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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Anonymous david adam edelstein said...

Heh, I'm excited about the G9 for pretty much all the reasons you mention. I had a G4 for a long time, which I sold to my brother, and I've regretted it ever since. I'd have bought a g7 if it had raw, so as you say, the G9 is a no brainer.

I'm pretty sure that the reason they skipped the G8 is because China is a huge market for them, and pronouncing G8 in Chinese is a foul way of saying, uh, the male member.

September 05, 2007 11:51 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

As a Nikon user, this is the camera Nikon should have delivered instead of the P5000 & P5100. I've seen comparison between the G9 & the Canon 5D that are pretty impressive for the G9. It's not going to replace a 5D with L glass, but the fact that it can come close is amazing.

As for street price, don't hold your breath. The street price for the G7 was $468 just a few months ago. I don't think the price will drop for a while, and when it does Canon will probably have the G10 out.

September 05, 2007 11:51 PM  
Blogger J. Beckley said...

Holy @!#$ I think I'm in love...again. I went to the website for this camera and saw the accessories (tele lens, wide lens, underwater housing). This is going to be the perfect camera for me to take on my next deployment (military Navy). Up until now I kept thinking of way to take my gear without the risk of it being stolen or taken it on a tour in a foreign country. Now all I need is my two 580s and PWs and I'll have the lightest bag ever!

September 06, 2007 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James (Friday Harbor):

You know, I'm getting a little tired of lugging around my entire bag with me...sometimes I *do* want only one versatile camera to cover things that won't require my entire bag. I don't thing the G7 or for that matter even the G9 will turn the trick for me. Here's why:

Call me unreasonable, but at least I know what I want out of a secondary small camera. No one I can think of seems to be building it:

Compact flash card, not the smaller ones.

Double A batteries so I can exchange with my rechargeables.

Optical Viewfinder, so I can turn off that darn screen when I want to.

Most importantly: a wide angle lens. 24mm in 35 equiv. Wider if possible. Heck, I use wide far more often than long. I'd be happy to have a 20-85 or a 24-105 every day of the week. If I need longer glass, I'll move forward.

Manual override and a hot shoe.

I don't ask for the impossible, just what any pj would ask for out of a single camera, do-most-things back up.

The canon is beautiful, I'm sure, but....


September 06, 2007 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any G-series owners know if there is a flash sync limitation like DSLR's? If so, what is maximum shutter speed?

September 06, 2007 12:56 AM  
Blogger Stmpjmpr said...

@anonymous: The G7 has a flash sync of 1/250, and I'd guess it's the same in the G9.

The G7 has an accessory wide-angle lens (that I bet works on the G9) to cover wider than the 35mm wide end. It does have an optical rangefinder, a manual override and a hot shoe. I hear what you're saying about the AAs, but the G7's battery has been very good for me. That and the compact flash cards are just about the only points that can't be met by the G9. I bet that the G9 is as good as it gets for the forseeable future a far as hitting items in your list.

September 06, 2007 1:56 AM  
Blogger David said...


Actually, the G7 syncs at every speed. Just shot a manual frame at 1/2500 to prove it to myself.

September 06, 2007 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my G7 small quiet and very descreete. In fact, i just got back from shooting a job (jumper)with it this morning. The metering is so great in p mode that it is really a case of getting your feet in the right place and releasing the shutter.
mm, ebay the G7

sitbonzo :-)

September 06, 2007 3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David said...

Actually, the G7 syncs at every speed. Just shot a manual frame at 1/2500 to prove it to myself.


Was this with your PW's or on board flash?

September 06, 2007 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Cham128 said...

I'm not sure what's more shocking... a fully manual compact camera that works with my st-e2 or that you're now shooting in raw!

what next? will you start wearing full length pants? lol

September 06, 2007 5:08 AM  
Blogger simonSE15 said...

probably missed out G8 because it wouldn't come up first in google because of the G8

September 06, 2007 5:14 AM  
Blogger lifestyleguru said...

The G6 had the same battery with 300d/30d/5d (BP511), and also had a CF slot. I was little bit of disappointed, when they came out with the G7 last year. Would love to have a G9 with a bp511 and with a cf slot.
I was already thinking of buying the g7, and then I saw the news.
I guess I have to wait then..

September 06, 2007 5:45 AM  
Anonymous twk333 said...

i'm kinda bummed with the news of the g9 cause i can't afford another camera now

i don't think the g7 has the lens coating either, but i'm not sure

i don't shoot RAW, so i only really want the sr lens coating and the iSAPS
and the finer AF options
and the ISO shift
and the file downsizing options

damn ... i may have to get a loan

please post a full review of your g9 ;)

September 06, 2007 6:03 AM  
Blogger Nicholaus Haskins said...

Now thats hot!

September 06, 2007 7:26 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

What interests me is the autofocus speed of the g9. I wonder how it compares to dslrs in practice. Assuming the g7 might be about the same or a bit slower, is it noticably slower to focus than a dslr?
If not, i think it might be a great camera for candid street shooting (being cool and black and all), if not for the noise at high isos.

Anyone have any experience in that field?

September 06, 2007 9:31 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I just bought a G7 and of course am sooooo disappointed to hear of the G9. The lack of RAW almost put me off buying it. However, I do love it's macro ablities, and as you can see from David's shot, it can take a great image in the right hands. ;-)

September 06, 2007 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wanted a G7 except for it's lack to capture RAW. the only downside to the G9 is the number of megapixels! i would have rather had 10, heck even 8 would do.
ah well, i guess i'll just stick to my Sony Ericsson phone cameras (3.2 and upcoming 5mp) for when i don't have my DSLR with me.

September 06, 2007 10:54 AM  
Blogger Jacob said...

Canon's point and shoot cameras continue to amaze me. I know it's no G9, but I've got a powershot SD600ish something like that. I'm continually amazed at the quality of the low-iso shots. It only shoots jpg, and gets noisy past 200, but some of the macro stuff I've shot with it really surprises me. I'm sure the G9 would do an even better job...

September 06, 2007 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Ry C said...

If I ever get a new POS it'll probably be for the wife. That said, it'll have to have the features present in the G9 for when I wanna use the sucker.

September 06, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger Gordon Buck Jr. said...

I've used a G3 for years and really like it. is an excellent source of information about the G7 and the G9 will be soon included. In fact, Siegfried Seierlein has *just* completed a book on the G7 and is offering it for sale on (I have no commercial interest in either his site or book although I did contribute an article to the site.)

But I have a question and recommendation about the G7 and G9 with flash. The flash controls are not exactly the same on the G series as on Canon's DSLR cameras. In fact, I don't think that the flash controls are the same on every G series camera. David, since you have the G7 (soon to be G9) can you put out some tips for off camera flash specific to the G7/G9?

And a second thought: With a small camera like the G7, the small Cactus (Ebay) wireless triggers are useful and compact. But what about a very small flash? Why carry two large flashes and set one of them at 1/16 power? Why not a kit having a "full sized" flash and a "tiny" flash for use with the wireless triggers?


September 06, 2007 11:52 AM  
Blogger carlos said...

Yowza. I was thinking of having my Sony repaired, but I'll have to seriously consider putting that money toward one of these babies.

September 06, 2007 12:15 PM  
Blogger Grega said...

In my opinion, Sigma DP1 looks more promising as a capable pocket camera, because of the sensor format. I hope to see the day it is available though.

September 06, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

The 1/2500 flash sync is a HUGE selling point for me...that means I get 5x the power out of my flash in out door situations where I want to underexpose a bright sunny day!

Does anyone know if a pocket wizard will be able to sync up a flash to that shutter? I read that a PW can only sync up to 1/200. From my shoots, I've shoot it to 1/320 but nothing as fast a 1/2500.

September 06, 2007 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Siegfried said...


Very interesting article on the G7. Nice to meet other G7 owners enjoying photography. Your Blog page is very proffesional, need to spend a bit more time....

Kind Regards


September 06, 2007 5:53 PM  
Blogger Steve Thurow said...

Check the specks on how long it takes to write a RAW file before you get too upset. I enabled RAW on a PhD camera and it took 30 seconds to write one file.

September 06, 2007 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Peter.S. said...

I think the RAW capability on a P&S is of little value. One of those things that sounds nice on paper but... A P&S is for having a camera when you don't intend to shoot something for real.

If your white balance seems off just do a custom white balance on the back of a business card or any white piece of paper.

I have a Nikon P5000. It can do the same things as the G7 (hot shoe, VR, ISO3200, 10Mpx) etc) but it's lighter and works on iTTL with Nikon speedlights. It syncs up to maximum shutter speed 1/2000s. With PWs you'll have the radio-message-induced-delay so 1/1000s is about max.

All nice and dandy but if your bringing PWs and off camera strobes you might as well bring a DSLR with a prime lens or two and shoot "for real".

The thing I think Canon and Nikon should have done is to make the lens wider, like 24mm efl instead of 35mm. That would have been an improvement. More megapixels is just marketing fluff.

September 06, 2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger Muse said...

i'd love to hear more about your thoughts on the camera. I own a canon powershot A620, i really love it as it was a huge step up from my crappy HP. The allure of the sleek black design makes me drool..

September 06, 2007 10:21 PM  
Blogger Muse said...

ok after reading your FULL review, it would be interesting to see side by side comparisons of the same shots with both cameras. Could it truly be all that better?

September 06, 2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger Dr. Tan said...

David Hobby's G7, opening bid $500

Always wanted a PnS (I'm one of those guys who only has an SLR)

Maybe time to get one. But I don't quite like the fact that they're still in the pixel race.

IMHO the G-series is quite a prosumer already, they should know how to hit the market better.

September 07, 2007 12:41 AM  
Anonymous suchynoshashin/stewart said...

been using a g6 for a number of years and have already placed my order for a new g9. you are right, it is a great portable camera. i spend a fair bit of time traveling and the g6 (soon g9) is so convenient to carry. i also use the wide angle and tele lenses (they are fairly small and light).

September 07, 2007 1:23 AM  
Anonymous dan 'hot-shoe' berman said...

This is a new experience for me... I am usually the one who buys just before the new model comes out - but my nice local store put me wise to the G9 coming up... and I have it on order... But what makes this really sweet is that i got a ST-E2 a week before discoving the PW world we have here... I love my PWs now, but i can pop the G9, ST-e2 and 2 430EXs in the corner of any bag - and i can have a full 2 light setup. Joy.... Will post me first experiences on flickr when it arrives.

September 07, 2007 5:47 PM  
Blogger clark said...

"Peter.S. said...

I think the RAW capability on a P&S is of little value."

I disagree. I just spent the last year and a half with a Pany Lumix LX1 as my digital point and shoot - RAW does indeed make a difference. A big one. I've yet to meet a photo I couldn't tweak for the better with a RAW file.

September 08, 2007 1:08 AM  
Blogger jacob twiss said...

I may be missing something but I've had a G7 for nearly a year and it seems to work fine with my ST-E2 and 2 x 430exs ... I'm not sure what is new about the G9 being compatible with the ST-E2. The main drawback with the G7 and flash is the shutter lag although there are ways to reduce this.

September 08, 2007 7:27 AM  
Blogger Alexander said...


Have you read anything about the shutter delay on the G9? Is it slow?

September 09, 2007 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on your sunflower shot, your G7 has a hot sensor pixel. It's visible just toward the right fo the flower in full size.

September 11, 2007 4:30 PM  
Blogger 1001 noisy cameras said...

Nice early look at the G9! I'm glad Canon added RAW and made this a RAWsumer again!

As far as the battery life, what do you think in real world use? The specs have it in the mid 200s, which imho is a bit low for a camera like this, but I guess that's a compromise/trade-off that perhaps needed to be made in order to keep the body smaller and more lightweight. Its A650IS "cousin" has double the battery life with AA NiMhs though.

September 18, 2007 6:51 PM  
Blogger Brian H said...

Bought a G9 a few days ago and am absolutely over the moon about the camera. The screen is out of this world, the build quality is Germanic and the operation is smooth. At last there is a so-called "point and shoot" which delivers the kind of versatility and quality that normally only comes with a DSLR. Basically a G9 with a decent flash gun like the SB800 (which you can fire using the G9's onboard flash) will give you a reasonable low volume easily transportable kit.

September 29, 2007 3:29 PM  
Anonymous aj said...

here is a review at

October 27, 2007 3:47 AM  
Blogger Alistair said...

I have two complaints about the G9. One is that you cannot get shutter speeds slower than 1 sec in Av mode. The camera will grossly underexpose pictures rather than go above 1 sec. The only workaround is to switch to Manual. The second complaint is flash related. IN my opinion the flash system is severely crippled. You cannot use Av mode to expose for the background since using flash in Av mode just sets the shutter speed to 1/60 sec (at least in dim conditions). In M mode on the camera you have complete control over the shutter speed and aperture but must fire the flash in manual mode. You cannot use automatic flash metering. This is common on all of the G cameras

As a social camera I would like to set the lens at its wide end and f2.8, shutter speed to 1/30 or 1/15 to underexpose ambient by a couple of stops, and then have the flash correctly illuminate the subject. This is essentially impossible. I have to manually set flash output, look at the histogram, correct flash output and fire again.

None of this affects you if you only use th flash system to trigger manual strobes but could have a big effect if you are trying to use an ST-E2 to use metered off camera strobes.

October 28, 2007 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With regards to 'Alistair's concerns over the lack of slow-sync flash, in Av mode on the G9:

You can go into the Camera menu, "flash control", and then set sync to "slow-sync". With this, the G9 will expose for ambient in Av mode, just as a DSLR, and expose for the subject with the flash. I too wish I could just specify the ambient exposure explicitly in M, and then use ETTL flash metering, but that has been disabled for some reason. Still, Av slow-sync with exposure compensation is pretty usable.

Flash Control Menu
(Image linked from DPreview)

November 01, 2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger Alistair said...

Thank you very much!

I actually read the manual through carefully looking for a way to get E-TTL control in Manual but must have missed this.

November 06, 2007 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Canon G9 Camera said...

So far, I'm very happy with my upgrade to the G9 from the G7

November 18, 2007 5:09 PM  
Blogger updeinva said...

Brian H -
You said "Basically a G9 with a decent flash gun like the SB800 (which you can fire using the G9's onboard flash) will give you a reasonable low volume easily transportable kit."

I was wondering how this is done?

December 13, 2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger chanapong said...

Canon G7

March 29, 2008 12:50 AM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

I have to ask this question. I brought my G7 cheap, cheap, cheap because I simply couldn't justify (to my wife) the expense of a brand new G9. Since then I've pimped it no end with all kind of goodies and today I took delivery of the last piece of hardware for my camera, a Sunpak PZ40X Mk II flashgun. So could someone please tell me why the G7 is the poor man's choice compared to that of the G9. This is how I see it.

1. The G7's 10mp sensor is a whole heap less noisy than the G9.
2. The G7 works seamlessly with Canon's ST-E2 wireless transmitter. I know, I tried it today. It worked. So David on this one you're dead wrong.
3. If you're missing shooting RAW files, then you can pimp up you're G7 with the CHDK "Allbest"Hack. The same applies if you want to set the G7 to shoot slower the one second in AV mode. The "HACK" fixes all. It's also FREE and it is totally a non invasive firmware update for the G7. Using it won't send you pride and joy to G7 heaven.
4. Here in the UK you can still find sweet deals on good quality used G7's. Just watch out for dust on the lens barrel and buyer beware.

So there, I've said it. The G7 still rocks (thanks in most parts to those damn Russians) and in these times of soaring gas prices and falling house prices IMHO the Canon G7 just makes sense.

June 20, 2008 7:36 PM  
Blogger Petteri said...

Somehow I can't get faster flash sync speed than 1/500 working with my G9, External Vivitar 258HV flash and using Cactus V2s for trigger? 1/500 sync just fine, but anything faster than that, it is just black! Do I have to make any adjustments in the camera to sync faster than 1/500. Does anyone know? Or is it the cactus trigger to blame?

September 03, 2008 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Chattanooga Photographer said...

David: What do you think of the new G11? Does it give the same syncing love that the G7 does?

Love your blog! Keep up the great work.


August 19, 2009 1:41 PM  

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