The Canon PowerShot G2

Photo © Canon U.S.A., Inc

Just over a week ago I purchased a Canon PowerShot G2, my first digital camera. It comes with a 32MB CompactFlash card, but I upgraded it immediately to a 256MB card. I knew I’d need the extra memory storage for the high-quality images.

  • At the worst possible image quality setting, 640×480 with the highest compression, it will take 2,714 pictures on my 256MB CompactFlash card of a quality that is still better than most product displays on eBay, or 338 pictures on the included 32MB CF card. A bit pixelated, perhaps, but acceptable for low-end web usage. Fine if you need to take 75 rolls of 35mm film. Wouldn’t print it, though.
  • At 640×480 with the best quality compression, you can take 960 pictures, again with the 256MB CF card. That’s almost 27 rolls of 36-exposure 35mm film.
  • The setting I use most often is M2 (Medium #2) with the best quality compression. That gives me 430 pictures at 1024×768 pixels, or the equivalent of 12 rolls of 35mm film, great for producing high quality photos that I can publish on the web. Sure, I could use the smaller 640×480 format, but with Adobe Photoshop 6.0, I can crop and size the image anyway I want to, eliminating the need for additional costly zoom lens attachments. Plus, printing 4×6 prints should work well with this format, although I haven’t tried it myself.
  • I don’t use the M1 (Medium #1) setting much because the M2 setting meets my average daily needs. It takes 246 pictures at 1600×1200.
  • The L or Large setting takes 123 pictures at a whopping 2272×1704 pixels, resulting in a terrific quality 3.8 megapixel image. A bit under the 4.0 megapixel that is advertised, but I’m pleased with the results. That’s only 15 pictures with the supplied 32MB CompactFlash card, so you can see why the memory upgrade is necessary.

There are a few things I dislike about the camera:

  • The camera won’t turn on in picture-taking mode with the lens cap on.
  • There’s a flimsy, bendable, rotating piece of plastic that acts as a cover over the DC adapter plug. I know it’s going to break off someday.
  • Picture-taking and picture-viewing modes are totally separate modes, so if a picture opportunity comes up while you’re viewing pictures, you’ll miss it.
  • The lever that controls vision correction when viewing through the viewfinder is too easily moved.

And there are a few things I love about it:

  • Good exposures with the auto flash, even at night.
  • Macro capabilities are excellent. Turn off the flash, though.
  • Onscreen menus are very simple and easy to use. I expected them to be much more complicated.
  • I have a USB Microsoft keyboard with built-in USB ports in the back. I bought a USB adapter for $20 that accepts CompactFlash cards. So, no picture downloads for me! I remove the CF card, plug it in the adapter, and it appears as another drive on my Windows XP computer. I was even able to completely avoid installing any of the Canon software. No software updates, no drivers, no problems! Note that these adapters are available for almost any digital camera that uses CompactFlash or SmartMedia.
  • It’s a point-and-shoot simple enough for the entire family to use, although because of its $700 price tag I’m a bit paranoid to let the kids try it out in case they drop it, or do something equally damaging.

According to the internal counter, I’ve taken 273 pictures already. Most of them were discarded immediately after taking the photos, but that’s one of the cool things about digital cameras — no costly film or extra film developing expense. I’m thinking about taking this gem with me everywhere so I’ll never miss a moment (as long as it’s in picture-taking mode).

The Canon PowerShot G2 gets an A in my book. Why not an A+? That’s reserved for beauties such as the Nikon D1X or the new D100, but at their several-thousand-dollar price tags, they’re way out of my league…

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