Thursday, August 20, 2009

What I like about the Canon G11 and what can be improved

Image soure: Canon USA

Again, it turns out that the rumors are true. From a few weeks ago, and other rumor sites had been predicting that there will be an announcement on the 19th Aug for several Powershot cameras. The most famous Powershot being the G11. There were also predictions that it will be a 1/1.3" backlit CMOS and other features. Well, this part is not true but we have the next best thing, the 1/1.7" High Sensitivity CCD.

Already, many people are complaining about the specs. I decided to look at this camera starting with a positive attitude and think about I do like about this new least on paper.

  1. 1/1.7" 10mpx High Sensitivity CCD. Well apart from the name, there is not much details about this technology but I do give it the benefit of a doubt that it will be as good or better than the LX3. I can almost hear many enthusiasts cheering for this 'end of megapixel war'. While I like this sensible decision, I must say I was impressed by the amount of details the G10 can resolve at base ISO which out resolved the EOS 1000D in this test. Many manufacturers start to use CMOS in PnS but strangely most articles you read about CMOS vs CCD would tell you that CCD has lower noise and higher sensitivity. Some even mentioned that CCD are for high end cameras while CMOS are for cheap low quality cameras. Canon's own product the SX1 IS demonstrated that CMOS is not actually better than CCD for PnS. I am actually glad that Canon stuck with CCD in this case instead of just following the crowd. Hopefully the DRange would be as good as promised.
  2. 1/4000s max shutter speed. This is comparable to the entry level SLRs like 450D and 500D. Having a fast shutter speed is useful in preventing blowout highlights. Another use for high shutter speed would be for exposure bracketing. In this mode, the camera will take 3 successive images at a maximum compensation of -4ev to +4ev (eg, -4ev,-2ev,0ev or 0ev,+2ev,+4ev). Note: +-4ev if achieved when you bracket at a range of 2ev and apply an ev bias of +-2ev. In the past, -4ev in good light is difficult to achieve with a shutter speed of only 1/2000.
  3. Swivel LCD. This is great when you want to take pictures in a crowd. Just raise your camera up, adjust the LCD and you can still compose. Also, you can take pictures from very low angle without looking really stupid.
  4. 1/2000s max flash sync. I am not very good at flash techniques but all I know is a fast sync speed allows you to freeze very short moments of an action. Humming birds in the dark, droplets of water and any kind of very fast action is dark environments.
  5. Compatibility with Canon Accessories. This is not new but I hope it can be improved. I am especially excited about the flash compatibility. There will definitely be caveats but it could beBold possible to bring a G11 into a studio, attach the same wireless flash trigger and trigger the studio flashes. Also for weddings, photographers can use the G11 as backup bodies and use the same off camera flashes as their other EOS 5D(2) or other EOS dSLRs. I am very sure there are some caveats but I am excited about the possibilities.
What I hope to be improved further:

  1. Faster shooting speed. 1.1 fps is definitely a little too slow. What happened here? I thought 10mpx files would be smaller and faster to be processed. Perhaps the Digic IV chip is doing more processing here. Lets see what happens when sample images comes out. A speed of about 3fps would be enough.
  2. Faster lens 28-140mm is a good range but it would be better to make it about f/2.0. Some people would prefer 24mm but I think that is not as important as having f/2.0. Creating a wide angle adapter for the G11 would solve the issue of wide angle.
  3. Bigger Sensor Canon has put in most of the dSLR features into this camera, all it lacks is a bigger sensor. This does not only mean lower noise. The crop factor of the 1/1.7" is about 4.7x which means an f2.0 lens is giving aboutf9-f10 in terms of depth of field (DOF). In comparison, a 1/1.3" sensor would give you about 3.5x crop. Also, Drange and CA controls would also be improved with a bigger sensor. Bearing in mind potential technical challenges (given the 5x zoom lens) and size factor, I think a 1" sensor with a crop factor of 2.7x may just do it for the G range of cameras.
  4. 30 Seconds shutter Canon has already achieved 1/4000s, why not match the longest exposure of the dSLRs?
  5. HD Video I don't personally take videos with my still cameras but hey, in every post that I read about G11, everyone is complaining about the lack of HD video on the G11. There has to be some real needs for it right?

UPDATED: I found a post on dpreview describing the sensor used on G11. Apparently it could be this Sony sensor. It was said that this sensor did have a sensitivity which is almost double that of normal CCD sensor. (330mv vs 170mv) at 330mv, that should be only 50% less sensitive as than a Sony SLR APS-C Sensor at 500mv. I am starting to think that this sensor holds a lot of promise...

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