Canon G16 Review

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Canon G16 Optics

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.


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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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