Canon Powershot G6 Review
By Movable Type Admin
Building on the very successful PowerShot "G" series, the PowerShot G6 offers many
of the features found on its predecessor the Powershot
G5 and adds 7-megapixel resolution and increased performance. Its Auto and
Program AE modes will allow beginners and less experienced users obtain high-quality photos, while the more experienced photo enthusiast's will have all the
manual controls they could ever need.
We were very satisfied with the G6's ergonomics, the controls are well placed, logically labeled and highly functional. The issue of accidently hitting the white balance button we experienced with the G5 has been resolved. The 4-way selector has been moved down along the right side of the LCD. The G6 is not "pocket size," it's more substantial with a durable body, swiveling color LCD, a high-capacity battery, a beefier grip and 4x zoom lens. Lightweight cameras may be easy to carry but they're very susceptible to camera movement and that often relates to blurry pictures. But don't let its size and weight scare you off, I had no problems carrying it around all day taking samples. Its "vari-angle" 2.0-inch LCD works great. When shooting outdoors, I had no problem framing with it even with the bright Florida sun directly behind me. Indoors it "gains up" and I found it does not get very grainy. There's nothing more aggravating then trying to frame a portrait with a grainy LCD.
The G6's performance was impressive. From power up to first image captured measured approx. 3.5 seconds. Most of this time was required to extend the lens. The shutter lag (the time from depressing the shutter release to capturing your image) is an impressive 4/10 of a second including auto focus. This can be reduced to virtually nothing by half-depressing the shutter release and pre-focusing ahead of time. When using this method shutter lag was a mere 1/10 of a second. The shot to shot time is better than average at about 1.6 seconds without the use of the flash and 2.2 second with the flash. I continued to shoot as fast as possible and was able to capture 19 frames before "busy" was displayed on the LCD while the contents of the buffer was being processed. I was able to shoot another frame in about 1 second and to process the entire buffer (approx. 20 frames) required about 25 seconds.
The G6 has two continuous modes to choose from (Standard, High-speed.) Using the standard continuous capture mode, I was able to capture 14 frames in just under 11 seconds. High-speed continuous mode captured 11 frames in approx. 5.8 seconds. When in RAW mode the camera can capture 3 frames in about 5 seconds, it then takes about 10 seconds to process the buffer. The G6 (like most digicams) is optimized for processing JPEG images and has no TIFF mode, but with the RAW mode and Canon's robust "DIGIC" image processor there's really no need for TIFF. The average user will rarely - if ever - run into a full buffer that will delay shooting and if so, a couple of seconds isn't very long to wait. All of our tests were done using a Transcend 45x 1GB CompactFlash card, Large SuperFine quality, preview off, flash off, LCD on, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The Remote Capture software is a feature that may not be frequently used, but will prove invaluable in the right circumstances. Remote Capture allows you to exercise complete control over a tripod-mounted G5 attached to a PC via USB cable. You can preview the image, zoom, adjust camera settings, and release the camera's shutter from your PC. The image is then immediately uploaded, making it available for editing and printing without removing the CF card or initiating a batch upload process. If you've ever had the need to take a series of portrait shots and offer prints to your subjects within minutes, you will love this application.
Canon has continued the use of its all-glass 4x optical zoom lens on the G6. It covers approx. 35-140mm (in 35mm equivalence) with a maximum aperture of F 2.0 (W) - F 3.0 (T). There is moderate barrel distortion at full wide angle, but virtually no pin cushioning at full telephoto -- all in all a very nice lens. It produced sharp results through out its range, and the zooming mechanism is smooth and fast. The 9-point autofocus system covers from 50cm (1.6 ft.) to infinity in normal mode, and the macro mode covers from 5cm (2.0 in.) to 50cm (1.6 ft.). In the Manual Focus mode, focus is set by the using the jog dial near the shutter release and a sliding bar graph with distance marks. The center of the LCD magnifies a portion of the image to better determine focus.
I was very pleased with the overall image quality, it's comparable to the output from more expensive dSLR cameras. Our samples were sharp, nicely saturated, properly exposed and the white balance was right on the money. Outdoors it captures well exposed images, and sky detail is beautiful. Indoor results were also very good. The flash has good range and when shooting portraits, it illuminates the subject evenly, and skin tones look very natural. There was very little noise in high/low contrast areas, even ISO 400 looked good. There is some noise in the picture, but when compared to some of the 8MP cameras from earlier this year (2004), it looks much better. See the photos on our Samples page. We captured a 13 sec. exposure at F8.0, and again saw very little noise. As with most Canons we have seen this year, the flash does an excellent job of "throttling down" during Macro photography, which helps ensure you do not over-expose the subject.
Bottom line - the PowerShot G6 is an excellent camera. Definitely one that I would recommend without hesitation. With great image quality, powerful features, and robust performance it's sure to please most every user. This is a camera that I am sure is going to be carried by enthusiasts and pros when they leave the bulky dSLR equipment behind. The 7-megapixel images yield more than enough resolution to make stunning 13x19-inch prints. With a street price of only $699, Canon has put together an awesome digital capture system here!
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