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Canon PowerShot G2

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

Review First Posted: 08/16/2001

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MSRP $999 US


4 megapixel CCD (3.87 effective) for 2,272 x 1,704 pixel images
Auto, Scene Program, Program, and Manual exposure modes
Unique tilt/swivel LCD panel
Accepts Type II CF cards (MicroDrive compatible)
RGB (vs earlier CMYG) CCD filtration for improved color.


Manufacturer Overview
Canon U.S.A. has long been a dominant player in the film and digital camera markets, well-known for its high-quality optics, technical innovations, and aggressive product development. Since the beginning of this year (2001), Canon has released a full complement of new digital cameras, all designed and engineered to live up to Canon's competitive standards. On the high end, the PowerShot Pro90 IS incorporates a 3.34-megapixel CCD; 10X optical zoom lens with image stabilization; and no less than 12 (!) EOS-based shooting modes. Canon also introduced two new point-and-shoot digicams for the amateur market -- the PowerShot A10 and A20 -- identical except for their 1.3- and 2.1-megapixel CCDs, respectively. Canon also came through with two new ELPHs -- the 2.1-megapixel PowerShot S300, with a new retractable 3x zoom lens, and more recently, the PowerShot S110, with the same high-quality chip, but a shorter 2x zoom. The ultimate vacation cameras, Canon added an optional underwater housing (safe to depths of 100 feet) and a dye-sub printer kit, the CP-10 Photo Card Printer, which outputs credit-card-size prints directly from the cameras in less than 60 seconds ($199 list).

Canon's latest addition is the PowerShot G2. One of the new generation of 4-megapixel digicams, the PowerShot G2 is an excellent upgrade to Canon's popular G1 model, introduced almost year ago. The G2 offers an impressive range of automatic and manual controls, with a full Auto mode for point-and-shoot simplicity, three preset scene modes for specific shooting situations, and a full Manual mode that allows the user to select from five ISO equivalents and eight white balance settings, set the aperture and shutter speed, determine spot or center-weighted metering, and adjust image contrast, sharpness, and color saturation in-camera. Its improved manual focus function features an automatic spot enlargement area, plus an on-screen distance scale to make focusing clear and simple. You can even select which portion of the image will determine focus and spot metering readings! At less than $900, the PowerShot G2 is sure to be a hit with professionals, corporate users, advanced amateurs, and even beginning photographers who want a high-quality camera they can grow into.

High Points

Changes from the Canon PowerShot G1
As one of the most popular high-end "prosumer" digicams of the past year, many of our readers may already be quite familiar with the Canon PowerShot G1. The G2 is clearly based on the G1's design, with a very similar body design and control layout. There are a number of enhancements (beyond the obvious 4 megapixel CCD) that have been added though. We address all of these in the text of the review, but for convenience, have also listed them here, in this table we received from Canon technical manager Chuck Westfall. (Thanks, Chuck!)

Body Improvements/Differences
Enlarged Handgrip, Champagne metal cover
Standard grip,

gray metal cover

Startup screen, startup sound
Maximum Resolution
4.0 MP
3.2 MP
Resolution Settings
Large: 2272 x 1704/11.1MB

Medium1: 1600 x 1200

Medium2: 1024 x 768

Small: 640 x 480
Large: 2048 x 1536/9.0MB

Medium: 1024 x 768

Small: 640 x 480
Signal processing speed
Faster (twice as fast as G1)
Noise reduction
Battery Life
400 images/LCD on

1000 images/LCD off

300 minutes/Playback
260 images/LCD On

800 images/LCD off

160 minutes/Playback
Focusing Points
Manual Focus
Focusing area magnified on LCD monitor, numerical distance values displayed
Metering Modes
Evaluative, Centerweighted, Center Spot, Off-Center Spot
Centerweighted, Center Spot
Manual exposure mode improvements
Metering display when shutter button is pressed halfway; LCD monitor remains bright even when underexposure is set.
White Balance Modes
6 including new Fluorescent H for daylight fluorescents
Program Shift
Color Effects Mode
Movie Mode
320 x 240 — 30 sec.

160 x 120 — 120 sec.

320 x 240 — 30 sec.
Continuous Shooting Speeds
Continuous High: 2.5 fps

Continuous: 1.5 fps
Continuous: 1.7 fps
Startup time, shutter lag, etc.
Interval between frames in Single frame mode
1.6 sec.
1.8 sec.
Slow shutter speed range
15 sec.
8 sec.
High shutter speed and aperture combinations
1/640 — f/2.8~f/3.5 to f/8

1/800 — f/3.5~f/5.0 to f/8

1/1000 — f/8 only
1/640 ~ 1/1000 sec. —

f/8 only
Digital zoom function
True zoom up to 11x combined digital and optical
Digital teleconverter, either 2x or 4x for a maximum of 8x combined
Histogram display in Playback mode
Image magnification during playback
Image erase modes
Improved (fewer steps)
RemoteCapture functions
Improved: Live video can be shown on attached monitor as well as computer screen. Shutter button on camera remains functional.
Displays captured images only. Shutter can be released with computer only. Video out does not function while RemoteCapture is active.
USB Mounter for Mac OS 9.0 ~ 9.1
No (however, software itself is compatible with G1)
Direct Print mode with CP-10
Cropping in Direct Print mode
Accessory Compatibility
Same as G1 plus Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX
Wide, Tele and Macro Converters
Supplied CF Card

Executive Overview
The PowerShot G2 is an impressive update to Canon's popular 3.3-megapixel G1 model introduced in Fall 2000. Sporting a larger 4-megapixel CCD (3.87 megapixels effective) and even more advanced exposure controls than its predecessor, the G2 has added a number of new features, including longer shutter speeds (up to 15 seconds), three-point adjustable focus / spot metering area, high-frequency fluorescent white balance setting, improved manual focus utility, DPOF print compatibility, and a choice of movie resolutions.

Fortunately, the G2 also carries over all of the G1's great design elements, including the rotating LCD monitor we like so much. The monitor swings out to face the photographer, reverses and locks back into the camera's back panel (screen side up), or extends and rotates up to 270 degrees. This flexible LCD design allows the photographer to compose images while standing in front of the camera (with the remote controller or self-timer), or to hold the camera at various angles, such as overhead or waist-level. Most important is the ability to store the LCD face-down in its recessed compartment, protecting the delicate screen from fingerprints, scratches, and nose grease!

Though slightly larger than the G1 model, the G2 is still very portable, measuring only 4.7 x 2.4 x 3.2 inches (120 x 62 x 80mm) and weighing just 18 ounces (512 grams) with the battery pack and CompactFlash card installed. While this may seem a little hefty when compared to other compact digicams, the G2 is very manageable, considering the extensive features and controls it offers. It should fit easily into a large coat pocket or purse, and comes with a half-inch neck strap for added convenience. The slightly thicker body and convex front panel also provide a more substantial right hand grip than the G1.

The G2's eye-level optical viewfinder zooms along with its 3x lens and features a central autofocus / exposure target for composing images. The diopter adjustment dial on the left side of the eyepiece controls the viewfinder focus for eyeglass wearers, and two LED lights on the same side report the camera's ready status. The LCD monitor display is activated by the Display button, which also controls the monitor's information readout. When in Shooting (or Record) mode, the LCD reports the exposure mode, flash setting, single or continuous capture, metering, and quality settings. New on the G2's information display is a tiny histogram (in Replay mode) that reports the tonal distribution of the image. Any overexposed highlights flash in black and white on the screen to warn you of potential problem areas. A small status display panel on top of the camera reports settings such as file size, battery power, the number of frames remaining, and various other functions as they are enabled.

The telescoping, 3x optical 7-21mm zoom lens (equivalent to 34-102mm on a 35mm camera) offers both manual and automatic focus control. The through-the-lens (TTL) autofocus system operates in either Continuous or Single Autofocus mode, controlling how often the autofocus mechanism adjusts the focus. You can also assign the focus area to one of three points in the frame (and optionally link it to the autoexposure mechanism). Manual focus mode is accessed by holding down a button on the upper left side of the camera and adjusting the focus with the Up and Down Arrow buttons on the back of the camera. A distance scale on the LCD monitor indicates how far you are from maximum and minimum focus, reporting the distance in feet and meters. An improved Manual Focus display also enlarges the center portion of the frame, so that focus is easier to determine. Focus ranges from 2.3 feet (70cm) to infinity in normal mode, and from 2.4 inches to 2.4 feet (6 to 70cm) in Macro mode. Digital zoom is controlled through the Record menu, with enlargements to 3.6x. (Remember that digital zoom only enlarges the center portion of the CCD image, therefore compromising image quality by increasing noise and softening the image.)

The G2 provides as much or as little exposure control as you want. The main exposure modes, which Canon refers to as "Creative Zone" functions are selected using the Mode dial on top of the camera. These include: Auto, Program AE (P), Aperture-Priority (Av) , Shutter Speed-Priority (Tv), and Manual (M). Shooting in Auto mode puts the camera in charge of everything except the flash. Program AE lets the camera choose the aperture and shutter speed settings, but gives you control over all other exposure options. Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority modes allow you to set one exposure variable (aperture or shutter speed) while the camera chooses the best corresponding one. Manual mode gives you full control over all exposure controls. The camera's aperture can be set from f/2-f/8, and the shutter speed ranges from 1/1,000 to 15 seconds.

The remainder of the G2's extensive exposure controls are accessible through external control buttons or the on-screen Record menu. They include a White Balance setting with eight options: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, and Custom; adjustable ISO settings from Auto to 50, 100, 200, and 400; Exposure Compensation from -2 to +2 exposure values (EV), in one-third-step increments; Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) from +1/3, 0, and -1/3 EV to +2, 0, and -2 EV (a total of three exposures, with adjustable step sizes ranging from 1/3 to 2 EV); a choice of Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot Metering modes, and Automatic Exposure (AE) Lock. The G2's built-in flash offers five operating modes (Auto; Red-Eye Reduction-Auto; Red-Eye Reduction-Flash On; Flash On; or Flash Off) and a Flash Exposure Compensation control from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. The Flash Exposure (FE) Lock function (* button) allows you to lock the flash exposure setting for a specific portion of the frame. A hot shoe accepts either dedicated Canon strobe units, or generic "dumb" third-party flashes.

The G2 also offers several special shooting modes accessed through the Mode dial (Canon refers to these as "Image Zone" modes). They include Pan Focus, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Color, Stitch-Assist, and Movie. Pan Focus, Portrait, and Landscape all make automatic camera adjustments to optimize shooting under specific conditions. For example, the Pan Focus fixes the lens focal length to its widest angle setting and hyperfocal distance to give you maximum shutter speed and depth of field to cover unpredictable subject movement. The Portrait mode uses a large aperture to focus on the subject, while maintaining an out-of-focus background. Landscape mode slows the shutter speed and maximizes depth of field.

Night Scene mode illuminates your subject with flash and uses a slow shutter speed to evenly expose the background. The Stitch-Assist mode is Canon's version of panorama mode, in which multiple, overlapping images can be captured horizontally, vertically, or in a clockwise grouping. Images are then "stitched" together on a computer using Canon's bundled PhotoStitch software. Movie mode allows you to capture as much as two minutes of moving images and sound at approximately 15 frames per second, with a choice of 320 x 240- and 160 x 120-pixel resolution. The Color shooting mode captures images in Vivid or Neutral color, B&W, or Sepia tone.

Other special shooting modes, accessed via on-camera buttons or the Record menu, include: Macro, which allows you to photograph subjects within a range of 2.4 inches to 2.3 feet (6 to 70mm) at the maximum wide-angle setting, and from 7.9 inches to 2.3 feet (20 to 70mm) at maximum telephoto. Continuous Shooting mode captures multiple, successive still images, at about 2.5 frames per second, as long as you hold down the Shutter button. (The number of images and actual shot-to-shot speed depend on several factors, including image size/quality and the amount of memory remaining on the flash card.) There's also a High Speed Continuous Shooting mode for faster captures. The Self-Timer / Wireless Remote Control mode can be used to activate a 12-second countdown shutter-release function, as well as trigger the shutter remotely with the accompanying wireless infrared controller.

Images are saved onto CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards, with available resolution sizes of 2,272 x 1,704, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,024 x 768, or 640 x 480 pixels. Three JPEG compression levels are available, as well as a RAW data file format, which results in a higher quality image compression (Canon ZoomBrowser EX software is required to process RAW images). A USB cable is provided with the camera for speedy connection to PC or Macintosh computers, and a software CD offers an impressive selection of utilities. Canon's own Digital Camera software package includes tools for downloading and organizing images, processing RAW files, stitching images captured in Stitch-Assist mode, and a unique application that allows you to operate the camera remotely through your computer (RemoteCapture 1.1). RemoteCapture not only controls the shutter, but provides a histogram of the subject so that you can check the exposure.

US and Japanese G2 models come with an NTSC cable for connecting to a television set. (European models are equipped for the PAL standard.) Combining this video composition and playback tool with the remote control capabilities can turn the camera into a very useful presentation tool.

Power for the G2 is supplied by a rechargeable (high capacity) BP-511 lithium-ion battery pack and AC adapter, which are provided with the camera. A separate battery charger is available as an accessory, as well as an AC adapter kit, which plugs into an automobile cigarette lighter.

The G2 offers the extensive exposure controls we're accustomed to seeing in much larger digicams, with the benefit of a reasonably slim, portable camera body. The larger CCD captures bigger images with great quality, and the varying levels of exposure control provide complete flexibility. Improved exposure controls and added features make the G2 an excellent choice for any serious amateur or experienced photographer who wants a highly sophisticated and portable digicam solution. Given the success of the G1 model, we think the G2 will do extremely well.

Building upon the solid and sophisticated body design of the previously-released PowerShot G1, Canon has introduced very subtle improvements in the G2's overall body design. The slightly thicker body (approximately 0.7 inch) enables a much larger hand grip on the right side, while the champagne-toned, metal alloy casing gives the camera a warmer color tone. Measuring 4.7 x 2.4 x 3.2 inches (120 x 62 x 80mm) and weighing approximately 18 ounces (512 grams) with the battery and card, the G2 can fit into a very large coat pocket or purse, or it can be carried with the half-inch neck strap. For extended location shooting, we highly recommend investing in a small, padded camera case.


The G2's slightly convex front panel houses the lens, optical viewfinder window, built-in flash, autofocus assist light, microphone, and remote control sensor. The 3x zoom lens telescopes about an inch from the camera body when the G2 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, which is barely visible next to the camera lens, records sound to accompany in-camera movies. A thick, rounded hand grip on the right side of the camera provides a more secure grip than the previous G1, giving your fingers a larger chunk of camera to wrap around.

On the right side of the camera is a sliding chamber door that accesses the CompactFlash slot, accommodating both Type I and II CompactFlash cards. At the top of the right side is an eyelet for attaching one end of the neck strap.

The left side of the camera has a Manual Focus button, a speaker for playing back recorded sound, and an A/V Out jack -- all in clear view. The USB and DC In jacks are covered by a soft rubber flap that pulls out from the camera and then pivots out of the way. At the top of the left panel is the other neck strap attachment eyelet.

The G2's top panel features a small status display window; an external flash hot shoe; a Main (lower) Power dial with three positions: Shooting (or Record), Off, and Replay (or Playback); a Mode (upper) dial, with shooting and exposure options; a Zoom Lever; a Shutter button; and a Continuous 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 Mode dial on top of the Main power switch is an efficient configuration that is gaining popularity among many digicams lately. The only drawback we'd like to note is that both dials require a two-finger grip for turning, as they are much too hard to control with one finger or a thumb.

The majority of the exposure controls are located on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. The G2's eye-level optical viewfinder features a diopter adjustment switch on the left and two LEDs that report camera status. The swiveling LCD monitor pops out of the camera back and rotates 270 degrees when fully extended. You can fold it back into its storage compartment with the monitor facing outward or leave it extended and turn the screen to accommodate one of many different shooting angles. Finally, the monitor can be turned around and popped back into the panel face-down, protecting it from accidental scratches and fingerprints. An indented thumb grip, just to the left of the Four Way Arrow pad, provides counter support to the large hand grip on the front of the camera.

Other camera controls on the back panel include the Menu, Set, and Display buttons; a Spot Metering button; dual-function buttons for Macro / Jump modes, Multi-Function / Erase, and Flash / 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 same -2 to +2 exposure equivalent (EV) bar to make its adjustments (with the exception of the white balance bar, which gives you a choice of eight 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 primary functions in Shooting mode and their secondary functions in Replay mode.

The G2'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), most likely to allow clearance for the bottom of the lens mechanism. 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. However, the side-access of the DC In slot should remedy any power concerns when shooting in the studio.

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 Control 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 Four Way 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 a television. We were glad to see the inclusion of this simple gadget as a standard feature, especially with the G2's video capabilities, which allow the camera to be used as a presentation tool.

The G2 features both an eye-level optical viewfinder and a repositionable LCD monitor on the back of the camera for image composition. The real-image optical viewfinder zooms along with the lens (except in Digital Telephoto mode, which requires the LCD monitor), and displays a set of target crosshairs in the center of its screen. A diopter adjustment control on the left of the eyepiece adjusts the viewfinder focus for eyeglass wearers, and two LED lights report the camera's status during certain operations. For example, when you depress the Shutter button halfway, a steady green light (on top) indicates that the camera is ready to record and / or the flash charge is complete. A flashing green light indicates that an image is either being written to, read from, or erased from the CompactFlash card. A steady orange light (on top) indicates that the camera is ready to record and / or the flash is adequately charged, while a flashing orange light indicates a camera-shake warning (i.e. the shutter speed is too slow to handhold), or the battery is charging. The lower LED light glows yellow when the camera is set in Macro or Manual focus modes. We found the G2 to have a very high "eyepoint", meaning there's plenty of clearance between the viewfinder and your eyeball, allowing for even fairly thick eyeglasses.


Measuring 1.8-inches diagonally, Canon's low-temperature, polycrystalline silicon, TFT, color LCD monitor features the same smart, swiveling design we enjoyed on the G1. (And on the Pro70 before that.) The monitor's plastic casing actually pops out of the back of the camera and swings around to face forward (the same direction as the lens). From that position, the monitor can be rotated forward 180 degrees or backward 90 degrees, allowing you to hold the camera in practically any position and still see what's going on in the viewfinder. The best part of the LCD's swiveling monitor design is that it can be flipped around to face the back panel and then closed, keeping the screen safe from scratches and fingerprints.

The Display button controls the LCD monitor's image and information display. Pressed once, it activates the LCD monitor. The second press turns on the information display, which reports Exposure, Single or Continuous Shooting, Manual Focus, and Flash modes (depending upon the Shooting mode you are using), as well as Digital Zoom, when it's enabled. At the bottom of the screen are the Shutter Speed and Aperture settings, which appear only when the Shutter button is halfway depressed. The third press of the Display button cancels both displays.

A new function on the G2's LCD monitor is the improved manual focus utility. Not only does the LCD now display numbers on its distance scale, it also enlarges the center of the image, making it easier for you to accurately focus.

The G2's LCD is also used when selecting exposure compensation, white balance, flash exposure compensation, and autoexposure bracketing options. Pressing the middle button next to the LCD on the camera's rear panel cycles through displays for these functions as shown above. For each parameter, you can select the desired setting by using the left and right arrow keys on the rocker control. (A nice touch is the way the exposure bracketing and exposure compensation adjustments interact with each other, to show the net exposures that have been selected.)

In Replay (Playback) mode, the LCD monitor provides a full-frame display of captured images, which you can view individually by scrolling left or right with the arrow buttons on the Four Way Arrow pad. Depressing the Flash / Index button brings up a thumbnail index display of nine images at a time, which you can also scroll through with the arrow buttons. The zoom control on top of the camera activates the G2's Digital Enlargement mode, which allows you to enlarge an image 3x and 6x its normal size on the screen. (Another enhancement over the G1, which has playback magnifications of only 2.5 and 5.0x.) The arrow keys permit you to move around the image and check the fine details.

In Playback mode, one press of the Display button pulls up detailed information about the captured image, including the file name, date, and time it was recorded, compression, resolution, and what number it is in the sequence of captured images. Depressing the Display button twice adds exposure information such as the Image Zone (portrait, landscape, etc.), Shutter Speed, Aperture, Exposure Compensation, and White Balance. Included in this extended information display is a small histogram, which plots the tonal distribution of the image in a graph. Histograms are useful tools for checking exposure, as they report the distribution of highlights, shadows, and midtones. In this same display, the overexposed section of the image flashes black and white, indicating that you need to adjust the exposure. A third press of the Display button turns off the information display, returning the LCD to the main image display mode.

The G2 features a built-in, 3x, 7-21mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 34-102mm lens on a 35mm camera). When the camera is powered on, the lens telescopes out from the camera body into its operating position, then retracts again when the camera is shut off. A plastic lens cap protects the lens when not in use, and features a small tether to attach it to the camera body. Focus can be automatically or manually controlled, with a range of 2.3 feet (70cm) to infinity in Normal Focus mode. Macro mode features a focus range of 2.4 inches to 2.4 feet (6 to 70cm). The aperture adjusts automatically or manually, with an f/2-f/8 range, depending on the zoom setting.

Manual focus is activated by depressing the Manual Focus (MF) button on the left side of the camera. As it's held down, a distance indicator appears on the LCD monitor, providing a reference scale for focusing. The Up and Down arrows of the Four Way Arrow pad control the focus on the monitor. The focus distance is reported in meters and feet, or centimeters and inches, depending on the range. We loved the new digital enlargement feature that assists the manual focus operation. As soon as you press the Up or Down arrows to adjust focus (while holding down the MF button), an enlarged portion of the subject appears in the center of the LCD display, making it easier to determine exact focus.

When shooting in Autofocus mode, the G2 offers both Continuous and Single Autofocus functions. In Continuous mode, the camera is constantly adjusting focus, even when the Shutter button is not depressed halfway. In Single mode, the camera focuses only when the Shutter button is depressed halfway, which helps to conserve battery power. A Pan focus mode is also provided as a preset exposure on the Mode dial. It fixes the lens at the widest possible angle, allowing you to photograph at any distance (25.6 inches or 65cm to infinity), without having to refocus on close-up or faraway subjects. This mode is great for fast-paced action, when subjects are in constant motion.

New to the G2 is the ability to select one of three main focus areas. Pressing the Set button while in Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, or Manual Exposure modes displays three outline squares across the center of the LCD monitor. The Right and Left arrow keys allow you to select one of the three boxes, which when highlighted, turn from a white outline to green. The green box then becomes the primary focus area. Press the Set button again to eliminate the two boxes that are not highlighted, and the square turns white again. Once the focus point is set and the picture is framed, pressing the Shutter button halfway will turn the box green if the selected area is in focus and yellow if it's not. Through the Record menu, you can apply this same point selection option to the Spot Metering mode using the Spot AE Point submenu.

Digital Zoom is activated through the camera's Record menu and is controlled with the same controls as the optical zoom. The amount of zoom is reported in the top right corner of the LCD monitor, and can go as high as 3.6x depending on the image pixel size. Digital Zoom is not available when shooting with the G2's Movie mode, or when using the RAW file format. (It's important to note that digital zoom simply enlarges the center of the CCD image, resulting in some loss of image quality in the form of increased noise or reduced image sharpness.) The G2's digital zoom operates differently than that on the G1, and indeed, differently than that on most Canon digicams. The G1 and most other Canon digicams have a "digital telextender" function, in which the digital zoom kicks in in increments of 2x. (That is, it goes directly from no digital zoom to 2x digital zoom, with no fractional magnification values in between.) In contrast, the G2's digital zoom operates smoothly, producing a continuous zoom range up to 11x, working in cooperation with the 3x optical zoom lens.

Like the G1, the G2 accommodates several optional lens converters with a lens adapter kit, so you can extend your camera's telephoto capabilities with high-quality optics instead of software interpolation. Options include a wide-angle WC-DC58 conversion lens, which augments the lens focal length by a factor of 0.8; a teleconverter TC-DC58, which increases the lens' focal length by a factor of 1.5; and a close-up lens 250D, which brings the camera's focusing range down to 4.7-7.9 inches (12-20cm) in Macro mode. A small ring around the outside of the lens unscrews, revealing a threaded mount for the adapter kit.

Confused by Apertures and Depth of Field? - Do you know how to use "Front Focus" or "Back Focus" to get *all* your subject in focus? Visit our free Photo Lessons area and click on the lessons "Focusing Up Close" and "Selective Focusing Outside!"

Confused by White Balance? Visit our free Photo Lessons area and click on the lessons "White Balance Indoors" and "White Balance Outdoors!"
The G2 offers excellent exposure control, with Automatic (AUTO), Program AE (P), Shutter Speed Priority (Tv), Aperture Priority (Av), and Manual (M) exposure modes, as well as a handful of special settings for specific shooting situations. Under the Automatic exposure mode, the camera controls both shutter speed and aperture settings, giving you control of digital telephoto, flash, compression, and image resolution. The Program AE mode also takes control of the shutter speed and aperture settings, but allows you to adjust all other exposure controls, including ISO, Exposure Compensation, Flash, Flash Exposure Compensation, Light Metering, AE lock, Auto Exposure Bracketing, White Balance, Contrast, Sharpness, and Color Saturation.

Shutter Priority mode puts you in control of the shutter speed setting (from 1/1,000 to 15 seconds), while the camera chooses a corresponding lens aperture. As with the Program AE mode, you maintain control over all other exposure options. Aperture Priority works along similar lines, except that you control the aperture (f/2 to f/8) and the camera chooses the best shutter speed. Both the shutter speed and aperture values are displayed on the LCD monitor. If the camera doesn't agree with the exposure settings you've selected, the LCD indicators will turn red (when you half press the Shutter button), letting you know that either the aperture or shutter speed needs to be corrected.

The shutter speed range on the G2 is expanded over that of the G1 in several respects. First, the maximum exposure time has been nearly doubled, from 8 to 15 seconds. Second, the high shutter speed/aperture combinations have been considerably extended. The G1 could only use the shutter speeds between 1/640 and 1/1000 at an aperture of f/8. With the G2, the 1/640 speed can be used with apertures ranging from f/2.8-f/3.5 through f/8, the 1/800 speed with apertures ranging from f/3.5-f/5.0 to f/8, and the 1/1000 speed with f/8 only.

Several preset exposure modes are also available for shooting under special conditions. Pan Focus mode sets the camera lens at maximum wide-angle, so your subjects will be in focus close-up and faraway (25.6 inches or 65cm to infinity). Portrait mode uses a large aperture setting to reduce the depth of field, resulting in blurred backgrounds and strong focal emphasis on the primary subject. Landscape mode uses a small aperture to keep both the foreground and background in sharp focus. A slow shutter speed is also common in Landscape mode, so it's recommended that you use a tripod.

Night Scene mode uses a slow shutter speed to capture the color and detail of an evening setting, along with a flash exposure to illuminate the primary subject in the foreground. When slow shutter speed and flash are used together, the overall scene is more evenly exposed. This mode can also be combined with the Red-Eye Reduction flash for portraits. A tripod is also recommended when working in Night Scene mode, and portrait subjects should be warned to stay still after the flash, until the shutter is closed. Color mode offers a range of color saturation settings for capturing images, either Vivid, Neutral, Black and White, or Sepia. (This last is a new feature on the G2, not present on the G1.)

A quick-review mode allows you to confirm the recorded image immediately after exposure. To access the Review mode, you simply continue to hold down the Shutter button after the exposure. Or, you can turn on the Review function through the Record menu, which displays the image for either 2 or 10 seconds. You can immediately erase the image by pressing the "*" button, which pulls up a small erase menu on the bottom of the monitor. Press the Right arrow button to highlight "OK" and press the Set button to complete the erasure.

Exposure compensation can be adjusted from –2 to +2 exposure values (EV) in one-third-step increments. The camera's metering system offers two operating modes: Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot Metering. Center-weighted averaging is based on an averaged reading of the overall scene, plus a reading from the center of the viewfinder or LCD monitor. Spot metering reads only the center of the image—that area that falls within the crosshairs of the viewfinder or within the small square that pops up on the LCD monitor when you press the Spot Meter button. Spot metering is useful when you're shooting under backlit conditions. In these situations, you can use the spot meter to obtain a reading of the area you want properly exposed, then lock the exposure with the AE Lock function, (activated by pressing the "*" button on the back panel), and recompose your shot for the final exposure. (Note: depressing any other button on the camera will disengage the Spot Metering function.)

Through the Record menu (Spot AE Point submenu), you can also link the Spot Metering area to one of three adjustable focus points, selectable by pressing the Set button in Program, Tv, Av, or Manual Shooting modes (with the Record Menu turned off). The focus points are displayed as outlined boxes lined up horizontally across the screen. The Right and Left Arrow keys allow you to select one of the three boxes, which when highlighted, turns from a white outline to green.The green box then becomes the primary metering area. Press the Set button again to eliminate the two boxes that are not highlighted, and the square turns white again, until you depress the Shutter button halfway. When the exposure and focus are set, the outline turns green. If there is a problem with setting the exposure or focus, the outline turns yellow. When the Spot AE Point option of "AF Point" is selected, and the spot metering option is activated, the AF box acquires a set of inner brackets indicating that spot metering is active, and that the AF box is where the metering is being done. If the Spot AE Point is set to "Center", the white brackets will appear in the center of the LCD screen, indicating that this is where the Spot AE metering is being done.

The G2 offers eight White Balance modes, including Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H (for daylight-balanced fluorescents), Flash, and Custom. The Custom mode allows you to manually set the white balance by holding a white card in front of the camera and pressing the "*" button to set the value. ISO film speed equivalents are set in the Record menu, with a choice of Auto, 50, 100, 200, or 400 ISO values. The higher the ISO setting, the more you can extend the camera's exposure range in low-light situations. Just keep in mind that higher ISO values have slightly lower quality levels. Other manual exposure adjustments in the Record menu include Sharpness, Contrast, and Saturation controls.

The G2's built-in flash operates in one of five modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction (Auto), Red-Eye Reduction (Flash On), Flash On, and Flash Off. The Auto mode enables the camera to determine when flash is necessary, based on existing lighting conditions. Flash On means that the flash fires with every exposure, regardless of lighting conditions, and Flash Off completely disables the flash. The two Red-Eye Reduction modes fire a small pre-flash before the full flash, to reduce the red-eye effect in portraits. All flash modes are accessed by pressing the Flash / Index button to the left of the optical viewfinder.

The amount of flash power can be adjusted from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments by the using the four-function Exposure Compensation button on the camera's back panel. (Depressing the button four times cycles to the Flash Exposure Compensation adjustment.) You can also lock the Flash Exposure Setting (FE Lock) for a specific area of your subject, just as you would with a normal exposure. Simply center the portion of the subject you want to have metered and press the "*" button to lock the flash exposure. The flash will fire a pre-flash to lock the exposure reading, then you can recompose your image and make the exposure with the FE Lock in place. (Note: Pressing any other button after the "*" button will cancel the flash exposure lock.) Canon rates the G2's flash effectiveness from 2.3 to 14.8 feet (70cm to 4.5m). (We didn't test the flash power on our prototype unit, as this sometimes changes in production models. We'll perform our own tests once we receive an initial production unit.)

In addition to its built-in flash, the G2 features a hot shoe for mounting more powerful external flash units. Canon recommends using its own Speedlight 220EX, 380EX, 420EX, or 550EX models, but other manufacturers' models should work as well. The instruction manual notes that when using another manufacturer's flash unit with the G2, the maximum shutter speed for flash synchronization is 1/125 second. (The onboard flash syncs to a maximum shutter speed of 1/250 second.) New with the G2 is automatic Speedlight EX recognition in Aperture-Priority mode. When the camera senses that a Canon external flash is mounted and in ready mode, it automatically sets the shutter speed at 1/60 second. Note though, that the G2 must be in full manual mode to use with other brands of flash units. (Since the Aperture Priority mode will normally select a very slow shutter speed when an "unrecognized" flash unit is attached.)

Another new enhancement in the G2 is that (thanks to the aforementioned aperture-priority behavior) it is now compatible with Canon's Macro Ring Lite, model number MR-14EX. Ring lights are great for evenly illuminating close-in macro subjects, and the availability of one for the G2 is a decided plus for many potential industrial and medical applications.

Auto Exposure Bracketing
The Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) mode is the third function controlled by the Exposure Compensation button on the G2's back panel. It automatically captures a series of three images, each at a different exposure setting. You can manually set the exposure step size in one-third-step increments, covering a range from -2 to +2 EV, by depressing the Exposure Compensation button three times to activate the mode and using the arrow buttons to choose the amount of variation between exposures. Depress the Set button, then fully depress the Shutter button to start the series. The camera makes all three exposures with just one press of the Shutter button. This function cannot be used with flash photography. If the flash fires, only one image will be recorded.

Continuous Shooting
Controlled by the Continuous / Self-Timer / Wireless Remote button on top of the camera, the G2's Continuous Shooting mode captures multiple consecutive pictures at up to 1.35 frames per second (fps). (Canon rates this option's speed at 1.5 frames/second, but 1.35 fps was the fastest we measured in our own tests.) This frame-capture rate may vary, depending on image quality, functions in use, and the amount of internal memory available (1.35 fps is based on a "Small" image quality setting, "Economy" JPEG compression, and the LCD monitor and flash turned off. This rate decreases to 1.03 frames/second for "Large/Fine" settings.). The G2 will continue to capture images as long as the Shutter button is depressed, or until the camera's internal memory fills up. We noticed one slightly odd behavior with the G2's continuous shooting mode however: The interval between the first and second shot of the series is always about 0.1 - 0.15 seconds longer than subsequent ones, regardless of the size or quality setting being used.

Through the Record menu, you can also select a High Speed Continuous Shooting mode. In this mode, the capture rate is much faster than normal Continuous Shooting (approximately 2.7 fps in our measurements, rated at 2.5 fps by Canon).

We were puzzled by the difference between the two Continuous Shooting modes, and so asked Canon what the difference was. It apparently has to do with how the camera manages its buffer memory and CPU activity. Both continuous modes capture data directly to the buffer memory, but the "standard" continuous mode does some amount of the signal processing on the fly. The result is that cycle times in normal mode are slower, but the camera can record longer bursts before having to pause to empty its buffer. High Speed continuous mode captures more quickly, but doesn't do the processing on the fly, with the result that fewer shots can fit in the buffer memory before having to empty it.

Movie Mode
The G2 also offers a Movie mode, which is accessed by turning the Mode dial on top of the camera to the miniature movie camera symbol (a camera will appear in the upper left corner of the LCD display). The AVI / Motion JPEG files are recorded at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels, at approximately 15 frames per second. (This is an enhancement over the G1, which had only the 320x240 size available.) Recordings can last as long as two minutes, depending on the amount of memory available on the CompactFlash card and the resolution setting. (Max record time in 320x240 mode is 30 seconds, the two minute recording time is possible only in 160x120 mode.) To begin recording, you simply press the Shutter button all the way down and hold it there until the red circle in the upper right corner of the LCD disappears. The flashing green LED light next to the eye-level viewfinder indicates that the camera is storing the movie. When finished, you can view the recording by switching the camera's Main dial to the blue Replay symbol, scrolling to the last frame of the movie with the arrow buttons, and depressing the Set button. The camera will play back both moving images and sound. (Note that the recording options are largely preset in Movie mode: JPEG encoding, Resolution, Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and Manual Focus are the only adjustable functions.)

Stitch-Assist Mode
The Stitch-Assist mode records a series of overlapping images that can be stitched together to create horizontal or vertical panoramas or stacked, 2 x 2-frame rectangular composites. A framing guideline for each format appears in the LCD monitor to help line up successive shots. For the horizontal and vertical panoramas, you can take as many images in a series as you want, enabling you to record a full 360-degree circle of the surrounding scenery. The 2 x 2 mode uses a series of only four images, starting from the top left corner and moving in a clockwise direction, to create a complete composite. Once the images are downloaded, you can use Canon's PhotoStitch program to seamlessly combine the images in your computer.

Self-Timer Mode
The Self-Timer button on top of the camera also controls the Continuous Shooting and Remote operating modes. When set to the Self-Timer / Wireless mode, the camera displays the standard self-timer icon (a clock counting down) in the LCD display, and the self-timer icon with a remote (radar) symbol in the LED panel on top of the camera. When in Self-Timer mode, depressing the Shutter button activates a 12-second countdown, during which a bright blue lamp on the camera's front panel blinks, gaining speed in the last two seconds. If the camera's Beep function is turned on in the Setup menu, you will also hear the beep counting down. While in Self-Timer mode, you can also trigger a two-second countdown by pressing the Shutter button on the remote control.

Remote Sensor/Transmitter

The G2's Wireless Remote Control allows you to trigger a two-second self-timer countdown from as far away as 16.4 feet (5 meters) in front of the camera. It can also be used to adjust the optical zoom lens with its two Zoom buttons, and activate the LCD monitor with its Display button. By rotating the LCD monitor so that it faces you (or the subject), you can use the Zoom buttons to compose the image and the Display button to scroll through the G2's LCD information screen to check exposure settings. In Replay mode, the remote control can be used to scroll through stored images, scroll around areas within a magnified image, view an index of up to nine captures, and replay movies.

Shutter Lag/Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a digital camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms to do their work and can amount to a significant delay in some situations. Since this number is rarely reported by manufacturers or reviewers, and can significantly affect the picture-taking experience, Imaging Resource now measures shutter lag and cycle times using a proprietary electronic test setup.


PowerShot G2 Timings
Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot
Time from power-up to first shot. Somewhat slower than average.
Time for lens to retract
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Somewhat slower than average.
Record to play (max/min res)

Top times are for max res JPEGs, bottom times for min res. First time in each pair is for immediate switch to play mode after shutter release, second time is for switch after camera has processed the last frame and saved to memory.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
1.30 - 0.88
Longer time is for telephoto, shorter for wide angle. Both figures are a bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, manual focus
A bit slower than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
MUCH faster than average. (Good for sports?)
Cycle Time, max/min resolution


First number is for large/fine files, second for small/economy. Last time is for full res CCD RAW files. (Delay of 5.0 seconds between second and third RAW shots though.) Overall, quite fast.
(NOTE - These times are slower than Canon's specs for this camera, we'll re-test when we receive our production unit.)
Cycle time, continuous mode
1.04/1.36 fps

2.46/2.68 fps
Quite fast. First set of numbers are for max/min res in "normal" continuous mode, second set are the same for "high speed" continuous mode.


Overall, the PowerShot G2 is a just a shade slower than many of its contemporaries. It starts up and shuts down a bit slower, and the more critical shutter lag and cycle time numbers are a bit off those of its fastest competitors. Where it really shines though, is in the prefocus shutter delay, which is less than a tenth of a second, blazingly fast by any standard. - Despite its slower than average autofocus speed, the ultrafast prefocus shutter lag could make the G2 a contender for some sports shooting. (Provided that it was such that you could prefocus and let the action come to you.) Not bad overall though, particularly for a four megapixel camera. The 2.3 second cycle time for maximum resolution & quality is very competitive.

Operation and User Interface
Like its predecessor, the G1, the Canon G2's combination of control buttons and dials may seem a little complicated at first glance, but once we became familiar with the features, we actually found the user interface to be very intuitive. We generally prefer to change as many exposure settings as possible without resorting to the LCD menu, and the G2 provides a fair amount of external control. The camera controls are somewhat spread out, but it's possible to operate the camera one-handed and still access the majority of the buttons (we wouldn't recommend it unless you're working at fast shutter speeds or with a flash). We appreciated the small status display panel on top of the camera, which allows you to check current camera settings without having to activate the LCD monitor (a nice battery conservation feature). We also enjoyed shooting with the rotating LCD screen, which made composing shots from odd angles a lot easier to manage. The ability to flip the monitor all the way around to face the back panel was great for keeping fingerprints and smudges off of the screen when handling the camera.

The new, larger hand grip was a real bonus, as it provided a much firmer hold on the camera. The only control features we had a hard time operating were the Main Power and Mode dials, which were difficult to turn with just one finger or thumb (especially one-handed). We found the force required to turn the Main dial from the Shooting mode to the Off position frequently pushed it beyond the target setting and on to the Replay mode. A two-finger approach worked much better. Take note that when using the Mode dial, the settings align with a very small and inconspicuous marker jutting from the base of the flash hot shoe mount (on the left side of the dial), which is easy to miss if you're not paying attention.

Control Enumeration

Zoom Toggle: Encircling the Shutter button on top of the camera is a toggle switch that controls the optical zoom in any Record mode. Pushing it to the left gives you the wide-angle setting and pushing it to the right zooms into telephoto.

In Replay mode, this toggle switch controls the digital enlargement, allowing you to enlarge captured images as much as 5x to examine fine details.

Shutter Button: In the center of the Zoom toggle switch is the Shutter button. When halfway depressed, it sets focus and exposure; when fully depressed, it trips the shutter release. In the Self-Timer / Wireless mode (see below), fully depressing the Shutter button triggers a 12-second countdown before the shutter is released. Holding the button down after an exposure displays the captured image on the LCD monitor for as long as you hold it down. You can also program the camera to provide an automatic 2- or 10-second display of the captured image by setting the Review value in the Record menu.

Continuous / Self-Timer / Wireless Controller Button: Located just behind the Shutter button and Zoom toggle switch, this button cycles between the Continuous Shooting, Self-Timer / Wireless Control, and Single frame recording modes.

Mode Dial: To the left of the Continuous / Self-Timer button, and sitting on top of the camera's power control, this notched dial is used to select the camera's shooting modes. Canon divides these functions into two categories: Image Zone and Creative Zone. Their options are as follows:

Creative Zone

Image Zone

Main / Power Dial: Located directly beneath the Exposure Mode dial, this larger notched dial controls the camera's operating mode. The following options are available:

Four Way Arrow Pad: Positioned in the top right corner of the back panel, this rocker pad features four arrows, one in each direction (up, down, left, right). In any settings menu, these arrows navigate through menu options. In shooting modes, the Left and Right arrows work in conjunction with several exposure controls to adjust settings. When Manual Focus is enabled, the Up and Down Arrows manually adjust focus. In Manual exposure mode, the Left and Right Arrows set the shutter speed, while the Up and Down Arrows set the lens aperture. In Aperture and Shutter-Speed priority modes, the Left and Right Arrows adjust the designated exposure variable. When using the four-function Exposure Compensation button, the arrows help you select the exposure variation in the three Exposure Compensation functions, and scrolls through the eight available White Balance settings.

In Replay mode, the Right and Left Arrows scroll through captured images. When the playback zoom feature is enabled, all four arrows allow you to move around within the enlarged image to examine fine details.

Menu Button: Just beneath the Four Way Arrow pad is the Menu button, which calls up the settings menus on the LCD display in all camera modes. A second press of the Menu button cancels the menu display.

Set Button: To the left of the Menu button, this button confirms or sets any on-screen menu selections. Pressing this button outside of a settings menu in Record mode allows you to set the focus / spot metering area, either in the center of the image, or to the left or right.

In Replay mode, it sets menu options and plays back movie files.

* Button: Located to the right of the LCD monitor, this button serves as the Auto Exposure (AE) and Flash Exposure (FE) Lock button in Record mode.

When the Quick Review mode is active or in Replay mode, pressing this button pulls up an erase menu for erasing the displayed image.

Exposure Compensation Button: Immediately below the * button, this four-function button scrolls through four shooting adjustments: Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Flash Exposure Compensation, and Auto Exposure Bracketing. When set on Exposure Compensation (press the button one time), you can use the right and left arrow buttons to control the exposure compensation from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. The White Balance setting (press two times) lets you choose the White Balance value from Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash, and Custom options. Flash Exposure Compensation (press three times) works similarly to the standard Exposure Compensation function, by adjusting the flash intensity from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. Finally, the Auto Exposure Bracketing mode allows you to take a series of three images at different exposure variations.

Display Button: Just below the Exposure Compensation button, the Display button controls the LCD monitor's display mode. In Record mode, this button turns on the image display with the first press, activates the information display with the second press, and cancels both with the third press.

In Replay mode, the button cycles through the captured image information displays, including a detailed information display with a histogram.

Macro / Jump Button: Located over the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button accesses the Macro function when the camera is in Record mode.

In Replay mode, it pulls up the "jump bar." When the jump bar is displayed, the right and left arrow buttons jump either nine images forward or nine images backward.

Metering Button: To the left of the Macro / Jump button, this control places the camera in either Spot or Center-Weighted Averaging metering modes when the camera is in Record mode.

Diopter Adjustment Lever: Located on the left side of the optical viewfinder eyepiece, in a recessed niche, this lever adjusts the optical viewfinder's focus to accommodate eyeglass wearers.

Flash / Index Display Button: Positioned in the very top left corner of the back panel, this button cycles through the Automatic, Red-Eye Reduction (Auto), Red-Eye Reduction (Flash On), Flash On, and Flash Off internal flash modes.

In Replay mode, this button displays up to nine images at a time, in a thumbnail index format, on the LCD screen.

Manual Focus Button (MF): Located on the speaker side of the camera (closest to the lens), this button puts the camera into Manual Focus mode, or returns it to Autofocus, when in Record mode.

Battery Cover Lock: This sliding latch is located on the bottom panel of the camera, next to the battery compartment door. Sliding the switch locks and unlocks the battery compartment.

Camera Modes and Menus
The G2 has two Mode Dials on the camera's top panel. The top dial controls the Shooting modes, with five Creative Zone options -- Auto, Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual -- and six Image Zone options -- Pan Focus, Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Color, Stitch-Assist, and Movie (see descriptions under "Control Enumerations"). The bottom dial serves as the main power switch, with Shooting, Off, and Replay options. The Record menu is available in all Shooting modes, with variations in submenus depending on the exposure options. The Setup menu is accessed in either Shooting or Playback modes. The Play menu is available only in Replay mode.

Record Menu (Red): With the exception of the Auto exposure mode and most of the Image Zone exposure functions, the Record menu provides virtually the same options for all exposure modes. These menus are accessed by depressing the Menu button once while in a Shooting mode. Following are the available settings:

Setup Menu (Yellow): The Setup menu provides universal camera control options that remain the same in both Shooting and Replay modes, with the exception of shutter and speaker volume (see below). This menu is accessed by depressing the Menu button once and scrolling to the right with the Right Arrow button. Following are the available settings:

Play Menu (Blue): This menu is only available in the Replay mode. It allows you to scroll through captured images; erase, protect, and rotate them; or set them up in a slide show or for printing on a DPOF compatible device. The Play menu offers the following selections:

Image Storage and Interface
The G2 uses CompactFlash memory cards for image storage, accommodating both Type I and II card sizes. This means that the camera is also able to store images to an IBM MicroDrive for increased storage capacity. A 32MB CompactFlash Type I memory card is supplied with the camera. Entire CompactFlash cards cannot be write-protected, however, the G2's Play menu allows you to write-protect individual image files, protecting them from accidental erasure, unless the card is formatted.

Still images can be saved at one of four resolutions (2,272 x 1,704, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,024 x 768, or 640 x 480 pixels), while movies are recorded at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels. Still images also have three JPEG compression levels available: Superfine, Fine, and Normal, plus a RAW setting that records the image straight from the CCD, without any processing. The benefit of the RAW data file format is that it compresses the image file without any loss in image quality (the compression can be reversed) and the color isn't adjusted to match any particular file format, such as RGB TIFF. All of the image color parameters are kept in their original state. (RAW images require the use of the Canon software for processing on a computer.)

A full complement of interface software comes with the G2, as does a USB cable for speedy connection to a PC or Macintosh computer. The G2 connects as a "storage class" device, although drivers need to be loaded for both Mac and Windows, apparently to distinguish between the camera's remote capture and disk drive modes. The G2 downloads images quite quickly, as we clocked it at a transfer rate of 435 KBytes/second when connected to our Mac G4.

Following are the approximate resolution / quality and compression ratios for a 32MB card (compression numbers are based on our own computations):


Image Capacity vs
2272 x 1704 Images 14 26
5:1 9:1
1600 x 1200 Images
1024 x 768)
640 x 480


One of the first things any new digicam owner will need is a larger memory card for their camera: The cards shipped with the units by the manufacturers should really be considered only "starter" cards, you'll definitely want a higher capacity card immediately. - Probably at least a 32 megabyte card for a 1.3 or 2 megapixel camera, 64 megabytes or more for a 3, 4, or 5 megapixel one. (The nice thing about memory cards is you'll be able to use whatever you buy now with your next camera too, whenever you upgrade.) To help you shop for a good deal on memory cards that fit the G2, we've put together a little memory locater, with links to our price-comparison engine: Just click on the "Memory Wizard" button above to go to the Canon memory finder, select your camera model , and click the shopping cart icon next to the card size you're interested in. You'll see a list of matching entries from the price-comparison database. Pick a vendor & order away! (Pretty cool, huh?)

Lost Images? - Download this image-recovery program so you'll have it when you need it...
Since we're talking about memory and image storage, this would be a good time to mention the following: I get a ton of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. It's tragic when it happens, there are few things more precious than photo memories. Corrupted memory cards can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. "Stuff happens," as they say. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review... 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.

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


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)
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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:

Test Results
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In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the G2's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the G2 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Overall, the G2 produced excellent color, with accurate hue and saturation throughout our testing. The camera's White Balance system handled all of our test lighting well, even the difficult incandescent lighting of our Indoor Portrait (without flash). Though the Auto setting did produce a very warm image in the Indoor Portrait, the Incandescent and Manual settings did a nice job interpreting the lighting. The G2 had no problem distinguishing the tough tonal variations of our Davebox target, and reproduced the large color blocks with good accuracy and saturation. Skin tones often had a slight magenta tint, particularly in our Outdoor and Indoor portraits, but it was well within acceptable limits. The camera handled the blue flowers of our Indoor and Outdoor portraits quite well, showing little of the purple tint many cameras tend to add to these hues.

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. Overall, an impressively sharp camera/lens combination!

Optical distortion on the G2 was a bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.51 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as we measured only a half-pixel of pincushion distortion. Chromatic aberration was almost nonexistent, showing only about two or three very faint pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. The G2's lens appears to be of very high qualtity: Low distortion, great sharpness, very little aberration.

The G2 offers a full range of exposure control, including a full Manual exposure mode with shutter speeds as slow as 15 seconds. Given its exposure flexibility (and noise-reduction technology apparently ported over from Canon's Pro SLR, the EOS D30), the G2 performed very well on our low-light test. The G2 produced clear, bright, usable images down to about 1/16 foot-candle (or 0.67 lux) at all four ISO settings. Color was surprisingly accurate and overall brightness was excellent throughout the light range, even at the ISO 50 setting. The G2 automatically employs a Noise Reduction system at its slower shutter speeds, which did an excellent job of reducing image noise at low light levels. At ISO 400, noise was a little high, but the grain pattern was small and tight.

The G2's optical viewfinder was 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 slightly loose. Our standard lines of measurement were just barely outside of the final frame, so we were unable to measure the total frame accuracy. (Call it 101%) Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the G2's LCD monitor performed very well. Just remember to add a tiny bit of extra space vertically when framing with the LCD monitor.

The G2 also performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of just 2.75 x 2.06 inches (69.89 x 52.42 millimeters). Color and resolution were both great, with clear details on the dollar bill and coins. The brooch details were a little soft due to the limited depth of field when shooting that close, and we also noticed some softness in all four corners of the frame. The G2's flash had some trouble throttling down for the macro area, due to the very close shooting range, and overexposed the image.

Throughout our testing, the G2 performed like a champ. Low-light and macro capabilities were outstanding, and the camera handled all of our test targets well. With its versatile exposure control, excellent color, and excellent lens, the G2 will tackle just about any shooting situation with ease.

We were already impressed with the capabilities of Canon's PowerShot G1. With the G2 though, Canon's improved performance in virtually every parameter. Color is better, noise and tonal range are improved, and the sharpness boost appears to be much more than just the 3 to 4 megapixel upgrade would suggest. (It's the same lens, but it looks like Canon's made a major upgrade in the G2's signal processing: The G2's images are much sharper than those from the G1.) Image noise performance has been markedly upgraded as well, thanks to technology borrowed from the Pro SLR EOS D30. At the same time, Canon has obviously listened to the G1 user community, incorporating many little tweaks that users have been asking for. (Such as the aperture behavior when working with an external flash.) Best of all, all this capability and enhanced performance come at the same suggested retail price as the G1 carried when it was first introduced. Very highly recommended, Canon's got a real winner with this one!

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