The Canon PowerShot G11 tops the company's G-series of enthusiast-targeted models and follows on from last year's G10 , the 'ultimate compact'. Updated November 30 2009.

It claims to be a fully featured camera that delivers excellent image quality, but should you choose the Canon PowerShot G11 over a digital SLR, given that the price tag is almost as high?

Specification-wise, the first thing to note is that the Canon PowerShot G11 has a lower megapixel count than its predecessor (10.1Mp rather than 14.7Mp). It also has a smaller LCD screen at the rear for composing and reviewing shots: 2.8in rather than 3in. But while the headline image capture capability has been reduced, Canon has upped the ante elsewhere - most notably in the Canon PowerShot G11's greater sensitivity to light.

It supports a manually selectable setting of ISO 3,200, which can be boosted to 12,800 (at 2.5Mp) should you need to shoot in near darkness. And reducing the size of the screen enables Canon to give the Canon PowerShot G11 a tilt-and-swivel LCD for shooting at awkward angles.

Like Canon's digital SLRs, the Canon PowerShot G11 feels substantial and almost tank-like when gripped in the palm. There are also plenty of rangefinder-like top-plate dials for adjustment, plus a gently sloping grip to the front. This feature isn't wholly successful: we didn't know where to place our thumb at the rear when shooting handheld.

Still, hit the on/off button just behind the shutter release button and the Canon PowerShot G11 powers up in a second or so. Its image-stabilised 5x optical zoom lens extends from almost flush to the body to a maximum 28mm wide-angle setting, with 140mm available at the telephoto end. Although the lens isn't swappable, the broader-than-average focal range makes for a wealth of creative possibilities.

With the ability to shoot up to ISO 12,800, the Canon PowerShot G11 promises much in the way of image quality. We found that sticking to the user selectable settings (up to ISO 3,200) reaps far better results. Indeed, shots taken at ISO 3,200 matched those at the lower ISO 800 from rivals for noise (visible grain).

NEXT: our original review, from 17 November 2009 >>