Canon PowerShot G10
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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:
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!
What's in the Box?
The PowerShot G10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
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:
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.
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:
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: