Monday, November 3, 2008

Review: Canon G9

Recently I went on a holiday to Indonesia, so instead of lugging around an expensive, heavy and cumbersome DSLR setup I looked into getting a digital compact camera to take on my travels, After reading several reviews on different compacts and their inheriting strengths and weaknesses the Canon G9 stood out as a clear winner, for both image quality, features and creative control. With the Arrival of the New Canon G10, the Price of G9's has fallen considerably over the last few months, and whilst still an incredibly capable camera the deal was too good not to pass up.

The thing I like most about the G9 most is the fact it has nearly every single feature of a camera 5 times it's price, and has a lot of features that DSLR's do not have, 1024 Video mode been the most impressive of these features.

Whilst tiny in comparison to my DSLR setup, the G9 is hardly a featherweight, too large for a pocket but perfect for a small bag or around the neck, it's weight may be a hindrance to those who like to travel light but for those who like something with a good ergonomic feel and rangefinder looks then the G9 is perfect. Large textured rubber grips, brushed/spun metal accents and chrome finishing really make this camera exude class. The Shutter button also has a familiar DSLR feel to it as well with a very smooth action and half press focussing. The dials and buttons are very easy to read and use, and can be operated whilst using gloves (handy for those riding dirtbikes/mtb/snowboarding etc) Rounding out the exterior is a solid looking hotshoe mount, rare for a compact camera but for those with a creative mind a godsend.

Composing and taking an image is easy with the large and clear LCD screen, all relevant information can be viewed either through the viewfinder or the LCD with plenty of room to compose the photo. Handy features such as Histogram and sliding exposure scale shown in real time make nailing the perfect exposure that much easier. The G9 also has a very effective image stabilisation feature that allows for clear and crisp images in low light, I was amazed at how slow of a shutter speed can be used when IS was turned on.

The G9 like a lot of compacts nowadays allows full manual control over ISO, Aperture and shutter speed but can also be put on Auto Mode and give exceptional results, one major pitfall with Compacts is the small sensor size, which in turn can produce grainy photos in low light when the ISO/Sensitivity is increased, and the G9 is no different, ISO ranges from 80 to 1600 where only up to ISO 200 resembling a clean clear image, this would have to be one of the only downsides of the camera.

Files produced from the G9 in daylight rival most DSLR's on the market, it is scary how similar the files are to my 1dsmk2, it makes me wonder why the huge fuss over DSLR's these days when compact cameras are this good. The G9 as full RAW functionality, so processing images is as easy as can be, the files can be pushed surprisingly a long way in both shadows and highlights to recover any blown out or lost shadow detail, Chromatic Aberration (purple fringing) is also barely recognisable at 100% view so it is a testament to the design on the canon lens. Zooming is neither wide angle or telephoto, whilst not the widest zooming compact around, the G9 is wide enough for most purposes, Canon sell an optional wide angle convertor and a teleconvertor to give wider/longer zoom. Focus speed Is fast and accurate, in low light the G9 launches a green laser light to help lock onto focus.

As mentioned before, the G9 has an inbuilt hotshoe, allowing for the addition of a hotshoe based flash with ETTL compatibility, or the ability to allow for off camera flash. One inherent problem with DSLR's is with a mechanical shutter, flash sync can only be set to a maximum or around 1/250th of a second depending on the model and manufacturer, the beauty of Compact cameras means that because their shutter is electronic, any sync speed can be obtained! The ability to sync at 1/2000th, with enough lighting power is a great asset to have.
Another brilliant feature of the G9 is the movie mode, which captures in 1024 resolution with decent sound. The video files produced are very large however so it pays to have a large capacity SD card handy. Small inclusions such as inbuilt ND Filter, Custom white balance and scene modes make the G9 both a pleasure to use for beginners and those more advanced.

My intended purpose for this camera now that I am back from holidays is to just enjoy it for what it is, a smallish but extremely capable camera that can rival a DSLR and in many ways trump it with features. I plan to use the G9 on a photoshoot to prove that it does not take a DSLR to get exceptional results. Rather with some creativity and some carefully planned execution the compact digital camera is a force to be reckoned with.

1 comment:

Alysha said...

I just bought canon G9 camera from Circuit city.