Canon PowerShot G6 Review
By: Ted Felix
My Canon G1 has served me well for several years and 15,000 shots now, but all good things must come to an end. Now that the Canon PowerShot G-series is up to number 6, I figured it was time for an upgrade. This review will primarily focus on the differences I've noted between the G1 and the G6. For now, it is essentially a random collection of notes. At some point I might organize it better.
My G6 developed the "Mode Dial Issue" within its first month of use when I tried to quickly switch from "M" to "P" mode to take some quick shots leaving the exposure up to the camera. The mode dial said "P", but the display said "C2". I fiddled for a bit, then gave up and went with "M". Later, after searching dpreview.com's Canon Talk Forum, I found that others were reporting the same problem. My best guess is a loose solder joint on the switch. I've noticed that if I push on the mode dial, it will return to working normally, but as soon as I let go, it goes back to being confused.
The mode dial issue is mentioned on the Canon Talk forum on dpreview.com. Some have sent them back and gotten it fixed. It would probably be a good idea to beat the dial up a bit to see if it happens to you. If it does, the workaround is to play with the dial in between positions, then save P mode in C2. This way at least you will have access to P mode again. Since you cannot save AUTO mode, you've lost that. Note also that mine has the additional mappings:
I noticed that I primarily shoot in M mode anyway, so this really had absolutely no effect on me. My main problem was the fact that I couldn't switch to "Auto" and hand the camera to someone else (point-and-pray mode).
3/21/2005, dropped the camera off at the post office. Will keep you "posted" (pun intended)...
3/24/2005, Camera received at Canon's service center. email from them indicates 10 business days.
3/29/2005, Camera arrived on my doorstep. According to the letter enclosed, it was repaired 3/24/2005. "Replaced rear cover unit, cleaned and checked all functions." It appears to work perfectly now. Total cost: around $13 dollars to ship with insurance.
When an external flash is attached (or the internal flash is turned on), display goes full bright. On the G1, the screen would be completely dark and it would be impossible to compose a shot.
White Balance is visible in LCD. On the G1, the colors were a mess in the LCD when you used custom WB. With the G6 you can actually verify the color balance setting by watching the change on the LCD. In general, the white balance with the G6 is significantly better than with the G1. Shooting outdoors, I pretty much leave the camera in cloudy mode, and there's very little color correction that is needed. With the G1, there was always too much magenta which needed to be neutralized in every shot.
Manual focus is slow, but at least it is now possible. On the G1 there was no way to tell if you were in focus. On the G6, the central portion of the image is blown up so you can see, and the larger LCD with more resolution also makes it easier to tell when you are in focus. Another interesting feature is that if you hit the "SET" button while in manual focus mode, the auto-focus system will nudge the focus toward what it thinks is correct. Wish it would do the same for exposure in manual exposure mode.
ISO 400 graininess is uniform. On the G1 there were annoying stripes in the picture. With the G6, you can shoot in ISO 400 and enjoy the grain, without the stripes.
Histogram is a real exposure-saver. You can finally know for sure whether your exposure is right without having to run to a computer to check. This feature alone is worth the upgrade price. Now instead of erring toward dark (because I know I can fix that to a certain extent), my exposures are almost perfect every time.
Auto-Focus system is still easy to trick, but with the viable manual focus, this is no longer as serious of an issue. Still, the manual focus isn't as fast or responsive as the focus ring on an SLR, so there are situations where you won't be able to focus quickly enough to capture a shot.
I do miss the push button under the flip-out LCD display for shooting at waist-level like with a twin-lens reflex. Instead, there's now a menu item to turn the flip on and off. This is much less convenient than the button. I'll probably turn the flip off since I tend to shoot at waist level more than I shoot myself and watch the LCD. I wish they would detect the "waist level" shooting position (the LCD is facing out, and between closed and say 100 degrees) and not flip the LCD. This would be a fantastic feature.
Another mark against waist-level shooting on the G6 is that the histogram doesn't work.
There's no charger in the G6. Instead you get an outboard charger, and no AC adapter. Fortunately, I still have my G1 adapter, so I can use it. In fact, my G1 is now my battery charger.
Pre-flash eye blink is still a problem. Wish it could do real-time TTL flash exposure. Barring that, I wish it had a sensor on the front for non-TTL non-pre-flash metering (selectable through the menu for those purists in the crowd who like pre-flash because they never shoot people). Flash exposure lock "*", or manual mode are one way to go to get rid of eye blink. But as has always been the case with the Canon Powershot G-series, an external *non-Canon* flash works perfectly (always check your trigger voltage first before using). The Sunpak 383s is my personal favorite with this camera. Avoid the Canon flash as it will pre-flash too (not to mention the inflated prices). However, for more creative options, you can disable the flash dedication with a piece of paper cut to just the right shape. This will get rid of the pre-flash with Canon external flash. (Why don't they have a switch for this? Especially at those prices!)
Flash color balance is fine now. It used to be pretty heinous with the G1.
Auto Exposure in "M" Mode. Hit the * button in "M" mode and the camera should do an auto exposure. This would make it a lot easier to get in the neighborhood quickly, then tweak as needed once you're there.
A bigger image view in histogram mode would be nice. Maybe make the histogram smaller and place it under the image preview? There's got to be a better way to use the screen real-estate for this.
Detect the waist level shooting position. The LCD shouldn't get flipped when in this position. Also, the various exposure readouts and the histogram should work when in this position.
Non-TTL flash sensor on the front of the camera to eliminate the pre-flash eye blink. Am I the only one who photographs people with these cameras? I'll admit the built-in flash is a poor way to photograph people, but at least with a non-TTL mode, you could try.
This is a great upgrade from my G1. I'm shooting far better than ever with this camera. Hopefully in five more generations, the "G12" will incorporate my wishlist items. That would truly be the perfect camera.
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