If you're looking for pro features in a compact camera, the PowerShot G15 has them in spades. It has an optical viewfinder, can take lens filters and even has a useful hotshoe for connecting an external flash. So we know this is no point-and-shoot but how are the images?
Small Body Big Pictures
The 12.1MP G15's massive array of dials and buttons might look daunting to the uninitiated, but anyone who knows their aperture from their exposure compensation will appreciate the sheer level of control at hand.
That pro quality is also clear in the images it takes. If you like your photos crisp, clean (at lower ISOs) and blessed with accurate colours, and if you crave an autofocus that doesn't spend three seconds hunting for a lock, then the G15 ticks all those boxes. And as with most Canons, it'll also record lovely 1080p video at a filmic 24fps.
The optical viewfinder aids framing in bright sunlight and also helps you keep the G15 steadier when you're shooting. Another boon when shooting outdoors is the fact that the lens ring can be taken off and replaced with a filter adapter, making the Canon one of the only pro compacts able to use a polarising filter.
Although smaller and lighter than previous G-series cameras, the G15 still feels almost tank-like in its solidity and sturdiness. It looks like it will survive a fall. But unlike predecessors like the G12, the G15's screen is fixed rather than tiltable. We suspect it's been done to cut down the bulk of the camera but it's a feature we miss.
Also canned is the ISO dial used on older models which is another shame though the G15's second dial does allow you to quickly change the exposure compensation.
Is the G15 perfect? Not quite. It's much smaller than its predecessor the G12, and that's led to the odd compromise; as we mentioned there's no dedicated ISO dial or tiltable screen, for starters. But then again this is supposed to be a compact camera, so we won't complain too loudly.
The Sony RX1 just pips it overall, but if you need a compact to back up your DSLR and demand the likes of a viewfinder and filters, then this Canon should be the one for you. And that's why you'll find it hanging out in our best compact cameras list.