Nikon and Canon go toe to toe in the fight for our compact camera dollars. Both the Nikon Coolpix P7000 and the Canon Powershot G12 are aimed at the same market: the pro or serious amateur photographer in need of a high-end small camera. So, how do they compare and which should you buy?
UPDATE: There is a new version of the Nikon Coolpix available now.
Check out the Nikon Coolpix P7100 here.
Compact Camera Buyer’s Guide
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Key Features Compared: P7000 vs. G12
The comparison chart below emphasizes some key differences and similarities between the P7000 and the G12.
|Nikon P7000||Canon G12|
|Sensor||1/1.7 CCD||1/1.7 CCD|
|Effective Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Lens Zoom (35mm equivalent)||28-200mm (7.1X)||28-140mm (5X)|
|LCD Monitor Size / Resolution||3″ / 921,000 pixels||2.8″ / 461,000 pixels|
|LCD coverage (live view mode)||98%||100%|
|LCD Articulation||none||swivel and tilt|
|ISO Range||100-3200 1||ISO 80-3200|
||hot-shoe (i-TTL)||hot-shoe (e-TTL)|
|Still Image Formats||14-bit raw, JPEG||12-bit raw, JPEG|
|Hi Def Movies||720p @ 24fps||720p @ 24fps|
|Slowest Shutter Speed
||60 sec.||15 sec.|
|Fastest Shutter Speed
||1/4000 sec. 2||1/4000 sec.|
|Size (H x W x D)
||3.1 x 4.5 x 1.8 inches||3 x 4.4 x 1.9|
|Weight (with battery & card)||12.7 ounces||14.1 ounces|
|1ISO 6400 available at Hi 1 setting.
2 1/4000th available in one mode only (see below). Otherwise, 1/2000th maximum speed.
Green Text indicates important advantage of one camera over the other.
G12 vs. P7000: Pros and Cons
The Nikon Coolpix P7000 and Canon Powershot G12 are more alike than different.
Lens, Shutter and Zoom Range
The Nikon has a better zoom range: 28-200mm versus 28-140mm on the Canon. That’s a lot of lens!
Both lenses have a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum aperture of f/8.
In Manual Exposure mode, the P7000 can be set to a 60-second exposure. The longest exposure possible on the G12 is 15-seconds. Neither camera offers a bulb mode.
In bright light, the G12 has an advantage with its 1/4000th maximum shutter speed. The Nikon P7000 offers this speed only in Aperture-Priority mode with the lens at its widest (28mm) setting and an aperture of f/8. Any other setting results in a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000th.
Noise and High ISO
If the Canon G12 is anything like it’s predecessor, the G11, it has an advantage over the Nikon P7000 at higher ISO’s. The maximum usable ISO on the P7000 is 400. Anything above that has too much noise for my taste.
When I tested the G11, I was pleasantly surprised at its moderate level of noise at ISO 800. A little work in the computer yielded sharp, noise-free images at ISO 800. I haven’t tested the G12 yet, but I assume its high-ISO performance is just as good.
Neither camera does well at the higher ISO’s, so forget about the advertised maximum ISO 3200 on these cameras unless you can put up with the grainy look of high amounts of noise. (The P7000 has a Hi 1 setting that simulates ISO 6400 which is way too noisy for any self-respecting photographer to ever use.)
Viewfinder and LCD Monitor
Both cameras have a “dumb” built-in optical viewfinder. No shooting data is displayed in the viewfinder and neither covers anywhere near 100% of the actual image area. They both zoom with the lens.
You’ll use the optical viewfinder only when bright light makes the LCD monitor too difficult to view or when you need the extra stability you get with a third point of contact between you and the camera: the viewfinder resting against your eye.
The LCD monitor is a mixed bag. Each camera has its strengths and weaknesses. The Nikon P7000 has a larger monitor (3-inches vs. 2.8-inches on the Canon) and, with 921,000 pixels, it is a much higher resolution display than the Canon with it’s mere 461,000. That extra resolution makes it easier to view image detail to check focusing accuracy.
The Canon G12 does have one big advantage: the articulated LCD. The LCD can be swung out nearly 180-degrees from the camera body and it can be rotated 270-degrees. That gives the G12 an advantage over the P7000 when shooting overhead or at ground level.
Because it is has only a small hinge to support it, the G12′s articulated LCD seems more susceptible to damage. It is safest when tucked up against the camera – the same position as the P7000′s fixed-position LCD.
When shooting, the G12′s LCD monitor covers 100% of the image while the P7000′s covers only 98%. Most photographers will discover that this is not a significant difference – especially considering that these are compact cameras which you’ll be holding at arms length while photographing.
Two words describe the advantage of Nikon P7000′s built-in flash over that of the G12: pop up. With the G12′s fixed-position flash, you access a menu when you want to fire the flash. Then, you have to remember to go back to the menu to turn it off. That’s too much button pushing for me.
Nikon’s flash works better. Since I use the built-in flash mostly for fill, I can set the flash mode (to Fill Flash) once via the menu. Then, whenever I want to use the flash, I just press the dedicated flash button to pop it up. Whenever it is popped up, it will fire. When I’m done, I just push down on the flash itself to close it. Whenever it’s closed it doesn’t fire. Simple.
Both cameras include a hot-shoe which offers full compatibility with high-end flash units.
The Nikon Coolpix P7000 offers wireless infrared remote control. Because it has two infrared receivers – one on the front and one on the rear – it’s easy to trigger the shutter release remotely from up to 16 feet away. The Canon Powershot G12 can be remotely triggered with a wired remote that is only 2-feet long.
For more information on the G12 and P7000, visit these sites:
- DxOMark.com offers a scientifically-minded review in their article comparing the Canon Powershot G12, Nikon Coolpix P7000 and Samsung EX1.
- At the NikonUSA website, you can read more about the P7000 or download the Coolpix P7000 User Manual.
- Canon’s website offers more information about the G12 and allows you to download the Powershot G12 Camera User Guide.
Both the Nikon Coolpix P7000 and the Canon Powershot G12 are excellent little cameras. Either one makes a nice addition to any traveler photographer’s camera bag.
If you’re a Nikon DSLR owner, it makes sense to try the Coolpix P7000 – especially if you already own a compatible Nikon Speedlight flash (listed on page 202 of the user manual). Canon DSLR owners will probably want to give the Powershot G12 the top spot on their shopping list.
Both cameras have their share of useful features and frustrating limitations. Until you get some hands-on experience with them, it’s impossible to know which camera you’ll prefer. So, buy from a reputable dealer with a good return policy and see what you think. You can’t go wrong with Adorama or Amazon.com. They both have liberal return policies.