Officially official are the Canon Powershot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7000. Both are high end top of the line point and shoot for photographers who want manual controls in a smaller form. Give or take a few features these 2 are almost identical.

Each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. The G12 has a new in camera HDR feature for those who don’t have the time/gear/software for it. Another new feature is the use of Canon flash accessories like the ST-E2 Speedlite transmitter and OC-E3 off camera shoe cord for taking an external flash off camera. The G12 is compatible with all of Canon’s Speedlites. While the P7000, according to the Nikon products page, offers “comprehensive wireless operation” with Nikon Speedlights SB900, SB600 and most probably with the just announced SB700.

The Coolpix P7000, finally Nikon’s answer to the Powershot G series should have the practically noiseless high ISO performance of Nikon DSLR fame. A major plus on Nikon is the lens’s wide 28mm to a far reaching zoom of 200mm. This will satisfy many versus the G12’s 28-140mm. One big downside with super zooms is hand holding a shot without any support will not get a sharp photo even with an aid of in camera stabilizer of which both has.

If you are on the market for your first high end point and shoot don’t be attracted by all the bells and whistles, e.g., smile detection, scene modes, etc. A high end p&s is really made for easier use of it’s manual features without the weight and bulk of DSLR’s.

Look to the triumvirate of photography: aperture, shutter speed and ISO-if these 3 are easy to control through strategically placed dials then it will make a photoshoot painless. Using the triumvirate to control exposure will render scene modes useless which are just pre-programmed formulas in camera to shoot a certain lighting condition. Remember, photography is all about the capture of light-no light, no photo. Try it, turn off all the light in a room, take a shot and all you get is pitch black.

Though an obvious deciding factor has already been decided by which DSLR system a photographer is married to the fraternal twins will get enough competition for the first time buyer. The Powershot G12 and Coolpix P7000 will be a great camera to learn the basics of photography in a cheaper and smaller form factor. A year or 2 learning with these and an amateur photographer can skip the lower end DSLR models and jump to it’s bigger brothers, e.g., Nikon D7000/D300s or Canon’s 60D/7D.

The bottom line: Canon Powershot G12 will retail at USD499 (approx. PHP35,000 when released in the Philippines) and Nikon P7000 at USD499 as well (probably will have the same srp as the G12). Both will be released before the year ends. Wait 6 months to a year and it will get a 15-20% price drop and at which time there will be many detailed user reviews available for comparison. In past experiences, like the Canon G11, 1 year after the PHP35,000 srp, a friend got a brand new for PHP25,000(Japanese grey market unit).

Canon PowerShot G12 – key features:

    *PowerShot G12 BCK LCDCanon’s HS System
    *High-sensitivity 10 megapixel CCD image sensor

    *Genuine Canon lens 28mm-140mm
    f/2.8-f/4.5 wide angle 5x zoom lens w/4 stop Hybrid IS (Image Stabilizer)
    *2.8″ high-res Vari-Angle PureColor II VA LCD screen, adjustable brightness w/Electronic Level
    *Optical view finder w/diopter adjustment
    *Front & back dials for customized control
    *Full manual dials on top for: ISO, shooting modes and exposure compenstaion
    *Canon CR2 RAW
    *ISO 80-3200 in 1/3 stop increments and auto mode
    *High Dynamic Range shooting-combining 3 exposures in camera into one HDR image
    *720p HD movie shooting (24fps) with stereo sound, HDMI
    *Rechargeable Li-Ion battery NB-7L approx. 370 shots at full
    *Dimension: 112.1 x 76.2 x 48.3 mm@401 grams
    *Extensive accessory system: tele converter lens adapter, various speedlites, waterproof case, remote switch, ST-E2 speedlite transmitter, OC-E3 off camera shoe cord

Nikon P7000 – key features:

    *P7000bk_high10.1 megapixel CCD image sensor
    *NIKKOR 28 –200 mm f/2.8-f5.6 wide-angle 7.1x zoom lens w/Lens-shift VR (Vibration Reduction)

    *3″ 921K-dot, LCD screen w/ anti-reflection coating and Electronic Virtual Horizon
    *Manual dials on top for: ISO, White Balance and Bracketing
    *Back dial for customized conrtol
    *Nikon Coolpix RAW
    *Exposure compensation w/ direct control of up to ±3 EV compensation in 1/3 EV steps
    High ISO (3200 at full size) light sensitivity. Manually extendable to Hi1.
    *Low Noise Night Mode: minimizes noise when shooting at high ISO range
    *720p HD movie recording and stereo microphone
    *Optional external microphone with standard microphone jack
    *Optical view finder
    *Zoom memory: custom set up to 6 different focal lengths to switch quickly between them.
    *Rechargeable batt EN-EL14 approx. 350 shots at full
    *Dimension: 114.2 x 77.0 x 44.8 mm@310 grams
    *Expandable system: wide-angle converter lens, wireless remote control and external flash units and microphones



This just in…

A very cool tan color leather carry case for the G11/12. Limited edition to only 500 cases. Goes on sale October 7, 2010 at the Canon store in Japan. Price: ¥8500 that should be approximately USD100.

A shot from Canon Japan’s web page featuring the G12 and accessories.