|CANON POWERSHOT G9
This is not a review but rather a personal appreciation of some of the features that make the Canon Powershot G9, in my opinion, an excellent little camera.
As a keen amateur photographer I hate to miss any photo opportunity that comes my way. I had for some time been considering buying a small pocket digicam to supplement my DSLR outfit, but only made my mind up after reading a review of the G9 by Nick Devlin on the Luminous Landscapes website. I then read several more reviews and decided that this was the "carry everywhere" camera that I needed. Three things were essential - it must be small enough to carry round unnoticed, it must shoot in RAW, and it had to be acceptably fast - to start up, to focus and to be ready for the next shot. The G9 meets these prerequisites in my view, although the first test - size - is a close call.
The photo above shows my G9 with lens retracted, beside my mobile phone. It is a slightly bulkier camera than I expected and is very solidly built and surprisingly heavy - not something to carry about in a shirt pocket or lightweight jacket. However, it sits happily in a fleece or heavier winter jacket and with UK weather this means pocketable for most of the year!
|The features that I really like are:-
1. Custom settings C1 and C2 on the mode dial on top of the camera.
These two modes can be used to store settings for any particular purpose - I use C1 for action pictures so that when I switch to this setting the lens zooms out to its full extension, exposure to shutter priority at 1/500 second, continuous focus, continuous shooting and auto ISO shift.
I use C2 for Macro so that the lens extends to what I feel is the optimum working distance for close-up shots, exposure to aperture priority at F5.6, single shot AF and auto ISO shift.
This means that if a situation arises for action or macro photos I don't have to fiddle about setting the camera, I just switch to C1 or C2. When I am out walking my dogs I frequently get opportunities to photograph wild flowers, insects etc., and I can concentrate on taking the picture rather than setting the camera.
After using these settings I always change back to AV ( aperture priority ) for general photography. I use evaluative metering in each of these modes which gives pretty accurate exposures - if the lighting is very contrasty I just dial-in some exposure compensation to avoid clipped highlights.
|2. This brings me to the next great feature - the live
histogram. Using the histogram relies on the LCD being readable and so far I
have found the LCD to be bright enough although this may not always be the
If I was to be completely honest I would admit that when a photo opportunity comes along - say a butterfly on a leaf - my first thought is not to look at the histogram. I switch on the G9 and try to get close making sure that I am using C2 ( my macro settings ); I then compose, focus and take the photo. If the butterfly is obliging and gives me enough time I may then glance at the histogram to make sure first that I am not clipping highlights i.e. values right up against the right hand edge and then to see if the values are too concentrated on one side so that I am not getting a wide distribution of tones. However, the histogram is only a guide in assisting our own judgement although it does give very valuable assistance in getting the exposure right.
|3. If I need to refine the exposure, I just use the
exposure compensation by pressing the +/- button on the back of the camera
and then turning the control dial (i.e. the knurled wheel to the right of
the LCD). The display bar at the bottom of the LCD indicates the amount of
compensation in 1/3 EV increments.
|4. I love the ISO knob on the top of the camera which
allows me to change the ISO if I need to, rather than having to hunt through the menus
looking for a way to change the ISO setting as I have seen on some cameras.
In addition to this, there is an auto ISO shift setting on the menu which can be set to Auto so that whenever the camera detects an exposure that will result in camera shake it will automatically set a higher ISO. To me this takes control away from the photographer so I use the setting that assigns ISO shift to the S (shortcut) or printshare button to the left of the optical viewfinder. Now when the camera detects an exposure that will result in camera shake the S button lights up in blue and the suggested ISO is displayed on the LCD. This happens with the shutter pressed half-way so that if you press the S button down and press the shutter all the way it will expose at the suggested ISO setting.
|The beauty of this camera to me is that having set it up for the kind of photos I want to take, I can concentrate on the subject without having to think about the settings. If I do need to make any adjustments such as exposure compensation, changing to a higher ISO, or using self-timer to avoid camera shake if I am using a slow shutter speed all I need to do is use the controls on the camera without having recourse to searching through menus.|
|Of course there are some quibbles. The optical viewfinder
has only about 80% coverage and is not accurate. I tend not to use it very
much although I am glad it is there. It would have been good to have a
printed manual and to have come with a wrist-strap rather than a neckstrap.
However, the pros massively outweigh the cons and it is very enjoyable to use and most importantly I get pictures that I am very happy with. I set out below some pictures that I have taken with the G9. These are all handheld - I don't use flash or a tripod so I rely largely on the IS and my hand-holding technique. With my Nikon D80 I often use a bean-bag or monopod but with the G9 I hand-hold and for some shots I switch to 2 seconds self-timer to avoid jerking when I press the shutter release.
Overall, I think the G9 is a great little camera that I can take with me wherever I go without lugging around bags, lenses and accessories.
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