Canon PowerShot G16 vs Nikon Coolpix P7800
10th Nov 2013 | 11:00
Two premium compacts battle it out
Often billed as the ideal companion for a DSLR when its too big, heavy or inconvenient, the premium compact camera sector of the market is one that seems to continue to do well in an otherwise declining market.
Canon's G series has long been considered the gold standard of premium compacts. The latest model, the G16, features a 12.1 million-pixel sensor and inbuilt Wi-Fi. It goes square on head to head with the Nikon P7800, which also features a 12.1 million pixel sensor, but comes with an integrated electronic viewfinder.
Here we compare the two to see which is the better investment.
Canon G16 vs Nikon P7800: Handling
The G16 is easy to use, with menus arranged very sensibly with a number of direct access dials and buttons. On top of the camera, you'll find two dials, one for switching modes and another for adjusting exposure compensation. A dial on the front of the camera is used to adjust aperture or shutter speed (depending on the shooting mode).
Meanwhile, the P7800 is another nicely built camera, with a pleasing number of dials and buttons. Here you'll also find an exposure compensation dial, with a handy light which indicates when it has been moved away from 0. There are also two handy customisable function buttons along with a quick menu button for accessing used settings.
Canon G16 vs Nikon P7800: Image Quality
Our lab tests indicate that the Canon produces better raw format files than the Nikon, which is useful if you like to work with your images in post-production. We've found that real world images display a great amount of colour and detail. Low light performance is also excellent, as is the ability to shoot at 9fps. The Canon's lens, offering a maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.8 also beats the Nikon's.
Image quality is also very good from the P7800, with our labs tests suggesting that JPEG images are marginally better (for dynamic range and signal to noise ratio) than the Canon – good if you don't want the hassle of post production. Although the lens has a longer zoom range (7.1x compared to 5x), it doesn't have the maximum wide aperture of the G16. This might make a more appealing proposition to travelling photographers.
Winner: Canon G16
Canon G16 vs Nikon P7800: screens and viewfinders
The G16 keeps the same fixed screen as the G15. It's a good performer, viewable from a decent range of angles. It would be nice to see a touchscreen, especially as its sibling the Canon PowerShot S120 has an excellent one. The direct viewfinder is basically a hole in the top of the camera, so there's no information (such as aperture) to work with. Previous generations of the G series had an articulating screen, but Canon seems to have decided that a fixed screen is a better all round option, and it does keep the size down.
Nikon is giving both barrels in the EVF and screen war, with a fully articulating screen, useful for composing from awkward angles and self-portraits. The screen is also an RGBW device, with the W standing for white, representing the extra white pixels which give it increased brightness and contrast. Meanwhile, Nikon scrapped its optical viewfinder in the last generation of the P range, but it has now reintroduced a finder - an electronic one. It's only small, but it does have 921,000 dots and is useful. There's no sensor for judging when it has been lifted to your eye, however, which is a shame.
Winner: Nikon P7800
Canon G16 vs Nikon P7800: extras
The G16's inbuilt Wi-Fi can be used to transfer images across to a smartphone or tablet, or upload directly to services such as Facebook, making it good for social sharers. Unfortunately, the free app (available for iOS and Android), doesn't give you the ability to control the camera remotely, which seems a shame. The G16 also has a number of scene modes and digital filters as well as the fun "Hybrid Auto" mode which creates a short video compiled of clips shot before each photo taken per day. The new star mode enables the easy and automatic capture of star trails, star time lapse and star nightscape.
Sadly there's no inbuilt Wi-Fi on the P7800, with Nikon still insisting consumers purchase an extra Wi-Fi and GPS module. There are some scene modes though, and a few special effects to choose from. If you want to create a panoramic image, you'll find this hidden away in one of the scene options, but at least it is available, unlike on the G16. Both of the cameras have a hotshoe, which means you can attach external accessories, such as flashguns.
Winner: Canon G16
Canon G16 vs Nikon P7800: Price
At £489/$489, the G16 is a significant investment, costing more than an entry-level DSLR. However, you do get maximum flexibility, full manual control, raw shooting and a pocketable device, making this an excellent second camera. It's a touch more expensive than the P7800 in the UK, so if you're on a tighter budget, perhaps look to the Nikon.
In the US, these cameras are the same price. Both offer a lot for your money, despite the high price tag. Bear in mind though, that you will have to pay extra for a Wi-Fi module for the Nikon P7800 if you need it.
It's also worth noting that both of these cameras are significantly cheaper than the Sony RX100 II, which is huge competition in this segment of the market.
It's a tough call choosing between these two cameras. Ultimately it may come down to brand preference or how much you need Wi-Fi or an articulated screen. Overall, we think the G16 offers more value for money, with a better lens and a more pocketable body size. That said, the Sony RX100 II is also definitely worthy of a look, as it has a larger sensor but a comparable body size.
Winner: Canon G16