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Tuesday, 18 September 2007

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Excellent review, however regarding Canon favouring "reach over width" (35mm wide end instead of 24/28mm) - think back to the Sony R1 that has a superb 24 - 120 mm Zeiss zoom. I suspect Canon had a good look at user feedback & concluded that the "reach" was preferable, particularly if you consider the much smaller sensor on the G9 - I'm glad they did.

I want to second this review - I bought the G9 nearly the day it came out simply because of the RAW functionality coming back to this camera line and I am truly blown away by its quality. I usually shoot with a 5D and I will have no problem substituting this for street photography when I don't want the heft of an SLR. I took a portrait with some studio lights recently and posted the image with all 12,000,000 pixels if you'd like to pixel peep:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goldmember/1394697688/
Full size here:
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=1394697688&size=o

I sharpened this image quite heavily to see how far I could push it so you'll see some minor aliasing but little of that should show up in a print. I highly recommend this camera...

Steve Goldenberg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goldmember/

I recently purchased the G9 (my first point and shoot), and so far, I'd say it does a better job in the resolution department than my 1dMark II (no surprise there, as the 1dmkII is 8.2 Mp), and noisewise, is comparable for iso values less than 200. At high ISO, the mkII is much lower noise (also not surprising).

As far as raw conversion, I'm aching for Aperture to support the G9. Canon's software does a good job of RAW conversion, but it's not full featured like Aperture. I seem to have mixed results with Lightroom 1.2's conversion of the RAW files. Anyone else done a comparison?

Overall, I am excited about this camera (and for only 1/10 the cost of my mkII!). Finally, I can carry a camera with me in my shirt pocket and have confidence that I can make high quality prints. Wow!

-paul

I own a G3 but was thinking of moving to a G6 for the cropping room. As someone who buys 2nd hand a lot, I am happy when manufacturers introduce new models as it tends to drop the price of previous ones.

This review is interesting because he reports good results on large prints at ISO1600. Remember when the debate was when DSLR would match 35 mm film? It seems to me that digicams have done that too for a while but no one seems to discuss that much.

But reporting good large prints at ISO1600 brings up a bone of contention of mine. I am so sick and tired of having photo results judged at 100% pixel viewing on screen. The stock sites do so (even microstocks) even though many of those images at destined for smallish prints in magazines and elsewhere. It's so difficult to know what today's reviews mean. It may not matter that a digicam shows bad pixel noise at ISO800 at 100% screen viewing. What does the 5x7 print look like on the wall? A standard of performance seems to in force that may be irrelevant.

My opinion has always been that the main problem with small sensors at hight ISOs is not noise, but the interaction between noise and jpeg compression. Thus the need for raw.

On and off in the last two months, I've been shooting with a A640, using hacked firmware to get raw files. Now I am tempted to get a G9!

I enjoyed Ken's user review of the classy, sassy G9. I spent some time with one last weekend, being flush with some birthday cash, but was won over by the new and similarly-spec'd A650 IS. Better feel in the hand (for me) and, most importantly, articulating LCD. Not to mention it's a C-note cheaper.

Relevant to Ken's article is this: the A650 shares the same sensor and Digic III processing. The lens is very similar, if not identical. And after shooting a couple of hundred shots and being very impressed, I started processing several images and discovered a hitch in the giddy-up.

In maybe one out of 20 or 30 shots, a mysterious banding appeared. Horizontal lines, usually not in the entire image, and sometimes more prominant in the red channel. Here is a link to one such image (actually a detail of one image):

http://web.mac.com/stephengillette/iWeb/Biography%20of%20Vision/Blank.html

Most of the offenders were taken in high-contrast situations, with bright lighting conditions. And please note: this banding would never be seen in a 4 x 6" print. (But I didn't get a 12MP camera to print 4 x 6's.)

I posted my story on the dpreview Canon Talk Forum and it appears this problem has been noted on previous "A-Series" cameras. I spoke with Canon, and their solution was for me to ship the new camera back to them for testing.

Instead, I switched out the camera for another one at the camera store yesterday. As time permits, I'll do some shooting this week to see if the issue presents itself again.

In the meantime, I might suggest that Ken and other early users of the G9 shoot lots of pictures in mixed light and take the time to review them on a computer monitor at 100%. Just in case.

I had a G7 which I eventually gave to my daughter, so that I could get some decent photos of my grandson. She doesn't know much about photography, but I'm getting good shots of the kid, which tells you something about the camera.

Unlike you, I found the optical viewfinder to be one of the strong points of the G7. I hadn't owned a P&S with only electronic viewfinder, until I bought a Leica D-Lux 3. The Leica's okay, but I find that I very much miss an OVF -- with an EVF, there's always a lag between the time you look at the screen on the back and figure out what's going on and where it's pointed; you have to orient it. An OVF is like your eye. You quickly get to the point where you're looking at the subject of the shot and simply bring the OVF to your eye and shoot. No delay whatever.

I assume the OVF is the same as on the G7; if so, I wish that Canon could make it bigger. This camera is very close to doing what a Leica does, and I'm sure it'll get better. The G15 will be incredible.

Did you mention shutter lag?

JC

Steve G.,
That looks like two umbreallas, a key and a fill--is that right? Can't quite tell if the fill is an umbrella or a reflector.

Mike

Is there any way to integrate a remote with the G9? I'd love to experiment with one as a digiscoping camera.

Also very interested in shutter lag. Some reviews mention that the G9 is not useful for sports photography without going into any further detail.

I downloaded some JPEGs from DP Review and printed them on an HP 9100 at A3 size and was very impressed. I didn't buy the G9 in the end but considered it for a good while. Thanks for the review, it was useful however, just one nitpick. Taking a couple of steps back does not turn a 35mm lens into a 24 or 28. It is not the same thing at all and I think you know that. There is more to a wider angle lens than just getting more in the frame. There was a famous photographer (can't remember who) who said something like, "if your photos are crap, you're not close enough".

Steve

Robert Capa:,“If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.”

Is this indeed a shirt pocket sized camera? How does it compare to say, the GX-100? And how are the manual controls? Are there dedicated aperture and shutter controls?

Confused am I. Why Mr. Tenaka are you glad that Canon included an optical finder that you do not consider particularly useful?

Dear Robert,

You've brought up two separate issues-- is 100% scale size an appropriate standard for stock agencies and for prints?

Tackling the former question: if you honestly know how a particular stock photo is 'destined' to be used, you can make a fortune. Start your own agency and only accept photos you know are destined for greatness. You'll be rich inside a year.

[grin]

OK, truth is you never know how a stock photo will be used (most of them will never be used for anything). Unless the agency limits themselves to only dealing with low-end clients, they MUST have a uniform standard of fairly high quality. The agency and their clients can't and won't be bothered having to sort through photos by quality grade. And nothing will turn off a client faster than picking an image they really like and discovering it isn't available at the quality level they need.**

This is the reality of the stock business- you must be prepared for the worst (or best, in this case). If one isn't, then one doesn't play.

On the print end, you've got a better point. That's why when Pop Photo tests lenses they produce a grid plotting image quality vs print size. So you can decide what image quality values matter to you.

Absent everyone doing that, though, the 100% scale size is reasonable. For today's 10-12 MP cameras, sensor noise will be visible in an 8x10 print as fine grain (it might not be in a 4x6 print). Relative noise info at 100% is a good indicator of how blotchy and 'intense' that grain will be. It's a pretty realistic metric of one aspect of print quality.

If you really don't care about 8x10, you know you can always grab the 100% screen samples and downsize them in Photoshop by a factor of 2.

pax / Ctein


** There's always an exception. The highest price paid for a digital stock photo was for an image that was typically used at what we'd call higher "web" resolution -- usually no more than 1024x1280. It earned low-middle six figures.

It's the Windows XP desktop background photo of the green hillside with the blue sky.

Thanks Ctein for your reply. You're correct, of course, re stock photo sites. They don't know a priori who is buying so they set their minimum standards. It's their business and they can run it any way they want to. Fair enough.

My venting about prints came after reading some threads on another site about how the noise on the G9 is unacceptable. Then I come here and read KT's remarks that a largish print from an ISO1600 shot is very good. How do you go from unacceptable to large print at ISO1600? I shouldn't crank myself up reading stuff on the web is the moral.

The largest I normally print for myself is about 12x18, and I have several of those from 35 mm days and they look fine to me, but I bet they'd fail the criteria that one sees in various forums. It just seemed to me that those criteria are not really important to that many people. I have perfectly acceptable 8x10's from the 4 mpix G3.

Thanks again.
Robert

I'd be interested to see how the G9, with which I'm not familiar, compares to the Ricoh GX100, which I think is a great camera for street photography — it's the camera that Leica should have produced if it were an innovative company.

I've been shooting for over a year with the Ricoh GR-D and last December bought the D-Lux 3 because I didn't want to be limited the the 21/28mm EFOV focal lengths. About a fortnight ago, however, I was in Tokyo and found the new Ricoh GX100 on sale until Aug 31 for almost US$100 off and boughrt it on impulse. I feel that the GX100 is substantially better than the D-Lux 3, which I now will sell, because:

• The "stepped" zoom lens facility, which lets you change the zoom focal length in discrete steps by pushing a rocker swithch from 24 to 28, 35, 50 and 72mm EFOV. This makes it seem like you're using a camera with five prime lenses — a brilliant solution, and it's surprising that no camera producer has thought of this before.

• Availability of 24mm EFOV — the D-Lux has 28mm but only in 16:9 format: in the other formats, the D-Lux 3 starts at almost 35mm. The 24mm on the GX100 is very convenient, as the 21mm converter makes the GR-D much to large to be "pocketable."

• Better file quality than the D-Lux 3 at ISO 800 and 1600. At 1600 the D-Lux 3 is virtually unusable because, even is RAW, there is some in-camera smoothing that cause "smearing"; and at ISO 800 the D-Lux is a hit-or-miss affair.

• Better controls than the D-Lux 3.

• The detachable eletronic viewfinder, which I think is another brilliant innovation by Ricoh. Although some people prefer an optical viewfinder, I find the EVF to be subtsantially better than the other ones I'm familiar with, that of the Leica V-Lux 1/Panasonic FZ50 and the Leica Digilux 3/Panasonic LX2. Incidentally, Ricoh maintain that the type of optical viewfineder that can be built into a camera of this size is not very good, like those on it's film GR1/GR21 cameras, about which some people complain.

—Mitch/Huahin

Re a question about "remote" control, the good folks at breezebrowser.com say that they'll have a version of their PSRemote available for the G9 "soon." I've used their remote on other Canons... it works very well.

Also, someone above mentioned the G9 as a "pocket" camera. Doesn't the lens protrusion of about an inch make it pretty awkward for pockets?

"Confused am I. Why Mr. Tenaka are you glad that Canon included an optical finder that you do not consider particularly useful?

Posted by: Claire Senft"

That's a fair question, Claire. Since I bought a G7 last fall, and now a G9, I keep thinking that I will encounter a situation where the ambient light conditions will prevent my use of the lcd as a viewfinder. Well, it's been nearly a year and I've not yet hit that situation. But I still expect it.

Honestly, though, I just don't think I could use that optical viewfinder. It's a far cry from a rangefinder viewfinder and its image is just too shrunken for me.

Update, folks, on my second A650 IS, per my previous comment on Ken's review of the G9...

It didn't take too many shots this afternoon to replicate the problems I noticed on my first camera. (The A650 IS shares the new 12MP chip and Digic III processing with the G9.) Some examples are posted here:

http://web.mac.com/stephengillette/iWeb/Biography%20of%20Vision/Banding-A650%20IS.html

So. My new(-est) A650 goes back. While similar problems are now being reported with this camera on at least one forum, nothing so far relating to the Japan-made G9. My A650's were made in China and (I think) Malaysia.

But I think I'll sit back and wait a spell for more user reports on the G9.

I noticed something in the samples available, and the ones posted here, that you might have noticed too. At some angles, the lines are strongly jagged. That would be obviously normal for any pixel structure, given enough magnification and image sharpness. But it seems very apparent here, as if there was a software sharpening thing, not pixel structure, but more like software induced (scale different from pixel structure) jagged lines and little halos. BUT I also noticed I was looking at the pictures at extreme magnification levels, and probably with most other compact cameras you wouldn't even have a sharp line to be jagged at that point. Well, may be it's that the sensor/lens combo is so good you always feel tempted to ask for more.
I find the line structure to be crucial when you think of making big prints, because upressing programs will deal with the jagged borders of pixel structures, and with this amount of image quality you could get quite a lot out of it, but when you have software-induced jagged lines the usual upressing methods tend to make a mess out of it (they tend to make them stronger), as they do with compression artifacts that end up looking like water drops on film or something like that.
As I said, at normal magnification levels the image quality is fantastic, but when you see this amount of detail, it's always tempting to press things a little further.

On the issue of optical viewfinders. I'm using another Canon camera that is actually "pocketable", the SD800.
On very rare occassions, usually light to the side and slightly behind, the screen is unviewable. Even a "poor" optical finder is superior to guessing.
Now, more important, my daughters are in a dance theatre, which produces several "professional" level shows a year. I usually carry a small camera; less bulk, less noise, (nothing like a machine gun burst from an SLR in a quiet moment in a performance), and a desire to watch rather than photograph. By having and using the optical finder, I don't disturb the audience around me, even in continuous mode.
As to accuracy, practice, and then, crop.
An aside; it used to be called "common courtesy".


Bron

I had a G5, loved it, although a bit slow. Got a 5D with 35mm/1.4, nice. Would buy the G9 if it just had a fix 28mm lens, nothing more nothing less.

Dear Robert,

I think you've brought up some very interesting points about differing / evolving standards. Worthy of enough comment that I'm going to make my next column on that subject.

So you'll have to wait two days for a substantive reply [grin]. But thanks for the inspiration!

pax / Ctein

I'm a bit tired of hearing about these so-called "shirt pocket" cameras. Just how big is this sucker? Is it as big as the G7? Or more like the SD series?

And does it have separate aperture and shutter controls, a la the Ricoh GX100?

Some comments: The G9 is not shirt-pocketable. Too big, and way too heavy. It's no Casio Exilim.

I've had a Panasonic LX2 (similar to Leica D-Lux-3) for most of a year, but seldom used it because of its LCD-only viewfinder. The G9, which I got just today, totally solves my problem.

The two are the same width, the G9 is 2mm higher, and the G9 body is much thicker, but if you include the LX2's protruding lens, the G9 is actually thinner.

The G9's raws are more widely supported. They even work on my Epson P-3000 storage viewer. (The movies do too!). Not so the LX2's raws. (Although you always get a JPEG when you shoot raw with the LX2... another annoyance, but useful for the P-3000.)

Can't say a thing about image quality... I'm sure both are fine. When image quality is critical, I use a Leica M8 or a Nikon D200.

Operating controls on the G9 seem better designed to me than those on the LX2. An ISO dial!

In short: The size differences are too small to matter much in my opinion, and in most of the important other ways the G9 is better.

--Marc Rochkind

Marc, (and others)

Can you describe in short how to manually adjust the aperture and shutter speed?

You're taking a picture of your friend. She's backlit. With the GX-100, getting a good exposure with decent shadow detail in the face is a simple matter of using the two levers -- for aperture and shutter speed, respectively -- to adjust to the correct exposure, using the LCD for live feedback.

Manual controls are very important to me, and I'be interested in hearing out the G9 holds up.

Lara--

When the G9 is set to shutter-priority, you use the wheel on the back to change the exposure. When you move it, a display on the LCD shows the speed. This happens even if the LCD is otherwise off. You don't have to press any buttons or bring up any menus... you just turn the wheel.

Similarly for aperture priority.

It's just like my D200, which also uses wheels to change the speed/aperture when in shutter- or aperture-priority mode.

--Marc

Lara,
Check out David Hobby's Strobist site (Monthly Archives) he has good post on G7 back lit and great how to.
In fact just check out Hobby on STROBIST.COM any way.
Pax

Ed.

I have had G1 G2 G3 and G5. I have a an LX/D-Lux as well. Have written about both on the web a fair bit. I like using the LX as if it DID have an optical finder -- after a while you get a feel for just looking across the top of it.

As far as I can tell, the optical finder in the G9 has changed little since the G1. If Canon put a nicer brightline finder in the G10, they would have a lot of folks running for their checkbooks -- especially if it borrowed Cf4 from the EOS (at which point, the G10's operation would be strikingly similar to the Contax G2)

Marc,

You're describing shutter and aperture priority. You're not actually changing the exposure-- rather, you are just changing the aperture and shutter combination for a given exposure.

I was asking about full manual controls, which Canon touts heavily in their literature.

Back to my backlit friend. If I the camera is metering f4.0 at 1/125 second, and I want to add a stop of exposure, I can manually set the camera to f4.0 and 1/30, effectively compensating for a backlit situation.

In shutter priority mode, the camera would change my aperture to f8, which is not what I would want.

So I ask again, for anyone who is still out there-- how do the manual controls of the G9 fare against the GX-100?

lara

I can't compare the G9 to many of the other cameras requested here.

But I would like to add three remarks concerning the G9's exposure controls.

First, and quite importantly, the G9 uses 1/3 stop increments rather than the 1/2 stops more common on low-end cameras. This is a wonderful feature when controlling the camera manually.

Second, one of the lcd display modes (quickly accessible via the "Display" button on the camera's back) features a live brightness histogram of the scene. This can really be a terrific aid in making exposure settings. I tend to activate it in dimmer light, set my exposure, and then deactivate it.

Third, I would like to note that I have had the best results when using my G7 in full-manual exposure mode setting the exposure to -1/3 stops whenever there is a bright spot in a scene. I have not yet had the opportunity to confirm this recommendation with the G9 but its one that I also follow with other cameras (contrary to the "expose to the right" folk philosophy). It tends to produce more moderate highlights without crushing lower midtones.

Bon Appetite!

In Manual mode, the control wheel adjusts either aperture or priority. The +/- button next to the wheel toggles between the two. It's actually easier, faster and simpler than than two separate controls.

On the LCD you see a horizontal scale of speeds or apertures that mimics the scale engraved on a mechanical lens. And, if you use the exposure lock, you see both scales, locked and sliding together. It also displays a vertical "match needle" scale.
It's a complete and responsive fly-by-wire system.

It's also consistent with operation in A or S mode. The wheel adjusts exposure compensation or A|S. It's the easiest, quickest, and most intuitive manual system I've seen.

Now, the bad: the optical viewfinder is not only tiny and distorted, it's grossly inaccurate, extremely loose and shifted vertically and horizontally. Awful.

I see that Really Right Stuff will have a dedicated Arca-Swiss compatible L-bracket for the G7/G9 some time soon. That makes the G9 a lot more attractive in my book.

http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/Itemdesc.asp?ic=BG9%2DL&eq=&Tp=

We need to define standard shirt and coat pocket sizes and load-bearing capabilities. For example, I currently have a shirt pocket that is about four inches square. I'm just going to try inserting my "pocket size" digicam...uh...oh-oh. 'Kay, now I need a needle and thread. And can anyone recommend a shirt with suitable pockets for these new "pocketable" cameras?

I've buy the G9 this week and today started to write some of my impresions in my blog, I'll post some 100% crops and do a test between G9 and my Nikon D200.

This is my first post: http://micropixel.blogspot.com/2007/09/canon-g9-primeras-impresiones-manejo.html

Is writting in spanish, my english is not enough good, but the pictures are easy to understand.

Salva

Forgive me for posting about things which I don't really know about from personal experience, but since the G9 has a hotshoe, couldn't you add a Voigtlander or other accessory viewfinder if that's an issue to you?

I'm thinking in add a viewfinder voigtlander 35mm. But first I am going to research a bit more

Hello Ken,

Thanks very much for posting this review. I've been looking for a good small camera to have with me when I don't use far heavier equipment, and this seems from what you say to be a compelling option. It is good of you to share your very worthwhile and appreciated impressions.

Excellent blog -- wonderful info. I have had a G3 for, well, you can tell, a million years, and almost as many images. It is dying (the LED is flaring out almost all the time), so I expected to get the S5 upon my return from Europe last week. But now I see the G9. I like the idea of the longer zoom and movable screen on the S5, but really love the idea of the smaller size/weight and bigger screen on the G9. I usually take portraits, snaps and lots of travel photos and hand-held, no flash photos. Any advice at all is most gratefully appreciated!

Does anyone have any comments on the macro ability of the G9?

Something to consider for those looking to work the raw files with ACR... you can convert the .cr2 files from the G9 to .dng files (with Adobe's DNG converter) and open them perfectly in ACR. I assume you can do the same in lightroom/aperture.

I just added a Voitlander 35 mm finder. For street photography, I love using this finder. The Voitlander is a very good match for the field of view at 35 mm.

I am also playing around with the conversion lens adapter (with a UV filter). Although this removes the shirt-pocket-ability, it makes the camera nice to hold while shooting, and serves as a bit of a lens shade.

On another note, I made a custom profile using Noise Ninja, but ISO 800 just doesn't look good in this camera. Doesn't hold a candle to ISO 80.

I do like this little camera quite a bit!

Hi! I've bought a G9
Everything is fine but i have a question:
in Av mode at night i always get 1 second shutter speed and not 3, 4 or less up to 15 seconds. What's the problem???

I ordered a Canon G9 based partially on this post. I was excited to see the return of RAW and decided to give it a shot. I spent a day with the camera and after importing my RAW files into Lightroom promptly repackaged the camera and shipped it back to B&H. I'm a professional shooter and was looking for a nice "walk around" camera that wouldn't break the bank. Instead I got terribly wicked chromatic aberration, bad noise at 400, and clumsy unresponsive handling. I know better than to expect the quality of my 5D from this little guy, but honestly, I'm starting to suspect there is a conspiracy afoot. Are we being conditioned to expect less when it comes to image quality from digital point and shoots? And can I please have a camera with a useable viewfinder? I've spent 25 years developing my shooting style and now I'm being asked to hold these camera-like toys at arms length and navigate a menu while I wait for the shutter sound effect to catch up to the long past decisive moment? Ugh. As far as the G9 (or any ther digicam I've used) is concerned, we are still years away from Mike's dream of a decisive moment point and shoot. I'm buying an M6 and a scanner.

I've ordered the 35mm voigtlander viewfinder for my G9 and fits perfectly, it's my "Poorman's Leica". I've got more coments and pictures in my blog : http://micropixel.blogspot.com/2007/11/visor-externo-para-canon-g9.html

I made myself a remote cable release for my Canon Powershot G9 quite cheaply. You can make one at your own risk (low risk if you follow my directions carefully) in about 20 minutes:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1010&message=25561068&q=g9+remote&qf=m

The one I made is 12 inches long, but an air shutter release (available on eBay for about 12 bucks) can go to 6ft, or if you pay more you can go to 20 ft.

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