Canon gets smart: Lowers megapixels in the new PowerShot G11

In what might just be the most significant aspect of Canon's announcement yesterday of six new PowerShot digital cameras, the camera giant smartly took a step away from the megapixel wars by reducing the resolution on the new high-end compact PowerShot G11 to 10 megapixels.

In what might just be the most significant aspect of Canon's announcement yesterday of six new PowerShot digital cameras, the camera giant smartly took a step away from the megapixel wars by reducing the resolution on the new high-end compact PowerShot G11 to 10 megapixels.

When Canon released the PowerShot G10 last year, it made the dubious choice of bumping resolution up to 14.7 megapixels compared to its popular predecessor the 12-megapixel G9. This opened the G10 up to strong competition from Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX3, which smartly maintained a 10.1-megapixel resolution, allowing it to outperform the G10 in low light (since it didn't have to cram as many pixels on a roughly same-size sensor). We'll have to wait for hands-on reviews of the G11 to get more specific about image quality, but it's safe to assume that the switch to what Canon calls a "10.0 Megapixel High Sensitivity System" will result in significantly improved image quality at high ISO settings (and the G11 bumps up to a max setting of ISO 3200), which means low-light images with a lot less noise.

In another nod to past successes, the G11 resurrects a much-missed feature of even earlier G-Series models, with an articulated tilt-and-swivel LCD which was dropped from the G-Series three models ago. Of course technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the last G-series model with an articulated LCD (the G6) was on the market. The G11's is a thing of wide-screen beauty at 2.8 inches with 461,000 dots. And though it's a smidge smaller than the G10's 3-inch fixed LCD, the tilt-and-swivel functionality makes shooting from odd angles a cinch. The G11 will ship in October for $499.99.

For a quick specs comparison between the G11, its predecessor the G10, and the Panasonic LX3:

  Canon PowerShot G11 Canon PowerShot G10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
Price $499.99 (ships in October) $499.99 $499.95
Sensor 10 megapixels, 1/1.7-inch CCD 14.7 megapixels, 1/1.7-inch CCD 10.1 megapixels, 1/1.63-inch CCD
Lens 28-140mm equivalent, f/2.8-4.5 28-140mm equivalent, f/2.8-4.5 24-60mm equivalent, f/2.0-2.8
ISO Range 80 to 3200 80 to 1600 80 to 3200
Continuous Shooting 1.1 fps 1.3 fps 2.5 fps
Movie Mode 640×480, 30 fps/ 320×240, 30 fps 640×480, 30 fps/ 320×240, 30 fps 640×480, 30 fps/848×480, 30 fps/ 1,280×720, 24 fps
LCD 2.8-inch, articulated; 461,000 dots 3-inch, fixed; 461,000 dots 3-inch, fixed; 460,000 dots
Optical Viewfinder Yes Yes Optional
RAW Support Yes Yes Yes
Dimensions 4.41x3.0x1.9 inches 4.30×3.06×1.81 inches 4.28×2.34×1.07 inches
Weight 12.5 oz 12.3 oz 8.08 oz