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The LCD monitor may not swivel anymore, but it is of good quality. With 207,000 pixels it’s not quite the sharpest ever, but it does have an exceptionally wide viewing angle, so you can hold the camera above your head and still see a reasonably clear picture.
A semi-pro camera is all about control, and the G7 has plenty to offer. In true rangefinder style the main controls are large knurled dials on the top panel. ISO setting gets its own dedicated dial which is unusual but quite useful, although the dial only goes up to 1600. ISO 3200 is available but only at 1,600 x 1,200 resolution via a special scene mode.
The other main shooting dial has auto, program, aperture and shutter priority and full manual exposure control, as well as movie mode, panorama stitching mode, two user-defined custom settings and the scene mode, which has 16 different scene programs.
The main shooting settings such as picture quality, white balance, bracketing, flash power adjustment, metering mode and, unusually, a neutral density filter, are found on the function menu that will be familiar to anyone who’s used any Canon compact before.
The control system is similar to that on the PowerShot S80, with a rotating bezel around the D-pad that controls menu selections and exposure adjustments via nice clear on-screen displays. It takes a little getting used to, but with practice it is very quick and intuitive.
The G7 has a useful range of exposure settings, with shutter speeds from 15 secs to 1/2000th available in manual mode. With the slower lens the aperture range is obviously more restricted, but the minimum setting is f/8.0 and settings can be adjusted in 1/3 EV increments.
As with most previous G-series models, the camera can be used with the supplied remote capture software, allowing interval timing, exposure, image capture and storage to be controlled by a computer via the USB 2.0 connection.
Canon makes a point in its brochure material for the G7 about its Safety Zoom and Digital Tele-Converter features. Don’t be fooled; these are just another name for digital zoom, and the results produced by either system are equally unsatisfactory. Like all digital zoom systems they simply digitally enlarge the central portion of the image. Even the cleverest software can’t magically create pixels that weren’t there in the original.
The G7’s overall performance is excellent. It starts up in approximately one second, and in continuous mode it can shoot two frames a second until the memory card is full. The G7 uses SD cards for storage, rather than the CompactFlash cards used by the G6. It seems more and more high-end models and even DSLRs are switching to SD; perhaps I’d better get a few more in.
At maximum size and quality the G7 produces image files that average around 4.8MB, which means that the G7 employs far less compression than most other 10MP compacts. It means that a gigabyte SD card is enough for approximately 239 shots.