Canon PowerShot G2Canon updates their very popular G1 with a 4 megapixel CCD and improved color management.
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PowerShot G2 Sample ImagesReview First Posted: 08/16/2001
|We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
|Outdoor Portrait: (1887 k)
An excellent performance: The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. (And why we don't use fill-flash to lighten the shadows.) The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the G2 did a good job. The shot at right has a +1.0 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which brightens the midtones a little, though the highlights are on the verge of blowing out. We shot with the Auto (1911 k), Daylight (1867 k), and Manual (1876 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting for our main shot (Auto appeared slightly cool and Daylight resulted in a reddish color balance). Overall color looks very good, though skin tones are a little too magenta for our tastes. The blue flowers are quite accurate as well, with none of the purple tint that often plagues cameras on this shot (these blues are very difficult for digicams to reproduce correctly). Excellent resolution and detail throughout the image, with good shadow detail as well. (Shadow noise is very low.) The table below shows an exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, followed by a contrast and saturation series.
Exposure Compensation Settings:
|Closer Portrait: (1837 k)
The G2 also did a good job in this closeup shot, and the 3x zoom lens helps prevent any distortion of the model's features. Resolution is even higher in this shot, with excellent detail in the face and hair. Color again looks good, with slightly magenta skin tones. Detail is also strong in the shadow areas, with very low noise. Our main shot was taken with no exposure adjustment, and this time with the Daylight white balance setting, which we felt did a little better job on the skin tones. The table below shows the results of a range of exposure settings from zero to +1.0 EV.
Exposure Compensation Settings:
|Indoor Portrait, Flash:
The G2's built-in flash does a nice job illuminating the subject, though flash power is slightly dim at the default setting. (Doubtless fooled by the bright shirt and light-colored background.) The shot at right was taken with a +0.7 EV exposure adjustment, which brightened the white shirt and the lighting on the model's face. The background incandescent lighting produces a slight orange cast, which is lessened with the exposure adjustment. Color is nearly accurate and well-saturated, though the skin tones are again too magenta. We also snapped an image with the Red-Eye Reduction (1576 k) flash mode, in response to reader requests to show how cameras handle eye color in straight-on flash shots.
Flash Exposure Compensation Settings:
Portrait, No Flash: (1690 k)
This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting, and the G2's white balance system handled the challenge very well. While the Auto (1678 k) white balance setting produced a very pronounced yellow cast, the Incandescent (1706 k) and Manual (1733 k) settings produced excellent results. We chose the Incandescent setting because it produced the most accurate color balance, and selected a +1.3 EV exposure adjustment for our main shot. Overall color is very nice, with only a faint purple tint to the blue flower petals. Saturation is unusually good for this shot, and resolution is high. Below is our standard exposure series (from zero to +1.3 EV), followed by an ISO series.
Like the G1 before it, the G2 is unusual in providing ISO options as low as ISO 50. Even at the higher ISO settings though, image noise seems to be well controlled. The shots below show the results obtained with each ISO option supported by the G2.
|House Shot: (2803 k)
We chose the Manual (2803 k) white balance setting for our main selection, as it produced the most accurate color and white value. Both the Daylight (2785 k) and Auto (2789 k) settings produced nearly accurate results, though both are slightly warm. Resolution is high, and details are clear and sharp throughout the frame. Even the fine foliage details in front of the house are distinct (this is a problem area for many digicams). Overall, a very nice job.
|Far-Field Test (3005 k)
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The G2 picks up a large amount of fine detail throughout the frame, with great clarity and sharpness. The fine foliage details have clear definition, which is usually a tough area for digicams. The G2 shows a very wide dynamic range, capturing most of the stronger details in the sunny bay window area (though a few are lost to the bright glare). The shadow areas under the porch and in the shade of the tree (at right) show strong detail, with the brick and shrubbery patterns clear and distinct. The table below shows our resolution and quality series, followed by ISO, contrast, sharpness, and saturation series.
We're not sure exactly how the G2's contrast adjustment works. While it does seem to affect the apparent contrast of the scene, it doesn't seem to have a lot of effect on highlights and shadows. We're accustomed to using dialed-down contrast settings to help preserve highlight detail, but the highlights in all three shots here are very similar. It does appear though, that a combination of lower contrast and a slight negative exposure compensation would have the effect we normally look for. For normal shooting though, Canon's adjustment is probably preferable: It increases or decreases "snap" without affecting the exposure itself very much.
The G2's sharpness adjustments are just right (In Our Humble Opinion) - The "Low" really seems to turn off the sharpening entirely, while the "High" boosts sharpening over the default without going overboard. The default value gives very nice results, with little visible "Halo" around fine details.
The G2's saturation adjustment also covers a nice range, although we'd really like to see more than three settings. Three settings are pretty common, but we've found that saturation is a parameter that people can profitably "tweak" to suit their own shooting preference, if they have more steps in the range. Such fine tweaking of saturation is more of a preference that you'd dial into the camera once, and then leave as the default. Not a common requirement, but the more "pro" users would definitely benefit from this.
|Lens Zoom Range
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle, the lens at full 3x telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 3.6x digital zoom enabled. The G2's lens covers a range equivalent to a 34-102mm zoom on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Poster (2515 k)
For this test, we shot with the Auto
(2515 k), Daylight (2469 k), and Manual
(2470 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting as the most
accurate. Both Daylight and Auto white balances produced similar, slightly
warm images, while the Manual setting resulted in a cool image with very
pale skin tones. Overall color and skin tones look best with the Auto
white balance. Color is about right, with an accurate blue on the Oriental
model's robe (though it does have a slight purplish tint in the darker
areas, which is a common problem among digicams). Resolution is high,
with good detail.
|Macro Shot (2282
The G2 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 2.75 x 2.06 inches (69.89 x 52.42 millimeters). Great color and resolution, with clear details on the dollar bill and coins. The brooch is soft due to a limited depth of field, and we also noticed some corner softness. Barrel distortion is also visible in closeups like this. The G2's flash (2055 k) had some trouble throttling down for the macro area, due to the very close shooting distance.
Test Target (1345 k)
We shot samples of this target using the Auto (1353 k), Daylight (1351 k), and Manual (1345 k) white balance settings, choosing the Manual setting for our main shot. Auto produced very accurate results as well (though slightly warmer), and the Daylight setting resulted in a warm image. The target shows excellent tonal range on the Q60 chart and in the grayscales, a characteristic we really like to see, as it means you'll capture more usable image info with each shot. Color is very good, with nearly accurate saturation. The shadow area shows strong detail, with moderately low noise, and the highlight areas have strong detail as well. Out of curiosity, we also snapped images with the Fluorescent (1362 k) and Warm Fluorescent (1343 k) white balance settings, which also produced nearly accurate results. Following are ISO, contrast, and saturation series.
A really exceptional performance: The G2's full manual exposure control and maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds provide the camera with excellent low-light capabilities. The G2 produced clear, bright, usable images down to about 1/16 foot-candle (or 0.67 lux) at all four ISO settings. Color is excellent, as is overall brightness (even at the ISO 50 setting!). The G2 automatically employs a Noise Reduction system at its slower shutter speeds, which does an excellent job of reducing image noise at low light levels. At ISO 400, noise is a little high, but the grain pattern is small and tight. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
|Flash Range Test
In our testing, the G2's flash illuminated our test target all the way out to 14 feet, though it was brightest from eight to 10 feet. Intensity decreased with each foot of distance from 11 to 14 feet. Below is our flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target. We'd rate flash range as about 10-11 feet.
|ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test (1552 k)
The G2 performed very well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 1,100 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines.
Optical distortion on the G2 is a bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where we measured did even better, as we measured only a half-pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration is almost nonexistent, showing only about two or three very faint pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) Overall, an excellent performance from the G2's lens!
Resolution Series, Wide Angle:
Resolution Test, Telephoto
As noted before, we like the G2's in-camera sharpening options. The normal sharpness setting does a good job, and the "Low" setting seems to correspond to no sharpening at all, our preference for "low" settings.
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
The G2's optical viewfinder is a little tight, showing approximately 86 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and approximately 83 percent accuracy at telephoto. The LCD monitor performed much better, though it's actually just a hair loose. Our standard lines of measurement were just barely outside of the final frame, so we were unable to measure the frame accuracy. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the G2's LCD monitor does a great job. Just remember to add a little extra space vertically when framing with the LCD monitor. Flash distribution appears even at both wide-angle and telephoto lens settings, with just a slight amount of falloff at wide-angle in the corners.