Advanced Compacts - Pocket Power House (Part 1) : Canon Powershot G15, Fujifilm XF1

4/26/2013 9:22:18 AM

Seven Raw-shooting enthusiast compacts go up against each other to determine the best pocket-friendly alternative to a DSLR

As the popularity of budget compact cameras has waned in the face of competition smartphones, manufacturers have turned their attention to the premium end of the compact market. Once the domain of Canon, Ricoh and Panasonic, the sector has swelled in recent years with offerings from the likes of Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm. Despite the recent arrival of Compact System Cameras, manufactures clearly believe the demand for premium compacts is still there. So how do the offerings from latecomers to the party compare with the more established lines?

Canon Powershot G15  


The G15 is the only camera on test to offer a viewfinder of any kind (here, an optical type), and it also manages to offer a bright f/1.8 aperture at the wide angle end of its image stabilized 28-140mm lens, which drops to a still-respectable f/2.8 at the telephoto extreme. Behind the optic sits a 12 IMP backlit CMOS sensor, which can have its sensitivity adjusted between a broad ISO 80-12,800 range, and it also captures full HD movies at 24fps, or standard HD videos at 30fps, as well as reduced-resolution slow-motion videos at 120fps and 240fps. In order to prolong exposures Canon has also integrated a physical neutral density filter inside the lens, which reduces exposure times by three EV stops, while around the back a 3in LCD presents its details with 922k dots. Images are captured in Raw ^Canon's .CR2 type) and JPEG formats, either on their own or simultaneously.

Canon Fujifilm Powershot G15


Thanks to a fixed LCD screen the G15 boasts a more slender body than its G12 predecessor. The body itself feels well-constructed, and the rubbered grip while not as substantial as some of the others here does improve handling. In terms of physical controls the camera scores many points: most of the controls are well positioned and large enough to be comfortably operated by larger-handed users, and they’re all clearly labeled too. The only exceptions here are the play button which is awkwardly shoehorned into a small gap between the viewfinder and mode dial, and the menu pad dial on the rear which is too close to the side of the LCD for comfort. The inclusion of a viewfinder is likely to win some over, although the lack of parallax markings makes it near useless for accurate framing.

Canon Fujifilm Powershot G15 - top

Canon Fujifilm Powershot G15 - top

Image Quality

The camera’s metering system is generally reliable, and scenes containing many highlight areas don’t force it to underexpose the main subject. Indeed, the tendency is for the camera to occasionally overexpose, something confirmed by the accompanying histograms. The AWB system isn't faultless, but in natural light it performs very well, and in many situations which combine artificial sources it also does a decent job. Noise is well controlled and even at higher sensitivities the noise reduction system isn’t too destructive, and while Raw files are soft, once sharpened they show very good detail. Distortion is also pleasingly low, as is chromatic aberration.


The G15 powers up and down marginally faster than the average speed set by the cameras here, and in good light the camera wastes no time in acquiring focus, although even with the AF assist light activated the camera is a touch behind the others for AF speed when shooting in sub-optimum conditions. One area where it does do well is with 5 hot-to-shot times, which may not be quite as fast as the LX7 or RX100 but aren’t that far behind either. The LCD is a touch darker and noisier than some of the ethers here, but it presents a stable view of the scene. Furthermore, the lens travels through its range at a pleasingly steady pace.

Key specs

§  SENSOR: 12.1MP, 1/1.7in type CMOS sensor

§  LENS: 28-140mm f/1.8-2.8

§  DISPLAY: 3in TFT LCD, 922k dots

§  ISO : 80-12.800

§  EXPOSURE MODES: Alto, scene, PASM

§  MOVIE MODE : 1920x1080 3 24pfs. 1280x720 30fps

§  WEIGHT: Approx. 352g

§  DIMENSIONS: 106.6 x 75.9 x 40.1

Fujifilm XF1


The XF1 sees a 2/3in 12MP sensor (the second largest in this group) based on Fujifilm’s EXR architecture and paired with a lens that spans a 4x zoom range from 25-100mm. Although the optic is image-stabilized, it’s disappointing to see its bright f/1.8 aperture at the wide and quickly closing down to just f/4.9 at the telephoto end. The camera’s sensitivity range may be extended to ISO 3200 at full resolution, which decreases as sensitivity is adjusted up to a maximum ISO 12,800 option, while full HD videos are captured at 30fps, with the provision of optical zoom while recording. The rear is largely devoted to a 3in LCD screen, although its 460k-dot resolution pales next to those on the other models here. The camera also has Raw shooting and PASM control in common with the other six. While the 7fps burst option can be boosted to 10fps at a reduced resolution.



The XFI’s design is the most streamlined out of the seven cameras here, and it also differentiates itself by having a smart faux leather cohering around the majority of its body. The camera is powered up by pulling and twisting the lens, which, on account of its shallowness v/hen stowed INS de the body, is awkward. The mode dial sits flush against the top plate, and although it only offers a small section of its side for turning which makes it harder to turn accidentally - it does at least move freely. There’s no grip to speak of but plenty of room has been left on the rear for the thumb, and as the buttons in this area sit flush against the back plate it’s difficult to press any accidentally. Still, the tiny Fn button on the top plate is difficult to press at all. The menu is a winner, though, with a logical order of functions.

Image Quality

Despite the use of a relatively large sensor and Fujifilm's EXR technology, the XFI is decidedly behind the others with its image quality. Corner and edge sharpness are disappointing, although once stopped down the lens does improve. In terms of resolution the camera manages to resolve details consistently throughout its sensitivity range, only sadly, at a lower level than the others, with far higher aliasing effects also present. Images in general appear over-processed, with noise and chromatic aberration frequently present. Still, the metering system is generally sound, and the Auto White Balance system also proven its worth, with pleasing colors.

Despite the use of a relatively large sensor and Fujifilm's EXR technology, the XFI is decidedly behind the others with its image quality.

Despite the use of a relatively large sensor and Fujifilm's EXR technology, the XFI is decidedly behind the others with its image quality.


Thanks to the XFVs manual zoom, the lens can have its focal length changed rapidly. Furthermore, as the camera is powered on and off in this way, you don't have the wait for the lens to retract into and emerge from the body, which slows down operation on some other models here On the review sample, however, it was easy to overshoot the point of resistance which signified the 25mm focal length had been reached, which turns the camera off The lower resolution of the screen is noticeable against some of the other cameras, and the display staggers where others don’t, but AF speed is above par.

Key Specs

§  SENSOR: 2MP. 2/3in type EXR CMOS sensor

§  LENS: 25-100mm f/1.8-4.9

§  DISPLAY: 3in TFT LCD. 461k dots

§  ISO: 100-3200 (exp. to 12.800 at reduced resolution)

§  EXPOSURE MODES: EXR. auto, scene, PASM

§  MOVIE MODE: 1920x1080 3 30fps. 1280x720 30fps

§  WEIGHT: Approx. 225g

§  DIMENSIONS: 107.9 x 61.5 x 33.0mm

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