First Look: Canon PowerShot G10

Having a DSLR to carry around is liberating.  With a sack full of lens, anything is possible.  With that freedom, though, comes a lot of weight, bulk and a bit of a drudge if you’re traveling, especially for casual photography.   I like also having a “point and shoot” camera for those instances when it isn’t comfortable (or safe) to have a big camera big on my shoulder.  The point and shoot of choice for me had been the Canon PowerShot SD800IS.  It’d been getting long in the tooth and had some physical damage that made me question how long it would hold up.  With that in mind, I started thinking about a new all-purpose camera.

I wanted to stay with Canon — I was familiar with their menus, and was very comfortable with their shooting concepts embodied in their cameras.  Recently, I’d tried an Olympus camera, and really struggled with the thing.  It’s amazing how familiarity with a photography system makes such a difference in the overall experience.  After all, when the shot comes to you, you wanna be ready and able to capture it — stumbling over the camera just isn’t an option.

I’d heard a lot of buzz about the G10 from both amateur and professional shooters, and it really seemed like a nice device.  In fact, Rick Sammon just published a column talking about his experience with the camera, and comparing shots from it with shots from his big gear.  It’s a good read.

For me, here’s some of what sold me on the camera.

  • RAW – This little camera stands above many by delivering RAW images.  RAW gives me huge flexibility in the digital darkroom, if I need it.
  • Controls – The G10 has knob-based controls on the body of the camera that allow shooting like a DSLR.  There’s a knob for ISO, shooting mode and even exposure compensation.  Compared to running through menus to accomplish most of those changes, having physical controls is a major advantage.
  • Manual Focus – Through a menu, there is some ability to do manual focus.  While I don’t use this often, and it’s really only useful when tripod-mounted, it’s still nice to have.
  • Hot Shoe – The onboard flash on these little cameras are pretty harsh.  They flash directly at the subject, and create some pretty icky light (that’s a technical term!).  The G10 has a hot shoe for attaching a speedlite, giving a ton of flexibility.  I’ve already put my 580EX II on it, and it works very well atop the small camera body.  That big flash really makes the camera top heavy!
  • Build Quality – Despite being a small body, this little thing feels like it’s built like a tank, and actually feels like a small brick in your hand.  It’s a solid feel, and I like that.

For me, this is a great little camera, and I carry it everywhere.  That was kinda the point of getting it.  When I encountered something “out there” to capture, I wanted to make sure I had something reasonable with which to capture the image, and the G10 fits the bill.  Watch for more from me on this little marvel.