As point-and-shoot cameras go, there are two distinct categories. You can buy a point-and-shoot camera without a great deal of control -- these are made for people who just want to take photos, with no fussing around.
The other kind of camera is the category into which the Canon PowerShot G15 fits comfortably -- cameras with plenty of manual control, individual dials for specific settings, and most of the power of full-size digital SLRs.
The PowerShot G15 sits at the pinnacle of Canon's point-and-shoot camera line-up, above the equally powerful, but much smaller, PowerShot S110. What you get from the G15 is a huge amount of manual control. Strewn across the front, back and top of the camera are dials and buttons that can be customised to almost any setup you could want.
Up top, the camera has a shooting mode dial next to a dedicated exposure compensation adjustment, a pop-up flash and flash hot-shoe, power button and combination shutter button/zoom rocker. On the front, there's a small dial for changing shutter speed, or aperture, or ISO, in the respective shooting mode.
The back of the camera is as filled with buttons as any point-and-shoot or mirrorless camera on the market. They're multi-mode buttons, too, depending on whether you're in the camera's shooting or playback mode. a five-way navigation pad with yet another control dial sits where your thumb falls, and there's a record button for direct movie capture.
All of this means a camera that's very versatile. If you like adjusting photo settings, or playing around with your camera before you snap a picture, the PowerShot G15 is a perfect choice -- without having to shell out for a full-size, full-weight, full-fat digital SLR.
Like other high-end point-and-shoot cameras, the PowerShot G15 has a thumbnail-sized 12-megapixel sensor. This is mated to an integrated 28-140mm (equivalent) lens with a fast variable aperture of f1.8-2.8 -- one of the most versatile and brightest zoom lenses of any point-and-shoot camera. The PowerShot G15 has an ISO range of 80-12800, making it versatile enough to use in bright to dim environments. It's also got excellent integrated image stabilisation.
The Canon PowerShot G15 is a very specific breed of point-and-shoot camera -- one for buyers who want every facet of manual control, but don't want a larger or more complicated mirrorless camera or digital SLR.