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Canon PowerShot G10 review

Ben Pitt
30 Jan 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
355
inc VAT

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Specifications

1/1.7in 14.7-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (28-140mm equivalent), 350g

Canon's G10 is aimed squarely at photography enthusiasts, with businesslike styling and lots of hands-on control.

At 350g it's no featherweight, but unlike most enthusiasts' cameras - namely SLRs and ultra-zoom models - it fits in a pocket. Thanks to its extremely sturdy build quality, it's perfect for situations in which an SLR may be too bulky or delicate.

Various features help the G10 stand apart from more consumer-oriented cameras. A hotshoe accommodates an external flashgun and there's a threaded lens ring for a 1.4x telephoto converter. Dedicated dials for ISO speed and exposure compensation make these easy to adjust and allow you to see the current settings at a glance. A third dial makes light work of adjusting various other settings, and manual exposure is particularly well implemented. Manual focus is available too, but even with the aid of a digital zoom that appears as you make adjustments, we found it tricky to focus with pixel-sharp accuracy. A RAW capture mode and accompanying software allows you to save images without any in-camera processing for manipulation on a PC later.

The improvements over its predecessor, the G9, are significant but not every change has been positive. The screen resolution has doubled to 461,000 pixels and battery life is up by 67 per cent. The lens now starts at a wide-angle 28mm, but its 140mm maximum zoom pales in comparison with its predecessor's 210mm. Most disappointing is that Canon has seen fit to hike the resolution up to 14.7 megapixels. This is the highest resolution currently available in a compact camera, which doesn't bode well for low-light performance, as packing more pixels into a small sensor tends to increase image noise. Meanwhile, it's disappointing that video capture remains at 640x480 pixels - we would expect HD video from a compact camera at this price.

Fortunately, the massive resolution hasn't damaged the G10's performance, with an average of two seconds between shots in Single drive mode. Continuous shooting ran at 1.4fps for JPEGs and 0.7fps for RAW capture, but you'll need a fast SD card to save the 25MB RAW files at this speed.

Images taken in sunlight were packed with detail and showed Canon's usual knack for flattering colours. An i-Contrast option for brightening shadows was a little too subtle, though. Sadly, image noise was visible in all our shots. Even at ISO 100, shadows looked a bit scruffy. At ISO 200, detail had deteriorated significantly and ISO 400 shots were only just passable. Beyond that, detail and noise were worse than on most budget cameras.

The G10 is a great camera, but it's spoiled by a needlessly high resolution that causes serious noise problems in all but the brightest conditions. It's not alone in this predicament, but as the G10 costs more than many SLR models that offer vastly superior image quality, we can't overlook it. The arrival of Panasonic's G1 suggests that the days are numbered for high-end compact cameras.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
CCD effective megapixels14.7 megapixels
CCD size1/1.7in
Viewfinderoptical
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution461 pixels
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-140mm
Image stabilisationoptical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution4,416x3,312
Maximum movie resolution640x480
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery type7.4V 1,050mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)400 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, remote
Body materialaluminium
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables
Weight350g
Size78x109x46mm

Buying Information

Price£355
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop
Detailswww.canon.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed15 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/2.8 to f/8
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 7 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, skin tone, blue, green, red, dynamic range, ND filter
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus1cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, spot, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, face detect, AE bracket, AF bracket