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Canon PowerShot G2

Canon updates their very popular G1 with a 4 megapixel CCD and improved color management.

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Page 11:Video, Power, Software

Review First Posted: 08/16/2001

Video Out
The G2 has a video-out port with a choice of NTSC timing format, for US and Japanese model televisions, and PAL timing format for European televisions, which are selectable through the Play menu. The video output can be used for reviewing previously recorded images or running slide shows from the camera. It also shows all three LCD menu screens, as well as the preview display from the LCD viewfinder. Combined with the very flexible controls of the wireless remote transmitter, the live video output display opens up interesting possibilities for portrait photography, such as using a video monitor as a remote viewfinder.

The output cable is a true AV cable, as it fans out into two RCA jacks, one for video, and one for audio. Plugged into any video monitor (or TV with direct video and audio inputs), the audio capabilities of the G2, combined with the wireless remote control, should make it an effective portable presentation device.


Power
The G2 is powered by an internal BP-511 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, a LiIon design that packs quite a wallop (meaning long run times). The camera ships with one battery pack, as well as an AC adapter that doubles as an in-camera charger. A standalone charger is sold separately, as is a car AC adapter that plugs into any automobile cigarette lighter. A CR2016 lithium battery keeps the G2's internal clock going, and fits into a small compartment within the battery chamber.

Because the G2 relies on its LCD display for viewing and selecting some of its settings, it can be somewhat of a drain on the power supply. Fortunately, the camera has an automatic three-minute shutdown mode to help conserve battery power, and you can control power consumption by reducing the amount of information displayed on the LCD monitor, and keeping the autofocus mechanism in Single mode rather than Continuous mode.

 

Operating Mode
Power
(mA @9.5v)
Est. Minutes
Capture Mode, w/LCD
400 mA
128
Capture Mode, no LCD
80 mA
~ 10 hours
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
440 mA
117
Half-pressed w/o LCD
320 mA
161
Memory Write (transient)
460 mA
n/a
Flash Recharge (transient)
720 mA
n/a
Image Playback
180 mA
285

 


We really like Canon's BP-511 batteries. While we generally prefer nonproprietary batteries (allowing many third-party solutions), the BP-511s hold a lot of charge. In the case of the PowerShot G2, the worst-case run time in capture mode is a bit over 2 hours, a very good figure. With the LCD off, you can leave the camera on for over 10 hours without running out of juice.

Unfortunately, the proprietary external power connector of the G2 precludes use of an external battery pack for longer run times, but the BP-511's life is good enough that this probably won't be an issue for most users. Still, as always, we strongly recommend buying a second battery to have as a spare. (Murphy's law dictates that the battery in your camera will always run out just as the most interesting photos present themselves. Carry a spare and don't miss out!)


Included Software
Learn what the manual left out -
How to *use* your camera.

Camera manuals are (sometimes) fine for knowing which button does what, but where do you go to learn how and when to use the various features? Dennis Curtin's "Shortcourses" books and CDs are the answer. (Cheap for what you get, too.) Order the Shortcourses manual for the camera reviewed in this article.
The Canon PowerShot G2 comes with a software CD containing Canon's Digital Camera 6.0, which provides a wealth of utilities. Compatible with Windows and Macintosh operating systems, Canon Digital Camera 6.0 allows you to download images from the camera, process RAW data files, stitch together images shot in Stitch-Assist mode, set up images for printing, and operate the camera remotely from the computer. (For Mac users, a plugin for Adobe Photoshop(tm) provides the capability to read the CCD RAW format files.) Bundled software packages include: Apple QuickTime; ZoomBrowser (for Windows) and ImageBrowser (for Mac); PhotoRecord (Windows only); PhotoStitch; and RemoteCapture, an application that enables the camera to be controlled through a computer.

This last function is the most interesting of Canon's software offerings. The RemoteCapture software interface consists of two windows, one (show above) dedicated to managing captured images on your computer, the other (shown below) devoted to operating the camera. The "shooting" window shown below provides "live" control over more camera functions than the previous version of the software, along with a live viewfinder preview. You can also rotate the image to provide right-side-up display when the camera is held in "portrait" orientation, add brief comments to each image (stored in the file's EXIF header), set image size/quality, macro mode, white balance and flash options, and adjust the exposure compensation. Overall, a very nice interface, and surprisingly usable over the USB connection. (Viewfinder updates aren't quite "real time", they look like a couple of frames per second, but certainly adequate for many uses, particularly when combined with a live display on a monitor via the camera's video output.) There's also an Interval shooting mode that's only available through the RemoteCapture software (not on the camera), which sets the camera to record a series of images at set intervals, for time-lapse photography.

The RemoteCapture functionality has been enhanced on the G2 over what was provided for the G1. Formerly, the camera's video out didn't function when RemoteCapture was active. On the G2, the video remains "live", letting you use the video output for a remote viewfinder display in studio setups. Another change on the G2 is that the shutter button on the camera now remains active. On the G1, you could only trip the shutter via the computer when in RemoteCapture mode.


The G2 also supports a "RAW" file format, in which the data is taken straight from the CCD with no processing inside the camera. These RAW files can subsequently be processed on a personal computer using Canon's ZoomBrowser software, which lets you adjust white balance, brightness, color saturation, and sharpness post-exposure. Because RAW files are completely lossless, they contain all the information captured by the CCD. Any modifications or tweaks you make on these files with ZoomBrowser begin with the full 10-bit data that the camera captured. This means that fewer image artifacts will result from your adjustments. (As noted above, Mac users can access the RAW files via a Photoshop-compatible plugin.)

We confess to being confused over the G2's USB "class" designation: We'd thought that "storage-class" meant that no driver software would be required to connect the camera to Mac OS 9 or greater, or Windows Me. Apparently this isn't the case though, because Canon describes the G2 as a storage-class device, even though driver software is required. Regardless, with the appropriate driver software (USB WIA driver in Windows, USB Mounter in Mac 9.0-9.1), the G2 will in fact appear on your desktop as another disk drive.


In the Box

The software they didn't include...
(But that you should)
Few people realize just how *much* you can improve your digicam images through clever processing in Photoshop. Greatly (!) increased sharpness, reduced noise, and even ultra-wide dynamic range (light-to-dark range) by combining multiple exposures. Fred Miranda and uber-Photoshop expert Fred Miranda has packaged some of his Photoshop magic in a collection of powerful and affordably priced "actions." Check out his site, the results are pretty amazing!
Camera manuals are (sometimes) fine for knowing which button does what, but where do you go to learn how and when to use the various features? Dennis Curtin's "Shortcourses" books and CDs are the answer. (Cheap for what you get, too.) Order the Shortcourses manual for the camera reviewed in this article.

Included in the box with the PowerShot G2 are the following items:

  • Lens cap with strap
  • Neck strap
  • BP-511 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack
  • AC adapter
  • Remote Control
  • 32MB CompactFlash Type I memory card
  • USB cable
  • AV cable
  • Software CD
  • User Guide and registration kit



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