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Canon’s G series cameras have been around for a while and are much used by semi pros and pros needing an easy to use backup camera that still offers quality image capture.
The G11 continues the breed, with some improvements tucked away under the bonnet but with one or two surprising omissions.
Image capture maxes out at 10 million pixels; the lens is an optically stabilised and reasonably fast f2.8 Canon optic that has a 35 SLR equivalent of 28-140mm … or 5x.
The ten million pixel CCD delivers a maximum image size of 3648×2746 pixels or, in print-speak, a 31x23cm output at 300 dpi. RAW and JPEG capture are available. In the current climate, the movie specs are disappointing with only 640×480 pixel capture.
While many compact digicams shout about their higher res capture — 12 megapixels and more — it’s useful to compare apples with apples: the G11’s CCD measures 14.9mm across the diagonal while the compacts mostly reach 11mm — a significant difference. This is what Canon is all about.
At first look, the G11 seemed to be smaller than the previous G10 model and it sort of was — and wasn’t! Overall, the G11 is about five percent larger … a little wider and higher. However it’s still a very compact camera and could fit most outer coat pockets.
Looking more and more lonely these days is the G11’s optical viewfinder, uncorrected for parallax and with little more going for it than it gives a bright view of the scene, even in bright sunlight. You will have to be careful of vertical parallax when shooting subjects a metre or so from the camera.
Supporting this optical finder is the rear 7.1 cm LCD screen, tiltable vertically and swingable horizontally. Compared to its compact digicams peers the LCD has relatively low resolution but worked well in my shooting adventures with the G11.
What sets the G11 apart is its direct control of the some of the camera’s settings via two concentric mode dials. The inner one leads you to auto, Program, aperture and shutter priority exposure modes, give access to scene modes, two custom settings and movie shooting. A Quick Shot Mode offers display LCD of the camera’s current settings like white balance, image size etc with idea that you view with the optical finder and just fire away.
The other mode dial is an ISO speed dial, which gives direct access to all settings — ISO 80 to 3200: a far better approach than a dig and delve in the finder menu.
A direct access to an interesting Low Light Mode is here also: the ISO speed will be varied between 320 and 12,800, with a faster shutter speed, according to ambient conditions.
To the left of these controls is another direct access button to raise or lower exposure compensation: two f stops up or down in third stop increments.
In the area of face detection Canon has chosen a smart approach: aim the camera at a face, press the frame detector button and the AF system will lock on this face, no matter how much you reframe and alter its position in the picture.
The G11’s continuous shooting abilities are less than superb: a rate of 1.1 pictures/second is available, with focus and exposure locked; step back to 07 pics/sec and the camera continues to focus.
I managed to capture this shot by using an exposure of f8 at 1/13 second. Had I needed more water blurr I also could have switched in a neutral density filter that shrinks the incoming light levels to 1/8 or three f stops.
The camera was ready to shoot about one to two seconds after startup; follow on shots at about a second each.
There was noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom, with little visible at the tele end.
The G11 is a fine camera and should win friends who want an easy to use, high quality picture maker.
Quality: about as good as it gets with a compact digicam. If you need better colour capture and higher resolution you may have to pick up a DSLR.
Why you’d buy the G11: optical finder; direct access to important settings.
Why you wouldn’t: poor movie specs; poor burst rate.
Image Sensor: 10 million effective pixels.
Metering: Evaluative, centre-weighted average; spot.
Sensor Size: 14.9mm CCD.
Lens: f2.8-4.5/6.1-30.5mm (28-140mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Shutter Speed: 1 to 1/4000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 1.1fps.
Memory: SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus cards,
Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2746, 3648×2736, 3648×2048, 2816×2112, 2272×1704, 1600×1200, 640×480. Movies: 640×480, 320×240 at 30 fps.
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 112.1×76.2×48.3 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 355 g (body only).
Price: The Canon Powershot G11 is currently $453.99 at Amazon.