My Canon PowerShot G10 review unit hadn't been out of the box ten minutes when the crowd of interested onlookers from the NotebookReview.com offices upstairs started filing by to poke, prod, and play with Canon's latest advanced compact. Of course, what everyone wants to know, and what more than one person who stopped by my office to examine the G10 discussed at length, was how the G10 compares to its venerable predecessor, the Canon G9.
After a weekend shooting with the new camera, I think the best way to describe the relationship between previous G cameras and the G10 would be "the same, but different."
For those unfamiliar with what Canon's latest top-tier PowerShot brings to the table, we've put together a short video preview hitting the specs sheet highlights and showing off the G10 in action.
Visually, the 14.7 megapixel G10 bears a strong resemblance to what's come before it in Canon's series of technologically advanced compacts built for and targeted to power users.
But pick up the new camera and you'll immediately feel the difference: it's heavier, bulkier, but also more comfortable to hold. The control arrangement is more of the same, but some key additions and changes make the G10 the most rewarding PowerShot yet for advanced field use, in my opinion.
Beyond this PowerShot's exceptional construction, what you pay for with the G10 is this camera's near-instant response. Power-up to first shot takes a little more than a second. Press the shutter and the camera locks and fires in the time it takes to blink an eye. Responsiveness has long been considered a luxury in the advanced compact market – something that normal cameras didn't do so well. Though we're still early in our lab testing, from all indications, the G10 is poised to redefine the standards of high-end performance. No doubt the G10's DIGIC IV processor is largely to thank for performance refinements (even white balance under incandescent light looks better) and improvements seen in the latest G camera.
As I noted in the video, given the substantive increase in resolution with the latest model, noise will be a first-order concern for many potential buyers. Wisely, Canon has taken a conservative (by modern standards) approach to the G10's sensitivity range, topping out at a full-res ISO 1600 setting. While we'll need more time for detailed comparisons with the competition, initial results at the G10's max sensitivity setting look surprisingly noise free for a small-sensor/high-res camera.
Overall, I've yet to unearth any nasty surprises in terms of image quality with the G10. Metering is reasonably reliable, colors are vibrant, and the PowerShot handles high-contrast scenes fairly well.
Although it may seem odd at first to give an exposure compensation dial as much prominence as the one the G10 receives, the ability to quickly dial in exposure compensation makes a lot of sense for a camera that will likely spend most of its life in auto and priority modes. Likewise, the G10's DSLR-like range of processing options and custom controls appears to cover the bases for the kinds of shooting I do, at least. I also like the decision to move to a wider lens in exchange for some of the G9's less than useful telephoto reach between 100mm and 150mm.
The G9 was an excellent camera not because it really excelled in any one area: rather, the last advanced PowerShot was, in my opinion, an exercise in smart compromises that resulted in a camera with a high usability factor in a range of situations. In the same way, while it's not clear whether the G10 will be superior to its competition in any one area – it certainly can't boast either the Panasonic LX3's exceptional optics or the Nikon P6000's fantastic feature set – it's on pace to be a more well-rounded camera overall: a fast performer with excellent image quality, loads of style, a fantastic screen, and a well-considered interface.
We'll be exploring the G10 in greater depth in our full review; check back for that in the next few weeks.