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Canon PowerShot G10 - Canon PowerShot G10

By Cliff Smith



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This review is in danger of dragging on forever, so I'd best get to the important bits. £340 buys some top-quality components, and as a result the G10's overall performance is outstanding. It starts up in just over one second, and shuts down again even more quickly. The shot-to-shot time in single-shot mode varies ranges from 1.7 seconds in JPEG mode to 2.3 seconds in Raw + JPEG mode. In continuous shooting it can manage approximately 1.5 frames a second in JPEG mode, although this drops to approximately 1.3 seconds per frame in AF continuous or Raw + JPEG continuous mode, or 1.5 seconds per frame in Raw + JPEG AF continuous mode. All in all it's pretty light on its feet for a big camera.

The autofocus system is also very fast, and works reasonably well in low light, although it does slow down a bit when it has to use the AF assist lamp. It also tends to hunt around a bit at the long end of the zoom range, and starts to have real problems when shooting at longer focal lengths in low light conditions. As usual the AiAF system has a mind of its own and frequently focuses on the background rather than the main subject, but switching to center-spot AF produces much more reliable results.

In terms of image quality, I have to admit that I am slightly disappointed, but only because I had such high expectations. The level of detail that the G10 captures is simply amazing, possibly the best of any compact camera I've ever tested. However there are some problems; the lens produces noticeable chromatic aberration at the wide-angle end, with red/green fringes visible toward the edges of the frame. At longer focal lengths this is replaced with slight corner blurring and distortion.

Image noise is also not as well handled as it might be, especially when compared to previous Canon G-series models. Noise is clearly visible in shots at 200 ISO, and is causing loss of detail and problems with colour reproduction at 400 ISO. As usual with Canon cameras the texture of the noise is very grain-like, but still the results are a bit disappointing. Likewise dynamic range, which isn't much better than most other high-res compacts in the 14-megapixel range. While it does produce more shadow detail than the Nikon S710, it does so at the expense of burned-out highlights. Even the i-Contrast mode, Canon's name for a shadow brightness booster, doesn't do much to help in very high contrast situations.

Shooting in Raw mode does offer some help, and manually correcting Raw mode images can recover some shadow detail, but of course it can't help with the clipped highlights. I have to say that overall the G10's image quality, while far from terrible, suffers in comparison to its main rival the lovely Panasonic LX3, and even more so in comparison with an entry-level DSLR, proving perhaps once and for all that squeezing more megapixels onto a small compact camera sensor is not the way to produce a better camera.


The Canon PowerShot G10 is still going to be the benchmark by which all other high-spec compacts are measured, but it's no longer the top dog. It is beaten on picture quality and portability by the smaller, lighter and slightly cheaper Panasonic LX3, and is beaten badly on value for money by most entry-level DSLRs. It's still an impressive camera and can produce excellent results, especially in Raw mode, but the price means its appeal is a little too specialised for some.


December 13, 2008, 3:33 am

Thanks for the review Clive. Alas, your conclusions are pretty much as I feared. The G10 is, for me, very nearly the perfect high end compact camera and I'm itching to buy one. The only thing stopping me is the desire for a larger sensor/fewer megapixels and a faster lens - both hinted at by your review. I can only hope that the advent of the LX3 and Micro 4/3rds will nudge Canon towards both in their next iteration of the G series - with any luck Canon will take that last step in realising the ultimate G series - surely they can see it will be a killer camera. In the meantime the proposed Olympus Micro 4/3rds looks really interesting, or maybe Santa will bring me an LX3.

Lastly, why wasn't there a G4 or G8 - I'm intrigued (sad I know!).


December 13, 2008, 4:03 am

Noise starts showing at ISO100, ISO400 is only usable for small prints and you give it 9 out of 10 mark for image quality? Oh, please...

If only they've used 10 Mpix CCD or CMOS sensor, like in LX3, and this could be the winner.


December 14, 2008, 1:31 am


I couldn't agree more with your opinion on the iso noise, the LX3 is far superior, the car picture difference is like night and day. It's the sunny vs cloudy outside pictures that make the G10 seem to take better outside pics (well that and a bit more zoom)

I personally am very tempted by the LX3

Cliff Smith

December 15, 2008, 7:32 pm

Who's Clive?

There was no G4 because the word "four" in both Mandarin Chinese and Japanese sounds very much like the word for "death" and is considered unlucky, while "G8" in Mandarin apparently sounds a lot like a very rude slang name for a certain male body part located in the trouser region. That's probably worth remembering if you're planning a holiday in northern China anytime soon.


January 4, 2009, 6:40 am

If you can afford the Canon PowerShot G10 then go for it. It's a stunning little compact camera. I was going to buy the Canon PowerShot G9 in 2008, but my first impression was "Toy" which was poorly built when compared to the 3 Canon EOS 1D’s I currently own and use for my sports photography work. I'm glad I didn't buy the Canon PowerShot G9 because late in 2008 Canon then released the Canon PowerShot G10. The weight and build quality makes it feel worth the money and compatible with the high end equipment I currently own.

I've also got a Canon PowerShot S80 which although rather good, I've hardly used and I realised why when I started to use the Canon PowerShot G10 - it's because I can adjust the shooting mode, exposure, shutter speed, aperture and ISO with a turn of a dial rather than using on screen menus. Only one slight draw back is that to alter the shutter speed and aperture requires pressing a button and turning a dial whilst looking at the rear screen.

I've tried using my Canon Flashes on the “hot shoe” but have found the 580's I own make the camera top heavy and difficult to handle for those holiday shots etc. So I purchased a simple Vivitar DF22-C flash at 㿧 which is a simple ETTL unit and shoots well as a fill in flash but not for close up work. I’ve found that the in build flash is more than suitable for the close up work.

The RAW images are extremely good quality for a Compact Camera but are obviously limited by the size of the sensor and apertures of the small lens, although they are still very usable and saleable images. I was rather surprised when I saw that some of my images shot in RAW had file sizes of 20mb and higher. I’m glad I purchased the 8 GB card which can give over 1200 shots in fully auto mode or just under 400 shots in RAW mode. It will also shoot just over 96 minutes of low quality video and sound on the 8 GB card if that’s what floats your boat.

The rear screen is the same size as the EOS 1D MKIII screen and is perfectly suitable for analysing test images to make corrections for the final shots. I've also purchased a cable release which is a good idea for those longer shutter speeds.

If you have time and want to use Canon’s numerous photo modes then you’ll find many styles when set to the “SCN” mode. Some of which include the obvious “portrait” and “landscape” modes along with “night scene”, “sport”, “night snapshot”, “kids & pets”, “indoors”, “sunset”, “foliage”, “snow”, “beach”, “fireworks, “aquarium” and “underwater”. All of which I’ve still to test out but I’m sure someone will find useful. You’ll also find that you can set the ISO to 3200 which will allow shooting in very low light conditions with very grainy but good quality results.

In summary, as a Sport Photographer it’s not going to be used for my high speed work. Because it is still a compact camera albeit a rather good quality and top end compact camera, it still suffers with shutter lag (i.e. under certain conditions if you press the button it appears to take a lifetime to shoot the image). However, I’m still extremely impressed with my purchase as a handy, carry around easily; everyday camera which I can use for snaps or extremely high quality still photographs, both landscape and portrait. Noise can be a problem at times but to me modern programs can reduce this to acceptable tolerances. The battery life is extremely good and is on a par with the 4 EOS cameras I currently own.

Michael Digital

July 4, 2009, 9:35 pm

I've owned my G10 for a few weeks, but I'm still amazed at the qualty of the images it produces. I have printed iso 200 images at 13" x 19" and the prints are as good as my 50D prints at this size. This camera would be hard to beat as a walk around shooter. If you purchase one you will be pleasantly surpised with the results. BTW it's built like a tank! It took the G10 to make me want to replace my G3, which is still going strong.


December 27, 2009, 7:43 pm

The G10 is a fantastic compact, as was the G9. How anyone (rhodopsin) can say the G9 was a toy is totally beyond me, but there you go. The best improvement for me from the G9, is the compensation dial and the slightly wider lens. I've found the images sensational, although ISO at 200 is pushing it a bit, anything above are virtually useless for a noiseless picture. The flash I've found is perfectly adequate for a compact, although I have used my 580ex with no trouble, apart from being obviously a unbalanced with the small body. It's ridiculous to compare a compact like this to a top end dlsr like the 1d series, so won't even go there. If you want a compact camera with all the trimmings that you WILL USE, then look no further, but if you just want a point and shoot set mainly on auto, then the Panasonic TZ7 is probabl;y a better buy.

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