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Canon PowerShot G3

The third generation of Canon's popular G model retains last year's 4 megapixel CCD, but brings a 4X zoom lens and a host of other improvements.

(Next): Executive Overview>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 9/16/2002


4 megapixel CCD (3.87 effective) for 2,272 x 1,704 pixel images
New 4X optical zoom lens, f/2.0-3.0
Auto, Scene Program, Program, and Manual exposure modes
Unique tilt/swivel LCD panel
MANY user interface and feature enhancements.
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Manufacturer Overview

Canon U.S.A. has long been a dominant player in the film and digital camera markets, well-known for their high-quality optics, technical innovations, and aggressive product development. Over the last few years, they've developed a powerful lineup of digital cameras, ranging from surprisingly feature-rich entry-level models, all the way to the extreme high end of professional digital SLRs. Last year, their PowerShot G2 prosumer model was one of the top two or three cameras on the entire Imaging Resource site, a fact I attribute to the superb job Canon did in designing and producing it. - The G2 was one of those rare cameras that really hit all the right notes with the "enthusiast" crowd, offering a rich feature set and excellent image quality.

Now, Canon has updated the G2, calling the result the PowerShot G3. To the surprise of many, they eschewed the five megapixel sensors employed by many of their competitors in high-end prosumer models, choosing instead to stay with the proven four megapixel chip first seen in the G2. (I'm told the reason for this is that Canon was unwilling to accept the image noise tradeoff that the current crop of 5 megapixel CCDs require.) While the sensor has remained the same, numerous feature and user interface enhancements (including a new 4x zoom lens with fast f/2.0 maximum aperture) combine to result in a noticeably different user experience. Read on below for the full story, but based on my early look at the new model, I'd say Canon has come up with a very worthy successor to the wildly popular G2.

High Points

  • 4-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as high as 2,272 x 1,704 pixels. (3.87 megapixels effective)
  • Real-image optical viewfinder and 1.8-inch, color LCD monitor with swivel design.
  • 4x optical zoom, 7.2-28.8mm f/2.0-3.0 lens (equivalent to a 35-140mm lens on a 35mm camera) with auto and manual focus.
  • New autofocus system with continuously adjustable AF area.
  • Unique focus bracketing mode.
  • Digital telephoto as high as 3.5x.
  • Full Automatic, Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual exposure modes, as well as three preset exposure modes, and two user-programmable modes.
  • Manually adjustable aperture settings from f/2 to f/8, depending on zoom setting.
  • Built-in neutral-density filter can be switched in via the shooting menu. (Equivalent to external ND 0.9 filter, 3-stop exposure cut.)
  • Manually adjustable shutter speed settings from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds.
  • Variable light sensitivity: Auto, 50, 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalents.
  • Evaluative, Center-Weighted Average and Spot metering modes, with an adjustable Spot area.
  • Spot metering optionally tied to AF area.
  • White Balance adjustment with nine settings, including two separate "custom" options.
  • Built-in flash with nine operating modes, flash metering is TTL (through the lens).
  • External flash hot shoe.
  • Flash system supports full wireless capabilities of EOS speedlights, via optional Canon wireless transmitter.
  • Flash system supports optional ringlight and Macro Twin Light accessory flash units.
  • Continuous Shooting (normal and high-speed), Stitch-Assist, Auto Exposure Bracketing, and Movie recording modes.
  • Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation adjustment.
  • Vivid Color, Neutral Color, Low Sharpening, B&W, and Sepia options.
  • Remote control and utilities for operating the camera from a computer.
  • JPEG and RAW still image file formats, movies saved as AVI / Motion JPEGs.
  • Images saved to CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for high-speed connection to a computer.
  • Canon Digital Camera software included, as well as Photoshop LE 5.0.
  • Powered by Canon BP-511 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, with AC adapter/in-camera charger included.


Changes from the Canon PowerShot G2
(And the G1, for historical reference)

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 G2. The G3 is clearly based on the G2's design, with a very similar body design and control layout. There are a number of enhancements (beyond the obvious increase of the zoom range to 4x) that have been added though. I address all of these in the text of the review, but for convenience, have also listed them here, for more convenient, concise reference:


Body Improvements/Differences More angular handgrip for better finger-traction, Silver-colored metal body panels. Body is more rectangular, boxy-looking
Enlarged Handgrip, Champagne metal cover
Standard grip,

gray metal cover

Startup screen, startup sound yes/yes
(Multiple options via "My Camera" menu)
Maximum Resolution 3.87 MP (eff)
3.87 MP (eff)
3.14 MP (eff)
Resolution Settings

2272 x 1704,

1600 x 1200,

1024 x 768

640 x 480

2272 x 1704,

1600 x 1200,

1024 x 768

640 x 480
2048 x 1536,

1024 x 768

640 x 480
Filtration RGB
Lens 4x
35-140mm equiv.
32-104mm equiv.
32-104mm equiv.
Minimum focusing distance No spec from Canon yet, but it looks to be about 1.5 inches. 2.4 inches 2.4 inches
Slow shutter speed range 15 sec
15 sec.
8 sec.
High shutter speed and aperture combinations 1/1250 - all apertures

1/2000 - f/4.0 and higher

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

Neutral Density Filter 3-stop cut (equivalent to ND 0.9), set via record menu. ---- ---
Flash Operation

Internal: Total of 9 modes, counting all combinations of on/off/auto and redeye plus slow sync options.

Supports EX-mode Speedlites, Ringlight, Macro Twin Flash, and Remote Transmitter

Internal: 5 modes

Supports EX-mode Speedlites and Ringlight,

Internal: 5 modes

Supports EX-mode Speedlites only
Signal processing speed Considerably faster than G2, but don't have a specific spec for this.
Faster (twice as fast as G1)
Signal processing bit depth 12 bits/channel, through all image processing operations. 10 bits/channel 10 bits/channel
Noise reduction Unknown
(Awaiting production model to test)
Battery Life Excellent: No spec from Canon yet, but my own measurements indicate roughly a 15% improvement in worst-case battery life over the G2.
400 images/LCD on

1000 images/LCD off

300 minutes/Playback

260 images/LCD On

800 images/LCD off

160 minutes/Playback

Focusing Points "Infinite"- FlexiZone AF/AE allows positioning of the AF/AE area anywhere within about 60% of the frame area.
Manual Focus Focusing area magnified on LCD monitor, numerical distance values displayed
Focusing area magnified on LCD monitor, numerical distance values displayed
Autofocus Bracketing Focus bracketing option under the FUNC button snaps three shots with minor tweaks in focus setting between them. (First time I've seen this function on a camera.) --- ---
Metering Modes

Evaluative, Center-Weighted, Center Spot, Off-Center Spot

G3 Incorporates Canon iSAPS scene-analysis technology for more accurate exposures under tricky lighting.

Evaluative, Center-Weighted, Center Spot, Off-Center Spot
Center-Weighted, Center Spot
Manual exposure mode improvements (Same as G2)
Metering display when shutter button is pressed halfway; LCD monitor remains bright even when underexposure is set.
Program Shift (?)
(Didn't see this, need to check with Canon to see if it's there or not.)
Intervalometer Option Shoot 2-100 shots, at intervals of 1 to 60 minutes --- ---
White Balance Modes 8, including two separate Custom settings for manual adjustment to standard white card.
6 including new Fluorescent H for daylight fluorescents
Color Effects Mode Yes
(Now expanded to allow application of color effects (including B/W shooting) in any exposures mode.
Movie Mode options and durations 320 x 240 — 180 sec.

160 x 120 — 180 sec.

320 x 240 — 30 sec.

160 x 120 — 120 sec.

320 x 240 — 30 sec.
Continuous Shooting Speeds Continuous High: 2.27 fps

Continuous: 1.46 fps

(by actual measurement)

Continuous High: 2.46 fps

Continuous: 1.04 fps

(by actual measurement)

Continuous: 1.7 fps
Startup time, shutter lag, etc. Much faster
(4.2 seconds startup, 0.94 second full AF lag)
(7.2 seconds startup, 1.3 second full AF lag)
Interval between frames in Single frame mode 1.88
(Actual measurement, not Canon specs)
2.3 sec.
(Actual measurement, not Canon specs)
1.12 sec.
(Actual measurement, not Canon specs)
Digital zoom function True zoom up to 14x combined digital and optical
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 Yes
Image magnification during playback Up to 10x, 10 steps
Image erase modes (Same as G2)
Improved (fewer steps)
RemoteCapture functions (Same as G2)
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 Provided.
(Also supports PTP mode for Windows XP and Mac OS X conneciton with no driver software needed.)
No (however, software itself is compatible with G1)
Direct Print mode Yes - Also with CP-100, S830D and S530D Bubble Jet printers.
Yes, with CP-10
Cropping in Direct Print mode Yes
Accessory Compatibility

New bayonet-mount lens adapter, with wider range of wide, tele converters, now covering range of 24.5mm to 245mm equivalents.

Support for both Macro Ring Light and Macro Twin Light units, as well as Remote Strobe Transmitter for wireless flash connection.

Same as G1 plus Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX
Wide, tele converters extend range to ~28 to 150 mm
Wide, Tele and Macro Converters
Supplied CF Card 32MB
Control Changes Top controls mirror EOS layout more closely. Command wheel makes its first appearance in a PowerShot. Mode dial and power switch separated, made easier to operate. Tabbed sub-menus for FUNC button greatly improve efficiency of user interface. --- ---
Position Sensor Position sensor automatically tags EXIF header for image rotation on portrait-format shots. --- ---
Post-Exposure RAW file save You can choose to save a RAW-mode file on the fly, by hitting the FUNC button during the review period. --- ---



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Executive Overview>>

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