Canon PowerShot G16 hands-on: has the high-end compact embraced change enough?

Compact cameras are going through change of late. Size is on the down, sensor sizes on the up and cameras such as Canon's G-series have had to adapt in the fierce market. The Canon PowerShot G16, which is up there among Canon's top-of-the-line models, has stuck fast to its G15 predecessor's design, however. We got to test out the latest G-series at the IFA electronics show in Berlin to see whether it's embraced change quite enough.

The PowerShot G16 is smaller than some of the earlier models in the series, but still a fairly hefty wedge in the hand. It's styled for those that won't mind this, and part of the reason for its size is the inclusion of more features than many compacts can muster: an 85 per cent field-of-view optical viewfinder, for example, sits pride of place on the top rear. There's no tilt-angle screen though, just a flat 3-incher on the rear.

READ: Canon PowerShot G15 review

What the G16 is all about is image quality. Its 12,1-megapixel 1/1.7in size sensor may not be as large as some competitors, such as the Fujifilm X20, but we were more than impressed where the earlier G15 model was concerned. The G16 ought to be better thanks to an updated sensor and Digic 6 image processor. We say "ought to" because - and in the few minutes we've had to experiment - we've not been able to take shots away to take a closer look at. More details about that when we get one in for review, but knowing how good that 28-140mm lens is (it's the very same as the G15) it'll be happy days.

But it's the other tweaks that help the G16 stand out. The autofocus, for example, is now said to be 41 per cent faster than its predecessor. We found it to be adept, although it's not the fastest AF system that we've ever used either. It's the sort of thing that could have probably been achieved via a firmware update.

Elsewhere there's Wi-Fi, a feature we've tended to think of as a "nice to have" rather than essential. Canon's still got some work to do in this department to make it simpler to work with, and we're a little unsure about its potential impact to battery life.

All in all the G16 doesn't feel much different from the G15. On the one hand that's disappointing to long-time fans of the series, but don't get us wrong, as on the other hand it means that this will be one bloomin' great camera. If, that is, you can stomach the £529 asking price.