price of about US$500. Available in black only.

Imaging Resource rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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Canon G16 Review

Overview by Mike Tomkins
Posted: 08/22/2013
Shooter's Report by

Canon G16 Review -- beauty shot

Take a look at the enthusiast cameras on the market, and you could be forgiven for thinking that enthusiast photographers are a lonely bunch. Connected cameras that let you share your photos are everywhere these days; everywhere, it seems, but in the hands of enthusiasts. Otherwise-fully-featured compact cameras typically shun Wi-Fi and social networking, but with the 12.1-megapixel Canon G16, that all changes.

The latest update to Canon's popular, enthusiast-oriented PowerShot G-series compact camera line, the Canon G16 follows in the footsteps of the existing G15. But for the first time in a G-series camera, it provides built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking, acknowledging the fact that social networks aren't just the domain of amateurs. Enthusiasts have friends they want to share their photos with, too!

Canon G16 Review -- front view

Although it has a similar 12.1-megapixel image sensor and 5x zoom lens pairing to its predecessor, the PowerShot G16 also includes a new DIGIC 6 image processor, which allows for faster autofocusing, burst shooting, and movie capture. Other changes include a variety of new shooting modes, and reworked rear-panel controls.

And that, save for a new trim piece that spans the front of the camera, is pretty-much it for the external changes.

On paper, the Canon G16 is ever so slightly larger and heavier than was its predecessor. In-hand, the difference simply isn't noticeable. As with the earlier camera, the body design caters to photographers used to shooting with an SLR. There are control dials front and rear, plus a dedicated exposure compensation dial on the top deck.

Canon G16 Review -- back view

On the rear panel is the same 3.0-inch, 922K-dot LCD display seen on the G15, and as in that camera, there's no touch control here. Sadly, nor is there a return of the articulating screen seen in the earlier Canon G12. There is still an optical viewfinder, which will allow you to more than double your battery life if precise framing and the ability to preview the look of your images aren't important.

In most respects the layout is very similar to that of the G15, but the PowerShot G16's rear-panel controls have been tweaked slightly. The Shortcut button has jumped across the camera, and now sits beneath the Video button, making for quick access with a press of your thumb, not to mention better single-handed shooting. It no longer doubles as a Direct Print button, either; Canon is no longer emphasizing this feature, it seems.

At the same time, Canon has promoted ISO sensitivity control to a dedicated button, and decoupled manual focus control from the Macro button. Unfortunately, that means there's one less free button, and something had to go. If you want to change metering modes, you'll now need to visit the menu system.

Canon G16 Review -- top view

On the inside, as already noted, you'll find a 12.1 megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CMOS image sensor similar to that used in the PowerShot G15, but it's now backside-illuminated (BSI), and the Canon G16 couples this with a new DIGIC 6 image processor. The pairing merits Canon's HS System branding -- the HS stands for High Sensitivity -- which should provide better high ISO noise performance. DIGIC 6 is also significantly swifter, in a number of respects.

Canon G16 Review -- bottom view

For one thing, Canon claims a 50% improvement in autofocus speed (and our lab results agree). Given that the G15 offered merely average autofocus performance, this is a welcome improvement. According to the company, with focus and exposure locked, the G16 can also shoot at an impressive rate of 12.2 frames per second for up to 5-6 frames, after which it slows to a still-fast 9.3 frames per second for around 522 frames. Of course, you'll need a fast UHS-I branded Secure Digital card to take advantage of this performance. Even if you enable autofocus, you'll still manage a reasonably swift 5.7 frames per second.

Canon G16 Review -- right side view

And it's not just stills that benefit from DIGIC 6. The Canon G15 was limited to just 24 frames per second in its highest-resolution Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) movie mode, but the G16 manages a rate of 60 frames per second. If you preferred the film-like feel of 24 fps video, you may mourn its absence, but the optional 30 fps rate will get you close. Movies include stereo audio from an on-board microphone.

The Canon G16's 5x optical zoom lens is unchanged from that in the G15. It still offers 35mm-equivalent focal lengths from a handy 28mm wide angle to a moderate 140mm telephoto, and has a bright maximum aperture that starts at f/1.8, and only falls to f/2.8 by the telephoto position. The bright lens is handy both for isolating your subject with depth-of-field blur, and when shooting in low-light conditions. And for the latter, its optical image stabilization is also a great feature.

As with its predecessor, the Canon G16 caters to enthusiasts with not just a built-in flash strobe, but also a hot shoe for more versatile flash photography. The hot shoe is compatible with the company's Speedlite flash strobes.

Canon G16 Review -- flash

Canon has added several new shooting modes to the PowerShot G16. The Star mode offers Star Nightscape, Star Trails, and Star Time-lapse Movie options, which do pretty-much what you'd think: the first exposes for sharply-defined stars behind a landscape, the second blurs them into star trails, and the third creates a video showing star motion across the sky. A Background Defocus mode aims to supplement the lens' depth-of-field blur -- always a weak spot of small-sensor cameras compared to their large-sensor brethren, even at wide apertures -- for better subject isolation. There's also a handheld High Dynamic Range mode which takes multiple shots and boosts dynamic range; this now allows you to apply Natural, Art Bold, Art Embossed, Art Standard and Art Vivid effects to the resulting HDR image.

For our money, the most significant change in the Canon G16 after its improved performance is the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, however. And the G16 doesn't just receive what consumer PowerShot cameras have had for a while now; the feature is also improved for the flagship compact. The connection process is now supposed to be simpler, with no requirement to install software on your computer or enter a security key manually. Instead, you can configure the connection directly from your smart device. In our experience, the process was not as smooth as we had hoped, but worked once the clunky setup process was completed.

We have good news to report on the device front, too: both landscape display and tablets on the Android platform are now supported. Once connected, you can share images and videos by email or on Facebook, Flickr (a new addition), Twitter, and YouTube, although in all cases your creations will first need to transit the Canon iMAGE GATEWAY service; the camera won't connect directly to social networks or email servers. On the plus side, you can share your images and movies even on public Wi-Fi networks. And when at home, you can also transfer images from the camera to your Wi-Fi connected computer.

Canon G16 Review -- ports

And if you like the tangible, the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity will allow you to print directly on the Canon PIXMA MG7120 or MG5220 Wireless Photo All-in-One printers without the need for a cable, too.

Of course, Wi-Fi is not your only connectivity option. Both standard and high-def video connectivity are provided, courtesy of composite and Mini (Type C) HDMI outputs. And there's the de rigeur USB 2.0 data connectivity, as well. The PowerShot G16 also provides a wired remote terminal for use with Canon's RS-60E3 remote switch.

Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC / SDXC and the higher-speed UHS-I types. Power comes from a proprietary NB-10L battery pack, and battery life with the LCD monitor enabled has increased just slightly, to 360 shots. (By way of comparison, the G15 allowed 350 frames.) Disable the LCD, and you'll save hugely on battery life for a total of 770 shots on a charge, showing the worth of the optical viewfinder.

Canon G16 Review -- battery and card

On the plus side, the battery pack is unchanged, so if you're upgrading from a Canon G15, you'll be able to keep using your existing packs. The same is true of almost all the other Canon G15 accessories: your conversion lens and filter adapters, teleconverter lens, flash strobes and brackets, leather case, AC adapter kit, charger, and cables can all stay in your camera bag post-upgrade. But there's bad news for fans of underwater photography: the new body means that the previous WP-DC48 underwater housing will no longer fit. You'll have to buy a new WP-DC52 housing if you want to take your Canon G16 on your next diving expedition.

The Canon PowerShot G16 began shipping in October 2013 for about $550 in the US market initially, but the price has since been reduced to about US$500.

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Canon G16 Shooter's Report

By Tim Barribeau

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/1.8, 1/250s, ISO 80

For years, the Canon G-series of digital cameras were the choice for point-and-shoot cameras with professional-level controls. The Canon G16 follows that fine tradition, and brings something that the series has occasionally lacked: speed.

The G16 doesn't offer much that's obviously different from its predecessor, the G15. It has the same resolution, the same lens, and an all but identical body, including the same control layout and hot-shoe. What updates it does have are under the hood: it can now jump on your Wi-Fi network, has a updated sensor, a new DIGIC 6 processor that gives it a much needed speed boost, as well as a number of new firmware features.

The body. Unlike some other high-end compacts on the market, the G-series has never shied away from keeping enough bulk to have plentiful external controls. While they did slim down a touch by removing the articulating LCD a generation or so back, it's still fairly big for a point-and-shoot, and is substantially larger than the likes of the Sony RX100 II, as you can see below.

Canon G16 Review - Sony RX100 II Comparison

But what you get from that size is enough space to actually have external controls, rather than just relying on doing everything through menus. That means a mode dial with full PASM, a front control dial, a rear control dial, EV compensation dial, and a dozen or so buttons on the rear of the camera --all without feeling cramped. Add to that enough room for a hot-shoe, optical viewfinder, and a decent sized grip. So while it might not be the slimmest camera around (you're not going to fit it in anything smaller than a coat pocket), it's extremely comfortable to shoot for even extended periods, and very easy to control.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
The macro capabilities of the Canon G16 are very impressive, with the ability to autofocus down to 1cm. 6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/1.8, 1/20s, ISO 100

Customization and controls. Customization has always been a strong point of these cameras, and the G16 has options in spades. While you can happily put it into Auto or a scene mode, you'll get the most from it if you are willing to go diving through the menus and options to set it up just how you like.

Beyond just the fact that it has full PASM modes, as well as the capability to shoot RAW, just about every setting, option, and preset has the ability to be tweaked and customized. Some of it is stuff you see pretty regularly, like limiting the ISO range for Auto ISO. Others are more unusual, like being able to reset the two-axes level, if you think it's not keeping your camera perfectly straight.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 80

But by far, my favorite of the customization options is the fact that you can re-assign the two buttons by the thumb pad on the back of the camera. The shortcut and movie button can both be reconfigured to dynamic range correct, shadow correct, white balance, custom white balance, colors, drive mode, self-timer, AF frame, metering, ND filter, aspect ratio, file type, AF mode, focus peaking, focus lock, digital tele-converter, eco mode, or just to put the display off. Simply pick the ones you'll use the most frequently, and set them up to the rear buttons. You can even go so far as to specify what's displayed on the rear LCD at all times, and the layout of the Function menu. And, once you have everything tweaked to your preference, you can save them to customized shooting modes. Another nice little touch: when in Program Auto, you can set the front dial to zoom between commonly used focal lengths (28, 35, 50, 85, 100, or 140mm equivalents).

The LCD itself is very good, with excellent, bright colors and crisp text. The screen is not difficult to see in daylight, although if you get the angle just right you still see noticeable reflections and some glare. The screen also has a wide viewing angle, which makes shooting photos in difficult angles easier even without the added flexibility of a tilting, vari-angle design.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
Star Nightscape Mode. 6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/1.8, 6s, ISO 400

The other place you'll see a great number of these controls are the Scene and filter modes. For instance, the "Star" shooting mode can be set for "Star Nightscape", "Star Trails" or "Star Time-Lapse Movie". You can set the Smart Shutter to take a photo when it detects a smile, a few seconds after someone blinks, or after a new face enters frame, and then you can specify how many shots to take. You can even set the HDR, toy camera, fisheye, and analogue film replicating modes to various levels and different types.

Canon G16 Review -- flash

Many of these customization options may seem overwhelming, and are often obtuse in their function. For instance, there's a menu item called Safety Shift, which isn't described at all in the camera, but in the manual is explained as "To avoid exposure problems in Tv or Av modes, you can have the camera automatically adjust the shutter speeds or aperture value, even when standard exposure cannot otherwise be obtained". Which is a confusing way of saying it'll automatically adjust to make sure you don't over- or under-expose (I think). Luckily, there's a "hints and tips" option, which does something to explain the settings (or as much as can be done in two lines of text).

It would be nice to see something similar instituted for greyed out menu items. It's not always clear why an option is not allowed to be altered, like how the image review time can't be tweaked if you're in "Continuous Shooting AF" mode, but it's fine if you're in "Continuous Shooting" mode. It's something we saw in the recent Sony RX10, and we'd like to see more of.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
Handheld Nightscene Mode. 6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/1.8, 1/4s, ISO 4000

Shooting modes. While the G16 is certainly designed for someone who knows what they're doing with a camera, it also has more than enough modes and special effects, many of which do artful things with combining multiple exposures of the same shot.

The Scene mode setting on the mode dial houses Portrait, Smart Shutter, Star, Handheld Nightscene, Underwater, Snow, and Fireworks modes. I took the Star modes out to shoot at night, but unfortunately was stymied in my attempts by clouds rolling in. But the few images I managed to shoot look pretty impressive, and I managed to get a hint of the capabilities of "Star Trails" mode before the clouds completely blocked the sky.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
HDR Mode (set to "Natural" strength). 6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 100

The Special Effects mode features 10 different shooting filters, many of which have separate sub-settings. HDR mode isn't just set to various degrees of strength, but rather to Natural, Art Standard, Art Vivid, Art Bold, or Art Embossed, depending on the look you want.

Canon PowerShot G16: Special Effects
HDR (Natural)
Fish Eye
Toy Camera
Soft Focus
Background Defocus

Nostalgic can be set to five different levels of strength, going from slightly washed out, to high-contrast, high-grain black and white. Fisheye can be set to three levels of distortion; Miniature Effect lets you move and change the orientation of the zone of focus; Toy Camera can be set to one of three different color tones; Soft Focus has three different levels of image blurring, from slightly soft to Barbara Walters; Monochrome will take images in cyanotype, sepia, or black and white; Super Vivid pumps up the saturation to mammoth levels; and Poster Effect posterizes the image.

Canon G16 Review - Background Defocus Close-Up

Notice in this crop from the photo above how the Background Defocus mode has trouble with complex shapes; leaving spots of the fine grassy areas in focus and other blurred.

Background Defocus takes two images, and sets a focused subject against a blurred back (it can be set to three levels of strength). As bountiful as these options are, they're of varying degrees of use. Background Defocus, for example, has issues with complex shapes, where it'll leave islands of in focus background if they're surrounded by the main subject, or blur parts of the main subject. And some of the HDR modes are the sort that are well beyond the boundaries of good taste.

Canon G16 Review -- focus peaking

Focus peaking. Speaking of focus, a handy new feature offered by the PowerShot G16 is focus peaking during manual focusing, which works in both still and movie modes. With focus peaking enabled, the camera outlines the areas of the image which are in sharp focus, allowing you to fine-tune focus to exactly where you want it. This is particularly useful for macro shots where depth of field can be quite shallow. You can select the color of the outlines from red, blue or yellow, as well as the level (thickness of the lines) from low and high options. The animation on the left shows the blue, high options. There's also a Safety MF mode in which the camera fine-tunes manual focus with a half-press of the shutter button.

Movie modes. The movie modes on the G16 are fun, but less than stellar when it comes to controls -- which are curious given the otherwise extreme level of manual control given by the camera. You can set the video size, white balance, colors, timer, neutral density filter, wind filter, focus mode and image quality -- but ISO, shutter speed and aperture always remain under automatic control, though exposure can be locked and exposure compensation can be adjusted before recording begins.

In addition to offering Full HD (1,920x1,080) at 60p and 30p, the G16 offers HD (1280x720) and VGA (640x480) modes, both at 30p. Oddly, 720p is not offered at 60fps. The G16 does have a couple of high-speed modes that are fun to play with. You can record video at QVGA (320x240) at 240fps or VGA (640x480) at 120fps. They're interesting, but the video is so low-res that it isn't really usable for anything more than playing around or analyzing golf swings and such.

One area where the G16 does do very well in video is with the image stabilization. If you have even the most vaguely steady of hands, it'll produce an incredibly smooth pan if you move the camera around. Simultaneously, the lens zoom speed has been slowed down while in movie mode, so it's quiet, and gentle.

Optical Zoom Sample Video
1,920 x 1,080, H.264, Progressive, 60 fps
Download Original (71MB MP4)
Panning Sample Video
1,920 x 1,080, H.264, Progressive, 60 fps
Download Original (32MB MP4)

Speed demon. By far the thing I found most impressive about the G16 is just how amazingly fast it is. It managed to find focus in even extremely challenging conditions at astonishing speed. Often times, I didn't even have to pause between half-press and full-press of the shutter button, it just latched on to the proper focus, and I took the photo. Even in cases where many other cameras would struggle, like in very dim lighting, it took a slight amount of time longer, but still managed to lock on. With hundreds of photos, I never had it mis-focus once -- even with difficult macro situations.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
RAW image, converted in-camera. 6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/4, 1/320s, ISO 80

Not only that, but it's supremely fast to chew through images most of the time. Unlike some other cameras I could mention (Pentax MX-1, I'm looking at you), it processed RAW files very quickly. There was no appreciable delay while shooting RAW in single-shot mode. And while in JPEG mode, it's stupifyingly fast. In continuous mode, it fires off five shots at a blazing 12.5fps, and then slows down to a very fast 9.3fps after that, with no apparent buffer limit. It'll even do AF tracking at almost 6fps.

Shooting RAW files in burst mode was another story, though. Burst rate fell to a rather sluggish 1.8fps with RAW files, and 1.6fps with RAW+JPEG. Still, that's an improvement over the G15's approximately one frame per second in RAW burst mode.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 80

Image quality. Image quality is what you'd expect from a high-end point-and-shoot with a 1/1.7-inch type sensor. It's better than most point-and-shoots, but can't really meet the lofty levels of some of Sony and Fujifilm's offerings (or even Canon's with the G1 X). That said, the f/1.8-2.8 lens is fast and sharp, the images are vibrant, and I'd have no trouble using images up to ISO 3200 for web use. We did however notice a slight decline in acuity and fine detail compared to the G15, in both JPEGs and RAW files. Still, image quality was better than average for its class.

As is always the problem with point-and-shoots, dynamic range is something of a sticking point, with a slight tendency to clip both highlights and shadows -- which Canon attempts to mitigate with Dynamic Range and Shadow Correction features respectively.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
30.5mm (140mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/250s, ISO 125

Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi implementation on the G16 is a decidedly mixed bag. When it works, it's fine, but getting to that point is head-scratchingly confusing. Theoretically, the G16 can share images to another camera, a smartphone/tablet, a computer, or the cloud. Unfortunately, neither the manual nor the camera do a good job of explaining how to do it.

Canon G16 Review -- Wi-Fi

For example, to connect to a mobile device, you need to use the Canon CameraWindow app on your smartphone. But the camera doesn't explain that, it just says "Start dedicated app on target device". Once I had that up and running, I managed to transfer files between the two quite readily, but based on reviews on iTunes other people have been less lucky.

Getting it to work with my Mac is likewise black magic. Both on the same network, the camera goes through the stages of connecting, then finds my machine, and then attempts to connect -- all the while, the CameraWindow app says "no camera connected". It took five attempts for the two devices to actually pair, at which point the CameraWindow app could open, and then took an inordinate amount of time to launch -- prompting me to think it had stalled. Unfortunately, it hadn't, so when I interrupted the camera, I lost the connection, and had to start over. Thankfully, I finally got it up and running and could transfer files over. But frankly, it hardly seems worth the trouble. I'm also puzzled by the inclusion of the Camera Setting tool in CameraWindow, which does absolutely nothing.

Editor's Note: We tried the Wi-Fi feature on an iPhone 5S, and the phone had no issue seeing the Wi-Fi network broadcasting from the G16. However, the whole process is not a streamlined as we'd hoped. You have to be in Playback Mode (no remote shooting here), press the AF point selection button that doubles as the Wi-Fi settings/setup button, then choose the smartphone icon to add a new device. Then on the phone, you'll need to go to the appropriate Wi-Fi settings app for your phone's OS and connect to the new Wi-Fi network from the camera. Next, you open the Canon CameraWindow app, and the two will try to communicate with each other, but it will eventually connect. You can then browse and transfer photos and video (but you can't view videos via the app; you'll need to transfer the video to the device first to view it).

Also, the GPS tagging was a bit confusing at first. You can't simply add GPS tags to photos already on the camera with your current GPS location. You must press the Location Log start button, then go shoot some pictures (which, incidentally, forces you to disconnect the camera from the app), then return to the playback mode and undergo the whole device-to-camera app connection process again. Then, once all that's done, you can choose the "add locations to images on camera" option and it will add GPS metadata to all the new photos taken since you enabled the location logging.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/1600s, ISO 125
Canon G16 Review -- OVF

The downsides. As with everything, the G16 has its downsides. It's on the chunky side, and if you don't know what you're doing, it could easily be overwhelming. While I know that anytime a new camera is announced, there's a cadre of people who claim that it's useless without a viewfinder -- but the OVF on the G16 isn't great. It zooms with the lens, at least, but there's no shooting info. The parallax effect is pretty bad, it has severe chromatic aberrations, and it only has approximately 80% coverage. Plus, those little dots next to the viewfinder? They're not there to automatically turn off the screen when you put your face up to it. Nope, they're status indicators. Still, better than no OVF, especially when you're running low on battery power.

The Wi-Fi, as I mentioned earlier, is clunky to set up, though it does a well enough job of transferring files once you get it up and running.

The exposure compensation also seems to handle slightly peculiarly. When you first adjust the dial, it previews the exposure change in the LCD, which makes sense. But once you focus, it then resets the preview back to the default exposure -- even though the actual photo will be over- or under-exposed as chosen. So while your EV dial may be set at -1, the preview on the LCD will be at normal EV, which is bizarre.

While it does have an ND filter (3 stops) for shooting at large apertures in bright light, other cameras like the Pentax MX-1 have an auto setting to have this kick in automatically. We would have liked to see Canon institute something like this.

I also found the battery indicator problematic. Once, it was on two bars of battery life. When I started to shoot on continuous mode, it dropped to a red warning that it was almost dead. After setting the burst mode back to normal, it jumped up to a 2/3rds full charge again, and stayed that way for a day or so. And when it did finally drop to the final 1 bar of charge, it stayed there only briefly before dying entirely.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/3.2, 1/800s, ISO 80

Summary. It's no surprise that the Canon G16 continues the legacy of excellence from the rest of the Canon G-series. As with its predecessors, it's easy to handle, has some incredible manual controls, is comfortable in the hand, and takes excellent pictures. And now, it's blazing fast, too, so you're even more likely to capture that special moment. And while its Wi-Fi implementation is far from perfect, it's still a useful upgrade for sharing or printing.

On the flip side, it's still much bulkier than many other cameras out there, but what you really have to weigh is the price. Given that it has an MSRP of $500, that's what you'd pay for an entry-level mirrorless camera kit (or even an entry-level DSLR kit in some cases) -- which can give you better images, especially in low light.

But keep in mind the G16's fast lens is about two stops brighter than a typical mirrorless or DSLR kit lens so you can shoot at correspondingly lower ISOs in the same light. And unlike most kit lenses, it has great macro capabilities, too. The G16's lens is also sharper than many kit lenses (especially wide open), and offers more telephoto reach than most as well.

Of course, the Canon G16 can't really compete with most ILCs in some aspects such as resolution, high ISO noise, dynamic range and the flexibility of an interchangeable lens system, though. After all, it does have a relatively small sensor and fixed lens.

Bottom line, though, the Canon PowerShot G16 is an excellent premium compact and highly recommended if that's what you're looking for.

Canon G16 Review - Gallery Image
6.1mm (28mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/1250s, ISO 80


Canon G16 Lens Quality

28mm eq., f/1.8
140mm eq., f/2.8

Zoom: The Canon PowerShot G16's lens covers a 28-140mm equivalent focal range, from wide angle to moderate telephoto. Far-field sharpness and contrast are good at full wide angle over much of the frame when wide open, though corners do show some minor blurring. At full telephoto and maximum aperture, performance is also good, though details are still a touch soft in the corners. Up to 4x digital zoom is also available.

Maximum Aperture
Wide: Fairly sharp at center
Wide: Mild blurring at upper right
Tele: Fairly sharp at center
Tele: Mild blurring, upper right corner

Sharpness: At maximum aperture ("wide open"), the wide-angle end of the Canon Powershot G16's zoom shows fairly mild blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, though what is there extends a little far into the main image area. The center is fairly sharp, though not tack sharp. Performance at full telephoto is similar with mild blurring in the corners and a center that is also fairly sharp but just a touch softer than at wide angle.

Stopping down to f/4 from maximum aperture (f/1.8 at wide angle and f/2.8 at telephoto) did not produce sharper results (likely due to focus shift), though corner shading (vignetting) improved.

Overall, good results for its class, especially considering how fast it is.

The following table reflects the maximum and minimum apertures as reported by the camera:

FL (mm ex.)
f/8 at all focal lengths

In-camera JPEG
Wide: Low barrel distortion; slightly noticeable
Tele: A small amount of pincushion distortion; barely visible
Uncorrected RAW
Wide: Very strong barrel distortion
Tele: A small amount of pincushion distortion

Geometric Distortion: There is a small amount of barrel distortion at wide angle in JPEGs (less than 0.3%), and minimal pincushion distortion (about 0.2%) at full telephoto. The PowerShot G16's processor does a good job of squashing lens distortion here.

Uncorrected RAW barrel distortion is quite high at wide angle at about 2.2%, though pincushion at telephoto stays relatively low at just under 0.2%. High distortion at wide angle is quite common, though, and most RAW converters will automatically correct for it similar to how the camera does. There is however a slight penalty to pay in terms of corner sharpness when strong distortion correction is applied.

In-camera JPEG
Wide: Low
Tele: Low
Uncorrected RAW
Wide: High and very bright
Tele: High and bright

Chromatic Aberration: The PowerShot G16 does a very good job keeping chromatic aberration in check in JPEGs as well, with only minimal distortion visible on either side of the target lines at both wide angle and telephoto. What fringing remains is quite faint.

Uncorrected RAW files show fairly high and bright lateral chromatic aberration, though, particularly at wide angle. Again, this is pretty common, and many RAW converters will automatically suppress it, though perhaps not to the same degree as the camera.

Macro with Flash

Macro: The Canon PowerShot G16's Macro mode captures a lot of fine detail, particularly near the center. Some blurring (as well as chromatic aberration) is present toward the corners, but the effect is fairly minimal. (Most digital cameras produce some blurring in the corners in macro mode.) Exposure is a bit hot in the top left corner with shadowing in the lower right, likely due to the very close focusing distance. Minimum coverage area is small at 1.12 x 0.84 inches (29 x 21mm), which is quite good. The camera focuses so closely that the pop-up flash is blocked by the lens, resulting in a somewhat dim exposure with the flash. Still, excellent macro mode performance.


Canon G16 Viewfinder Accuracy

Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor
Wide: Optical
Tele: Optical

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot G16's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing only about 83% coverage accuracy at wide angle, and about 80% at telephoto. The image is also offset, due to parallax error. (This will vary with subject distance.) As expected, the camera's LCD monitor proved much more accurate, however, showing about 100% coverage at wide angle, and closer to 101% coverage at telephoto. Very good results from the LCD, and optical viewfinder accuracy is typical for its type.


Canon G16 Image Quality

Color: Overall color is quite good, with only mild oversaturation in bright reds, blues and greens. (Bright yellow and cyan are actually a little muted, but not severely.) Mean saturation at base ISO is 111.7% (11.7% oversaturated), which is just a little more than average but still pleasing. Hue accuracy looks very good overall, though cyans are pushed toward blue and some yellows toward green. That's quite common, though, and the G16's average "delta-C" color error after correction for saturation is only 4.37 at base ISO, which is excellent.

Auto WB:
Good, slightly red
Incandescent WB:
Too pink
Manual WB:
Good, slightly green

Incandescent: Manual white balance handled our incandescent lighting much better than the Incandescent setting, which resulted in a very strong pink cast. Manual had a very slight yellow cast, though. Auto white balance also produced very good results, though with a hint of a red cast.

Horizontal: 2050 lines
Vertical: 1950 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2050 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and 1950 lines in the vertical direction. (There's likely a bit of lens astigmatism at play here.)  Extinction of the pattern occurred a little before 2400 lines per picture height horizontally, and a little before 2100 lines vertically.

Wide: Bright
Tele: Bright
Normal Flash
Slow Sync Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) produced bright results at wide angle and rated distance of 23 feet, though ISO was boosted to 400. The telephoto test came out bright at 15 feet, also with a boost to ISO 400. Very good flash range here for its class.

Normal flash at default exposure produced bright results in our indoor portrait scene, retaining little of the ambient light with a 1/60 second shutter speed at ISO 200. Slow Sync mode was also bright at default exposure, but its slower shutter speed of 1/20 second retained more warmth from the ambient light, as expected. The Canon PowerShot G16's image stabilization should help avoid blurring due to camera shake at slower shutter speeds, but movement of the subject can be problematic. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.5m) on a stable tripod.


ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is good up to about ISO 800 for the size of sensor, where we start to see the first significant softening. Luminance noise is a touch high at ISO 800 and above, but chroma noise is generally well controlled. Image quality is still fairly good at ISO 1600, but it drops off quickly from there. ISO 3200 is quite noisy though some fine detail remains, but ISO 6400 and 12,800 are very soft and fuzzy with strong luminance noise. Chroma noise however remains fairly well controlled except in the shadows at the highest ISOs.

Although the G16 sports a newer sensor and processor, its JPEGs aren't improved over its predecessor's, and in fact they contain slightly lower detail, but that could be due to lens sample variation. RAW files show a modest improvement in signal-to-noise ratio, though fine detail again isn't quite as good as the G15. See how this affects printed images in the Printed section below.

Print Quality: Good 16 x 20 inch prints at ISO 80 and 100; makes a decent 8 x 10 inch print at ISO 800 while ISO 6400-12,800 should be avoided.

ISO 80/100 produces good 16 x 20 inch prints with a decent amount of fine detail. This ISO range also does nicely for wall-mounted 20 x 30 prints. The color rendition is not as accurate as we'd like to see, however, as there's a bit of a blueish cast to the images. ISO 100 images looks practically identical to ISO 80, and you'd have to study the images very closely to see any noticeable difference, if at all.

ISO 200 allows for a good 13 x 19 inch print viewed from a typical arms-length distance; an 11 x 14 looks even better, though. We see the same slight color cast here as well as in the rest of the ISO range. The detail at ISO 200 is good, but just a hair softer than the lower ISOs. 

ISO 400 images looking strikingly close to ISO 200 and noise is very minimal, but fine detail is just slightly softer. Overall it makes a good 11 x 14 inch print, and a great 8 x 10. However, you could probably get away with a 13 x 19 inch print for less critical applications.

ISO 800 prints are a little too soft at 11 x 14 inches to consider them good, but an 8 x 10 print looks great with a fair amount of detail and low noise. The G16 does a good job with noise reduction to remove grain, particularly in the shadows. 

ISO 1600 images also make usable 8 x 10 prints, but 5 x 7 inches would be the better bet here, as fine detail is starting to get quite soft due to the higher ISO and heavy default noise reduction.

ISO 3200 prints are usable up to 5 x 7 inches, but similar to ISO 1600, the next size down would be the safer choice here with a 4 x 6 inch print. The noise reduction is really taking its toll on fine detail.

ISO 6400/12,800 images are too mushy on fine details with heavy-handed high ISO noise reduction, and therefore it's difficult for us to consider any print sizes acceptable in this ISO range.

While the Canon G16 provides a much-welcomed speed boost over the G15, it doesn't show a boost in print quality with slightly softer, less detailed images by comparison. At the lowest ISO levels, the G16 can still produce nice 16 x 20 inch prints with wall-mountable prints going up to 20 x 30 inches, which is still impressive for this sensor size. The G16 does show decent control over noise as the ISO rises, but NR does impact print sizes at these higher ISOs. At ISO 800-1600, 8 x 10 inch prints are decent, with the next print size down being quite good. However, at the extreme ISO sensitivities of 6400/12,800, fine detail is very mushy from noise reduction making it difficult for us to recommend making prints with these images. 


Canon G16 Performance

Startup & Shutdown Times: The Canon PowerShot G16 took about 1.8 seconds to power on and take a shot in our tests. That's pretty good for its class. Shutdown took about 1.7 seconds.

Mode Switching: The Canon PowerShot G16 took about 0.8 to switch from Play to Record and take a shot. Switching from Record to Play took 2.0 seconds to view a JPEG image just shot. Switching from Record to Play and viewing a JPEG already on the card took 0.9 second.

Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag was pretty good, at 0.31 second at wide angle and 0.27 second full telephoto. Enabling the flash increased shutter lag to 0.68 second, to account for pre-flash metering. In manual focus mode, shutter lag was about 0.27 second. Prefocused shutter lag was 0.066 second, not the fastest out there for a digicam, but still pretty fast.

Cycle Time: Single-shot cycle time was good, capturing a large/super fine JPEG frame every 1.05 seconds on average, a RAW file every 1.27 seconds, and a RAW+JPEG pair every 1.38 seconds. There was no apparent buffer limit with any file type in single-shot mode, however there was a lot of cycle time variation when shooting JPEGs, ranging from 0.82 to 1.63 seconds.

Burst Mode: Continuous mode captured 5 large/super fine JPEGs at a blistering 12.5 fps before decreasing to a very fast 9.28 fps, without AF. (With AF, the rate was still a fairly fast 5.85 fps.) But with RAW files continuous mode slowed down dramatically. With just RAW files, the framerate was 1.80 fps and with RAW+ L/SF JPEGs, the framerate reduced further to 1.64 fps.

Buffer lengths were excellent. Bursts of large/super fine JPEGs slowed after 5 frames, however the post-buffer-full rate of 9.28 fps is still excellent. When shooting RAW files, buffer length was 39 frames, and for RAW+JPEG, it was 37 frames, but keep in mind the much slower framerates. Buffer clearing was surprisingly fast with our 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC card, ranging from just under 2 seconds after a burst of RAW or RAW+JPEG frames, to 3 seconds after a burst of L/SF JPEGs.

Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot G16's flash recycled in about 2.5 seconds after a full-power discharge, which is very good.

Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to almost the 1/16 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled. With the AF assist lamp enabled, the G16 required about 1/2 foot-candle as the lamp was too bright and overwhelmed the AF system. This of course will vary with subject contrast and distance, and you can always disable the AF assist lamp if it's causing this issue. Still, excellent results here.

USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot G16's download speeds are quite fast. We measured 12,993 KBytes/sec.

Battery Life: The Canon G16's battery life has a CIPA rating of 770 shots per charge with the LCD off, and about 360 shots with it on, which is good for its class. And there's an ECO mode which increases battery life to 480 shots by dimming the LCD when not in use.


In the Box

The Canon PowerShot G16 retail box includes (may vary by region):

  • Canon PowerShot G16 digital camera
  • NB-10L Lithium-ion battery pack
  • CB-2LC battery charger
  • NS-DC11 neck strap
  • Digital Camera Solution CD
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty


Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. These days, 16GB is a good trade-off between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, you may want to consider larger. Speed Class 6 or higher is recommended for HD movies.
  • Medium camera case


Canon G16 Conclusion

Pros: Cons:
  • Improved autofocus speed
  • Shot-to-shot cycle time is much improved over G15
  • JPEG continuous shooting also improved over G15 with 12+fps for first 5 frames, then around 9fps for the remaining shots with no buffer limit
  • Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Full HD video now at up to 60 frames per second
  • Excellent, fast f/1.8-2.8 5x optical zoom lens with 28-140mm equivalent range
  • Intelligent IS with up to 4-stops of correction
  • Built-in 3-stop ND filter
  • 12-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor with improved SNR
  • Comfortable and ergonomic build, with a slimmer design than the G12
  • High quality images for enthusiast compact camera, exhibiting very good color and sharpness
  • Minimal geometrical distortion and chromatic aberration in JPEGs
  • Advanced photographic controls, including PASM dial, 2 control dials, dedicated EV dial and ISO button
  • Bright 3-inch, 922K-dot LCD monitor
  • Menu system is refreshingly minimalist compared to over-complicated offerings of certain competitors
  • Plenty of customization options
  • Macro focusing as close as 1cm
  • Accepts conversion lenses and filter adapters
  • Flash hot shoe
  • Very good flash range
  • Dual axis electronic level
  • AF works well in low lighting
  • Focus peaking
  • Supports wired remote
  • Slow-mo video recording at up to 240fps at 320x240 resolution
  • Surprisingly fast buffer clearing and USB transfer times
  • Good battery life
  • LCD screen not articulated
  • Fine detail and acuity not quite as good as predecessor
  • Mild blurring in the corners at wide and tele
  • High chromatic aberration and barrel distortion at wide angle in uncorrected RAW files
  • Burst mode still slow when shooting RAW files
  • Optical viewfinder has limited coverage (about 80%) and demonstrates significant parallax (though not uncommon for its type)
  • No 1080p24 HD video framerate option
  • Too big to be considered a pocketable camera, unless it's a jacket or cargo shorts pocket
  • No built-in GPS; GPS location tagging added via smartphone app, with an awkward, multi-step process
  • Wi-Fi setup is clunky and can be troublesome
  • Wi-Fi does not support remote shooting
  • No built-in GPS
  • No external mic jack for video recording
  • As expensive as some entry-level CSCs and DSLRs
  • No cables included

The Canon G16 is another excellent premium compact digital camera from the "Big C.", and while it's not leaps and bounds different from the G15, it brings a significant feature to the table: speed. Thanks to the updated DIGIC 6 image processor, the G16 is a speed demon with fast autofocus, excellent shot-to-shot performance, and stellar JPEG continuous shooting. It also gets a bump in video recording capabilities as well as with Full HD 1080p video at 60fps. Unfortunately, RAW burst mode is still quite sluggish at under 2fps, though improved over the G15.

The other big addition is built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, which is a nice touch that allows you to share and transfer photos to smartphones, tablets and computers. Yes, we found it a bit clunky in both the initial setup and in general usage -- however once it's up and running, it works as advertised. Sadly there's no remote shooting capability with the smartphone companion app, however, which we'd like to have seen, as it's quite useful on Canon's Wi-Fi-enabled EOS DSLRs.

Apart from the few new features we just mentioned, the G16 is largely the same as its predecessor. On the inside, the Canon G16 has a slightly improved 12.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch BSI CMOS sensor and the same 5x optical zoom (28-140mm equivalent) with a fast f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture range. It also keeps the excellent macro shooting capabilities (focusing as close as 1cm!). We did however notice there's a slight reduction in fine detail and acuity compared to its predecessor's images, though image quality is still excellent for its class.

On the exterior, the design is, by and large, identical to the G15. The articulating LCD screen that we enjoyed on the G12 is still absent with the G16, which is a bit disappointing. The tunnel-style optical viewfinder is okay, as it does zoom with the lens, but it still has parallax issues and doesn't have full coverage, as do most of its type.

However, as is standard protocol for Canon's G-series cameras, the G16 is very customizable, including a couple reassignable buttons on the rear of the camera. It also features its typical vast array of advanced photographic controls, including a PASM dial and a dedicated Exposure Compensation dial, as well as the ability to shoot in RAW. The easy-to-use dials and refreshingly minimalist menu system are a nice change from other more menu-heavy compact cameras. And the camera's fairly slim design (compared to pre-G15 models) does give it a better, more agile feel than its predecessors. While it's not very pocketable, like other enthusiast compact cameras such as the Sony RX100 II, its larger design makes it very comfortable and easy to hold.

Taking the well-received G15 and giving it a healthy dose of steroids with the new DIGIC 6 processor, the Canon PowerShot G16 packs a tons of great features into a relatively small package. While it might not be substantial upgrade from the G15, the speed of the new model is certainly tempting, as is the new 1080p/60 video. For G-series lovers with older models, this is definitely a worthy upgrade. The Canon G16 takes great pictures and ranks impressively well among its premium compact camera competitors. For all this, we give the Canon PowerShot G16 an enthusiastic thumbs up and a definite Dave's Pick.

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