By Jaakko Saari
13 Jun 2008
I am amateur photographer. I do some product shooting, stock photography, photojournalism for couple of websites and sell my photos for magazines. So far I have had three cameras, Canon Powershot A70, EOS 300 film camera and EOS 350D. As my Powershot A70 died on me, I was left with my two system cameras.
Soon I realized the need for a compact camera which would support RAW and have a better image quality than standard digital compacts.
I needed a camera that would go with me where ever I go, so it should be sturdy and strong so that I don't have to worry about every knock it would take.
That is when I discovered G9 in a local camera shop here in Yokohama.
It's metallic, nostalgic look and feel attracted me. It looked like a rangefinder camera! Moreover, the thumb ring next to the screen reminded me of EOS 30D I used couple of times, and the well placed buttons made sense.
Finally I was sold by the dedicated ISO setting ring and the full manual shooting mode. I thought this camera could become my friend. So there went my latest photo gig's salary and the baby came home with me.
First thing what I found comfortable about this camera was the bright three inch screen. It is bright and viewable even in bright sunlight, as long as you are not wearing polarized sunglasses. The photos are rotated automatically if you turn the camera in preview mode.
It's horizontal and vertical lines in LCD viewfinder help me to get the landscape straight, and although I prefer the good optical viewfinder of my DSLR, I don't mind using the LCD so much.
G9's optical viewfinder is a little too inaccurate to me, and I find myself not using it almost at all. I would like to, of course, and perhaps this is one of the things I'd like to see Canon fixing in next model. But then, also I do find myself missing the gorgeous 3 inch screen when I'm using my EOS 350D.
The quality of the photos G9 produces is great. There is some noise, of course with iso settings more than 200, but this noise isn't bad looking noise and it doesn't actually bother me very much. The thing that does bother me a little is the automatic noise filter algorithms kicking in as soon as I use ISO larger than 200. This noise filter causes some fuzziness in the detail in higher iso settings. I wish there could be a way to turn the noise filter off entirely. But when I shoot in ISO 80 or ISO 100 I find myself very satisfied with the image.
The lens performs very well, although there is slight barrel distortion in wide end. It's maybe strange, but I don't mind about that. The lens could be a bit wider though. Then, the 6X optical zoom is good, and although there is some purple fringing, it's not a big problem, and fixable by software.
Personally I also didn't find the colors to be over saturated, a problem which has been reported by several review sites in the internet. In my experience, the white balance is also pretty good in automatic setting, although I do get better results in custom white balance.
The ND filter is fantastic thing, a feature I often use when shooting in sunlight. G9 is one of the rare point and shoot cameras which does have this option.
G9 is fast enough for me. The menu functions respond instantly, and shutter lag is minimum. Turning the camera on and off is fast, the shutter button itself has a good tactile feedback and the shutter is quiet.
The selection ring has two custom modes and the camera allows you to adjust sharpness and contrast. The custom modes are good for example saving in the custom sharpness of your selection. There is also a shortcut button on the right of the screen in which you can assign your most used function.
I do like the fact that the camera uses the same battery as my EOS 350D does. Moreover I can use extra flash as there is a hot shoe.
The overall experience has been very good with G9. This has became my best friend who follows me nowadays where ever I go. Image quality and function of the camera satisfies me, and now I'm free of the everyday burden of DSLR and still I can have a RAW capable camera with me at all times.
If I need to take a serious photo for a client, I will bring my DSLR, sure. But G9 is welcome even for those occasions as my trusty backup camera that can take very good photos.