Canon G9- In Review

Canon G9- In Review I have never written a review about a piece of hardware, ever. This Camera has me stoked to shoot and has become an accessory to my persona. By no means is this a replacement for the big guns, but as the cliché goes: “the right tool for the job”. A point and shoot that saves Raw filesI like to call point and shoot cameras, the “drunk cam”. The idea being that some great personality shots, lifestyle, the real deal images happen while you are out there living life. Point and shoots are convienient cameras and non-intrusive means to capture these moments, however, the average 5meg jpeg leaves a lot to be desired for professional use. I am sure you have all been in that situation where something amazing has happened in front of you, a sunset, car crash, crazy lady at the bus stop, that warrants a shot and there you are without a camera. If you were going to shoot it, wouldn’t it make sense to shoot at a high enough resolution to be included in your quiver of professional work? 12.1 mega pixel RAW seems plenty for reproduction. ISO The 12.1 (why .1 I have no idea, marketing?) mega pixel RAW function of this camera made it interesting to me. As with many point and shoots it has its limitations on the ISO setting. The noise is fine at ISO 200 and less, but gets noisier as you roll up the dial, (the manual dial on the left side is killer). Nothing new here. I world argue that when locking down for a time exposure at night, it isn’t the worse quality image on the market. Add a little Noise Ninja and BAM, all better. I hope in the next evolution they increase the size of the sensor to help minimize the noise. For $500, it’s fine! Hawthorne Bridge at Night  PriceWhich brings me to price… $500, I can make that back on one stock photo sale. They become disposable at that price and with that in mind, I don’t mind putting my G9 thru a harsh work out. It lives in my coat pocket and travels with me wherever I go. If it gets stolen, I would be more emotionally scarred, than financial strapped, as the little G9 becomes your little buddy, a friend. Size Does Matter This is a feature I love. Granted it is larger than other point and shot cameras but this has to be the smallest camera with the ability to shoot RAW images. I thought I wanted a smaller rig but when you actually use it the size and weight make sense. It has a metal body and the added weight helps stabilize the camera in low light situations. For the size they were able to squeeze some larger SLR features onto it to be convenient, like the ISO dial. The big plus is that I will actually take it with me, so in turn I will actually shoot. I like to compose the images and pull the trigger, but lets be honest, to drag out the full SLR kit, feels like work. In candid situations  the larger SLR is also intimidating to folks that are not models. The G9 makes them feel more relaxed. The final images feel more candid. StealthThe small size also doesn’t set off red flags for security officers at concerts and professional sporting events. It is small and inconspicuous and people are not alarmed. You can blend in like a tourist and act like you don’t know what the rules are. The larger 3 inch screen helps compose the image as you use one hand to get a sneaky angle. Short lens, low shutter speedsI coach at a photo workshop at High Cascade Snowboard Camp each summer and one of the simple lessons we learn is the rule of thumb on what speed to use in conjunction with the focal length of the camera’s lens. The G9 lens is a 7.5mm to 44, f2.8-4.8. To convert that into real time 35m lens numbers, the lens shoots like a 35mm-210mm. The shorter 7.5 m lens means speeds at a 15th of a second can be used to get sharp images handheld. The camera has a built in stabilizer that helps to focus the image. The manual focus feature is also handy. It is more intuitive than most point and shoots and does allows creative freedom in composition. FlashThe G9 has a built-in flash that has a manual override. It is convenient and comes in handy in a pinch. The hot shoe on top also is a nice feature. It works in sync with the Canon Speedlite 220EX, 430EX, 580EX and 580EX II. I have not use a speed lite but the thought is that if the SLR goes down on a location I can jump in and use my Pocket Wizards to keep shooting.dune buggy SD cardsSD cards are a standard feature and not worth talking about, but one issue here is that the 4meg SD card is “buggy” and I prefer the 2 meg. Since switching to the 2meg cards I have not had a glitch. The camera has USB sync; I think the card reader is faster. BatteryAnother standard feature that is not exciting. The key here is to buy a couple of back-up batteries. The camera processes the larger RAW images pretty fast but the added speed requires more energy. A back up is the easiest solution. Movie ModeMany point and shoots have a movie mode. Some limit the capture time to 30 seconds, which is so dumb. The G9 rolls! The G9 can record movies at 640×480 at 30 frames per second. It can also record 640×480 LP and 320×240 both also at 30fps. At 640×480 G9 movies are roughly 100mb per minute. This means that a 2GB card can store a 20 minutes 640×480 G9 movie. Not bad at all. The G9 saves movies in AVI format. QuickTime and RealPlayer (among other software) can open AVI files. I have fun making blog style videos that I cut in IMovie to add to a blogs and entertain the friends. The time-lapse mode shoots at 1-second intervals or 2 and is great to illustrate a work in process. The audio isn’t half bad either, but you can’t zoom while the camera is recording.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaRVYDUwRPo]  Lets face it, we are all in a fast-paced world, and anything to make our lives easier and increases the quality of life is welcomed. The G9 has saved my life. OK, maybe not that far. Situations and events that I would have not normally carried a larger SLR are not fair game because I am excited to put my little G9 buddy in my pocket to get shots. It does not replace the SLR workhorse, but the quality of images, the versatility and simplicity make the $500 investment well worth it.mt hood

8 Responses to “Canon G9- In Review”

  1. miliux says:

    I’ll start by saying that you have a great and informative blog running.

    The G9 is a great black camera which reminded me of the old 1980s style film camera with sandpaper rims on top wheels. Sort of like the Leica camera.

    I bought mine a few months ago, just before my Christmas/NYE holiday around Italy. I used it mainly when i don’t want to seek attention by taking my larger dslr camera out in public. So places like train stations, planes and other public places where there are a large gathering. It is also for safety purposes considering the big cameras does signal $$$ in public.

    Initially i was quite disappointed since i had a high expectation to a high-end compact camera. The last time i owned a compact camera was back when Canon S50 with its 5mp and RAW feature was king in 2001. But i would have thought by now that they have significantly improved in the noise issue and white balance. The camera just doesn’t nail the white balance in auto mode.

    As for the noise, well…part of the reason why i bought this camera was that i can take a compact camera inside nightclubs and parties since dslr cameras are prohibited as it is listed as ‘professional recording device’. In my 30D camera i can go up to 800 with a satisfactory level of noise, but for G9 it’s no more than 400…which is pretty dull considering that i need high ISO and low noise in places of low light environment.

    Anyway, enjoy the G9. It’s a great equipment for what it does compared to most compact cameras that’s for sure.

  2. trevorgraves says:

    Remember the days of FILM and choosing a film type based on its grain and ISO? For events I would shoot TMX 3200 to get better action. Agfa made an 800 ISO color film I would shoot and push to 1600 and it had sand size grain. This texture was part of the “look” and “feel” of the image. Today we know that digital in these low light situation has a “grain”. The undesirable noise that is unique to digital can be compared to the grain of old school film. Perhaps our frustration is that we know it will be resolved and can only get better. Why can’t it be noise-less now??

    I am sure they have it figured out at the Canon factory, they just want us to keep upgrading our equipment to keep them in business. Imagine that.

  3. dano says:

    I can’t say enough about this camera. In all the “I wish a had a camera with me” situations, I now do. It comes with me everywhere. I’ve been shooting time lapse movies like they are going out of style, (They are, right?) and have had the PW on top triggereing a whole studio full of flashes, just to see.

    I’m loving how spontaneous this rig is making me, while at the same time, not just making throw away photos.

    I wrote about it just after I got it here:

    http://www.danopendygrasse.com/page19/page7/files/category-cameras.php

  4. LifeSpy says:

    Oh yes another thing you mention that you sell images as stock, is this with an agency and if so do you think the quality is good enough?

  5. trevorgraves says:

    Srry lifespy.

    I do not sell stock thru and agency. I am in a specialty world and most calls come direct. The quality is there for most things. The post work is the make or break of the sale.

  6. LifeSpy says:

    @ Trevorgraves, well that makes a lot of sense to me, there are so many different standards needed for different purposes in digital images. I have been puzzled as to why some agencies have set such high technical quality control, while letting in rubbish content

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