The Canon G10 Digital Camera
By Barr Soltis
I think that there comes a point in time when we have to get off the pot and make a decision. It doesn’t matter if you are buying a rifle, scope, or even a computer. I needed to stop procrastinating and make a decision on the purchase of a compact digital camera, but this was easier said than done.
The average consumer of compact cameras wants something that is small and compact (obviously) and will sacrifice most of the features of a full blown digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR). They are novices, not advanced amateurs or professionals; they are average people whose interest in photography is limited to taking good photographs with the greatest of ease and there is nothing wrong with that.
There are a few of us, however, who are not satisfied with simple point and shoot cameras. For the convenience of not having to carry a large digital single lens reflex around with a satchel full of lenses, we compromise. As I have said many times, life is filled with compromise; it is just a fact that we have to learn to live with.
If you read the camera reviews (and there are many) you will quickly learn that the two leading compact digital cameras are the Canon G10 and the Lumix LX3 and quite frankly, the LX3 seemed to fair better. As they spoke in techno lingo, I soon became lost as a babe in the woods. My confusion level increased when one commentator described the lens of the LX3 as “ambitious.” I concede that the lens on the LX3 is a bit faster than the G10's and its 24mm wide angle feature provides a greater field of view, but with a paltry 60mm optical zoom capability, I hardly think that this an ambitious lens.
Although the Canon G10 may not measure up to the alleged photographic standards of the LX3, I opine that the versatility of the G10's 28mm to 140mm zoom provides a significant and superior advantage over the LX3. Personally, I think that Panasonic shot themselves in the foot (maybe both feet), but at the end of the day sales figures will determine if I am right or wrong and I really don’t care.
Both the LX3 and the G10 are positioned as a transitional camera between the everyday compact digital camera and your run of the mill DSLR cameras. These two cameras take great photographs and are easy to operate, but the factor that sets them apart from the other compacts is their purchase price. However, you gain manual control capability (in addition to automatic focus and exposure) that is usually offered only with DSLR cameras and a host of other features. Some may say that the LX3 and the G10 cameras are neither fish nor fowl and I must agree.
It was not too difficult to choose the Canon PowerShot G10. The G10 boasts 14.7 megapixels (as if it really matters) and provides a wide variety of both automatic and fully manual operational functions. The 28 to 140 (5x) optical zoom lens allows you to take advantage of most photographic opportunities and if you have ever wondered if gnats have hairs, the G10 will focus all the way down to 1cm to answer your question. If your cup of tea includes digital movie capabilities, you can record for about an hour using a 4GB card.
The available ISO selections range from 80-3200 and shutter speeds are available from 15 seconds to 1/4000 of a second. You can shoot as many as 400 (non-flash) photos on a single charge. The camera measures 4.30” in width, 3.06 inches tall and 1.81 inches thick and weighs less than one pound with its high-capacity battery. It will easily fit into most coat pockets.
Optional accessories include a Conversion Lens Adapter that allows you to attach a Tele-Converter lens to the G10 to increase the focal length to 196mm. The Conversion Lens Adaptor accepts a UV filter, a polarizing filter and a fluorescent light correction filter. The G10 is also equipped with an optical viewfinder, a built-in flash and a hot shoe that accepts Canon Speedlite external flashes.
Within minutes of its arrival, I opened the G10's box. I plugged in the battery for a full charge and started looking over the camera. At first blush I was impressed. Canon was able to create a modern day camera that is ergonomically designed, but also maintains the retro styling of older rangefinder cameras, including knurled adjustment knobs.
My elation quickly turned to irritation after I searched the box high and low for the memory card. I later learned that Canon does not include even a basic memory card. I may be overly critical, but in my opinion that this is reprehensible. Fortunately, when I ordered the camera I also ordered an 8GB SDHC memory card.
Charging the battery took about an hour. After I placed it in the camera I hit the “on” button and in about one second the camera was fully operationally and ready to shoot pictures. For the next 5 days I fondled my new camera waiting for the memory card to arrive. In disgust, I finally gave in and drove to my local Costco store, fought the Christmas shopping crowd and bought two 4GB cards.
The next day was not the best to test my new toy. It was overcast and even rained a bit, but I thought that if the camera was to perform to my expectations then photographing in these conditions would give me some indication of what I could expect during optimal conditions. Initally, I selected two subjects for this experiment, a pine tree in my back yard and a wooden Buddha.
I took the first photo of the pine tree while standing on my deck at full focal length. The second was an indoor photograph of the Buddha, which was carved from a small log. It is an interesting piece that was given to me by a couple who I befriended when I lived in Pakistan. I chose this piece because of the different depths, colors and shadowing characteristics. I placed the Buddha just underneath a cloth and glass framed wall hanging because I wanted to include as much color and texture in the photo as possible. This photo of the Buddha was taken with the G10 mounted on a Bogen (Manfrotto) tripod.
Then I noticed the sun (yes it finally came out) setting and its red glow peering through my neighbors pine tree. This was an image that I wanted to capture, so now we have three.
All photographs were set in the G10's fully automatic mode for this experiment and no filters were used. The photographs were further processed by my computer using Google Picasa 3 software. After I was satisfied with the computer processed image, it was time to put the rubber to the road to really see the less than professional end result. Humorously, I expected that my super duper HP 6310 All-in-One printer using 5 year old Epson photo paper would clearly tell the truth.
The resulting full page images of the pine tree and their surrounding grasses were beautiful and I was as pleased as punch, especially given the photographic conditions. However, it was the photo of the Buddha where I placed my faith in the G10.
The photo was exceptional. The Buddha is painted with a variety of colors and each and every one of them came true to life in the finished photographic product. If you look hard, you can even see that the Buddha is squinting. Maybe the flash was just a little too much for its little eyes.
In closing, I will say that I highly recommend the Canon G10. It is easy to use, produces great photos and will afford you with all the features that you will never need or want in a compact or maybe even a DSLR camera. I do not know how or even why a clam would be happy, but I am one happy clam. Neither the Buddha nor the trees were harmed in the course of this experiment.
Copyright 2009 by Barr Soltis. All rights reserved.