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Canon PowerShot G6

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Canon PowerShot G6 Compact Camera

    TechHive Rating

    The chunky G6 won best in show by performing well in our image-quality tests and providing many useful controls.

Canon PowerShot G6
Photograph: Rick Rizner

The PowerShot G6 is a compact and powerful 7.1-megapixel digital camera that should appeal to advanced photographers. It's the latest in Canon's G series, which dates back nearly five years to the original PowerShot G1. The G6 returns to a silver body color, though we think the all-black G5 looked more professional. But the G6 is also about 10 percent smaller, making it even easier to shoot one-handed when you're grasping its chunky handgrip.

The G6's bright, 2-inch fold-out LCD monitor tilts and swivels, so it's easy to frame your shots from any angle. The eye-level optical viewfinder shows you only 80 percent of the eventual photo. A diopter adjustment lets you adapt the viewfinder to your eyesight, but it slides so easily that we kept knocking it out of focus.

The 4X zoom lens feels smooth and accurate. At wide-angle settings, it has an excellent maximum aperture of f2, letting you shoot at higher speeds even in relatively low light conditions. You can also buy wide-angle and telephoto converters, or a close-up lens for easier macro shots. We found that the nine-point autofocus locked on quickly. When you switch to manual focus, you use the dial just behind the shutter button to make adjustments. When the camera is in manual-focus mode, the center portion of the LCD screen is magnified, helping you get a sharp focus, especially when you're working with close-ups. You use the same dial to adjust aperture sizes and shutter speeds in the camera's manual-exposure modes.

The G6 has Canon's familiar dual-menu structure. Pressing the Function button gives quick access to the settings you'll want to change while shooting, such as ISO, resolution, and bracketing. The well-organized main menu holds many other exposure and setup options. A moderate number of dedicated buttons and shortcuts that you can access using the four-way thumb button give quick access to the more common settings, such as flash, macro, and white balance. The arrangement makes adjusting the camera fast and easy.

This camera doesn't hold your hand with a lot of scene modes, but it has two programmable custom modes that let you easily return to your favorite settings. For example, on vacation you might set one for indoor museum shots, and the other for tree-filled landscapes, adapting them further as the subjects and lighting conditions change.

In our formal testing, the G6 gave us some of the best digital photos we've seen so far, beating even 8-megapixel rivals. Color accuracy and sharpness were especially good in our still-life test, while flash shots of our mannequin were only slightly overexposed. Details in our outdoor rooftop shot were nice and sharp. The G6 scored well in our resolution test, exhibiting fewer sharpening halos than our past champion, the Olympus C-8080.

You get a 32MB CompactFlash card with the G6, which you'll soon want to upgrade, especially if you want to capture RAW images. You can record up to 3 minutes of 320-by-240 pixel video at 15 frames per second if there's room on the card, but at the highest resolution--640-by-480--you're limited to 30 seconds at 10 fps. We're surprised that Canon's Print/Share button (which has been making its way onto other PowerShot cameras) is missing, despite the G6's support for the PictBridge standard that lets you print directly to a compatible printer.

The G6 uses an upgraded rechargeable lithium ion battery. It's the same size as the one in the G5, but Canon says it will last 26 percent longer. In our battery tests, we could take over 500 shots on a single charge, compared to 438 shots with the PowerShot G5. The self-contained charger plugs straight into a power outlet with fold-out plugs. The camera also comes with a wireless remote control.

Each round of improvements to Canon's G series just makes it better. G5 owners may not be ready to upgrade; but with its great image quality and smooth controls, the G6 is very enticing.

Paul Jasper

This story, "Canon PowerShot G6" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The chunky G6 won best in show by performing well in our image-quality tests and providing many useful controls.

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