The Canon Powershot G10 features a 14.7MP sensor, Raw shooting and range of manual controls. It also boasts compatibility with external flashguns, but is it a viable alternative to the DSLR? The What Digital Camera Canon PowerShot G10 review reveals all...
Canon G10 review – Features
Instead of the Highlight Tone Priority feature seen on Canon’s range of DSLRs, the Canon G10 has included a new i-Contrast setting that optimises dynamic range for the benefit of shadow detail. As with the previous Canon PowerShot G9, the sensor allows for a standard sensitivity range of ISO 80-1600, though an ISO 3200 function also sits among the camera’s scene modes, taking images at a reduced resolution. Control over noise reduction isn’t possible in the camera itself, though the supplied Digital Photo Professional software allows individual control over reduction of both luminance and chroma noise, along with all other main Raw processing options.
Canon G10 review – Lens
Aside from the resolution and processor, the other fundamental change from the Canon PowerShot G9 is the Canon G10’s lens. The new optic delivers an equivalent focal range of 28-140mm compared with the 35-210mm range that was offered by the Canon PowerShot G9. The lens construction includes one double-sided aspherical element, with Canon’s image-stabilising (IS) system also built in to help prevent unwanted camera shake.
Canon G10 Review – Motion Detection Technology
Also helping to prevent camera shake is the Canon G10’s new Motion Detection technology, which helps to detect movement of both the subject and the camera, adjusting the focus or exposure as is necessary. This works in conjunction with a High ISO Auto mode, which essentially increases the sensitivity to the required level, while a more standard Auto ISO option biases towards the lower end of the sensitivity scale.
Canon G10 Review – LCD Screen
As well as offering a viewfinder, Canon also follows Ricoh’s and Panasonic’s example in offering an enhanced-resolution, 3in LCD screen with a 461,000-dot resolution. As on previous G series models, we also see a built-in ND grad filter for landscape shots, which reduces exposure by around three stops, plus a 30fps movie mode.
Design & Performance
Canon G10 review – Design
Canon’s G series has seen quite a few evolutionary changes over the course of its lifetime, beginning with vari-angle LCD screens and top-plate LCDs, eventually dropping these in favour of larger fixed LCDs and more controls on the body itself. Cosmetically, the model follows in a similar fashion to both its G7 and G9 predecessors, albeit with a few alterations.
Canon G10 review – top design
The G10’s top-plate, now plays host to three dials – one for exposure modes, one for sensitivity and one for exposure compensation – in between which sits a hotshoe.
Canon G10 review – back design
The large LCD screen dominates most of the rear, with the remainder giving way to an assortment of controls.
Canon G10 review – size
The G10 is both bulkier and heavier than comparable models such as the Nikon P6000, though its size does allow for a
larger screen, more controls and better stability when an external flashgun is mounted.
Canon G10 review – Performance
It takes only a second for the G10 to start up and around the same to shut down, and this speed is maintained throughout the camera’s general operation. The trio of mode dials make changing exposure modes, compensation and sensitivity a doddle, while menu options spring up promptly. The familiar L-shaped interface from Canon’s other PowerShot or Ixus offerings splits options between the Function and Menu buttons, and whatever shooting settings can’t be changed via external controls can be changed quickly via the Function button.
Canon G10 review – focusing
Focusing is generally speedy, with macro and low-light shots also focusing in good time. As with the manual exposure settings, manual focusing is carried out fairly effortlessly via the circular dial, with an enlarged portion of the view on the LCD assisting with focus.
The size and resolution of the Canon G10’s LCD screen is particularly impressive, with a clear view of the scene. Occasionally when shooting against bright sunlight, one oddity arose in that the screen would turn a vibrant shade of green or purple once focus had been confirmed. Thankfully, this problem is confined to the LCD screen and has no effect on image quality whatsoever – I imagine this may be resolved by a future firmware update.
Canon G10 review – processing times
Processing times are consistent with those for general operation; Raw files take only around a second to write to a 2GB, Class 6 SD card and JPEGs are fairly rapidly written, too.
Canon G10 review – menu options
One criticism I do have, though, is with the somewhat haphazard assortment of menu options. An example is Raw + JPEG shooting, which, rather than being located with the other file size options, is lost in the same tab as options for setting review times and for using optional converters. It’s a minor annoyance rather than any genuine matter for concern, but something you do notice when you need to access options quickly.
Canon G10: Image Quality
Canon G10 review – Exposure And Tone
The Canon G10’s metering system delivers pleasing results, with balanced exposures. Images have good, natural colour, and aren’t quite as heavily saturated as those from the Nikon P6000. This neutrality means that it may not be as good for ‘print-ready’ JPEGs as that camera, but more suitable for post-processing.
Canon G10 review – White Balance
The white balance system of the Canon G10 performs consistently, with neutral results. Outdoors in daylight, the system often turned in slightly cold results but not to any degree of concern.
Canon G10 review – Detail And Sharpness
On lower sensitivities the Canon G10 can record a high level of detail, though they benefit from a little sharpening if they are to be used immediately. One area where the Canon G10 falls short is with its control over chromatic aberrations, with many of its images displaying this in both low- and high-contrast areas.
Canon G10 review – Image Noise
The levels of noise in images is better controlled than on ‘standard’ compacts, but less so than on an average DSLR. Noise begins to be noticeable at around ISO 400, and continues to worsen after this point. Overall, though, images are clean and detailed and suitable for post-processing.
At low sensitivities the Canon G10’s image quality is impressive, with great detail capture, accurate metering, and consistency with its Auto White Balance system. Furthermore, it is perhaps the only compact in its class whose design gives the impression that it wants to be used manually, not simply because at this price we expect some degree of manual control. My only main criticism is with the slight blandness of its JPEGs, regarding sharpening and white balance at default settings. I appreciate that Raw capture is a key concern for a compact of the G10’s stature, but we should still expect a certain standard of JPEG images for more ‘everyday’ images. In any case this can be optimised to taste. Potential buyers may also be interested in the Panasonic LX3, which also produces high-quality images at around the same price.
At low sensitivities the Canon G10's image quality is impressive, with great detail capture, accurate metering, and consistency with its Auto White Balance system. Furthermore, it is perhaps the only compact in its class whose design gives the impression that it wants to be used manually, not simply because at this price we expect some degree of manual control. My only main criticism is with the slight blandness of its JPEGs, regarding sharpening and white balance at default settings. I appreciate that Raw capture is a key concern for a compact of the G10's stature, but we should still expect a certain standard of JPEG images for more 'everyday' images. In any case this can be optimised to taste. Potential buyers may also be interested in the Panasonic LX3, which also produces high-quality images at around the same price.