Canon PowerShot G10 Point-and-Shoot Camera
At a Glance
Canon PowerShot G10 Compact Camera
The G10 is a fun and stylish camera, but its soft focus and low-light performance are disappointing.
Straight up, the 14.7-megapixel Canon PowerShot G10 just looks cool. There's something appealing about its old-school rangefinder styling, and the little lights that glow orange next to the old-timey ISO and EV compensation dials. What's more, this is a solidly built point-and-shoot that packs some advanced camera features to attract digital SLR users looking for a second, smaller camera for everyday snapshots.
The G10's cool factor is no doubt a reason for its high $500 price tag. Also, it seems to be Canon's newest attempt to win the megapixel war: The G10 is a step up from its predecessor, the 12-megapixel PowerShot G9. The benefits of the increased pixel count are dubious, however, as I saw in my tests.
Like the G9, the G10 offers RAW shooting options, including RAW+JPEG. It also incorporates a wider-angle lens (28mm equivalent), which worked well for my landscape shots. Unfortunately, Canon has correspondingly reduced the zoom to the telephoto equivalent of 140mm, with a 5X optical zoom as opposed to the 6X optical zoom on the G9. That may be a letdown for some people, but take heart: Lens teleconverters are available separately, and the G9's hot shoe has been carried forward onto this model.
On the G10, Canon offers its handy My Menu feature, which stores favorite settings for recall at any time. The camera's image stabilization mode let me make at least a few shots that I couldn't have captured otherwise, such as handheld shots of ferns in the shady New Zealand area of the botanical gardens. The camera menus are easy to navigate after a few peeks at the manual. Common point-and-shoot features, such as face recognition, scene modes, and stitch assist for making panoramas, are on board, too.
The G10's assortment of modes includes auto, program, and shutter and aperture priority, as well as the option to go fully manual. You determine manual exposure on the LCD. A small meter appears, and below it are the camera's current exposure settings. Everything is neatly displayed, and you can easily adjust the settings using a thumbwheel on the camera back.
Things get complicated, though, with manual focus, and I quickly decided never to use that option again. On the LCD, a small window within the full image appears, and you adjust focus--again using the thumbwheel--based on a bar displayed on the right edge. Having the manual-focus option is nice, but the implementation here is a bit kludgy. Thankfully, the camera's autofocus handled most situations well enough.
The G10's battery life is superb. In our PC World Test Center evaluations, it fired off 456 shots on a single charge, better than nearly any point-and-shoot we've tested.
ISO ranges from 80 to 3200, but regrettably noise and soft focus made an obvious impact on images at ISO 400 and up. Sometimes I even observed chromatic noise at ISO 100 in darker areas. And unfortunately, the G10 was often slow and inaccurate in focusing, particularly in low-light situations. You must be patient with this camera and wait until the focus indicator says 'OK'; otherwise the shutter will fire, and you won't get a sharp photo. In well-lit outdoor scenes, on the other hand, the camera did just fine, and thanks to the RAW option, you can recover a lot of invisible detail.
This camera has a good macro mode, enabling you to get 1 centimeter--1 centimeter!--from your subject. Sometimes here the camera will cast its own shadow on the subject and you'll have to back off, but some of my macro shots looked very good. The bulk of my test images, shot in a botanical garden, were punchy and vivid, but not unrealistically oversaturated. The G10 seemed to offer a pleasant boost of saturation compared with the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, which I tested concurrently.
Those saturation levels took a toll on the G10's image-quality ratings, however. In the PC World Test Center's jury evaluations, the G10 performed very well in image sharpness, but its color accuracy and exposure levels rated only as Fair. Overall, the G10's image quality earned a Good rating, but it fell noticeably short of the image quality we've seen from other Canon cameras.
The video mode, which captures clips at 30 frames per second, performed very well outdoors; footage quality was spottier indoors, as expected. The G10's zoom was impressively smooth, and audio was better than on many cameras I've reviewed, although most of those cameras were lower-end models than the G10.
Overall, the Canon PowerShot G10 was a pleasure to use, but I wish the company had focused more on noise control instead of just cramming in more megapixels. I loved carrying this sturdy camera around and I appreciated its highly useful dials, but for the money you can easily find better overall performers.