The 14.7Mp Canon PowerShot G10 is a stylish-looking compact camera.
There's something appealing about the Canon PowerShot G10's old-school rangefinder styling, and the little lights that glow orange next to the old-timey ISO and EV compensation dials.
What's more, the Canon PowerShot G10 is a solidly built point-and-shoot that packs some advanced camera features to attract digital SLR users looking for a second, smaller camera for everyday snapshots.
The Canon PowerShot G10's cool factor is no doubt a reason for its high price tag. Also, it seems to be Canon's newest attempt to win the megapixel war: the G10 is a step up from its predecessor, the 12Mp PowerShot G9. The benefits of the increased pixel count are dubious, however, as I saw in my tests.
Like the G9, the Canon PowerShot G10 offers RAW shooting options, including RAW+JPEG. It also incorporates a wider-angle lens (28mm equivalent), which worked well for my landscape shots. Unfortunately, Canon has correspondingly reduced the zoom to the telephoto equivalent of 140mm, with a 5X optical zoom as opposed to the 6X optical zoom on the G9.
That may be a letdown for some people, but take heart: Lens teleconverters are available separately, and the G9's hot shoe has been carried forward onto this model.
On the Canon PowerShot G10, Canon offers its handy My Menu feature, which stores favorite settings for recall at any time. The camera's image stabilisation mode let me make at least a few shots that we couldn't have captured otherwise, such as handheld shots of ferns in the shady New Zealand area of the botanical gardens.
The camera menus are easy to navigate after a few peeks at the manual. Common point-and-shoot features, such as face recognition, scene modes, and stitch assist for making panoramas, are on board, too.
The Canon PowerShot G10's assortment of modes includes auto, program, and shutter and aperture priority, as well as the option to go fully manual. You determine manual exposure on the LCD. A small meter appears, and below it are the camera's current exposure settings. Everything is neatly displayed, and you can easily adjust the settings using a thumbwheel on the camera back.
Things get complicated, though, with manual focus, and we quickly decided never to use that option again. On the Canon PowerShot G10's LCD, a small window within the full image appears, and you adjust focus - again using the thumbwheel - based on a bar displayed on the right edge. Having the manual-focus option is nice, but the implementation here is a bit kludgy.
Thankfully, the Canon PowerShot G10's autofocus handled most situations well enough.
The Canon PowerShot G10's battery life is superb. In our Test Centre evaluations, it fired off 456 shots on a single charge, better than nearly any point-and-shoot we've tested.
ISO ranges from 80 to 3200, but regrettably noise and soft focus made an obvious impact on images at ISO 400 and up. Sometimes we even observed chromatic noise at ISO 100 in darker areas. And unfortunately, the Canon PowerShot G10 is often slow and inaccurate in focusing, particularly in low-light situations.
You must be patient with this camera and wait until the focus indicator says 'ok'; otherwise the shutter will fire, and you won't get a sharp photo. In well-lit outdoor scenes, on the other hand, the Canon PowerShot G10 did just fine, and thanks to the RAW option, you can recover a lot of invisible detail.
This Canon PowerShot G10 has a good macro mode, enabling you to get 1cm from your subject. Sometimes here the camera will cast its own shadow on the subject and you'll have to back off, but some of our macro shots looked very good. The bulk of our test images, shot in a botanical garden, were punchy and vivid, but not unrealistically oversaturated. The Canon PowerShot G10 seemed to offer a pleasant boost of saturation compared with the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, which we tested concurrently.
Those saturation levels took a toll on the Canon PowerShot G10's image-quality ratings, however. In the Test Centre's jury evaluations, the G10 performed very well in image sharpness, but its colour accuracy and exposure levels rated only as Fair. Overall, the G10's image quality earned a Good rating, but it fell noticeably short of the image quality we've seen from other Canon cameras.
The video mode, which captures clips at 30 frames per second, performs very well outdoors; footage quality is spottier indoors, as expected. The Canon PowerShot G10's zoom is impressively smooth, and audio is better than on many cameras we've reviewed, although most of those cameras were lower-end models than the G10.
Overall, the Canon PowerShot G10 is a pleasure to use, but we wish the company had focused more on noise control instead of just cramming in more megapixels. We loved carrying this sturdy camera around and we appreciated its highly useful dials, but for the money you can easily find better overall performers.