Like the G9, the design of the G10’s body is a development from the PowerShot G7. It is obviously designed to resemble an old rangefinder camera, and the split-level top panel is reminiscent of a Voightlander-Cosina Bessa. Unfortunately that means it’s also reminiscent of the dreadful Epson R-D1, but we’ll just quietly forget about that. Like a rangefinder camera the G10 has lots of external dials and knobs to keep the gadgetheads happy, with a large dual-level dial for main shooting mode and ISO setting, and another smaller dial for exposure compensation. These controls are chunky and solidly mounted, and turn with a reassuringly positive click. They are also clearly labelled, and the illuminated index points make them easier to operate in low light.
The G10’s overall build quality is simply fantastic, as one should expect from a £340 camera. The body is all aluminium over a steel chassis, and is finished in a scratch-resistant matt black crackle texture. It has a small but comfortable rubber-coated handgrip on the front and a sculpted thumbgrip area on the back, and feels very solid and secure in the hand. The controls are sensibly laid out and fall naturally under the fingers, including the exposure-lock button. The main rear-panel control is a slightly small D-pad surrounded by a rotary bezel, which is used for making exposure adjustments in conjunction with a very clear on-screen display.
The LCD monitor is superb, with pin-sharp resolution, excellent colour and contrast, an anti-glare coating and a viewing angle approaching 180 degrees both horizontally and vertically. Some people have lamented the fact that the recent G-series cameras lack the articulated monitor of the older models, but to be honest I’d rather have a large monitor that is this good than a smaller one that can swivel around.
The viewfinder however is not so good. It’s better at least than the token viewfinders found on some smaller compacts, but it is still small, dim and tunnel-like and only has about 80 percent frame coverage. It does accommodate glasses-wearers with both dioptre correction and a soft plastic surround, but it’s still not a patch on even the worst DSLR viewfinder.
The real strength of the G10 is in its photographic controls. It has of course got a full range of manual exposure options, with manual shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/4000th of a second. This is exceptionally fast, on a par with the better DSLRs. The G9 only offered a top shutter speed of 1/2500th. The lens has a maximum aperture range of f/2.8 – 4.5, which is pretty good, although it will be a little disappointing for anyone who remembers the stunning f/2.0 – 3.0, 4x zoom lens on the 2004 Canon G6.
As well as these exposure options the G10 has a built-in mechanical neutral-density filter activated from the shooting menu, which is used for increasing exposure, or reducing over-exposure under certain circumstances. That may not sound too useful for most people, but if you’ve ever found yourself needing an ND filter you’ll appreciate having on available at the touch of a button.
Like most high-end cameras the G10 can shoot in Raw mode, using Canon’s CR2 Raw file format, although if you want to open the pictures in Photoshop’s Camera Raw program you’ll have to wait, since it’s not supported by the latest version. Instead you’ll have to use the supplied Raw converter, although to be fair Canon’s program is better than some.