Canon PowerShot G11 – #2 Best High End Compact of 2009

Canon PowerShot G11 #2 Best High End Compact 2009

Scoring second place in our Best High End Compact Camera 2009 awards is Canon’s heavyweight PowerShot G11 digicam.

The G11 is the current flagship of Canon’s G-series range which has established an excellent reputation amongst pro photographers and dial-twitching amateurs for producing the highest quality images in a tough package.

Canon PowerShot G11 - our #2 Best High End Compact of 2009It’s a beast

Much as we love the chunky old school looks, there’s no denying that as compact cameras go, the G11 is a bit of a beast, and there’s not even the slightest prospect of fitting this monster into a regular-sized trouser pocket.

But what you lose in portability, you gain in functionality and handling, with the G11 offering an unsurpassed array of  old-fashioned knobs on the top for adjusting ISO settings, changing shooting modes and adding EV compensation. We like this very much indeed.

Old school SLR owners will also swoon at the mechanical feel of the top dials, although the fiddly multi-controller on the rear mars the overall experience.

Optics come in the shape of a 5x optically stabilised zoom lens covering the same 28-140mm focal range (f2.8-4.5, 35mm equivalent) as the G10. We would have preferred a wider angle zoom, but it’s a reasonable compromise.

Canon have also bolted on an optical viewfinder, but this is so squinty it borders on useless (coverage is a hopeless 77%), so it’s a good job that there’s an excellent articulating 2.8 inch 461k LCD monitor on the back.

Wisely, Canon stepped out of megapixel war and dropped the pixel count to 10MP with the G11, a sizeable step down from its predecessors 14MP, giving the camera superior high ISO performance.

Canon PowerShot G11 - our #2 Best High End Compact of 2009Shooting modes

As ever, there’s a full suite of automatic and manual controls onboard, with the ten primary scene modes being:  Auto, Low Light, Quick shot,  Scene (14 specific shooting scenes plus stitch assist, colour swap and colour accent), Program auto, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual, Custom1/Custom2 and Movie.

As with the Powershot S90, video shooting is restricted to Ye Olde Low Res 640×480 or 320×240 pixels resolution, both at 30fps. We say: “Where’s the HD, Canon?


The camera’s not exactly the fastest snapper off the blocks, taking several seconds to start up and focus, but once you’re up and running there shouldn’t be too  many complaints about the image quality, with the G11 producing clean, well exposed shots full of detail.

The decision to strip down the pixel count was vindicated by the G11’s low light performance too, with decent results available up to the giddy heights of ISO 800.

Canon PowerShot G11 - our #2 Best High End Compact of 2009Conclusion

It’s meaty, beaty, big and quite probably bouncy camera, making the G11 a perfect camera for the rugged outdoors and street photography.

Built to take the knocks and serving up a SLR-like selection of shooting modes with the handling to match, the G11 is a great all-round camera for serious photographers.

Offering top notch image quality with tons of manual control and an excellent flip-out screen and lengthy battery life, this is a camera we can heartily recommend.

Buy it now on Amazon for around £400 or read a review here.

Type 1/1.7” CCD
Effective Pixels Approx.10.0M
Colour Filter Type Primary Colour

Type DIGIC 4 with iSAPS technology

Focal Length
6.1 – 30.5 mm (35mm equivalent: 28-140mm)
Optical 5x. Digital approx. 4x (with Digital Tele-Converter approx. 1.4x or 2.3x and Safety Zoom¹)². Combined approx. 20x
Maximum f/number f/2.8-f/4.5
11 elements in 9 groups (1 double-sided aspherical element)
Image Stabilisation
Yes (shift-type)

Type TTL
AF System/ Points
AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point), 1-point AF (Any position is available, fixed centre or Face Select and Track)
AF Modes
Single, Continuous, Servo AF/AE¹
AF Point Selection
Manual selection using FlexiZone AF/AE, Size (Normal, Small)
AF Lock
On/Off Selectable
AF Assist Beam
Manual Focus Yes
Focus Bracketing Yes
Closest Focusing Distance
1cm (W) from front of lens in macro
Canon PowerShot G11 gets reviewed

Metering modes
Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF frame), Centre-weighted average, Spot (centre or linked to Face Detection AF or FlexiZone AF frame)
AE Lock Yes
Exposure Compensation
+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
Enhanced i-Contrast for automatic dynamic range correction
ND Filter (3 stop)
AEB 1/3 – 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
ISO sensitivity*
AUTO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200

1 – 1/4000 sec (factory default)
15 – 1/4000 sec (total range – varies by shooting mode)

Type TTL
Auto (including Face Detection WB), Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, Underwater, Custom1, Custom2.
White Balance Correction

Canon PowerShot G11 #2 Best High End Compact 2009

Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder
Dioptre Correction Yes

Vari-angle 2.8” PureColor II VA (TFT), approx. 461,000 dots
Coverage 100%
Adjustable to one of five levels. Quick-bright LCD

Auto, Manual Flash On / Off
Slow Sync Speed
Yes. Fastest speed 1/2000 sec
Red-Eye Reduction Yes
Flash Exposure Compensation
+/- 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments. Face Detection FE. Safety FE.
Flash Exposure Lock Yes
Manual Power Adjustment
3 levels with internal flash (up to 19 levels with external EX Speedlites 270EX and 430EX II. 22 levels with 580EX II¹)
Second Curtain Synchronisation Yes
Built-in Flash Range
50cm-7.0m (W) / 4.0m (T)
External Flash
E-TTL with EX series Speedlites¹, Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX, Canon High Power Flash HF-DC1

Auto*, Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual, Custom (2 modes), Low Light¹, Quick Shot, SCN (Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Sports, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Sunset, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Aquarium, Underwater, Color Accent, Color Swap, Stitch Assist), Movie
*with Scene Detection Technology and Motion Detection Technology
Photo Effects
My Colours (My Colours Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)
Drive modes
Single, Continuous, Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer
Continuous Shooting
Approx. 1.1 shots/sec.¹, AF: Approx. 0.7 shots/sec.¹, LV: Approx. 0.8 shots/sec.¹ (until memory card becomes full)²

Image Size
(L & RAW) 3648 x 2736, (M1) 2816 x 2112, (M2) 2272 x 20%4, (M3) 1600 x 1200, (S) 640 x 480, (W) 3648 x 2048. Resize in playback (M3, S, 320 x 240)
Fine, Normal
640 x 480, 30fps
320 x 240, 30fps
Movie Length
Up to 4GB or 1 hour

Still Image Type
JPEG compression, (Exif 2.2 [Exif Print] compliant) / Design rule for Camera File system, RAW, Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
MOV [H.264 + Linear PCM (monaural)]

Canon Printers
Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and Canon Inkjet Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
PictBridge Yes

Red-Eye Correction
Yes, during shooting and playback
My Camera / My Menu
Start-up image and camera sounds customisation. Menu customisation
My Category
Image tagging feature
Intelligent Orientation Sensor Yes
Histogram Yes
Playback Zoom
Approx. 2x – 10x
Self Timer
Approx. 2 or 10 sec., Custom or FaceSelf-Timer

Hi-Speed USB (MTP, PTP) dedicated connector (Mini-B compatible)
Other HDMI Mini Connector. A/V output (PAL/NTSC)
Type SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus.

PC & Macintosh
Windows XP SP2-3 / Vista (including SP1-2)
Mac OS X v10.4 – 10.5

Browsing & Printing
ZoomBrowser EX / ImageBrowser
Other PhotoStitch
Image Manipulation
Digital Photo Professional for RAW development

Rechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-7L (NB-7L battery and charger supplied)
Battery life
Approx. 390 shots¹
Approx. 420 min. playback
A/C Power Supply
Optional, AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC50

Cases / Straps
Soft Case DCC-660, SC-DC65A
Waterproof / Weatherproof Case
Waterproof Case (40m) WP-DC34, Waterproof Case Weight WW-DC1
Tele-converter 1.4x TC-DC58D
Lens adapter LA-DC58K
Canon Speedlites (including 220EX, 270EX, 430 EX, 430EX II, 580 EX, 580EX II¹), Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2, Off-Camera Shoe Cord OC-E3, Speedlite Bracket BKT-DC1
High Power Flash HF-DC1
Remote Controller/ Switch
Remote Switch RS-60E3
Power Supply & Battery Chargers
AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC50, Battery Charger CB-2LZE
Ring Accessory Kit RAK-DC2
Canon HDMI Cable HTC-100

Operating Environment
– 40 °C, 10 – 90% humidity

Dimensions (WxHxD, excl. protrusions)
112.1 x 76.2 x 48.3 mm

Weight (body only) Approx. 355g

Optics come in the shape of a 5x optically stabilised zoom lens covering the same 28-140mm focal range (f2.8-4.5, 35mm equivalent) as the G10.

There’s also an optical viewfinder, but this is so squinty it borders on useless (coverage is a hopeless 77%), so it’s a good job that there’s an excellent articulating 2.8 inch 461k LCD monitor on the back.

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One Comment on “Canon PowerShot G11 – #2 Best High End Compact of 2009”

  1. I can’t imagine moving on from my G9 until HD video is reintroduced in the line. I held off from the G10 for that reason and the G11 doesn’t offer enough to compensate.I’ve still got a G7 as a backup camera, useful as they use the same batteries as the G9.

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