With an abundance of dials and buttons, an articulated screen and an accessory shoe for an external flashgun, the G11 certainly feels like a photographer's tool. Its plastic body is rugged enough to take the abuse of regular use too, although its sheer size means you won't be able to slip it into a trouser pocket.
The immediacy of its controls surpasses any entry-level SLR camera too. There are dials for adjusting ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation, and another multifunction dial that encircles the navigation pad. Dedicated buttons access the focus area and metering options, while white balance and continuous shooting options require a quick trip to the Function menu.
RAW capture is available, and using it didn't slow the camera much. It isn't a lightning-fast performer to start with, though, and firmly in compact rather than SLR territory. There's an integrated neutral density (ND) filter that reduces light by a factor of eight - perfect for adding motion blur to flowing water, for example. An HDMI port sends slideshows to an HDTV, but video capture is limited to VGA resolution.
|The immediacy of the G11's controls surpasses any entry-level SLR camera.|
It's disappointing that the lens' aperture is nothing special at f/2.8-f/4.5. The Panasonic LX3, Ricoh GR Digital III and Canon's own S90 all have f/2 or brighter lenses, which gather much more light. Low-light performance couldn't quite keep up as a result, but it's still far better than a standard point-and-shoot. There's an upside, though, and that's greater zoom range. Our image quality tests also revealed the G11's lens was able to resolve a little more detail than its rivals.
In many respects, the G11 is the most impressive camera in our latest compact camera group test. Its controls and versatility are second to none. However, with its high price and less than featherweight design, it can't compete with the more compact, affordable Canon S90 in our latest roundup.
...read our full group test comparing this camera with 13 other cameras in the September 2010 issue of PC Authority magazine.