Canon G12 vs Nikon D1
The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Nikon D1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and June 1999. The G12 is a fixed lens compact, while the D1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G12) and an APS-C (D1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 2.6 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 and the Nikon D1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon G12 and the Nikon D1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D1 is considerably larger (182 percent) than the Canon G12. It is noteworthy in this context that the D1 is splash and dust-proof, while the G12 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G12 has a lens built in, whereas the D1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D1 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
As can be seen in the images above, the D1 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon G12||112 mm||76 mm||48 mm||401 g||370||n||Sep 2010||499|
|2.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon G15||107 mm||76 mm||40 mm||352 g||350||n||Sep 2012||499|
|5.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||350 g||270||n||Sep 2011||599|
|7.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|8.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|9.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|11.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|12.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|13.||Olympus E-450||130 mm||91 mm||53 mm||440 g||500||n||Mar 2009||499|
|14.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|15.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|16.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The G12 was launched at a lower price than the D1, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G12 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Nikon D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D1 is 760 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the G12 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon G12 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 2.6 MP of the Nikon D1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.07μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, it should be noted that the G12 is much more recent (by 11 years and 3 months) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon G12 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G12 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon PowerShot G12 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D1 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|13.||Olympus E-450||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.5||10.5||512||56|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The G12 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the G12 can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The G12 and the D1 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon G12, the Nikon D1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon G12||optical||n||2.8 / 461||swivel||n||1/4000s||1.1||Y||Y|
|2.||Nikon D1||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||1.5||n||n|
|3.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G15||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.1||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon SX50||202||n||3.0 / 461||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||optical||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon P7800||921||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0||n||n|
|13.||Olympus E-450||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic FZ150||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The G12 has one, while the D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the G12 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The G12 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D1 uses Compact Flash cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot G12 and Nikon D1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon G12||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon G15||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon SX50||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon P7800||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D1X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-450||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic FZ150||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D1 (unlike the G12) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the G12 and the D1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the G12 was followed by the Canon G15. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon G12 better than the Nikon D1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G12:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 2.6MP) with a 91% higher linear resolution.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/24p movies.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.8" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 120k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D1 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (112x76mm vs 157x153mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D1).
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 11 years and 3 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D1:
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (1.5 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 1999).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (12 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G12 and the Nikon D1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the G12 and the D1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon G12||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||499|
|2.||Nikon D1||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jun 1999||5,499|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon G15||4/5||+||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499|
|5.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|6.||Fujifilm X10||..||..||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2011||599|
|7.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|8.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|9.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|11.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|12.||Nikon D1X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|13.||Olympus E-450||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Mar 2009||499|
|14.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||..||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|15.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|16.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|17.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon G12 vs Nikon D1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon G12||Nikon D1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||28-140mm f/2.8-4.5||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2010||June 1999|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 5,499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon G12||Nikon D1|
|Sensor Format||1/1.7" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.6 x 5.7 mm||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||43.32 mm2||369.72 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||9.5 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||2.6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||2000 x 1312 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.07 μm||11.93 μm|
|Pixel Density||23.04 MP/cm2||0.71 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||47||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.4||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||161||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon G12||Nikon D1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.8inch||2.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||461k dots||120k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon G12||Nikon D1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.1 shutter flaps/s||1.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon G12||Nikon D1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||Firewire|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon G12||Nikon D1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
112 x 76 x 48 mm
(4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
157 x 153 x 85 mm
(6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
|Camera Weight||401 g (14.1 oz)||1100 g (38.8 oz)|
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