If you have mastered the standard point-and-click handheld digital camera but want something more powerful without having to stray into the complicated territory of advanced photography, then Canon’s Powershot G9 is the one for you.
I must confess to being a complete amateur when it comes to photography so I was relieved to find that this worked well on automatic, but it would be a complete waste not to explore all the advanced features it has.
One thing that wowed me was the face-detection technology: apart from being able to pick out and track up to nine faces in one image, it can also focus on and track one face in a crowd of up to 35 people.
Like the professional SLR camera the G9 lets you change the light sensitivity which controls the amount of light entering the lens.
If you want to abandon automatic settings you can use an old school ISO dial instead of an on-screen menu, giving you a feeling of more control.
Its look is endearingly old-fashioned, reminiscent of the Canon cameras from the Eighties. But although there are some retro elements, this does not affect functionality at all: there is a 3-inch LCD display screen with a fairly strong resolution of 230,000 pixels, as well as a viewfinder.
While zooming for some photographs you will notice that the lens appears in the corner of the viewfinder. This can be irritating, but most people use the LCD screen for taking shots so it isn’t a problem.
The lens is a 7.4 to 44.4mm 6X zoom and has the SR coating that was developed for Canon’s professional camcorder range which reduces flare and ghosting.
What brings the G9 closest of all to the professional camera is the format in which it stores the pictures. Rather than store them in TIFF or JPEG format like the average digital camera, they are stored in RAW.
RAW is essentially a digital negative and is packed with more information giving more room to edit photos.
Software included converts the RAW files into TIFFS and JPEGS for further use.
It comes with a 32MB MMC memory card but also takes SD and SDHC.
The G9 really is a powerful, compact digital camera that does just as well with portraits as it does action shots and close-ups.
PROS Face tracking, powerful lens zoom
CONS You need to know what you’re doing
By Marie Boran