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A Larger Image of the World

A review of the Canon Powershot G2 by Andrew Hayes

I had been using the older Canon Powershot S20 for some time, taking a lot of photographs in various resolutions, but really liking the detail that I got from its 3.3-Megapixel format, and the full support of the IBM Microdrive that allowed me to store over 100 images of this size.

Although I was pleased with the older model, it was lacking some features that I would have found useful, like the ability to change the lens to suit the scene I wanted, infrared remote control for vibration free extreme telephoto shots, and a movie mode (something I had fun with on my old Sony Mavica FD52).

Of course, I would have purchased either the Canon EOS-1D or the EOS D30, as I already own a regular EOS 35mm SLR and have several lenses which fit those two digital versions, but their prices are beyond my reach. Instead I looked at the Canon Powershot G1, and it was while I was researching this model, in August 2001, that I received a press release email from Canon for the new Powershot G2. I went to their website, read the specifications (4-Megapixel, lens adapter and converters, TTL flash hot-shoe, wireless remote controller, 320x240 and 160x120 movie modes, and IBM Microdrive support, to name but a few) and decided that was the one to get. I started checking prices on the websites of the various main stores in Tokyo that carried this model (T-Zone, BIC Camera, Yamagiwa, Yodobashi, etc.), but had to wait until Christmas to purchase.

In time, Christmas came along, and when I checked the websites again I noticed Yodobashi was offering the G2 at a sale price lower than all the others, so I headed into Shinjuku to check it out.

Since my Japanese is so bad, shopping is a matter of careful online research before heading into a store, pointing at the item in question and saying, "I want", while pulling money out of my wallet. The salesperson at Yodobashi was very helpful, knew exactly what I was asking, unpacked the camera, plugged in the battery and 32MB Compact Flash, and handed it to me to test. Well, when Canon says it can be used "from the box" they mean it. I don't know many other manufacturers that supply fully charged rechargeable batteries.

I took a few test shots in the store using the different "Image Modes" (there are 4 Creative and 8 Image modes in all, plus a full Auto mode) and also tested the "White Balance" feature, alternating between Auto, Fluorescent and Manual, noting how the overall colouring of the image on the LCD viewfinder changed. Happy with the results, I paid up, adding the Lens Adapter (which allows the optional G2 lenses to be fitted to the camera) and the Telephoto Lens Converter (x1.5, which gives me the 35mm equivalent of a 51 - 153mm lens) to the list, then went outside to take some more shots.

Now, the Yodobashi store I went to is in an area heavily lit by neon signs, and it was nearing dusk, so using the Auto (point-and-shoot) mode I took some photographs of the lit buildings. The built-in flash was firing and the results were not quite right (the sky in the image was black, whereas the real sky was a rapidly fading blue), so I then tried without the flash (in Auto mode, the flash can be cycled between Automatic, Red-eye reduction and off), but the camera-shake warning came on and the resulting images were a bit blurry (a tripod or monopod would have made a difference).

Not to be outdone, I switched to the Shutter Speed Priority Creative mode and increased the shutter speed to 1/15 second to reduce blur and took some more shots. These were much sharper, although a little dark because the camera had automatically set a higher Aperture (something that can be easily rectified by either using Manual mode, or by post-session touch-up of the image using PhotoShop or some such package).

I spent some time taking various shots from different angles under a variety of lighting conditions (a streetlamp directly overhead, a shop window in front or behind me, cars on the road, etc.), and even deleting the ones that didn't come out right I soon used up the 32MB with 27 large/fine images (my 340MB Microdrive would have held 309!).

For me, a good digital camera is worth the investment because of the long-term savings (I regularly take many photographs and used to spend quite a bit on film and development), and with the 4-Megapixel resolution of the G2 I can have a pro shop print a RAW image (2272 x 1704, 2.8MB uncompressed) as an 8x10 on photo-quality paper, and you can't tell the difference from a regular 35mm film print.
Although the standard package contains everything you need (including an AC adapter, cables and software), the camera only supports a USB connection, so downloading images to your PC or MAC could take some time (although you could always use an external CF card-reader or CF-to-PC Card adapter). On the plus side, you can remotely control the camera via the USB, setting the shooting mode, zoom, image size and a whole host of other values, before checking the expected image on the computer and taking the photo.
I would definitely recommend this camera to any serious amateur photographer.

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

February, 2002

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

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