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Canon PowerShot G review: Canon PowerShot G

You can save both JPEG and raw files, and you can even opt to change from JPEG to raw after you've taken a shot. Though Canon ups the movie capabilities to include 30 seconds of 15fps VGA video with mono sound in addition to three-minute movies at either 320x240 or 160x120 resolution, Canon is falling far behind the curve for shooting movies. There's basic in-camera editing, and you can also annotate images with voice captions during playback. If you prefer time-lapse photography to 15fps video, the intervalometer lets you schedule up to 100 pictures snapped at intervals ranging from one minute to an hour.

The G6's 1,390mAh battery lasted for 572 shots under fairly stressful conditions--lots of zooming and LCD and flash use.

With a couple of notable exceptions, I found the Canon PowerShot G6's performance comparatively run-of-the-mill for an enthusiast model. Since this camera houses Canon's first-generation Digic processor, however, I confess I'm not surprised. Using CNET's test methodology, it takes about 3 seconds to wake up and snap the first shot--good but not stellar. The camera imposes a shutter lag of about 0.8 to 0.9 second, depending upon scene contrast. That's not bad for digital cameras overall, but many competing 7- and 8-megapixel models manage to drop lag to a half-second or lower. It's certainly not speedy enough to keep up with a curious cat trying to poke his nose at the lens. Likewise, it takes 2 to 3 seconds from one shot to the next, not quite up to the speed of the competition. One bright spot: It takes only about 2 seconds to shoot consecutive raw files, which makes this one of the zippier models for raw shooting. Using the G6's ultra-high-speed burst mode, the camera can shoot both raw and high-quality JPEG images at 1.7fps; the buffer can handle 5 or 12 sequential frames, respectively.

Shooting speed
Measured in seconds (shorter is better)
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (low contrast)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Time to first shot  
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-V3
Canon PowerShot G6

Continuous-shooting speed
Measured in frames per second (longer is better)
Minimum continuous-shooting speed  
Maximum continuous-shooting speed  

The camera's 2.0-inch LCD is a step up from previous models', but I've been spoiled by the 2.5-incher on the Sony DSC-V3 as well as similarly equipped snapshot cameras. The G6 has a relatively large optical viewfinder that's quite usable, though with the distortion and parallax issues that plague direct-view viewfinders. You'll likely need it in low light, where it becomes difficult to differentiate similarly colored objects on the LCD. The screen is no worse than most in bright sunlight.

Our test flash exposure was generally correct; my only complaint concerns the blown-out highlights around our intentionally difficult sidelight. Given the proximity of the lens to the flash, red-eye is pretty much a fact of life; it appeared in every one of my red-eye test shots, regardless of shooting angle. If you're going to be shooting in lots of bars, parties, and other dimly lit gatherings, I suggest you spring for a Speedlite 420EX or other hotshoe-compatible flash.

The Canon PowerShot G6 delivered some first-rate photos. Using both the tungsten preset and the manual white balance, it yielded neutral, accurate colors on our tests under strong tungsten lights. As per usual for Canon, the automatic white balance didn't even approach acceptable under those lights, but it fared very well under fluorescents and in daylight. The camera's dynamic range and exposure are very good; I spotted some blown-out highlights, but the shadow detail was there.

Overall, the G6 delivers photos with very good shadow and highlight detail, as well as relatively little noise.

Canon also keeps the noise to a minimum; I printed an 11.5x15-inch photo of a cat with tabby coloring--noise becomes quite visible on that mottled fur--shot at ISO 200 and was quite pleased with the results. Also important, there was far less color shift across the various ISO settings than we've seen with other cameras.

The G6's photos are sharp, without the oversharpened, postprocessed look of the Sony DSC-V3's (though some users prefer the stronger in-camera sharpening). If you like the ultrasharp look without editing, this probably isn't the camera for you; its in-camera sharpness can be bumped up or down by only a step. Furthermore, the lens displays very good edge-to-edge sharpness, without the focus falloff on the perimeter that I saw in the S70. On high-contrast image boundaries, there's some magenta chromatic aberration, as well as some purple fringing where blown-out areas meet dark ones, but it's not nearly as severe as it was with the G5 and no worse than most consumer digital cameras'.

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