Canon PowerShot G7 10.0 MP Digital Camera - Black Reviews

Canon PowerShot G7 10.0 MP Digital Camera - Black

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A (pricey) camera loaded with advanced technologies but having a few flaws

Jan 8, 2007 (Updated Jan 13, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Battery Life:
  • Photo Quality:
  • Shutter Lag

Pros:compact body, excellent pictures, multiple memory formats, optical stabilizer, easy controls, loaded manual features

Cons:pricey, fixed LCD screen, no raw format, bad optical viewfinder, proprietary battery

The Bottom Line: Buy the G7 only if: 1) you are a photo enthusiast, 2)you don't use the optical viewfinder, 2) you don't care about swiveling LCD screen


Canon introduced the 10 mega-pixel Powershot G7 to replace the very popular Powershot G6. G7 is claimed as the flagship of the G series, loaded with newest advanced technologies and received lots of favorable reviews. I found that most of the praises are correct but some are not relevant. In addition, there are quite a few flaws with this camera. I tell you about these as I review each feature.

- Body:
G7 is about 30% smaller than previous G-series cameras. I do like this new size. It’s less bulky, less heavy and at the same time feels very sturdy. I also like the black color, it makes the camera look more stylish, more 'pro'. In addition, its lens retract inside the body, making the front flat and therefore the whole camera becomes as compact as a small rectangular prism. However, because the body is flat you may have some difficulty to hold it firm. But this is a small price to pay for the compactness.

- Picture:
G7 is not an entry-level camera, so I'm critical on picture quality. I tried different image sizes with different modes, including macro and portrait modes. My verdict: overall the images range from very good to excellent. However, in perfect light condition G7's pictures are just slightly better than competitors. My brother-in-law has a G6 and a friend of mine has a Nikon Coolpix L5. Both offer more or less the same image quality on a bright sunny day. In other special modes such as portrait, macro and especially zooming, G7 really excels, the pictures look better. Canon claims a new lens coating reduces chromatic aberration (the purple fringing often appeared at the edge of an object). With my naked eyes I don’t see any difference. Canon also boasted another new technology - the Optical Image Stabilizer - that I’m leery about (I have a camcorder equipped with an Image Stabilizer; every time I turned on this feature the image quality degraded). However my concern is quickly faded: the pictures captured at low shuttle speed were much sharper with no side effects. So, this Optical Image Stabilizer did help.
Pictures taken at night are very good thanks to the ease of change in ISO. Pictures with flash are average to good. I’ll cover more in the Flash section below.
Another interesting point is that you cannot take pictures in raw format, which is available in previous G-series. While I myself don’t care about raw mode, for those who do this is a big step backward.

- Control:
Overall the controls are strategically placed, making access to most functions easy and intuitive. I can use basic functions of the camera without consulting the manual. For more advanced functions such as changing exposure or image size, I can still manage without the manual thanks to clearly marked labels. G7 has 2 new controls that I really like:
1.The control dial. In addition to the 4-way control wheel, G7 has a new type of dial on the outer rim. After selecting the item from the menu you can turn this dial to advance to the next value in the same way as pressing the advance arrow on the 4-way wheel.
2. ISO dial: unlike most cameras where you have to access the menu to change the ISO, G7 has a physical dial on which ISO numbers are clearly marked. You just turn the dial with your left finger to change the ISO value.

- Lens/Zoom:
G7 has an all-glass lens. Its 6X zoom is a big improvement over the previous G6 (4X). However nowadays optical 6X and even 10X are common, so there is no surprise here. I found the zoom pretty smooth and fast. The lens is claimed to have a special coating that reduce chromatic aberration. In addition, the lens can retract inside the body, so you don’t need lens cap and at the same time this makes the body less bulky.
One feature I like about G7 is the availability of optional lenses: wide-angle (WC-DC58B $150), 2X telephoto (TC-DC58C $120), close-up (58mm 250D $80, allowing focusing at 250mm). One thing I need to point out is that you cannot buy the lens and attach to the body directly. You first need to buy an adapter (LA-DC58F $25).
(Note: I got all the prices from ebay’s buy-now prices which are more or less the same with the prices from online stores).

- LCD screen and Optical Viewfinder:
G7 has a pretty big screen, 2.5 in (vs 2.0 inches in G6). However this is a big disappointment to me: while previous G-series have the famous swiveling LCD screens, G7's has only a fixed one. Many times I need to raise the camera above my head to capture a picture of a crowd and I can only do this with a camera having a swiveling screen. I don’t think the benefit of a bigger LCD display can compensate for the loss of swiveling capability. Moreover I’m not a fan of big LCD since a bigger LCD eats up more of the precious battery. Another problem with LCD screen: there’s nothing to cover the surface, so it’s easy to stain it with fingerprints or your nose smear (when you use the viewfinder).
I’m a fan of Optical Viewfinder. I find Optical Viewfinder conserves energy and really helps when taking pictures under sunlight. However Optical Viewfinder on G7 is another disappointment. The pictures taken using the viewfinder is off-axis. This problem, together with the regular problem of poor coverage(all viewfinders on all non-SLRs only cover 80-85% of the true image) make the use of the viewfinder not practical on G7.

- Battery:
G7 has a rechargeable lithium battery, a battery charger is included. The battery charger helps since it allows you to use the camera while charging the battery. However I don’t like proprietary battery. It means I have to shell out extra money for a 2nd pack (Lithium Battery pack NB-2LH, $50), otherwise when the battery is depleted I can’t buy batteries from regular stores. Also it means I can’t use AA-size rechargeable batteries that I already own. Overall I think G7's battery is average or even slightly below average (probably the big LCD eats up lots of juice).

- Flash:
I expect G7 has less problem on red-eye because the body has more room to place the flash away from the lens. I’m wrong: red-eye problem on G7 seem to be slightly worse than average. On the other hand, flash coverage is pretty good: pictures taken at 12 feet are still good, with not much noise. The camera has a horseshoe to accommodate an external flash, which there are quite a few to choose from, although most are expensive(some are even bigger than the camera itself such as model 580EX, $350, which can cover up to 30 feet).
One big feature of G7 is the easy of use of ISO thanks to the dial mentioned above. The ISO value can go as high as 1600, but at this value the pictures have a lot of noise. I tried ISO up to 400 and found the pictures pretty good with no noticeable noise. AF assist lamp is pretty good, the camera was able to focus in very low light.

- Memory:
All previous G-series cameras from Canon use Compactflash memory, which I don’t like because it costs more and I don’t see it on sales as often. (1G memory of SD was on sales for $20, and CompactFlash for $30, same brand, same speed, at Fry's). Fortunately in G7 you can use SD or CompactFlash. In addition it also supports the new format SDHC which can go up to 4G.

- Video: G7 capability on video is a big plus. It can capture full video (640x480 at 30 frames per second) for 32 minutes with 4G memory card. This is a big advancement over G6 in particular and digital cameras in general since my real camcorder can record only 1hour on DV tape. However a big disappointment is that no zooming can be done when you use the camera on video mode (Sony DSC-M1 has zooming on video mode).
Canon also boasts high definition video mode XGA (1024x768) but beware of this ad: under this mode you can record only at 15 frames per second, so you get high resolution video images but the speed is half and the picture is jerky.

- Other misc interesting points:
1. StitchAssist Panorama: I like to take panoramic pictures, so this feature interests me very much. This mode basically assists you in taking multiple overlapped images to construct a panoramic picture. In this mode the exposure and white balance are locked, so the images are even, yielding a better result when being stitched together. I tried this mode a few times and liked it very much.
2. Face Detection technology: Canon's web site advertises 'Digic III Image Processor with Face Detection Technology' for group shots. While it's difficult to check if this technology really works I remarked that pictures taken with several people are better, all faces seem to be well focused. So I venture to say that 'Face Detection' technology does work.
3. 10MegaPixel: I think manufacturers' race on megapixel is nonsense, especially on compact and sub-compact cameras whose the lens structure is not good enough to support resolutions as high as 10M. For hard copy printing I think 7M is enough for 8x10 or even 11x14.
4. If you are on a limited budget consider also the Nikon Coolpix L5 (7.1 M, 5X zoom) or the Kodak EasyShare Z710 (7.1 M, 10X zoom), both cost half the price of the G7($250 at Best Buy), or the Canon Powershot A640 (10M, 4X zoom, $299 at Best Buy).

In summary this camera is not as good as I expected from a 'flagship' model. It need quite a few improvements. However it still offers many good and advanced features, so I still recommend it, provided that:
- You are a photo enthusiast, not a beginner or casual user.
- You don't use the optical viewfinder
- You don't care about swiveling LCD screen


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 499
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts

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