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Canon PowerShot G1

Canon combines dead-easy auto shooting, full manual control, and excellent image quality in a killer3 megapixel!

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 10/28/2000

With dimensions similar to many film-based, point-and-shoot 35mm cameras, the Canon PowerShot G1 is relatively compact and portable. It measures 4.7 x 3.0 x 2.5 inches (119.7 x 76.8 x 63.8mm) and weighs approximately 14.8 ounces (420 grams) without batteries, making it just slightly larger and heavier than the small- to mid-size point-and-shoots. It fits easily into a large coat pocket or purse, and the half-inch neck strap makes toting it around much more convenient.

The front of the camera includes the lens, optical viewfinder window, built-in flash, autofocus assist light, microphone, and remote control sensor. The 3X zoom lens telescopes out from the camera body when the G1 is powered on, and retracts when the camera is powered off. The lens is protected by a small plastic lens cap, tethered to the camera body with an attached cord. The microphone, barely visible next to the camera lens, records sound to accompany in-camera movies. A small, rubber finger grip on the front of the camera is positioned to counterbalance a curved, molded thumb grip on the back. Both are critical, as they are the only built-in design features provided to help you hold onto the camera body.

On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the back) is the single eyelet for attaching the neck strap, and a sliding chamber door to access the CompactFlash slot, which accommodates both Type I and II CompactFlash cards. The opposite side of the camera has a manual focus button, speaker, and an A/V Out jack in clear view, with the USB and DC-In jacks covered by a soft rubber flap that pulls outward from the camera and then slides out of the way.

The G1's top panel features a small status display window; an external flash hot shoe; a Main (lower) dial with a Shooting (or record) position, Off setting, Replay (or playback) position, and PC Connection mode; a Mode (upper) dial, with shooting and exposure options; a zoom control; a shutter button; and a Continuos Drive/Self-Timer/Wireless Controller button. The status display panel is always appreciated, as it reports camera settings and other miscellaneous information, without the need for powering up the LCD monitor. Positioning the exposure mode dial on top of the power switch, is a configuration we have been seeing more of lately. We are accustomed to the power control as a function of the mode dial, but this configuration works as well. The only troublesome thing we noticed is that the power switch is a little hard to control when turning the camera off. It seemed that we always wound up pushing the dial too far - all the way to the Replay mode setting - and had to switch it back the other way. We eventually discovered that a two-finger approach was necessary to control the dial's movement.

The majority of the exposure controls are located on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. The G1's eye-level optical viewfinder features a diopter adjustment switch and two LEDs that report camera status. We were intrigued by the camera’s LCD panel, which pops out of the camera back and folds forward to face the front of the camera. It also swivels around 270 degrees, to accommodate several shooting angles, and the monitor screen can be turned around and popped back into the panel face-down, protecting it from accidental scratches and fingerprints. A raised thumb grip, just to the left of the Omni selector arrow pad, provides counter support to the rubber finger grip on the front of the camera, affording a reasonably secure hold.

Other camera controls on the back panel include the Menu, Set, and Display buttons; an Auto Exposure (AE) and Flash Exposure (FE) lock; dual-function buttons for Spot Metering/Enlarge, Macro mode/Jump, and Flash mode/Index Control; and a four-function button for controlling Exposure Compensation/White Balance/Auto Exposure Bracketing/and Flash Exposure compensation. This last control is by far the most complicated of the group; however, each of its functions is related to exposure, and therefore uses the -2 to +2 EV bar to make its adjustments (with the exception of the white balance bar, which gives you a choice of seven light-quality options). The first function, exposure compensation, is activated with one press of the button; the white balance is activated by pressing the button twice, and so on. And like many digicam models, the dual-function buttons perform their first functions in capture mode and their second functions in playback mode.

The G1's bottom panel is reasonably flat, with a sliding door to the battery compartment and a threaded metal tripod mount. The tripod mount is positioned off-center (to the left of the lens), presumably to compensate for the extra weight of the battery compartment. Because the battery door and tripod mount are so close to one another, it would be difficult to make quick battery changes while working with a tripod.

Accompanying the camera is a small infrared remote control with a working range of up to 16.4 feet (5 meters). By activating the Continuous/Self-Timer/Wireless Controller button in Shooting mode, you can use the remote to fire the shutter, adjust the optical zoom, or scroll through the LCD display screens without coming in contact with the camera body. This works well with the rotating LCD monitor, because you can mount the camera on a tripod and compose the subject while standing in front of the camera. The remote also offers several playback functions which are useful when viewing images on a television screen. The Index display and Replay zoom buttons on the bottom of the remote enable you to view up to nine thumbnail images at a time, or enlarge one captured image on the LCD monitor. The four arrow buttons on the remote give you the same capabilities as the Omni selector arrow pad on the back of the camera, permitting you to scroll through stored images or maneuver within a larger one. Depressing the remote's shutter button while in Replay mode lets you play movie files on the camera's monitor or television. We were glad to see the inclusion of this simple gadget as a standard feature, especially with the G1's video capabilities, which allow the camera to be used as a presentation tool.

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