Review: Canon PowerShot G2
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, August 16, 2001
Monday, May 13, 2002
when the 3 Megapixel wars were starting to settle down, the camera
manufacturers moved into the 4 million pixel battlefield. Olympus,
Sony, Casio, and Toshiba are already on board, and now there's Canon
too, with their PowerShot
G2 is a new 4.0 Megapixel update to the very popular PowerShot G1,
which is still one of the most popular reviews on this site. The
new features on the G2, besides the new CCD, include:
color accuracy (via RGB filter)
has been reduced
card photo printer support
vivid color mode
more, as I'll describe later.
change to the G2 is something that most manufacturers will start
doing soon: referring to the Megapixel rating in terms of the number
of effective pixels, rather than actual pixels on the CCD. So while
the G2 has 4.13 million effective pixels, it only uses 4 million
of them, thus the 4.0MP designation.
does the G2 compare to the other 4MP cameras I've tested so far?
I'm not going to tell you now -- read on!
in the Box?
PowerShot G2 has an excellent bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
4.0 Mpixel Canon PowerShot G2 camera
Li-ion rechargeable battery
featuring Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE, Canon Digital Camera Solutions,
page manual (printed), plus software manual
a big thank you to Canon for leading the way on bundled memory
cards! Unlike some other manufacturers who are including 8MB cards
with their 4 Megapixel cameras, Canon gives you a 32MB card right
in the box! Naturally, if you're going to be out shooting a lot
of photos, you're going to need a larger card, but this is a great
PowerShot G2 includes the same BP-511 rechargeable battery that
came with the G1. Canon claims that it can last about 5 hours, or
400-1000 photos, depending on usage of course.
recharge the battery, you just plug the AC adapter into the side
of the camera. It takes around 80 minutes to fully recharge the
not a big fan of proprietary batteries, however. For one, they're
expensive. Secondly, imagine you're on a trip somewhere (say, Disneyland),
and your battery dies. You're out of luck. However, if you had a
camera that uses AA batteries you could buy a set of alkalines to
get you through the rest of the day. Many people won't agree with
my logic, but that's my argument.
nice feature you'll find in the box is the WL-DC100 remote control,
which also came with the G1. You can use it in record and playback
mode (where it is most useful).
includes a lens cap and tether to protect the lens of the G2.
are tons of accessories available for the PowerShot G2. That includes
flashes, conversion lenses, cases, and battery chargers. The compatible
flashes that Canon sells are the Speedlite 220EX, 380EX, 420EX,
and 550EX. In addition, the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX is supported
(you'll need to get an adapter for it first). Conversion lens options
include wide, telephoto, and macro lenses.
G2 also works with the Canon CP-10 card photo printer (see our review)
-- you just hook the camera to the printer and away you go.
good, but not perfect panorama (4 shots), made with PhotoStitch.
Due to the funny angles, this one is tough to put together.
included software has always been my favorite (which isn't hard,
if you've seen some of the other software out there). I'm a big
fan of the PhotoStitch software, which I use for making panoramas
for many digital cameras (not just Canon's). If you want a more
"hard core" photo editing suite, Canon includes a limited
edition of Adobe Photoshop 5.0.
handy program is RemoteCapture, which lets your computer control
the camera via the USB cable. Just be sure to plug in the AC adapter!
tested the G2 on Mac OS X 10.0.4 and it loaded the ImageBrowser
software (in Classic) when I plugged in the camera.
also like the manuals produced by Canon -- they're definitely better
than average. They have clear diagrams and not a lot of fine print.
PowerShot G2's body is exactly the same as its predecessor, except
for the new "champagne gold" color. The G2's body is a
mix of high grade plastic and metal, and it feels very solid. It
has a slightly bigger grip than the G1, which allows for one-handed
operation if you'd like.
G2 isn't large, but you probably won't be stuffing it in your pocket
either. It's a bit on the heavy side, but not too heavy.
dimensions of the G2 are 4.8 x 3.0 x 2.5 inches (W x H x D) and
it weighs 425 grams empty. That makes it just slightly larger and
heavier than the G1.
being our tour of the PowerShot G2, beginning with the front of
G2 and the G1 share the same F2.0-F2.5 Canon zoom lens. And those
aren't the only cameras that use this lens: I've seen it on cameras
from Casio, Epson, Toshiba, and maybe even Sony.
lens has a focal range of 7 - 21 mm, which is equivalent to 34 -
102 mm. To add conversion lenses, you remove the ring around the
lens, which has 58 mm threads, attach the lens adapter, and finally
the new lens.
G2's flash has a working range of 0.7 - 4.5 m in wide-angle, and
0.7 - 3.6 m in telephoto. Flash strength is adjustable via the menu
system. If you want even more flash power, consider an external
flash, which attaches to the hot shoe that you'll see in a minute.
items on the front of the camera include an AF illuminator (for
low-light focusing) and a microphone.
of the G1 and G2's trademark features is its swiveling LCD display.
In the photo above, you can see some of the ways you can use (or
not use) the LCD. When you use the top position, the image on the
LCD will be mirrored so you won't be upside-down!
LCD is 1.8", and is of excellent quality - it's bright and
fluid. You can choose between two brightness settings via the menu
a closer look at the back of the G2. I've already discussed the
LCD, but will add that when it's folded out to the side like in
the photo above, you won't have to worry about nose smudges!
optical viewfinder covers 84% of the field, and has diopter correction
for those of us with glasses. It's decent-sized, and has crosshairs
in the middle.
button to the left changes the flash setting (record) and enters
thumbnail mode (playback). The two buttons to the right control
spot metering (record) and macro (record) / jump (playback).
three buttons to the right of the LCD storage bay have many functions.
From top to bottom:
Lock [rec] / Delete photo [play]
exposure (output) compensation
[rec/play] - toggles info on LCD
are some more details about some of those options.
compensation is the usual -2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV steps. The flash
exposure settings have the same range.
bracketing lets you use that same range to take three consecutive
photos with different EV settings. You can view the setting on the
LCD, or on the info display on the top of the G2.
G2 has many choices for white balance, including a manual mode.
Here's the full list:
(warm-white, cool-white types)
H (daylight type)
(shoot whatever you want to be white)
back to the controls on the back of the camera now. The four-way
switch at the top right of the photo is for changing settings in
the menu system (and other things). The buttons below are for invoking
and using the menu buttons.
addition, the set button doubles as the button for selecting an
auto focus frame. This feature lets you choose one of three areas
in the frame for the camera to focus on. This is useful for situations
where the subject you want to focus on is not in the center of the
top of the PowerShot G2 is pretty busy. Here are descriptions of
the items up here.
LCD info display contains a lot of useful information. In the shot
here, it shows:
the right of that is the hot shoe. I've already mentioned the compatible
flashes earlier in the review.
the right of that is the mode wheel, with the power switch below
that. The power switch moves between Off, Record, and Playback.
The mode wheel above it has the following choices:
Manual - you pick shutter speed and aperture
(aperture priority) - you pick aperture, camera picks appropriate
(shutter priority) - you pick shutter speed, camera picks appropriate
- camera picks exposure settings but you can change everything
- camera chooses all settings
Focus - fixes the focus and locks the camera at wide-angle. Good
when you want the shot quickly but don't know where the subject
- sharp subject, soft background
Scene - for illuminating human subjects against dark backgrounds
Effect - choose from vivid, neutral, sepia, and monochrome color.
Assist - helps you make panoramas like the one earlier in the
mode - more on this later
shutter priority mode, you can choose from a range of 15 - 1/1000
sec. If you take shots with shutter speeds slower than 1.3 seconds,
the camera will run a special noise reduction filter. This will
increase recording time, of course.
aperture priority mode, the range is F2.0 to F8.0, with many stops
in between. The slowest shutter speed that is used in this mode
is 1/60 sec.
full manual mode has the same range. In order to do a 1/1000 sec
shot, you must set the aperture to F8.0.
button directly to the right of the mode wheel turns on continuous
shooting, self-timer, and remote control (in that order). There
are two choices for continuous shooting - regular, and high speed.
In regular mode, you will shoot at 1.5 frames/sec until you fill
up the buffer memory. In high speed mode, they'll be recorded at
2.5 frames/second, and therefore the buffer will fill up faster.
At the Large/Fine setting, I was able to shoot 14 consecutive shots
at normal speed, and 8 at high speed.
last item of note on the top of the camera is the zoom control /
shutter release button. The zoom is a little slow for my taste but
it's not much worse than any other camera out there. The shutter
release button has the right amount of "play", which makes
photo taking easy.
is one side of the G2, where you'll find the Manual Focus button
as well as the I/O ports.
focus: see the zoomed area in the center, and the focus bar on the
let's look at the manual focus feature. By holding down this button,
you can use the LCD to manually focus the photo. The G2 will blow
up an area of the photo so you can see if it's in focus (I still
had trouble), which is a feature also found on the Fuji FinePix
4900 and 6900. One complaint about the manual focus feature on the
G1 was that they didn't show any units on the little bar on the
LCD. As you can see in the screen shot, that's a thing of the past
on the G2.
the I/O ports now. The A/V out port is out in the open, while two
others are hidden under a sturdy rubber cover. Those include digital
(for USB and Direct Print) as well as DC in, for charging the battery.
the other side of the G2, with the included 32MB CompactFlash card
shown. This is a Type II slot, and the IBM Microdrive is fully supported.
The CF Type II feature really sets the G2 apart from the other 4MP
cameras I've tested so far. The only concern I had here was that
the door covering the slot seemed a little flimsy.
here's the bottom of the G2, with the BP-511 battery shown. Down
here you'll find a metal tripod mount, and the battery compartment.
the Canon PowerShot G2
PowerShot G2 takes about four seconds to extend the lens and "boot
up" before you can start taking pictures. Canon seems to be
joining the "flashy club", by playing a little sound and
showing a startup screen when you turn it on.
you depress the shutter release button halfway, focus lock can occur
almost instantly, or sometimes in a second, depending on what your
subject is. There is no noticeable shutter lag when you fully press
speed is very good for a 4MP camera -- you'll wait just less than
3 seconds at Large/Normal. Speaking of which, let's take a look
at the resolution and quality choices on the G2.
Images on 32MB card
(2272 x 1704)
(1600 x 1200)
(1024 x 768)
(640 x 480)
can imagine how many photos you can hold on a 1gb Microdrive!
is RAW mode? Simply put, it is the "raw" data from the
CCD, after a photo is taken. The G2 doesn't have a TIFF mode --
instead, it uses this RAW mode. To convert a RAW file into a TIFF
or JPEG, you'll have to run it through Canon's software on your
computer first. The big advantage of RAW mode over TIFF is file
size: you'll notice that you can store 10 RAW files on the 32MB
card -- you could probably get 3, maybe 4 TIFFs on the same card.
Smaller file size also means less waiting for the camera to write
the file to the memory card -- it's not much worse than a JPEG on
the G2. Canon includes a RAW Image Converter software application
to do batch RAW to TIFF conversions.
it may not have as many manual controls as the Nikon Coolpix 995,
the PowerShot G2 is no slouch. It's also a lot easier than the 995
to figure out! I've already mentioned many options already, but
here are the rest of them, found in the G2's menu system:
- see chart above for sizes
- see chart
Format (JPEG, RAW)
Speed (50, 100, 200, 400, Auto)
Mode (continuous, single)
Metering (Evaluative, Center-weighted) - spot metering is available
via the button on the back of the camera
shooting (Normal, High speed)
(Off, 2 sec, 10 sec) - how long image is shown on LCD after it's
Number Reset (on/off)
(-, 0, +)
(-, 0, +)
(-, 0, +)
are also the usual setup items available, which include date/time,
beep, LCD brightness, and more.
the PowerShot G1, a lot of "noise" was made about the
ISO settings, if you pardon the pun. People noticed that things
got awfully noisy when the ISO went above 100, or in Auto mode.
Below, I've provided test photos from the G2, at different ISO settings.
you can see, things start looking a bit grainy above ISO 100. The
Auto and ISO 50 settings seem better.
PowerShot G2 passed our macro test with flying colors (if you will).
The color was accurate, in a room where things usually come out
yellow. The subject was also sharp, and there was no noise to be
seen. The range in macro mode is 6 - 70 cm at full wide-angle, and
20 - 70 cm at full telephoto.
G2 is also very good at low light shooting, as you can see from
the shot above. Unfortunately, it was foggy so the picture isn't
as clear as I would like (and I may reshoot it in a few days), but
I think you can still get a good idea. The above was taken in shutter
priority mode for 4 seconds. As I mentioned earlier, the G2 has
a noise reduction system (adapted from the pro EOS-D30, I'm told)
that kicks in at slower speeds -- and there isn't much noise in
I was very satisfied with the photo quality from the PowerShot G2.
If you don't believe me, check out the photo
gallery and judge for yourself.
PowerShot G2's movie mode is pretty good. You can record at 15 frames/sec
at 320 x 240, or 160 x 120. Sound is recorded as well.
the larger size, you can record clips as long as 30 seconds. At
the small size, up to 120 seconds can be saved.
the microphone is right next to the zoom lens, you cannot use the
optical zoom during filming, since you'd pick up the lens noise.
You can save a total of about 124 seconds worth of 320 x 240 video
on the included 32MB card.
is a very unexciting movie for you to see. I plan on taking a better
one over the weekend.
to play movie (AVI format, 1.2MB)
PowerShot G2's playback mode doesn't have a lot of gimmicks. But
the basic features it has are done well. That includes slide shows,
image protection, image rotation, and DPOF print marking.
zoom & scroll feature is best on Canon cameras, in my opinion.
This allows you to zoom in 2X or 4X into your photo, and then move
around in the zoomed in area. The scrolling is in real-time and
between images is very quick as well -- less than a second between
high res thumbnails.
Info + Histogram
you want information about your photo, the G2 delivers. You can
find out almost everything about your photo, as you can see above.
There is also a histogram display.
you have a Canon CP-10 photo printer, you use playback mode to control
Does it Compare?
tested three 4 Megapixel cameras (under $1000) so far: the Sony
DSC-S85, Toshiba PDR-M81, and now the PowerShot G2. Of the three,
the G2 is my favorite. From the useful swiveling LCD to the manual
controls to support for external flashes and lenses, the G2 is an
excellent choice. Of course, if you don't want to bother with all
those manual controls, just put it in Auto mode and the G2 does
all the work.
edges out the Sony due to its support for CompactFlash Type II and
the IBM Microdrive, which has a vastly higher capacity that the
Memory Stick. The photo quality has also proved to be top notch
-- and I plan on taking a lot more photos to make sure. Downsides?
The main one for me is the price -- $1,000 is a lot of money for
many people. Overall, the G2 is a great pick for the hard core digital
camera enthusiast -- or someone who wants to print on large paper.
bundle - 32MB card, remote control included
swiveling LCD display
for CompactFlash Type II cards
mode - uncompressed images, much smaller than Tiffs
for external lenses, filters, and flashes
of info about your photos in playback mode
I didn't care for:
optical zoom in movie mode
4 Megapixel cameras to consider include the Casio
QV-4000, Olympus C-4040Z
DSC-S85, and the Toshiba
PDR-M81. Although it's not a true 4MP camera, don't write off
FinePix 6900 Zoom either.
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the PowerShot G2 and its competitors before you buy, assuming you
can find them!