Noise Comparison – Canon Powershot G11 vs G10

After hearing of the Canon Powershot G11 noise improvement, I grabbed one while in Hong Kong and compared it to my G10.

I had been aware of the improved noise performance of the Canon Powershot G11 since October 2009, and thought this would be beneficial when shooting underwater where you need every bit of sensitivity you can get.

In Hong Kong on business I picked up a Canon G11 and compared it directly with my Canon G10. The results were better than I expected and show considerable improvement in noise levels.

Test Conditions

I setup the G10 and G11 next to each other on the window sill of my hotel room. Both cameras were set to the same settings at f5.0 and center weighted average.

Focusing on the same apartment block I took shots with ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 at focal lengths settings of 6.1mm and 25mm. (Due to the smaller sensor, the focal length multiplier of 4.8 gives 35 mm equivalent focal lengths of  29mm and 121mm.)

The images were compared in Adobe Lightroom.

Exposure Differences

The first thing I noticed was the G11 image was brighter than the G10 image. Analyzing the Histogram for the images, the G11 image is exposed 0.70EV to the right making it brighter.

Exposing the image more to the right is a smart idea as there is more image information in this area.

Noise Comparisons

For further testing all G10 images were adjusted +0.7EV to give both image sets the same brightness. No other modifications were made to the images.

ISO80 – Viewed at 200%

Even at ISO 80 more noise can be seen in the darker area at the top of the windows on the G10 (right) compared to the G11 (left).

ISO100 – Viewed at 200%

ISO200 – Viewed at 200%

ISO400 – Viewed at 200%

At ISO 400 and above, I doubt the G10 images would be useful due to the high noise, but the G11 looks OK.

ISO800 – Viewed at 200%

ISO1600 – Viewed at 200%

At ISO1600 and above the G11 image is not usable due to the high noise, even though the camera is rated to ISO3200.


I was really surprised by the low noise performance of the G11 and how much better it was than the G10.

The G11 could be used up to ISO400 with reasonable results (and to ISO800 in a stretch).  ISO1600 and above has to much noise.

I am keen to see how the camera performs in the underwater low light environment. In conjunction with the introduction of the new noise reduction algorithm in Adobe Lightroom 3, I will be able to reduce noise like never before.

Now I just need to get the Canon WP-DC34 underwater housing. Every store I have tried in Hong Kong is sold out due to their popularity.

One thought on “Noise Comparison – Canon Powershot G11 vs G10”

  1. It took a little bit of shady dealing in a back alley, but today I managed to get the last WP-DC34 underwater housing (waterproof case) in Hong Kong for the Canon G11.

    Everyone is out of stock, and new stock is apparently only delivered monthly…. talk about a popular item.

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