So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Canon PowerShot G7
- Sharp pictures, Great colour representation, Excellent design, Robust feature set
- Some noise issues, No RAW support
A great advanced camera that offers almost all the features you'd expect in a sturdy and stylish case.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
The mack-daddy of advanced compact cameras, Canon's latest addition to the PowerShot G series, the G7, is an excellent device. The design has a touch of nostalgia about it, the pictures it captures are quite impressive, and it offers more functions than your average AV receiver. It does have a few issues, most notably a high price tag and some image noise problems, but this is still a great camera for more serious photographers.
The images produced by the G7 are excellent, however there were a few notable issues that detracted from the final result. Most importantly was its score of .84% at ISO 100 in Imatest's image noise test; quite a bit higher than what we normally see from top tier advanced models. This was evident in our pictures, appearing as a slight graininess that spanned most of the shot. However it was also some of the finest noise we've ever seen, meaning its impact won't be felt on prints much smaller than about 8 x 10in.
This result was mirrored in our high ISO tests, with our shots exhibiting very consistent but extremely small noise. For the most part this was fine white luminance noise, as opposed to the blotchy colourful chroma noise we often see at high ISO settings and thus it wasn't too obtrusive, but was still more prominent than we have seen on other units.
Thankfully the G7's performance in our other tests was nothing short of exceptional. Its score of 1784 in our sharpness test is one of the best results we've seen, and shows the camera's 10 megapixel sensor captures some really sharp snaps. Our shots showed great detail and crisp, smooth edges. This was enhanced by its low chromatic aberration score of .089%, which indicates fringing and haloing will not really be a problem. We experienced some minor purple fringing in outdoors situations, but overall the G7's pictures were impressively crisp.
Likewise, its colour response was excellent. With Imatest awarding it a score of 6.36 in the colour checker test, it is one of the better cameras we've looked at in this regard. A score of 6.5 or less indicates exceptional performance, and our shots reflected this, with only minor inaccuracies noticeable in the blue and red spectrums.
However while it may capture some impressive pictures, the G7 is lacking in one area; it doesn't write RAW files. Why Canon would remove one of the great features of the previous model, the G6, is beyond us, as it added even more flexibility and made the device more appealing as a backup camera for professional photographers.
Aside from image quality, the other notable element of the G7 is its design. The chunky, black, metallic chassis is littered with wheels and dials, creating a distinct, film camera aesthetic. Those who enjoyed the style of Ricoh's classically designed GR digital will be right at home with this model. It offers a separate ISO dial for adjusting sensitivity, a scroll wheel around the navigation pad for adjusting settings, and a sturdy looking and quite bulky function wheel. The number of controls could be daunting to novice users, but once you get the hang of them everything operates smoothly and the multitude of wheels are absolute joys to use. Weighing 320g and measuring 10.6cm x 7.19cm x 4.25cm it is quite a large unit, but the hefty metal construction gives it a sturdy feel that inspires confidence. The whole thing reeks of style and sophistication and while the design won't appeal to everyone, many people will love it.
Of similar appeal will be the massive array of functions. The G7 has a full range of manual options, including shutter, aperture and program priority modes, 17 scene modes and several custom options that can be used to save your favourite configurations. Shutter speed extends from 15 seconds to 1/2500th of a second, and aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/8.0; fairly standard settings for an advanced compact camera. ISO sensitivities stretch from 80 up to 1600, with a 3200 setting available as a scene mode, while white balance presets are on offer along with a custom mode. We were a little disappointed with the continuous shot mode, which only operates at 2.5 frames per second, but the focus options are quite robust, with not only spot and centre modes present but face recognition as well. Canon has also included image stabilisation, which is a nifty addition that complements the slightly larger than normal 6x optical zoom. Rounding out the feature set is the impressive video mode, which can record at 1024 x 768 pixels running 30 frames per second. Canon has recently been including more detailed video modes on their cameras, and some users will really appreciate the increase in quality.
In our speed tests, the G7 returned modest results, exhibiting a fairly speedy .05 seconds of shutter lag, a 1.8 second delay between shots, and two seconds from power up to first photo. While its shutter speed is a little quicker than normal, the other results are about in line with competing top tier models from other vendors.
The included lithium ion battery is rated at approximately 220 shots, which is a little disappointing, but not unexpected. The G7 has an integrated lithium ion battery pack, rather than the AA system employed by some of the other PowerShot models, as it can save time and money in the long run.
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