By Ken Tanaka
Christopher Hsee et al. may have demonstrated that specifications can be powerful camera selection influences. But it's also possible, albeit less likely, for higher specs to negatively prejudice selection. To some degree that’s what prompted my thumbs-down reaction to Edward Taylor’s excellent October 15 first impressions of the new Canon Powershot G10. I had become somewhat prejudiced by the G10’s higher pixel density on the same 1/1.7" sensor and was not immediately impressed by the G10's list of enhancements over the G9 [which Ken reviewed for us —Ed].
Since that time, however, I've spent much more time actually shooting with the G10 and working with its raw files. Consequently my opinion of the camera has diametrically changed and, in fact, I am now an enthusiastic G10 owner.
I'll not take the space to repeat Edward’s earlier report. I would merely ditto nearly all of his observations. But it's worth noting the key factors that changed my own vote:
Image Quality: Despite Canon cramming more pixels on that tiny CCD (which Canon claims is all-new) the G10's image quality is actually markedly better than the G9's. Raw images are noticeably sharper right out of the camera. Highlights seem less prone to blowing out. Colors are more lively. Noise is well sublimated, more so than the G9. I can only conclude that the new DIGIC 4 processor is largely responsible for these advancements.
Operation: The G10 is certainly no slower than the G9. Its shot-to-shot cycle time (my personal bugaboo) may even be just a bit zippier. Moving the exposure compensation control from a screen-based control to a knurled mechanical dial was actually an excellent design change. I've already begun to wonder how I ever lived without it.
Size, Build and Feel: Yes, the G10 is slightly bulkier than the G9. But, as Edward noted, the difference is not great enough to force anyone into a different carrying method. The G10's build, like the G9, is very robust and more similar to a Leica M than to a point-and-shoot. Canon's addition of a better right-hand grip (which will put the third-party G grips out of business) makes for a much more secure handling feel. I must also agree with Michael Reichmann’s remark that the G10 feels more like a finished and refined product than its predecessor.
So while Canon's Powershot G10 may not be the ultimate imaginable single-lens camera it's certainly doing its part to close in on that goal. And, contrary to my October remarks, in the final analysis I did find the G10's incremental improvements over the G9 to be worth the investment. The G10 is now my main carry-around camera.
ADDENDUM: For those interested in seeing a few more G10 samples, I used the G10 for all of these images except the aerials (Canon 1Ds Mark III) and the Hutchinson Field set (Leica M8). I realize that Web images reveal little about a camera. But I can tell you that the image files rival those from much better cameras.