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DCRP Review: Canon PowerShot G10  
   

Front of the Canon PowerShot G10

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: November 24, 2008
Last Updated: December 31, 2011

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The PowerShot G10 ($499) is the flagship camera in Canon's point-and-shoot lineup. Its highlights include a 14.7 Megapixel CCD, 5X wide-angle zoom lens, image stabilization, a high resolution t3-inch LCD, and more manual controls than you can shake a stick at. The G10 the follow-up to the PowerShot G9, a camera that I was not overly enthusiastic about.

Here's a look at how the PowerShot G9 and G10 compare:

Feature

PowerShot G9

PowerShot G10
Resolution 12.1 MP 14.7 MP
Image processor DIGIC III DIGIC 4
Optical zoom 6X 5X
Lens max. aperture F2.8 - F4.8 F2.8 - F4.5
Focal length (35 mm equiv.) 35 - 210 mm 28 - 140 mm
LCD size 3.0" 3.0"
LCD resolution 230,000 pixels 461,000 pixels
Shutter speed range 15 - 1/2500 sec 15 - 1/4000 sec
Flash range (Auto ISO) 0.3 - 4.0 m (W)
0.5 - 2.5 m (T)
0.3 - 4.6 m (W)
0.5 - 2.8 m (T)
Continuous shooting rate 1.5 fps 1.3 fps
Servo AF No Yes
Auto redeye removal No Yes
Face detect self-timer No Yes
Intelligent contrast correction No Yes
Movie mode max resolution 1024 x 768 (15 fps) 640 x 480 (30 fps)
Movie mode codec M-JPEG H.264
Battery used NB-2LH NB-7L
Battery life (CIPA standard) 240 shots 400 shots
Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in. 4.3 x 3.1 x 1.8 in.
Weight 320 g 350 g

So there you have the major changes between the G9 and G10. While the lens isn't quite as powerful as before, it has a nicer focal range. The LCD has twice the resolution, and the battery life has improved significantly. Biggest disappointment: the drop in movie mode resolution. Uhh, guys, isn't it supposed to go the other way with new models?

Is the PowerShot G10 the ultimate compact camera? FInd out now in our review!

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What's in the Box?

The PowerShot G10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 14.7 effective Megapixel PowerShot G10 digital camera
  • NB-7L lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Neck strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 305 page camera manual (printed)

Unlike its predecessor, the PowerShot G10 does not come bundled with a memory card. That means, unless you've got one already, you'll need to buy one along with the camera. The G10 supports SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, and HC MMCplus cards, and I'd stick with the first two. I would recommend a 2GB or 4GB card to start with on this very high resolution camera. It's definitely worth spending a little extra for a high speed card, though you don't need to go overboard.

One of my big complaints with regard to the PowerShot G9 was its poor battery life, and Canon has addressed this on the G10 by coming up with a new battery. The NB-7L packs 7.8 Wh of energy, up from 5.3 Wh on the previous model. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Canon PowerShot G10 */** 400 shots
Fuji FinePix F60fd * 230 shots
Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS * 250 shots
Nikon Coolpix P6000 */** 260 shots
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 */** 380 shots
Samsung TL34 HD * 200 shots
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300 * 300 shots

* Has image stabilization
** Has hot shoe

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

The chart above has kind of a rag-tag group of cameras. All of them are very high resolution cameras with manual controls, but the only true competitor to the PowerShot G10 Nikon's Coolpix P6000. As you can see, the G10 easily beats the P6000 in that department. It also has the best battery life of any of the cameras on the list.

I do want to mention the usual issues about the proprietary batteries used by the G10 and every camera on the above list. They're expensive (a spare will set you back at least $53), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery when your rechargeable runs out of juice.

When it's time to charge the NB-7L, just pop it into the included charger. The charger plugs directly into the wall socket, and takes approximately 140 minutes to fully charge the battery.

Canon PowerShot G10 in the hand

As you can see, the PowerShot G10 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with.

Like its predecessors in the G-series, the PowerShot G10 has plenty of accessories available. They include:

Accessory Model # Price * Why you want it
Telephoto lens TC-DC58D From $109 Boosts focal range by a factor of 1.4X, bringing the telephoto end of the lens up to 196 mm; requires conversion lens adapter
Conversion lens adapter LA-DC58K From $35 Required for conversion lenses
Ring accessory kit RAK-DC2 From $27 Includes three lens rings of different colors, so you can replace the black one that comes on the G10
External flash 220EX
430EX II
580EX II

From $125
From $255
From $369

Boost flash range and reduce redeye; you can use most third party flashes as well, though these sync with the camera
Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 From $200 Lets you control two separate groups of external flashes, wirelessly
Speedlite bracket SB-E2 $200+ Allows you to put the flash on the side of the camera, instead of on top; includes the cable below; hard to find and expensive
Off camera shoe cord OC-E3 From $70 A 2 foot cable that lets you use an external flash somewhere other than on the hot shoe
Remote shutter release RS60-E3 From $25 Basically a shutter release button on a cable
Waterproof case WP-DC28 From $200 Take your camera up to 40 meters underwater
AC adapter ACK-DC50 From $59 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Soft camera case SC-DC60 ?? Protect your camera from the elements with this leather case
* Prices were accurate when review was published

Very nice collection -- almost what you'd expect to see on a digital SLR. Let's move on to the G10's software bundle now.


CameraWindow in Mac OS X

Canon includes version 38.1 (!) of their Digital Camera Solution Disk with the PowerShot G10. The first part of the software suite that you'll probably encounter is Camera Window (pictured above), which is used to download photos from your camera.


ImageBrowser in Mac OS X

Once that's done you'll find yourself in either ImageBrowser or ZoomBrowser, which are for Mac and Windows respectively. The Browser software lets you view, organize, e-mail, and print your photos. If you categorized any photos on the camera (more on this later), then this information is transferred into the Browser software.

Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment option for those who want a quick fix.

While Browser can open RAW files, it cannot edit them or export them to JPEGs. For RAW editing you'll need to use...


Digital Photo Professional in Mac OS X

... Digital Photo Professional! I was surprised to see that this software was included with the G10 -- prior to this, it's been for D-SLRs only. The main screen isn't too different from Image/ZoomBrowser, with your choice of three thumbnail sizes, plus a thumbnail w/shooting data screen. The batch processing tool lets you quickly resize and rename a large number of photos.


RAW editing in DPP

The RAW editing tools in DPP are fairly elaborate. You can adjust exposure, white balance, the tone curve, color saturation, sharpness, and noise reduction. The software is very responsive, with nearly instant updates to the image after you change a parameter.

If you're using Adobe Photoshop CS4, the latest version of the Camera Raw plug-in allows you to open the G10's RAW files, as well.

What is RAW, anyway? RAW images contain unprocessed image data direct from the camera's sensor. Thus, you can adjust settings like white balance and exposure without damaging the original image, so it's almost like taking the photo again. The downside is the large file size (compared to JPEG), fewer shots in continuous shooting mode, and the need to post-process each image on your computer before you can turn it into a more common format like JPEG.


Remote Capture in Mac OS X

One more nice tool that comes bundled with the G10 is Canon's Remote Capture software. This allows you to connect the camera to your Mac or PC, and control it from there. Photos are saved directly to your hard drive. Most of the camera's settings can be adjusted in Remote Capture, though do note that RAW mode is not available.


PhotoStitch in Mac OS X

The last part of the Canon software suite that I want to mention is PhotoStitch. As you can see, this allows you to combine multiple photos into a single panoramic image. It's super easy to use, and the results can be impressive. While using the G10's Stitch Assist feature isn't required to make panoramas, it does help you line things up correctly, so there are no "seams" in the final product.

Canon includes a thick, detailed manual with the PowerShot G10. It covers every camera feature imaginable, though it's not the most user-friendly book I've seen. Also included are manuals covering software basics (details are installed in PDF form on your computer) and direct printing (via PictBridge).

Look and Feel

For the most part, the PowerShot G10 doesn't look a lot different than its predecessor. The most noticeable changes are the refined right hand grip, and new dial layout on the top of the camera. The G10 is made of a mixture of metal and plastic, and it feels quite solid in your hands. The right hand grip is, well, grippier than before, though your thumb ends up resting on the focus point selection button and control dial, which isn't always desirable.

Ergonomics are a mixed bag. The G10 has more than its share of buttons, so it can be a little intimidating at first. The buttons at the top try to replicate the rangefinder camera experience, though they're easy to accidentally bump, and the exposure compensation dial doesn't seem necessary in the first place. The zoom controller and especially the shutter release button remain too small for my taste.

Now, here's a look at how the PowerShot G10 compares to other cameras in my rather unusual grouping of competitors:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot G10 4.3 x 3.1 x 1.8 in. 24 cu in. 350 g
Fujifilm FinePix F60fd 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 163 g
Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 in. 13.1 cu in. 164 g
Nikon Coolpix P6000 4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in. 18.6 cu in. 240 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 10.9 cu in. 229 g
Samsung TL34HD 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.8 in. 6.8 cu in. 138 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300 3.7 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 9.4 cu in. 156 g

Not surprisingly, the G10 is the largest camera in the group. It's also considerably bigger than is "true" competitor, the Nikon Coolpix P6000. The G10 is not a pocket camera by any means, though it fits comfortably in a jacket pocket or small camera bag.

Ready to tour the G10 now? Here we go:

Front of the Canon PowerShot G10

One of the biggest changes on the PowerShot G10 is its lens. The telephoto-heavy 35 - 210 mm lens has been replaced by a less powerful zoom with a more useful range (in my opinion). The new F2.8-4.5, 5X optical zoom lens has a focal range of 6.1 - 30.5 mm, which is equivalent to 28 - 140 mm. While the lens itself is not threaded, you can attach a teleconverter lens via the optional conversion lens adapter (filters are not supported). To do this, just press the button to the lower-right of the lens, remove the ring around the lens, and attach the converter.

As you'd expect on Canon's flagship compact camera, the PowerShot G10 features optical image stabilization. The camera detects the tiny movements of your hands that can blur your photos, and then shifts a lens element to compensate. While this won't freeze a moving subject or let you take one second handheld exposures, it will allow you to use shutter speeds that would be otherwise unavailable. Want to see the IS system in action? Have a look at this:


Image stabilization off


Image stabilization on

Both of the photos above were taken at the very slow shutter speed of 1/3 second. No Photoshop tricks here folks -- the picture taken with the image stabilizer on is noticeably sharper. You can use image stabilization in movie mode as well, and this brief video clip illustrates its effectiveness.

To the upper-right of the lens is the G10's built-in flash. The flash here is a bit more powerful than the one on the G9, with a working range of 0.3 - 4.6 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.8 m at telephoto (both at Auto ISO). Should you want more flash power, you'll want to consider adding an external flash to the hot shoe you'll see in a moment.

To the left of the flash is the optical viewfinder, followed by the AF-assist lamp. This lamp is used by the camera as a focusing aid in low light situations. The lamp is also used for reducing redeye, and it also serves as a visual countdown for the self-timer.

Like the G9 before it, the PowerShot G10 has a large 3-inch LCD display. I did a lot of complaining about the screen on the G9, mainly because you couldn't see it if you were wearing polarized sunglasses. Not only has that been taken care of (though you'll still have that problem when the camera is in the portrait orientation, which is typical), but the resolution has doubled to 461,000 pixels. As you'd expect from a screen with those numbers, everything is very sharp. Outdoor visibility was decent, and low light viewing is excellent, as the screen brightens (dramatically) in those situations.

Above the LCD is the camera's optical viewfinder. The viewfinder is good-sized, though it shows just 77% of the frame. Do note that you will see a bit of the lens through the viewfinder when you're at full telephoto. A diopter correction knob on the side of the viewfinder will focus what you're looking at.


You'll see this screen when the G10 is connected to your computer

To the left of the viewfinder is the shortcut button, which is customizable. This button can also be used for the Auto ISO Shift feature: when the camera thinks that your shutter speed is too slow, the light on the button will illuminate. Press the button and the camera will boost the ISO high enough in order to ensure a sharp photo. When you're plugged into a computer or printer, the button (now called Print/Share) allows you to transfer photos to your PC or select photos for printing.

On the opposite side of the viewfinder you'll find the button for entering playback mode. Continuing to the right, we find the AE/FE lock button, which also allows you to attach sound memos to photos when you're in playback mode.

Moving downward, we find buttons for focus point selection + delete photo and metering mode + jump (ahead when reviewing photos). I'll tell you more about the focus modes when we get to the menu section of the review. The available metering modes include evaluative, center-weighted, and spot.

Under that is the combination four-way controller and command dial. The dial is used for many things, including navigating menus, quickly skimming through photos you've taken, and adjusting manual exposure settings. The four-way controller can be used for many of the same things, and it also does the following:

  • Up - Manual focus (on/off)
  • Down - Drive (Single-shot, continuous, continuous AF, face self-timer, self-timer) - see below
  • Left - Macro (on/off)
  • Right - Flash (Off, auto, on)
  • Center - Function menu (see below) + Set


Manual focus mode (center-frame enlargement not shown)

The manual focus feature lets you use the command dial to set the focus distance yourself. A guide showing the focus distance is displayed on the right side of the LCD, and the center of the frame is enlarged, as well.

Now it's time to talk about the continuous shooting and self-timer options on the PowerShot G10. There are three continuous modes on the G10: regular continuous mode locks the focus and exposure when the first shot is taken; continuous AF refocuses before each shot, allowing you to recompose if you wish; continuous LV (available in just a few shooting modes) locks the focus at the first shot, but lets recompose as you're shooting. The frame rate for continuous AF and LV is the same.

Quality Continuous Continuous AF
RAW + JPEG (Large/Fine) Unlimited @ 0.7 fps Unlimited @ 0.6 fps
RAW Unlimited @ 0.8 fps Unlimited @ 0.6 fps
JPEG (Large/ Super Fine) Unlimited @ 1.4 fps Unlimited @ 0.6 fps

The good news is that the PowerShot G10 can shoot continuously without stopping, at least with a high speed memory card. The bad news is that it's not terribly quick. This shouldn't be entirely surprising, considering the size of the 14 Megapixel photos this camera produces.


Customizing drive settings

The G10 has a very customizable self-timer. You can select from the usual two or ten second delays, or you can select how long you want to wait, and how many photos are taken. But wait, there's more -- the new face self-timer feature will wait until a new face enters the scene, and then it will take anywhere from 1 to 10 photos. This allows the photographer to make it into the picture without having to make a run for it.


Function menu

Pressing the center button on the four-way controller options up the Function menu, which has these options:

  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, flash. underwater, custom 1/2) - see below
  • My Colors (Off, vivid, neutral, sepia, black & white, positive film, lighter skin tone, darker skin tone, vivid blue, vivid green, vivid red, custom color) - see below
  • Bracketing (Off, exposure, flash) - see below
  • Flash compensation/output (-2EV to +2EV or 1/3, 2/3, Full) - choices depend on shooting mode
  • ND filter (on/off)
  • Compression (see chart later in review)
  • Resolution (see chart later in review)

The PowerShot G10's custom white balance option lets you use a white or gray card, for accurate color in any lighting. This will come in handy when you're shooting in unusual lighting conditions, like I do in many of the test shots later in the review. You can save up to two sets of custom WB settings.


Sharpness is one of the settings you can adjust with the Custom Color option

The My Colors feature should be self-explanatory, save for the custom option. This one lets you manually adjust contrast, sharpness, saturation, as well as red/green/blue/skin tone levels.

The G10 allows you to bracket for both exposure and focus. In both cases, the the camera takes three shots in a row, with each shot having a different exposure or focus distance. For exposure, the interval between each shot can be set in 1/3-stop increments. For focusing, the increment is a more generic "small, medium, or large".

One of the unique features of the G10 (and its predecessors) is its built-in neutral density filter. ND filters cut down how much light hits the sensor (by three stops), which allows you to use slower shutter speeds or smaller aperture values than you could otherwise.

Back to the tour now -- the last two items on the back of the PowerShot G10 are the DIsplay and Menu buttons. The former toggles what's shown on the LCD, while the latter does exactly as it sounds.

Top of the Canon PowerShot G10

Like dials on your camera? There are three more on the top of the G10, in addition to the command dial on the back. The first one is the exposure compensation dial on the left side of the photo, which I don't feel is terribly necessary. I also found it quite easy to bump it and accidentally change the setting.

In the center of the photo is the G10's hot shoe. For best results, you'll want to attach one of the Canon Speedlites I mentioned back in the accessory discussion, as they will sync up with the camera's metering system. You can also control the flashes settings using the G10's menu system. If you're using a non-compatible flash, you'll most likely need to adjust its settings manually. The G10 can sync as fast as 1/250 second with an external flash.

Continuing to the right, we find the mode dial, which has the ISO dial underneath it. There are two ISO options: Auto and Hi, with the latter using higher sensitivities than the former. The options on the mode dial include:

Option Function
Movie mode More on this later
Stitch Assist Helps you line up photos for later stitching into panoramas
Special Scene mode Pick the situation and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from portrait, landscape, night scene, sports, night snapshot, kids & pets, indoor, sunset, foliage, snow, beach, fireworks, aquarium, underwater, ISO 3200, color accent, color swap. More below.
Auto mode Fully automatic, most camera settings locked up
Program mode Automatic shooting, but with access to all menu options. A Program Shift feature lets you select from various shutter speed/aperture combos by using the command dial (hold down the "star" button to activate this)
Shutter priority (Tv) mode You choose shutter speed and the camera picks the aperture. Shutter speed range is 15 - 1/4000 sec; do note that the fastest shutter speeds are only available at small apertures
Aperture priority (Av) mode You choose the aperture and the camera picks an appropriate shutter speed. Range is F2.8 - F8.0
Full manual (M) mode Choose both the shutter speed and aperture yourself; same ranges as above
Custom 1/2 Store your favorite camera settings in these two spots

As you can see, the PowerShot G10 offers a full set of manual controls, plus an ample supply of scene modes. I want to quickly mention some of those scene modes before we continue the tour. The ISO 3200 option does just as it sounds -- it boosts the sensitivity all the way to 3200, and it also lowers the resolution to 1600 x 1200. I'd pass on that mode, as the resulting photos look like something you'd take with a camera phone. The color accent feature lets you select one color to "keep", while everything else in your photo is turned to black and white. Color swap does just as it sounds like: you swap one color for another.

The G10 has plenty of manual controls, though there's no bulb mode. You can also save two sets of camera settings to dedicated spots on the mode dial. I like how the LCD displays the shutter speed and aperture when you're adjusting them -- kind of retro.

It's hard to see here, but just above-left from the mode dial is the camera's microphone. To the right of the dials we find the power button, with the shutter release/zoom controller combo above that. As I mentioned, I'm not a fan of the shutter release or the zoom controller -- both are too small. The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in 1.7 seconds. I counted fourteen steps in the G10's 5X zoom range.

Side of the Canon PowerShot G10

The only thing to see on this side of the G10 is its speaker. The lens is at the full wide-angle position here.

Side of the Canon PowerShot G10

On the other side of the G10 are its I/O ports, which are under a plastic cover of average quality. The ports here are for A/V out, an optional wired remote control, and USB. As you'd expect, the PowerShot G10 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard.

The camera uses a DC coupler with its AC adapter, hence the lack of a DC-in port. A DC coupler is essentially a battery with a power cord coming out of it.

The lens is at the full telephoto position in this photo.

Bottom of the Canon PowerShot G10

On the bottom of the G10 you'll find a metal tripod mount, plus the battery/memory card compartment. It's disappointing to see that you can't get to the memory card slot when the camera is on a tripod on Canon's flagship compact camera.

The included NB-7L battery can be seen at right.

Using the Canon PowerShot G10

Record Mode

The PowerShot G10 starts up very quickly for a camera with an extending lens. Expect to wait just 0.8 seconds before you can start taking pictures.


There's a live histogram on the G10

The G10 was a quick performer in terms of focus speeds, as well. At the wide end of the lens, you can expect to wait for roughly 0.2 - 0.4 seconds before the camera locks focus. For telephoto and more difficult subjects, the range is about twice that. Even in difficult situations or low light, the G10 kept focus times to one second or less.

I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds at which it can occur.

Shot-to-shot times ranged from around 1.5 seconds for JPEGs, 2.5 seconds for RAW, and 2-3 seconds if you're using the flash.

You can delete a picture after you've taken it by pressing the delete photo (focus point) button on the back of the camera.

Now, here's a look at the image size and quality choices available on the camera:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 2GB card (optional)
Large
4416 x 3312
RAW + Large/Fine JPEG 22.6 MB 79
RAW 18.8 MB 94
Super fine 6.3 MB 306
Fine 3.8 MB 516
Normal 1.8 MB 1059
Wide (16:9)
4416 x 2480
Super fine 4.8 MB 499
Fine 2.8 MB 841
Normal 1.3 MB 1707
Medium 1
3456 x 2592
Super fine 3.9 MB 499
Fine 2.3 MB 841
Normal 1.1 MB 1707
Medium 2
2592 x 1944
Super fine 2.5 MB 767
Fine 1.4 MB 1365
Normal 695 KB 2672
Medium 3
1600 x 1200
Super fine 1002 KB 1862
Fine 558 KB 3235
Normal 278 KB 6146
Small
640 x 480
Super fine 249 KB 6830
Fine 150 KB 10245
Normal 84 KB 15368

Those enormous file sizes illustrate why you need a large memory card with the PowerShot G10! While you can take a RAW and JPEG at the same time, the JPEG quality is fixed at Large/Fine.

Images are named IMG_xxxx.JPG, where x = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained even if you replace and/or format memory cards.

Now, onto the menus!

The PowerShot G10 is based on the standard Canon menu system, though it's extra sharp on the G10, and the customizable My Menu is a new addition. The menus are responsive and straightforward. Keeping in mind that not all of these options are available in all shooting modes, here's what you'll find in the Record menu:

  • AF Frame (FlexiZone, Face Detect, AiAF, Center) - last option is only available in Auto or Scene mode; see below for more
  • AF-point zoom (on/off) - enlarges the focus point or the selected faces
  • Servo AF (on/off) - for tracking a moving subject; new to the G10
  • AF mode (Single, continuous) - see below
  • Digital Zoom (Off, 1.7X, 2.2X, Standard) - see below
  • Flash control
    • Flash mode (Auto, manual) - the latter lets you adjust the flash strength; only available in the manual shooting modes
    • Flash exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV increments)
    • Flash output (Minimum, medium, maximum) - only available with flash mode set to manual
    • Shutter sync (1st-curtain, 2nd-curtain)
    • Slow synchro (on/off)
    • Redeye correction (on/off) - digital redeye removal, as the photo is taken
    • Redeye reduction lamp (on/off) - a little extra help
    • Safety FE (on/off) - whether the camera adjusts the shutter speed or aperture to avoid overexposure when using the flash
  • i-Contrast (Auto, off) - see below
  • Drive settings
    • Face self-timer (1 - 10 shots)
    • Self-timer (2 or 10 secs, custom)
    • Custom delay (0-10, 15, 20, 30 secs)
    • Custom shots (1-10)
  • Spot AE point (Center, AF point) - what area of the frame is metered when in spot metering mode
  • Safety shift (on/off) - camera will adjust the shutter speed or aperture as needed to obtain a proper exposure when in the priority modes
  • Auto ISO Shift (on/off) - see below
  • MF-Point zoom (on/off) - enlarges the center of the frame in manual focus mode
  • Safety MF (on/off) - allows you to press the focus point button to activate autofocus momentarily when using manual focus
  • AF-assist beam (on/off)
  • Review (Off, 2-10 seconds, hold) - post-shot review
  • Review info (Off, detailed, focus check) - detailed shows you shooting data and a histogram; focus check enlarges the focus point or faces
  • Record RAW+JPEG (on/off) - here's how you turn on RAW+JPEG mode
  • Save original (on/off) - for the My Colors feature
  • Auto category (on/off) - photos are automatically categorized based on the scene mode they were taken in; more on this later
  • IS mode (Continuous, shoot only, panning, off) - see below
  • Converter (Off, telephoto) - for when you're using the conversion lens
  • Custom display settings - you can have three sets of these:
    • Shooting info (on/off)
    • Grid lines (on/off)
    • 3:2 guide (on/off)
    • Histogram (on/off)
  • Set Shortcut button (Off, ND filter, white balance, custom WB 1/2, redeye correction, digital teleconverter, i-Contrast, AF lock, display off) - define what this button does
  • Save settings (C1, C2) - save your favorite camera settings to the two custom spots on the mode dial
FlexiZone AF lets you position the focus point anywhere in the frame (save for a margin around the edges) You can also adjust the size of the focus point

Lots to talk about before we move on. First up, the AF frame options. FlexiZone lets you use the four-way controller to select the area in the frame on which to focus -- which comes in handy when the camera is on a tripod. AiAF is your standard, everyday 9-point autofocus. For either of these two modes, you can set the size of the focus point(s) to "regular" or small.


Face detection

Naturally, the PowerShot G10 supports face detection AF/AE/WB. It can find up to nine faces in the frame, according to Canon. In our testing, it typically found 5 of the 6 faces in our test photo, though it seemed a little "jumpy". If you wish, you can "select" a face, and the camera will track it as it moves around the frame.

There are two AF modes to choose from on the camera. Single AF focuses only when you halfway press the shutter release button. In continuous AF mode, the camera is focusing constantly, which means less waiting when it's time to actually take a photo. The downside is that continuous AF puts an extra strain on your battery.

There's also a new Servo AF feature, normally found on digital SLRs. This will track a moving subject as they move around the frame -- perfect for action shots. Do note that Servo AF is not available when using AiAF focus.

A quick note about the G10's digital zoom features now. Canon calls the 1.7X and 2.2X options a "digital teleconverter" -- it's basically just fixed digital zoom. The Standard option is what you'll find on every camera - you can select whatever amount of digital zoom that you want. The Safety Zoom feature warns you when you pass the point where image quality is degraded. When you're shooting at the highest resolution that starts as soon as digital zoom kicks in, but if you're using a lower resolution you can more of it. At the M3 (1600 x 1200) picture size you can get a total of 14X zoom without any loss in image quality.

One new feature on the G10 is known as i-Contrast. This feature attempts to brighten dark areas of a photo, and it's turned off by default. You can also use after-the-fact in playback mode, if you wish. I took a bunch of test photos and this flash shot is perhaps the best example of i-Contrast in action:

i-Contrast off i-Contrast on

As you can see, the i-Contrast feature brightened up the photo, especially the areas off to the sides where the flash didn't reach very well. My other test photos did not show terribly significant differences, i-Contrast may only be effective in certain situations.

The Auto ISO Shift feature, which has been on Canon's other models for a while now, is a handy one. If the camera thinks that a photo will be blurry, you can press the Print/Share button (which will be blinking) to automatically boost the ISO to a setting that will result in a sharp photo. Keep in mind that this feature can add a lot of noise to your photos, so use it wisely.

The Auto Category feature assigns one of the standard photo categories (people, scenery, events) to a photo based on what scene mode you used to take the picture. You can edit these -- or manually assign a category -- in playback mode.

What are those three IS modes all about? Continuous mode activates the OIS system as soon as you halfway press the shutter release, which helps you compose the photo without camera shake. The "shoot only" option doesn't turn it on until the photo is actually taken, which improves the performance of the OIS system. The panning mode only stabilizes up and down motion, and you'll want to use this while tracking a moving subject horizontally. You can also turn the whole thing off, which is advisable if you're using a tripod.

There's also a setup menu, which is available in both the record and playback mode menus:

  • Mute (on/off) - quickly turn off the camera's beeps and blips
  • Volume
    • Startup volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Operation volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Self-timer volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Shutter volume (Off, 1-5)
    • Playback volume (Off, 1-5)
  • Audio
    • Mic level (Auto, manual)
    • Level (-40 to 0 dB) - if you selected manual above
    • Wind filter (on/off)
  • LCD brightness (-7 to +7, 1-step increments)
  • Power saving
    • Auto power down (on/off)
    • Display off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min)
  • Time zone (Home, world)
  • Date/time
  • Clock display (0-5, 10, 20, 30 secs, 1, 2, 3 mins) - hold down the Func/Set button while turning on the camera and the G10 becomes an expensive clock
  • Card format
  • File numbering (Continuous, auto reset)
  • Create folder
    • Create new folder - on the memory card
    • Auto create (Off, daily, weekly, monthly) - this new features will automatically create new folders on the memory card at set intervals
  • Auto rotate (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate portrait photos on the LCD
  • Distance units (m/cm, ft/in)
  • Lens retract (1 min, 0 secs) - how quickly the lens retracts when you switch to playback mode
  • Language
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Print Method (Auto, PictBridge)
  • Reset all - back to defaults

The next tab in the menu system, My Camera, allows you to customize the startup screen, beeps, and phony shutter sounds that your camera makes. The software included with the camera lets you use your own photos and sounds as well.

The last tab in the menu is called My Menu, and it's been lifted straight from Canon's digital SLRs. You can select what items you want here, and whether the camera goes to this menu (instead of the record menu) when you press the Menu button.

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

The PowerShot G10 did a very nice job with our macro test subject. The colors are nice and saturated, and the subject is sharp. Plenty of detail is captured, down to individual dust particles. I don't see any noise or noise reduction artifacting here, which is to be expected.

If you like being close to your subject, then you'll love the G10's focus range in macro mode. You can be just 1 cm away from your subject at wide-angle, and 30 cm at telephoto.

The night shot turned out well, though there's definitely room for improvement. With full manual exposure control, bringing in enough light is a piece of cake. The buildings are fairly sharp, though you can see noise reduction eating away at some of the details on them. Considering the nearly 15 Megapixel resolution of the G10, I guess the noise doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Purple fringing was well controlled here, and the camera didn't clip too many highlights.

Now, let's use that same scene and see how the G10 does at higher ISOs in low light:


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400, RAW -> JPEG conversion (DPP)

ISO 400, RAW -> JPEG conversion + NeatImage + Unsharp Mask

ISO 800

ISO 1600

There's an increase in noise as you go from ISO 80 to 100, but not by much. At ISO 200 we start to see more detail loss, reducing print sizes to midsize if you're shooting JPEGs, and large if you're shooting RAW and post-processing. Things really start to go downhill at ISO 400, with substantial detail loss. I threw in a RAW conversion and a cleaned up version of it, which shows you the advantage of shooting in that format. I wouldn't bother with ISO 800 or 1600 in low light -- there's just no detail left to do anything with those photos.

We'll see if the G10 does any better in normal lighting in a bit.

There's fairly mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the PowerShot G10's 5X zoom lens. You can see what this does to your photos by looking at the building on the right side of this photo. The lens has very good corner-to-corner sharpness, and I did not find vignetting to be a problem, either.

Canon has taken a two-pronged approach to redeye removal on the G10. You can have it use the AF-assist lamp to shrink the size of your subject's pupils (which isn't new), and you can also have the camera digitally remove any redeye that it finds (this is new). I had both systems turned on and, as you can see, no redeye!

Now it's time for our second ISO test, which is taken in the studio. Thus, it's comparable between cameras I've reviewed over the years. While the crops below give you a quick idea as to the noise performance at each sensitivity, I highly recommend viewing the full size images as well. Ready?


ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800

ISO 800, RAW -> JPEG conversion (DPP)

ISO 800, RAW -> JPEG conversion + NeatImage + Unsharp Mask

ISO 1600

The ISO 80 and 100 shots look very similar, as you'd expect. There's a tiny bit of noise here, but not nearly enough to be concerned about. You can see a bit more noise and noise reduction artifacting at ISO 200, but it shouldn't keep you from making a large-size print. Details start to get eaten away at ISO 400 due to noise reduction, though this will blend away in all but the largest prints. The noise increase continues at ISO 800, which is as high as I'd take the PowerShot G10. As you can see, shooting RAW and post-processing is worth the trouble. There's quite a bit of detail loss at ISO 1600, so I'd pass on that setting.

As long as you keep the ISO fairly low, especially in low light situations, then you'll be able to get very good photo quality out of the PowerShot G10. Photos were generally well-exposed, with pleasing, accurate colors. Images are "just right" in terms of sharpness, in my opinion. Being a 14.7 Megapixel camera, the G10 requires a lot of noise reduction, and you'll see the effects of it starting at ISO 80. This shot of the Bay Bridge shows you how noise reduction eats away at fine details, in this case, the cables. Still, most people are making prints 8 x 10 and under, so if you keep the ISO at 400 or lower, I don't think this will affect you. If you're viewing images at 100% on your computer screen or making very large prints, then you may not like what you see as the ISO climbs -- especially in low light, where things get quite noisy when you pass ISO 200. Purple fringing was not a problem on the PowerShot G10.

Don't just take my word for all this, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, perhaps printing a few of the photos if you can. Then you should be able to decide if the PowerShot G10's photo quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The movie mode has changed a bit on the PowerShot G10. Canon has finally abandoned the M-JPEG codec, instead switching to the far more efficient H.264. I was, however, disappointed that Canon didn't take advantage of the new codec to allow the G10 to take high definition movies. The G10 can record movies at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) until the file size reaches 4GB. The good news is that it now takes almost 50 minutes for that to happen, instead of 32 minutes like on the PowerShot G9.

For even longer recording times, you can drop the resolution to 320 x 240 (30 fps). You can record nearly 2.5 hours of continuous video at this setting, though I doubt the battery will last that long.

The Color Swap and Color Accent features are available in movie mode, should you want them.

You cannot use the zoom lens during filming (it will be locked when you start filming). You can, however, use the digital zoom. As you'd expect, the image stabilizer is active during movie recording.

Here's a brief sample movie for you, taken at the highest quality setting:


Click to play movie (9.0 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, QuickTime format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The PowerShot G10 has a very nice playback mode. Basic features include slideshows, image protection, DPOF print marking, voice captions, thumbnail view, and zoom & scroll. This last feature will enlarge the image by as much as ten times, and let you move around. You can use the scroll wheel on the back of the camera to move from image to image, while keeping the zoom and scroll setting intact. You can also use the Focus Check feature here, which enlarges the focus point or the faces that were detected in the photo.

Photos can be rotated, resized, and cropped right on the camera. You can apply most of the My Colors feature to your photos, as well. If there's any redeye in your photos, you'll find a tool to remove it here. You can also use the i-Contrast feature to brighten up the dark areas of your photos, with a choice of Auto, Low, Medium, or High settings.

If you're viewing a movie, you can use the Edit tool to trim unwanted footage off of the beginning or end of the clip.


Selecting a category

Photos that were taken in certain scene modes are automatically categorized, but if you want to do it manually, just use the My Category option. Your selection is transferred to your computer along with the photo.

Moving through photos with the scroll wheel... ... and the Jump button

There are several ways to move through photos on the camera. Naturally, you can just press left or right on the four-way controller. You can also turn the scroll wheel, which gives you the screen you see on the above-left. Another option is to use the Jump feature, which lets you move ahead by date, category, or just by 10 or 100 photos.


Sound recording tool

You can also use the G10 to record audio clips, and that tool is located in the playback menu. You can record up to two hours of continuous audio, with three quality settings to choose from.

By default you won't get much information about your photo while in playback mode. But press the Display button and you'll get more info, including a histogram.

The G10 moves through images at an average clip, with a delay of around 1 second between each one. Like most of Canon's cameras, when you rotate the camera 90 degrees, the photo on the LCD rotates too.

How Does it Compare?

The Canon PowerShot G10 is a very capable fixed-lens camera that does just about everything right. It's fast, well built, customizable, and expandable. Unfortunately, it's biggest problems relate to image quality, specifically to noise. Canon threw the highest resolution sensor they could find into the G10 (14.7 Megapixel), and they've had to apply a lot of noise reduction to keep noise in check. While photos look very good at low ISOs, things go downhill rapidly, especially in low light. I can recommend the PowerShot G10 to those who plan on keeping the ISO relatively low. However, if you're a high ISO or low light shooter, it's probably worth stepping up to a digital SLR (which, incidentally, start at only $40 more than the G10).

The PowerShot G10 looks a whole lot like its predecessor, and for the most part, that's a good thing. Constructed mostly of metal, it's very well built. While the camera is easy to hold, I found my right thumb often sitting on the focus point selection button or the control dial. The G10 is a poster child for button clutter -- it's covered with dials and buttons. While some of them make life easier (I like being able to quickly adjust ISO and exposure compensation), they're also very easy to accidentally bump. The G10 features a 5X optical zoom with a nice focal range of 28 - 140 mm. Should you want more telephoto power, a conversion lens is available (though I wish there was a wide-angle converter too). In fact, the whole camera is expandable, with support for an external flash, remote shutter release, and an underwater case. Like its predecessor, the PowerShot G10 features optical image stabilization, which does an effective job of reducing the effects of camera shake. It can also be used to "smooth out" your video recordings. On the back of the camera is a large 3-inch LCD with 461,000 pixels. As you might imagine, the screen is quite sharp, and it doesn't have the visibility problems of its predecessor when you're wearing polarized sunglasses. The LCD has average outdoor visibility, and excellent viewing in low light situations. While many camera manufacturers have done away with optical viewfinders on their cameras, the G10 still has one.

The G10 is about as feature-packed as you can get on a digital camera. On the automatic side, you've got a regular auto shooting mode, plus numerous scene modes. The menus are attractive and easy to navigate (and not to mention, very sharp on that nice LCD). The camera's playback mode has easy-to-use image editing and retouching features, such as redeye reduction and shadow brightening. If you like manual controls, the G10 has you covered. There are the usual manual exposure controls, two types of bracketing, and customizable buttons and menus. I was a bit disappointed to see that there's no white balance fine-tuning or bracketing, however. The G10 supports the RAW image format, and Canon includes their powerful Digital Photography Professional software to edit them. There are four focus modes to choose from, including FlexiZone and face detection. The face detection feature works well, and the new face self-timer feature works as advertised. While I appreciate Canon's move to the efficient H.264 codec, I was disappointed to find that Canon's flagship PowerShot lacks an HD movie mode.

Camera performance is very good in nearly all respects. The G10 starts up remarkably quickly for a camera with an extending lens, taking just 0.8 seconds to get ready to shoot. The camera focuses quickly, with "worst case scenario" and low light focus times staying under a second in most situations. I didn't find shutter lag to be a problem. Shot-to-shot speeds range from 1.5 seconds for JPEGs to 2.5 seconds for RAW or RAW+JPEG images. If you're using the flash, expect to wait for between two to three seconds before another photo can be taken. The G10's continuous shooting mode is slow, but you can keep firing away until you run out of memory. The frame rate ranges from 0.7 fps for RAW images to 1.4 fps for JPEGs. The camera's battery life has been greatly improved over that of the PowerShot G9, allowing you to take 400 shots per charge.

Photo quality is a mixed bag. If you keep the ISO low and stay in good lighting, you'll get really nice results from the G10. Photos are well-exposed, with nice, vivid colors. Images have just the right amount of sharpness, and minimal purple fringing. While you'll see the effects of noise reduction at ISO 80, things don't really become a problem until ISO 800 (in good light). Shooting RAW and post-processing helps squeeze out a little more detail, but don't expect to be printing posters at higher sensitivities. The G10 performs poorly in low light situations, with noise reduction becoming apparent at ISO 200, and quite destructive at ISO 400. On a more positive note, the cameras two-pronged approach to redeye reduction seems to do a pretty good job.

There are a few more issues to raise before I wrap things up. Something that bothered me on the PowerShot G9 that hasn't changed here are the size of the zoom controller and shutter release button: too small. You can't swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod, either -- disappointing on a flagship camera. And finally, I still feel nostalgic for the PowerShot G cameras of old. You know, the ones with the fast lenses and rotating LCDs.

If you're doing most of your shooting in good lighting and don't plan on shooting at the highest ISO settings, then the PowerShot G10 is worth a look. It offers a ton of features, for both beginners and enthusiasts alike, it's both expandable and customizable, and it has more Megapixels than you could possibly need. While I'm not jumping up and down about it, I can recommend the G10 to most folks.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality (in good light)
  • Nice 5X zoom lens with 28 - 140 mm range
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Solid, well built body, with easy-to-access ISO and exposure compensation dials
  • Generally snappy performance
  • High resolution 3-inch LCD display; good low light visibility
  • Full manual controls, with plenty of scene modes too
  • RAW image format support; good RAW editor included
  • Customizable menus and buttons
  • Very expandable: supports an external flash, remote shutter release cable, conversion lens, and underwater case
  • Redeye not a problem thanks to automatic removal tool
  • Well implemented face detection feature; handy face self-timer feature
  • Built-in neutral density filter
  • Fancy playback mode
  • Movie mode now supports up to 50 mins of continuous recording (at 640 x 480)
  • Strong battery life

What I didn't care for:

  • Lots of noise reduction in low light; images get noisy quickly in good light after ISO 400
  • No white balance bracketing or fine-tuning
  • Continuous shooting mode won't win any awards for speed
  • Lack of HD movie mode a disappointment
  • Design annoyances: top dials easy to bump accidentally; small shutter release/zoom controller; thumb sits right on the focus point button
  • Can't swap memory cards while using a tripod
  • Still missing the fast lens and rotating LCD of G-series cameras past

The PowerShot G10's closest competitor is undoubtedly the Nikon Coolpix P6000. Some other cameras worth considering include the Fuji FinePix F60fd, Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, Samsung TL34 HD, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot G10 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Feedback & Discussion

To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.

If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.