Canon G12

Canon G12 or Canon s95?

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

The Canon s95 is the clear winner over the Canon G12 if camera size is the main consideration. Otherwise, the choice of which to buy is more difficult.

There is often talk about which is a better carry-at-all times camera, the Canon s95 or G12? It can be a difficult choice unless the top priority is the ability to slip a camera into a small pocket. Then it’s a no brainer: the s95 wins hands down. The s95 is smaller and lighter than the G12:

s95 about half the weight of the G12

Weight comparison:

  • G12: 14.14 ounces/401 grams
  • s95: 6.88 ounces/195 grams

Size comparison:

  • G12: 4.41 x 2.99 x 1.89 inches/112 x 76 x 48mm
  • s95: 3.94 x 2.28 x 1.18″/100x58x30mm

G12 more advanced than the s95

While the G12 and s95 have features in common including the same sensor, the G12 has a longer lens. It is one stop slower at the widest angle but faster at the long end of the zoom. In addition, the G12 has an articulating LCD screen, Optical Viewfinder with diopter adjustment, hot shoe for an accessory flash, a faster shutter and built-in Neutral Density filter. For some, the ergonomics or the G12 is better because of it’s larger size, built-in hand grip (the s95 has none) and larger rear thumb rest.

The G12 has more of the features and external controls found on digital single reflex cameras. DSLR owners will be right at home using it. By the same token, the s95 has enough controls to satisfy even an experienced photographer. Keep in mind that the s95 and G12 may be an overkill for users who simply want to point-and-shoot. If so, they may want to consider cameras with backside-illuminated CMOS sensors like some of those featured in this article.

G12 & Ss95 image quality

Overall image quality between the two cameras is nearly identical. If you do your part as a photographer, expect well-exposed photos with rich Canon colors right out of the box (each camera has menu options to adjust color).

Both cameras do well in good light. Considering their sensor size, both do well in low light at higher ISO numbers too, though you’ll be disappointed if you expect the high ISO performance of a DSLR.

The s95 is slightly better for certain types of indoor shots without flash because it has a faster lens at wide angle (f2.0 vs f2.8). But if you photograph moving subjects inside, such as active children, the G12 provides the option of using an external flash to capture action with little, if any, motion blur.

Either camera is a great choice

You can’t go wrong with either camera. If you’re a DSLR owner and want a small companion camera, the s95 is an excellent choice. However, if this will be your only digital camera, or if you want one that is more versatile, more feature-rich and has a longer zoom, the G12 fulfills those needs.

Check out prices and user reviews at Amazon: Canon G12 or the Canon s95.


  • Opeth, I think the G12 would be an fine choice. It’s a camera that provides excellent image quality in a variety of lighting conditions, though low light performance and shot-to-shot time will not be on par with a camera with a larger sensor. It is not the best camera for capturing action, such as a fast moving child, particularly in low light.

    If you don’t require a viewfinder, or hotshoe for external flash, consider a compact superzoom with a CMOS sensor. They do relatively well in low light plus have faster continuous modes than most compact cameras with a CCD sensor.

    Here are some tips for photographing a moving child with a compact digital camera.

  • Hey, im not a pro photographer and ive only used a point n shoot digi cam however having said that im very keen on investing in a nice semi pro i.e. Something like a g12 in order to be able to take decent pics of my son (expected to be born in a months time). What would u recommend (nothing too bulky and defintely not pro cams)

  • Ariel, the T3 is a fine entry-level DSLR, comparable in image quality and high ISO and speed performance of other DSLRs in it’s class. It is known for being easy-to-use as far as DSLRs are concerned. And, yes, it is better than the G12 in many ways, though probably not build quality. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the camera.

    I do want to point out that compared to the Nikon D3100, the T3 has a smaller screen, not as high maximum ISO, less AutoFocus points and a slightly less powerful built-in flash. Some professional reviewers consider the D3100 one of the best in it’s class. But it costs about $80 more; the money you save getting the T3 could to towards buying a flash.

    I think you’ll be happy with either camera.

  • Gail, you have my promise: this is my last post regarding what camera should I buy…
    Reading and searching I found one more camera that seems to meet my needs and fits my budget.
    The Canon T3 looks like offer a similar package compared with the Nikon D3100 at a lower price, and it looks like is superior to the G12 at just USD 80 more.
    I have the feeling that Im near the final decision, and this, after months of research, will be a relief.

  • I’m fine Ariel; hope you are too!

    The Speedlite 430EX II will be larger and heavier, but more powerful. It both tilts and swivels for bounce flash (the 270EX only tilts). But it is almost double the price of the 270EX. If the features meet your needs, I think the 270 EX is a good choice because of its smaller size which is better suited to a compact camera like the g12.

    There are times, even with a DSLR, that your photos will benefit from using a flash, both inside and out. As mentioned, a DSLR has the edge in low light and speed but it has downsides too.

    I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with the G12; it’s less expensive and much easier to carry around than a DSLR. It may not have all the performance of a DSLR but it’s a very capable premium compact camera.

    Yes, the G12 has image stabilization and it is very effective.

  • Hi Gail, how’re you doing?
    Thanks for the insight

    I  read all the recommended articles and I’m leaning towards the G12 because of the budget.
    As you said, I should buy a flash anyway, so:
    G12+ Canon Speedlite 270EX Flash (is this flash OK or I need to buy the 430 at aprox. USD 280?) + 16Gb Flash memory = USD 676
    Nikon D3100+Nikon SB 400 AF Flash+memory = USD 808.
    And this without the 50mm 1.8 lens.
    If the D3100 (without flash) allows the same photo quality that the G12+Flash, it’s a different story, but I think that’s not the case.
    Am I right?
    One more question: The G12 has image stabilization?


  • Hi Ariel, thanks for your kind words about Digicamhelp. Based on what you describe, I believe you’ll get the best overall performance from a DSLR. I’ve used the G12, S90 and many other compact cameras to photograph my grandchildren, in both good and low light, and none coms close to the overall performance and speed of a DSLR. You will probably want to eventually invest in a fast lens, such as a 50mm 1.8, which are relatively expensive. A flash would be a worthwhile investment too.

    I would recommend any of the DSLRs you mention; get the one that fits your budget. They all have Auto or P modes, which should satisfy your wife’s desire for not having to adjust settings, though you’ll get more keepers when shooting in good light.

    If I could only own one camera, it would be the G12 from what’s currently available. It’s full-featured,lightweight and has a sharp and relatively fast lens. The limitations of a premium compact may be a worthwhile tradeoff for a less overall cost.

    I believe you’ll find the information in my Canon XSi/450D blog helpful. As will these articles:

    Compact camera vs DSLR

    Photographing a moving child

    DSLR flash (a flash can also be used on a camera like the G12)

    If you have additional questions, please let us know.

  • Bringing my question from another post.

    Hi Gail, this is an amazing and very helpful site.Congrats.I have the same needs as Ivalina & co. and Im trying to decide between the G12, the Nikon D3100, the Canon T3 or (if one these 3 does not fit my needs) another more expensive dSLR like the T1/2/3i Canon family.What we (my wife and I) want?. Nice pictures of our kids (4 the older, 11 months the twins), with no blur (either from the kids continuous movement or eventually the tremor of my wife hands) and very good image quality in spite of taking the majority of them inside of our house)One more need: my wife does not like/want to adjust the shooting parameters.Note: since we have a nice Panasonic HD camcorder, HD  video recording is not a must.
    Budget: no more than USD 650.Questions:– does the G12 meets our needs or we need to upgrade to a dSLR?- can I preset the parameters in the G12 (shutter speed etc) and save it to simplify my wife’s life or it’s something you need to set every time you turn on the camera?.- does the Nikon worth the extra USD 150?- should I buy an external flash?- Considering our needs, is there any other camera that you’d recommend? (even if it means an extra spend)

  • I have a canon G9, and I am looking for a way to capture gps data when taking pics with it. EG a hotshot or USB accessory. An alternative, I suppose is to start overhand look for a new camera of comparable quality with geotagging.

    ANY advice would be appreciated. I am running out of time, unfortunately.
    Thx, m.