Subtle features flit past you as you breeze through the G9's functions such as selective focus zones, 1cm macro, manual focus and panoramic stitching.
Canon Powershot G9 Specification
- Sensor: CCD - 12.1Mp
- Image Size: 4000 x 3000 pixels
- Lens: 35-210mm - f/2.8-4.8
- Focus: TTL, 1cm Macro
- Exposure: Programme AE/AP/SP/M
- Metering: Evaluative/Spot/CW
- Monitor: 3in LCD
- Movie Mode: Yes, with sound
- Storage: SD, SDHC, MMC, 32MB card supplied
- Batteries: Rechargeable Lith-Ion
- AC Adaptor: Optional
- Video Output: Yes
- Size/Weight: 106 x 72 x 43mm-320g
- Transfer: USB 2.0
The Powershot G9 at £320 is comparable to the Nikon Coolpix P5100 at £260 with the same resolution, lower zoom and smaller screen. Alternatively, the Sony DSC H9 at £279 with a lower 8Mp resolution, an eye watering 15x optical zoom and Carl Zeiss lens.
Canon Powershot G9 Modes and features
The front of the camera holds the compact 6x optical image stabilised lens which has a detachable lens bezel for attaching lens adaptors to increase the wide angle capability or top focal length. The green AF assist beam is situated below the optical viewfinder and the slim flash is located in the top right.
The top of the camera looks more like an old SLR except for the silver power button that sits flush with the body. The left of the camera has a quick adjustment for the ISO ratings, then sat next to that dial is the hotshoe.
The mode dial looks a little more upto date as a shiny black with sharp ridges to allow the thumb to grip. The dial has the PASM options, two Custom buttons, Auto, Scenes, Panoramic stitching and Video mode. The zoom is a small ring wrapped around the silver shutter release button.
Moving onto the back of the camera and it retains its vintage styling with the optical viewfinder and eyesight dioptre. The back is a myriad of buttons that look very confusing at first.
To the left of the viewfinder is a small direct print button and on the other side is the Playback button. The 3in LCD screen takes up a lot of the space available on the back of the camera. The top right of the camera has a small button with a star and, when pressed, it brings up the exposure information.
The remaining buttons are laid out in a symmetrical pattern to appeal to aesthetics. The top left is the Focus area selector and doubles up as the Erase button in Playback. Next to that is the Exposure compensation button or Aperture value if in Manual mode.
The Function button is in the centre of the navigation pad which has been built up in layers like a tiered cake. It gives access to AWB, Colours, Bracketing, Flash compensation, Metering, ND filter, Resolution and Image quality. This is is circled by the Navigation pad that also doubles up as different access buttons, such as Manual focus if you press up, Macro is Left, Flash is right and Drive options if you press down.
Around the navigation pad is a selector wheel which is becoming more popular as another transition over from DSLRs.
The Display button will rotate the screen options such as Rule of thirds, Histogram, Screen off and No information. The Menu button completes the rear of the camera.
Pressing the Menu button is like opening the wardrobe to Narnia. An entirely new world awaits as three tabs of options await your perusal. The Record tab has 20 different options such as AF frame, Self timer, Spot AE point, AF mode, Review time, IS mode and Custom display to name a few.
Working your way through those options and the second Set up tab offers 17 options including Mute, LCD Brightness, Time zone, File numbering and Lens retract time.
The third Theme tab is what I think happens to be the most useless waste of memory. From this tab, you can adjust the theme of the camera including the Start up picture, Jingle, Shutter sound and Operation sound.
Canon Powershot G9 Build and handling
The Canon Powershot G9 is a top of the range bridge camera, so common sense dictates the quality is very good. The body is metal and feels solid and chunky. I'm disappointed to see the lens is not USM as I think the camera could benefit from the better glass and motor that comes with it. That being said, the lens is a good one anyway.
Turning my attention to the bottom of the camera and I'm happy to see that the tripod bush is metal ensuring longevity. The Battery door is solid enough although does have a bit of play in it.
Canon Powershot G9 Flash options
As with all modern Canon cameras, the Red-eye reduction options are found in the menu, so the only options found under the Flash button are on and off.
Thanks to the hotshoe, the camera has the capability of accepting external flash. The hotshoe is dedicated to Canon EF-S systems and there have been reports of problems using non-dedicated or independent flash guns as the volt of power going through can short circuit the camera. ePHOTOzine spoke to Canon about this and Vic Solomon, CCI Product Intelligence team, said that whilst the problems of older DSLRs and the power output of non-dedicated flashguns has been eradicated, Canon can't guarantee compatability with non-Canon products.
Canon Powershot G9 Performance
The Canon Powershot G9 has a close focusing of 1cm and I am glad that Canon have restricted it as I was scared of scraping the glass on the subject as I got nearer.
The shutter lag test gave varied results, but the one that was the most consistent came out at 0.08 seconds. ePHOTOzine asked Canon to confirm their results and Vic Solomon said that they received results of 0.10 or lower.
The colour testchart shows an increase in base colours and the skin tone has gone more pink, unfortunately. The tones have been reproduced well.
The landscape shot of the canal shows a loss of detail in the sky. Minimum fringing on the roof and the white bars next to the lock. Good detail on the winch, but the sky has bled over the branches directly above the bridge.
The Powershot G9 has a Neutral density filter and activating this gives a slightly magenta cast to the overall picture which is weird until the images are looked at side by side and the green cast is noticeable on the standard landscape shot.
The Party mode should cope with dark rooms that have low lights like at a Christmas party. My shot of the beautifully, yet subtley decorated tree has blurred because it chose a shutter speed of 1/5th second at f/2.8 yet only selected ISO320 instead of raising the ISO level and obviating the issue.
Portrait mode automatically chose the flash and this ruined the image. It didn't accent the face as a flash should do and left a terrible shadow behind Becky. Program mode has given the same result as Portrait mode but without the flash. A warm finish with a neutral background.
The primary colours are boosted as usual especially the Blues. the skin tone image looks a little too pink, but is otherwise a decent result.
The 1cm macro gets right in on the toy and a narrow DoF is chosen by the camera to throw anything else out of focus.
The Powershot G9 has a Vivid colour to increase contrast and saturation. The highlight on the rear strut of the roof has overexposed.
A Neutral colour is also available and this mutes all colours whilst reducing contrast to give an older, more hazy overall effect.
The selective focus control has 9 areas to focus on. Here, the top left of the image was chosen which means focusing and recomposing is unnecessary.
Shifting the focus over to the bottom right, more is in focus because the focal plane is more aligned with the car.
A low ISO was chosen causing the camera shake.
The Portrait mode has opted for flash which has ruined the image.
Program mode has given a nice result. still warm and the natural light has still given a balanced shot.
Canon Powershot G9 Noise test
ISO80 to ISO200 shows great detail and it's not until ISO400 where the noise starts to sharpen enough to be noticeable.
ISO800 has a distinct sharpness and a few purple blobs are showing in the noise. ISO1600 has distinct noise, but the result of the noise test is very good and I am pleased with the results.
The ISO80 test.
The ISO100 test.
The ISO200 test.
The ISO400 test.
The ISO800 test.
The ISO1600 test.
Canon Powershot G9 Verdict
As the top of the range model before venturing into DSLR territory, the Powershot G9 is bound to be very good and despite some of its flaws, it is.
The build quality is top notch and all the features you expect from a prosumer camera are there. The macro facility is great as is the selective focus zones and even the selector dial is a nice touch to bring it more in line with DSLR status.
I'm not happy with the flash result of the portrait or the fact that the camera didn't recognise that Party mode generally means dark areas to select a higher ISO.
If you are in the market for a Prosumer model with a vintage appearance that would look nice on the passenger seat of a classic car coupled with high performance, then this camera is one to consider.
Canon Powershot G9 Plus points
Good noise results.
Neutral Density filter effect.
Add lens adapters for more creativity.
Canon Powershot G9 Minus points
Some modes don't work.
Flash doesn't work in connection with the exposure.
It's an impressive camera and has received the Highly recommended award for build quality and features.
The Canon Powershot G9 costs around £320 and is available from your friendly neighbourhood ePHOTOzine shop here.