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New Canon Powershot G9 Makes My G7 Feel Like Unloved Stepchild

Lost in last month's hoopla over the Nikon D300 and D3 was the introduction of the Canon Powershot G9.

I don't write about specific cameras very often on this site, but this one bears a closer look. The G9 is of particular interest because of it's flash-friendly features, among other things.

More after the jump.

G9: Making a Good Thing Better

I am a big fan of the Canon Powershot G7, which I bought earlier this year. (I'm not alone, either.) Canon included lots of nice touches that make the G7 far more usable to the off-camera flasher than the typical point and shoot.

The G7 has a 10MP chip, full manual mode, and a hot shoe -- which can be adapted to wirelessly sync a flash with Pocket WIzards, Gadget Infinities, or whatever. You can stick an AS-15 on top to get a PC jack, too.

And best of all, the G7 synchs at every speed - right up to a 1/2500th of a second. If I don't have my basic SLR/lighting bag with me, I am usually packing a G7.

It puts out nice files at lower ISO ratings, then gets a little noisy as you head north past ISO 200. But the fact that (a) it can be used with off-camera light, (b) has an f/2.8 lens at the wide end, and (c) has image stabilization usually offers me a good high ISO workaround or two.

This sunflower, shot with two off-camera speedlights, is a good example of what the present model G7 will do. Click on the pic for the photo's Flickr page, then "all sizes" for a larger look at the file, directly as it came from the camera.

(I did crop it very slightly, but there was no other post-production adjustment. This is basically straight from the camera, except the original was a little bigger.)

The new G9 (what, did I miss the G8?) includes all of the important features of the G7. But it adds pixels (12MP vs 10MP) and, more important, returns the RAW image feature to the Powershot line. Now that I am getting away from deadline shooting (and end-of-day archiving) I am shooting RAW more and more.

As if that wasn't enough, it supports the Canon ST-E2 speedlite transmitter, for wireless control of multiple flashes. If you are a Canon shooter who already has the ST-E2 and a couple of flashes, this thing looks more and more like a no-brainer for your "everywhere" camera.

The G9 is less of a new camera than an evolution on the very capable G7 platform. In my last few months at The Sun, I covered maybe a dozen assignment solely with the G7. It has an amazing macro capability. And the (physically) smaller chip size works in your favor to allow you to preserve more focus on the background in those close-up shots for a better sense of place.

The G7 is quieter than a Leica M6. I would have no problem shooting a PGA golfer at the top of his backswing(!) from 10 feet away from the tee. Have to cover an assignment in church? No prob -- I'll be the quiet one with the tiny camera resting on the pew.

I used the G7 for group shots, too. Just hold your camera in front of you, frame from the chimp screen (which jumps to a 3" model in the G9) and shoot away at over 3 FPS. I'd just banter away with the group, motoring them them all the while, as they wait for me to get behind the viewfinder so all of their good expressions can go away.

It works great, with the still pix popping up one-by-one on the chimp screen as you shoot. I usually take one photo the traditional way at the end, just to make them think I am so good I can get a no-blink group shot with a single bullet.

They look to be $499.95 list, so I am thinking ~$425 street pretty soon. Sweet. I love my G7, but I think it is headed for eBay.

:: Canon G9 Spec Page ::
:: Great Canon G7 Fan Site ::


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