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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.

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.


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. 


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon PowerShot G16 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon PowerShot G16 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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