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DCRP Review: Canon PowerShot G7  

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: November 8, 2006
Last Updated: December 31, 2011

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The PowerShot G7 ($599) is the latest model in Canon's flagship series of fixed-lens cameras. A year ago I was told that the PowerShot G6 would be the last in the series, which was sad, as I've been a fan of the G-series cameras. Then, earlier this summer, I was in for a surprise: the "G" was back, in the form of the G7.

The differences between the G6 and the G7 are considerable, so I put them into this chart for you:

Feature PowerShot G6 PowerShot G7
Resolution 7.1 MP 10.0 MP
Optical zoom 4X 6X
Lens max. aperture F2.0 - F3.0 F2.8 - F4.8
Focal length (35 mm equiv.) 35 - 140 mm 35 - 210 mm
Image stabilization No Yes
LCD size 2.0" 2.5"
LCD resolution 118,000 pixels 207,000 pixels
Rotating LCD? Yes No
LCD info display? Yes No
RAW format support? Yes No
Face detection No Yes
Movie mode max resolution 640 x 480 (10 fps) 1024 x 768 (15 fps)
Memory card used CompactFlash SD/SDHC/MMC
Remote control support? Yes No
Battery used BP-511A NB-2LH
Battery life (CIPA standard) 300 shots 220 shots

I don't know about you, but lot of the new features on the G7 aren't exactly "steps up" from the G6.

Does the G7 continue the tradition of being a top-notch fixed-lens camera? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The PowerShot G7 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 10.0 effective Megapixel PowerShot G7 IS camera
  • 32MB Secure Digital card
  • NB-2LH rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Neck strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution
  • 32 page basic manual + 169 page advanced manual (both printed)

Canon puts a 32MB memory card in the box with the G7, which holds a grand total of six photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll want to get a memory card right away. The G7 supports Secure Digital, MultiMedia, and the new SDHC memory cards. I'd recommend a 1GB card as a good place to start. It's worth spending a few extra bucks for a "high speed" card, 60X or above.

The PowerShot G7 uses a different battery than its predecessor. While the G6 used the BP-511A, the G7 uses the smaller NB-2LH battery, which is also used by the Digital Rebel XT/XTi. That old battery packed a whopping 10.3 Wh of energy, while the one used by the G7 holds almost half that -- 5.3 Wh. And while the G7's battery life isn't half as bad as the G6, it's still worse:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot A640 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Canon PowerShot A710 IS * 360 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Canon PowerShot G6 300 shots BP-511A
Canon PowerShot G7 * 220 shots NB-2LH
Kodak EasyShare C875 250 shots 2 x Unknown NiMH
Nikon Coolpix L5 * 250 shots 2000 mAh NiMH
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 * 390 shots 2 x Unknown NiMH
Samsung Digimax L85 300 shots ** SLB-1237
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100 360 shots NB-BG1

* Has image stabilization
** Number not obtained using the CIPA standard

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

As you can see, the G7's battery life is 35% worse than on its predecessor. In the group as a whole, it's well below average. Kind of disappointing, in my opinion.

There are a few issues about proprietary batteries like the one used by the G7 that I wanted to mention. For one, these batteries are quite expensive, selling at around $40 a pop. Secondly, you can't just pop in off-the-shelf batteries when the rechargeable die, like you could on a camera that uses AAs.

There's a built-in lens cover on the G7, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with. As you can see, it's a fairly bulky camera.

The G7 supports quite a few optional accessories, and I've compiled them all into this handy chart:

Accessory Model # Price Why you want it
Wide-angle lens WC-DC58B $145 Brings the wide end of the lens down by 0.75X to 26.3 mm; requires conversion lens adapter
Telephoto lens TC-DC58C $110 Boosts focal range by 2X to 420 mm (ultra zoom baby!); requires conversion lens adapter
Conversion lens adapter LA-DC58H $25 Required for conversion lenses; threaded for 58 mm accessories as well
External flash 220EX

From $115
From $228
From $352

Boost flash range and reduce redeye; you can use most third party flashes as well, though these sync with the camera
External slave flash HF-DC1 From $80 Doesn't integrate with the camera; fires when the onboard flash does
Waterproof case WP-DC11 $170 Take your camera up to 40 meters underwater
AC adapter ACK-DC20 From $44 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Car battery charger CBC-NB2 From $78 Charge your battery in the car!

Quite a list! The one thing missing: a wireless remote control, which was offered with the G6.

ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)

Canon includes version 29 of their Digital Camera Solution software package with the PowerShot G7. The main applications are the ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser "twins" that come with all PowerShot models. ImageBrowser is for the Mac, while ZoomBrowser is for Windows PCs. The Mac version is not Universal (Intel native), so it's not as fast as it could be.

After you download photos via the CameraWindow application, you'll end up with the screen above, which has a standard-issue thumbnail view. Photos can be organized, printed, and e-mailed from this screen.

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.

MovieEdit task (Mac OS X)

The MovieEdit task lets you take your movie clips, add effects and transitions, and then save the results as a single movie.

RemoteCapture task (Mac OS X)

The RemoteCapture task lets you control the camera from your Mac or PC. You can adjust any of the camera settings, and the photos are saved directly to your computer's hard drive.

PhotoStitch (Mac OS X)

A separate program known as PhotoStitch is used to put the photos you took in the Stitch Assist mode into one giant panorama. The interface is simple, the process takes minutes, and the results are impressive, as you can see.

The G7's documentation comes in several parts. You get a basic manual to get you up and running, and an advanced manual for more complex camera features. There are also separate manuals for the bundled software and direct printing. While the manuals aren't what I'd call pleasure reading, they will answer any question that may come up about the camera.

Look and Feel

The PowerShot G7 is a midsize, fairly bulky camera with a style reminiscent of classic rangefinder cameras. Build quality is excellent -- the camera feels like a brick in your hands. It's covered with buttons and dials, and is not for the faint of heart (or those who don't want to open the manual). There isn't much of a grip on the front of the camera, and there aren't too many places to put your fingers without touching a button, either. I can't say that I'm a fan of the zoom controller or shutter release button, either.

Now, here's a look at how the G7 compares with some of the competition in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot A640 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.9 in. 21.2 cu in. 245 g
Canon PowerShot G6 4.1 x 2.9 x 2.9 in. 34.5 cu in. 380 g
Canon PowerShot G7 4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in. 20 cu in. 320 g
Kodak EasyShare C875 3.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in. 12.6 cu in. 177 g
Nikon Coolpix L5 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.8 in. 15.6 cu in. 170 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 3.9 x 2.4 x 1.8 in. 16.8 cu in. 186 g
Samsung Digimax L85 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.1 in. 11.8 cu in. 190 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100 3.7 x 2.4 x 1.0 in. 8.9 cu in. 161 g

The G7 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, mostly due to the removal of the rotating LCD. It's a pretty big camera, which fits best in a camera bag rather than your pocket.

It's time to tour the PowerShot G7. Let's start with the front of the camera:

One of the biggest changes on the G7 has to do with its lens. Gone is the fast 4X zoom lens on the G6; now you get a more powerful (albeit slower) 6X zoom lens. The focal range of this F2.8-4.8 lens is 7.4 - 44.4 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 210 mm. While the lens itself isn't threaded, you can take off that silver ring around it (just press the button to the lower right), attach the optional conversion lens adapter, and you're set to go. You can add 58 mm filters or the conversion lenses I mentioned in the previous section.

This isn't just another 6X lens though -- it also features optical image stabilization. Sensors inside the camera detect movement caused by the shaking of your hands (which can blur your photos). The camera then moves a lens element to compensate for this motion, which allows you to use shutter speeds that would result in a blurry shot on unstabilized cameras. Now, the OIS system won't freeze a moving subject for you, and it won't work miracles (e.g. no handheld 1 second exposures), but it will give you a few stops worth of shutter speeds that would require a tripod on other cameras.

Want to see how well the OIS system works? Check these out:

Image stabilization on

Image stabilization off

No Photoshop tricks here -- the G7 took a noticeably sharper photo with image stabilization turned on. The shutter speed for each shot was 1/6 of a second, which almost guarantees a blurry photo on an unstabilized camera, but not here! If you aren't convinced, here's a sample movie showing what the OIS system can do.

To the upper-left of the lens you'll see the G7's built-in flash. The flash here is a bit weaker than on the G6, with a working range of 0.5 - 4.0 m at wide-angle and 0.5 - 2.5 m at telephoto. The numbers for the G6 were 0.7 - 5.0 m and 0.7 - 4.0 m, respectively. If you want more flash power then you'll want to use one of the external flashes I mentioned earlier.

Moving to the left, we find the optical viewfinder, followed by the AF-assist lamp. The AF-assist lamp, which also serves as the visual countdown for the self-timer, is used by the camera as a focusing aid in low light situations.

One of the most disappointing changes on the G7 can be found on the back of the camera. Gone is the rotating LCD that made the G6 special -- it's been replaced by a standard issue fixed screen. It's not like Canon can't make a rotating 2.5" LCD -- they already did, on the PowerShot A630 and A640.

Rant aside, the screen itself is pretty good. With 207,000 pixels, everything is nice and sharp. Outdoor visibility was average, while low light visibility was great, as the screen brightens automatically in those situations.

Directly above the LCD is a large optical viewfinder, which shows 80% of the frame. Optical viewfinders seem to be pretty rare these days, and I'm pleased to see that Canon didn't do away with it on the G7. One issue that I noticed with the viewfinder is that you can see lens in the lower-left corner of the frame when it's at the wide-angle position. A diopter correction knob on the left side of the viewfinder is used to focus what you're looking at -- a handy feature for glasses-wearers.

To the left of the viewfinder is the shortcut (custom) button, which doubles as the Print/Share button when connected to a printer or computer. You can assign most any function to this button (in record mode), and I'll tell you exactly which ones later in the review. When you're hooked into a printer or PC, just press this button to make prints, transfer photos, or even choose a picture to use as a desktop background.

Moving to the right of the viewfinder now, we find buttons for entering playback mode and for AE/FE lock. The AE/FE lock is also used to add voice captions while in playback mode.

Below that we have two more buttons:

  • Focus point selection (AiAF, FlexiZone, Face Detect) + Delete photo
  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments) + Jump (quickly moves through photos in playback mode)

There are three autofocus modes to choose from on the PowerShot G7. AiAF mode is your standard multi-point AF mode, with 9 points in this case. The FlexiZone feature lets you use the four-way controller to pick the area in the frame on which to focus, save for a margin around the edges. This comes in handy when the camera is on a tripod.

All faces detected

The G7's face detection feature will locate up to nine faces in a photo and make sure that they're properly focused and exposed. I took a picture of a picture (see above) and the camera found all six faces without a problem.

Adjusting the shutter speed

Below those two buttons we find the G7's rather unique four-way controller. Surrounding the controller itself is a scroll wheel, which can be used for menu navigation, adjusting manual settings, or zooming through photos in playback mode. Keeping with the "retro" theme of the camera, when you rotate the wheel in one of the manual exposure modes, the LCD shows a virtual "dial" showing the current setting (see screenshot).

The four-way controller itself is traditional, and much the ones on Canon's other PowerShots. I did find it to be on the small side. In addition to its menu navigating duties, the controller has these functions:

  • Up - Manual focus (on/off)
  • Down - Drive (Single-shot, continuous, AF continuous, 2 or 10 sec self-timer, custom self-timer)
  • Left - Macro mode (on/off)
  • Right - Flash setting (Auto, flash on, flash off)
  • Center - Function/Set

Manual focus (center frame enlargement not shown)

Turn on the manual focus feature and you'll use the scroll wheel to set the focus distance. The center of the frame is enlarged on the LCD, which also displays a guide with the current focus distance on it.

There are two continuous shooting modes on the G7, and both of them let you keep shooting until your (high speed) memory card fills up. The regular continuous mode shoots at 2 frames/second, while the AF continuous mode does so at 0.9 fps. This second mode is slower since the camera re-focuses between each shot. The LCD kept up nicely with the action, so you should be able to track a moving subject without a problem.

Function menu

By pressing the center button on the four-way controller, you'll open up the Function menu. This menu has the following options:

  • White balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, flash, underwater, custom) - 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
  • Bracket (Off, exposure, focus) - see below
  • Flash exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments) - in manual mode you can adjust the flash strength in three steps (1/3, 2/3, full)
  • Metering (Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
  • ND filter (on/off)
  • Compression (see chart later in review)
  • Resolution (see chart later in review)

As you can see, there's a custom white balance option on the PowerShot G7. This lets you use a white or gray card for accurate color, even in the most unusual lighting.

The G7 has the same My Colors features as Canon's other 2006 PowerShots. Most of the items listed above are self-explanatory, but I do want to describe the Custom Color option. This lets you adjust contrast, sharpness, and saturation, plus red, green, blue, and skin tone levels (-2 to +2, in 1-stop increments). There are two other My Colors modes that I'll describe in a bit.

There are two bracketing modes on the camera. The first one, exposure bracketing, takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure value. You can select an interval between -2EV and +2EV in 1/3EV increments. There's also a focus bracketing feature, which works in a similar way. The camera will take three shots in a row: one at the chosen focus setting, another a little closer, and the last a little further away. You can select from "large, medium, and small" intervals between each shot.

The neutral density filter is a feature that dates back to the PowerShot G3. Simply put, the ND filter reduces the amount of light hitting the sensor (by three stops) without affecting color. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds or larger apertures than you could otherwise.

The last things to see on the back of the camera are the Display and Menu buttons. The former toggles the LCD and what's displayed on it on and off, while the latter does just as it sounds like.

If you though I was done telling you about buttons and dials, I have bad news. I'll start with the "retro" ISO dial on the left side of the photo. As you can see, you can select values ranging from 80 to 1600, and there are two Auto modes as well. The difference between regular Auto and Hi Auto is that the latter will use higher ISO values (which means more noise) than the former.

Next up we have the G7's hot shoe. Here you can attach one of the three EX-series Speedlights I mentioned earlier, or any third party flash. The Canon flashes will integrate with the camera, so everything operates automatically. If you're using a third party flash, odds are that you'll have to select the camera and flash settings manually. The G7 can sync as fast as 1/250 sec with an external flash.

Continuing to the right, we find the mode dial, which has the microphone to its upper left. The items on the 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, 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
Shutter priority (Tv) mode You choose shutter speed and the camera picks the aperture. Shutter speed range is 15 - 1/2500 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

Not surprisingly, the G7 has full manual controls, plus two custom spots on the mode dial. In Program Mode you can hold down the "*" button to activate a program shift feature, which lets you select from various shutter speed/aperture combinations. One thing missing here that surprised me a bit: a bulb mode.

Buried in the scene mode list is what Canon calls ISO 3200 mode, which is similar to available/natural light or high sensitivity modes on other cameras. The camera lowers the resolution to 1600 x 1200 and sets the ISO to 3200. The results aren't horrible, though I'm not sure that you could get much of a print out of that photo. I'd stick to adjusting the ISO manually if it were me.

Color Accent (from the SD800)

Color Swap (the very rare Red Pine tree)

The other two My Colors features on the G7 are Color Accent and Color Swap, and they are found in the scene menu (why, I do not know). The Color Accent feature lets you select a color to highlight, and then all the other colors are turned to black and white. Color Swap does just as it sounds -- it swaps one color for another (though not terribly well).

To the right of the mode dial is the power button, with the shutter release button and zoom controller above that. The zoom controller and especially the shutter release button are far too small, in this writer's opinion. The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 1.6 seconds. I counted fourteen steps in the lens' 6X zoom range.

The only thing to see on this side of the camera is the speaker.

On the other side of the camera you'll find the I/O ports, which are behind a plastic door of decent quality. The ports here include A/V out and USB -- there's no DC-in port since the camera uses a DC coupler for "wired" power (assuming you have the AC adapter).

The 6X lens is at the full telephoto position here.

Our tour ends with a look at the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find a metal tripod mount (hidden in this photo) and the battery/memory card compartment. The door covering this compartment is of average quality. In one of those "what were they thinking?" moves, you can't swap memory cards while the G7 is on a tripod. That's pretty disappointing, considering that this is Canon's flagship PowerShot.

The included NB-2LH battery is shown at right.

Using the Canon PowerShot G7

Record Mode

The PowerShot G7 starts up more than twice as fast as its predecessor, taking just 1.1 seconds to extend its lens and "warm up".

There's a live histogram on the G7

Focus times were generally very good. Typically it took the camera between 0.2 and 0.4 seconds to lock focus, though you may wait as long as one second for focus lock at the telephoto end of the lens. Low light focusing was excellent thanks to the G7's AF-assist lamp.

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

Shot-to-shot delays were minimal, with a one second wait between shots.

You can delete a picture as it's been saved to the memory card by pressing the delete photo 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 32MB card
# images on 1GB card (optional)
3648 x 2736
Superfine 4.0 MB 6 232
Fine 2.4 MB 11 388
Normal 1.1 MB 24 804
Wide (16:9)
3648 x 2048
Superfine 3.0 MB 9 314
Fine 1.8 MB 15 514
Normal 874 KB 32 1078
Middle 1
2816 x 2112
Superfine 2.7 MB 10 352
Fine 1.6 MB 17 584
Normal 780 KB 36 1206
Middle 2
2272 x 1704
Superfine 2.0 MB 14 474
Fine 1.1 MB 25 850
Normal 556 KB 51 1678
Middle 3
1600 x 1200
Superfine 1002 KB 28 942
Fine 558 KB 51 1678
Normal 278 KB 97 3180
640 x 480
Superfine 249 KB 109 3554
Fine 150 KB 168 5494
Normal 84 KB 265 8634

In another "dumbfounding downgrade", the G7 does not support the RAW image format. The PowerShot G3, G5, and G6 all supported it, but that tradition has ended with the PowerShot G7. I'm thinking that Canon is trying to force people who want RAW to buy digital SLRs -- and I really hope they change their mind on this one and offer a firmware upgrade that gives the G7 what it deserves.

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 G7 uses the standard Canon menu system. It's attractive and easy-to-use, with no confusing icons or abbreviations. Keeping in mind that some of these items may not be available in the auto and scene modes, here's the complete list of record menu items:

  • Digital Zoom (Off, 1.4X, 2.3X, Standard) - see below
  • Flash sync (1st-curtain, 2nd-curtain)
  • Slow synchro (on/off)
  • Redeye reduction (on/off)
  • Safety FE (on/off) - in P/Av/Tv mode, the camera will adjust the shutter speed or aperture if the photo will not be properly exposed; for flash shots only
  • Custom self-timer
    • Delay (0-10, 15, 20, 30 secs)
    • 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
  • MF-Point Zoom (on/off) - enlarges the center of the frame in manual focus mode
  • AF mode (Continuous, single) - see below
  • AF-assist beam (on/off)
  • Review (Off, 2-10 seconds, hold) - post-shot review
  • 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 (None, wide, telephoto) - for when you're using a conversion lens
  • Custom display settings (Shooting info, gridlines, 3:2 guide, histogram) - you can have two sets of these; you can choose as many of those options as you'd like
  • Set Shortcut button (Off, resolution, compression, white balance, My Colors, metering, ND filter, digital teleconverter, image stabilization, AF lock, create folder, display off)
  • Save settings (C1, C2) - save your favorite camera settings to the two custom spots on the mode dial

The G7 has Canon's "new" digital zoom feature. Canon calls the 1.4X and 2.3X options a "digital tele-converter" -- it's basically just fixed digital zoom. The Standard option is what you'll find on every camera. 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 small picture size you can get a total 24X zoom without any loss in image quality -- well, aside from the tiny picture you'll get.

The custom self-timer feature is a handy one that seems to be exclusive to Canon cameras. You can take up to 10 shots with an interval of your choosing.

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.

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.

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.

The setup tab in the menu has the following items:

  • Mute (on/off) - turns off all the beeps
  • 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 (set)
  • 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 G7 becomes an expensive watch
  • 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
  • Lens retract (1 min, 0 secs) - how quickly the lens retracts when you switch to playback mode
  • Language (way too many to list)
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Print Method (Auto, PictBridge)
  • Reset all - back to defaults

The audio menu is new to the G7, and something that is borrowed from the PowerShot S3. You can manually set the microphone level, and a wind filter is available as well.

An additional "My Camera'" menu 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. So, if you've ever wanted a chimp theme for your camera, here's your chance.

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

The PowerShot G7 did a great job with our standard macro test subject. The colors are nice and saturated (not to mention accurate), and the subject has the smooth look that has become a trademark of Canon digital cameras.

In macro mode you can be just 1 centimeter away from your subject. Do note that macro mode is unavailable near the telephoto end of the lens.

The night scene turned out fairly well. The camera took in plenty of light, thanks to its manual shutter speed controls. The buildings are nice and sharp, and purple fringing was not a problem. Noise levels are a bit higher than I would've liked, but this is a 10 Megapixel camera after all.

There are two ISO tests in this review. The first one uses the night scene above, so you can see how noise levels look at high ISOs in low light. Here we go:

ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

The ISO 100 shot isn't much different than the one at ISO 80. Detail loss starts at ISO 200, and becomes quite noticeable at ISO 400. The ISO 800 and 1600 settings are not usable, in my opinion.

There's moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the PowerShot G7's lens. You can see what this does to your photos in this example. I didn't find vignetting (dark corners) or blurry edges to be a problem.

One thing that was a problem on the G7 was redeye. In fact, it's pretty awful. This is one area in which an external flash would really help.

And now it's time for ISO test number two, which is shot in my "studio". You can compare this test with those in other reviews on this site. While the crops below give you a quick view of the differences at the various ISO sensitivities, it's a good idea to view the full-size images as well. And with that...

ISO 80

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

Everything is nice and clean through ISO 200. At ISO 400 you start to see more grain in the photo, but you should be able to make a mid to large size print without issue.

Overall, the PowerShot G7's photo quality is very good. Colors were nice and saturated, and exposure was accurate in my real world photos. Images have a smooth look to them, without being too soft. Noise levels are low through ISO 200 and reasonable at ISO 400. Purple fringing was not a major problem. At ISO 800 you start to see more noise, plus the effects of noise reduction -- this is for small prints only. ISO 1600 is even worse, so I'd save this for desperation only. I did not test the ISO 3200 scene mode here, since the resolution is so much lower than the rest of the images.

If you don't turn the ISO up too high, you'll get excellent photos from the PowerShot G7. It took well-exposed images, with accurate colors and pleasing sharpness. Noise levels are reasonable as long as you keep the ISO below 200. You'll notice the noise above that setting (as you saw above), though it won't really affect the quality of smaller-sized prints. If you will be making large prints of high ISO photos, you may want to pony up for a D-SLR. Purple fringing was minimal on the G7.

Don't just take my word for it, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, and maybe print a few of them if you can. Then you'll be able to decide if the G7's photo quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The PowerShot G6's movie mode wasn't really worth writing home about: at the highest resolution you could just record 30 seconds worth of choppy 10 frame/second video. Things have changed dramatically on the G7, and all for the better. You can now record video at 640 x 480 (30 fps) with sound until you run out of memory, or the file size reaches 4GB (which takes 32 minutes).

If you want an even higher resolution (and I don't know why you would), there's also a 1024 x 768 mode, though the frame rate is a sluggish 15 fps. Here too there's a 4GB file size limit, which also occurs after 32 minutes or so.

If you want even longer movies you can lower the resolution to 320 x 240 or 160 x 120. The former can record at either 15 or 30 fps, while the latter can only do 15 fps (and for only 3 minutes).

You cannot use the zoom lens during filming (it will be locked when you start filming). You can, however, use the digital zoom. The My Colors features are available for your enjoyment as well. In playback mode you can take advantage of a trimming feature to remove unwanted footage from your clip.

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.

Here are two sample movies for you, taken at both the 640 x 480 (30 fps) and 1024 x 768 (15 fps) settings. Enjoy!

Click to play movie (15 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime

Click to play movie (18.6 MB, 1024 x 768, 15 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime

[Movies updated 11/11/06]

Playback Mode

Playback mode on the PowerShot G7 is very good -- and nice and fast, too. It offers slideshows, image protection, image rotation, voice captions, thumbnail view (which is nicer than on most cameras since it enlarges the photo you're looking at), and zoom and scroll. This last feature lets you enlarge the picture up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in area. When you're zoomed in you can press the Func/Set button and then move from photo to photo at the same magnification setting. There's also has a separate print menu lets you tag photos for printing to a PictBridge-enabled photo printer.

Most of the My Colors features can be used in playback mode, save for Color Accent, Color Swap, and Custom Color.

Assigning a category to a photo

The new My Category feature lets you assign photos to any of seven possible categories (events, people, scenery, to-do, and custom 1-3). If you have Auto Category turned on in the recording menu then this will be done automatically for some of your photos. There are three custom categories, though I don't see a way to give them a name instead of the generic "My Category 1". You can select images by their category and display slide shows of them, or delete/protect them.

You can use the G7's scroll wheel to quickly breeze through photos (see screenshot). In addition, the jump feature lets you move forward/ back by sets of 10 or 100 photos, or by date or category.

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 G7 moves between images almost instantly, with your choice of two snazzy transitions. And, when you rotate the camera 90 degrees, the photo on the LCD rotates too.

How Does it Compare?

Standing on its own, the Canon PowerShot G7 is a very good, full-featured camera. It has very good image quality, superb performance, a stabilized 6X zoom lens, full manual controls, and support for an external flash. However, as a follow-up to the PowerShot G6, this camera is a big disappointment. Gone are the fast lens, rotating LCD, remote control, LCD info display, and RAW support that made that camera one of my favorites. And, with a retail price of almost $600, the G7 is priced dangerously close to entry-level digital SLRs. Do I recommend it? Yep. In the same way that I did the previous G-series cameras? Nope.

The PowerShot G7 is a midsize, somewhat bulky camera that has a retro style to it. Build quality is excellent -- it feels like a brick in your hands (just not as heavy). It's not terribly comfortable in your hands, as there's not much of a right hand grip, and the large amounts of buttons make it hard to put your fingers in a safe place. You cannot swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.

The G7's lens is totally different than all the previous G-series models. Instead of a fast 4X zoom, it has a more run-of-the mill 6X zoom lens, albeit with image stabilization (which works well). It's worth mentioning that part of the lens is visible through the optical viewfinder when it's at the wide-angle end. The G7 supports conversion lenses and filters, an external flash (via its hot shoe), and an underwater case. On the back of the camera you'll find a 2.5" LCD display, with decent outdoor visibility and very good low light viewing. I really miss the rotating LCD that was on previous G-series models, and it's not like Canon can't make a 2.5" rotating screen -- they've already done it.

There are plenty of features to play with on the PowerShot G7. If you're a beginner then you'll be happy with the numerous scene modes on the camera. One of those scene modes is a high sensitivity (ISO 3200) mode, which produces small 1600 x 1200 photos with mediocre quality. The menus are fairly easy to navigate, though the sheer amount of buttons and dials on the camera make it a bit difficult to just pick up and use. If you're a more advanced user then you'll like most of what the G7 offers in terms of manual controls. It has all the manual exposure controls covered, plus there's manual focus and white balance. There are two bracketing modes as well, for both exposure and focus. One big thing missing here is support for the RAW image format -- something that the G6 had. Regardless of your skill level, you'll like the G7's movie mode, which can record over 30 minutes of VGA quality video. There's also a higher resolution mode, but the 15 frame rate will lead to choppy clips.

Camera performance was excellent in most respects. The G7 starts up very quickly, more than twice as fast as its predecessor. Focus times were snappy, and low light focusing wasn't a problem for the camera. Shutter lag was minimal, as was the delay between shots. The G7's continuous shooting mode is also quite good, with unlimited shooting at 2 frames/second, which assumes that you're using a high speed memory card. One area in which this camera wasn't so hot was battery life: the G7's numbers are worse than the G6 before it, and below average in its class as well.

Photo quality was impressive. The G7 took well-exposed photos with accurate colors, pleasing sharpness, and minimal purple fringing. Noise is kept in check if you keep the ISO at 400 or below, with the higher settings reserved for small prints. The camera did have a big problem with redeye, though. If you take a lot of flash people pictures, you may want to either consider buying an external flash, or just choosing another camera altogether.

The G7 is a pretty expensive fixed-lens camera. It costs $200 more than the PowerShot A710, which offers a lens with similar specifications, image stabilizer, and manual controls as the G7, but with a lower resolution CCD, more limited movie mode, and no hot shoe. The G7 (which retails for around $575) is actually more expensive then some entry-level digital SLRs, such as the Pentax K100D and Nikon D50. Of course, once you add an equivalent lens those cameras will be more expensive, but it's worth a mention at least.

While a disappointing G-series camera, the PowerShot G7 stands on its own, and it earns my recommendation. If you don't mind parting with almost $600 for it, it's worth a look. Don't forget to check out the just as capable -- and less expensive -- competition closely, though.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality, low noise through ISO 200
  • 6X zoom lens
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Cool retro body, built like a tank
  • Large 2.5" LCD, visible in low light
  • Very good performance in most areas
  • Full manual controls, plus plenty of scene modes
  • AF-assist lamp, good low light focusing
  • Very good movie and continuous shooting modes
  • Face detection works as advertised
  • Built-in neutral density filter
  • Support for conversion lenses, external flash, underwater case
  • Custom button and spots on mode dial
  • Can be controlled from your Mac or PC
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support

What I didn't care for:

  • A bit letdown when compared to previous G-series models (for reasons specified above)
  • Expensive; costs as much as some D-SLRs
  • Redeye a big problem
  • Below average battery life
  • No RAW format support
  • Lens visible through viewfinder at wide-angle
  • Tiny shutter release button and zoom controller
  • Button clutter; controls can be intimidating to new users
  • Can't swap memory cards while on a tripod

Some other cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot A640 and A710 IS, Kodak EasyShare C875, Nikon Coolpix L5, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5, Samsung Digimax L85, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100. You may also want to look at these entry-level D-SLRs: Canon Digital Rebel XTi, Nikon D50, and the Pentax K100D.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the PowerShot G7 and its competitors before you buy!

[Conclusion updated 11/9/06]

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Want another opinion?

You'll find another review of the G7 at CNET.com.

Feedback & Discussion

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.

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