One of the G series' main attractions was its flip-and-twist LCD. That's gone in the G7, replaced by a bright but fixed 2.5-inch LCD. The rest of the top and back of the camera body bristles with controls, leaving just enough space for a decent handhold. Those with large hands, however, may find it difficult to firmly grip the G7 without accidentally covering one button or another. (Take a tour of the body.)
Canon packs its newest features into the G7, including the same 10-megapixel CCD that's in the SD900, its Digic III processor with face-detection focus and a 15fps XGA movie mode, and an f/2.8-to-4.8, 35mm-to-210mm-equivalent (6X) optically stabilized lens. Unfortunately, whoever at Canon decided to jettison raw-format support deserves a whack upside the head. Aside from that, it offers all of the exposure, focus, and shooting controls any enthusiast would want. They include a spot meter, user-selectable focus zones, two custom settings modes, continuous- or shot-only IS settings, manual ISO settings up to 1,600 plus a High mode which reaches up to 3,200, voice annotation, and a hot shoe.
Not everything functions the same as in other Canon models, and that can be a bit disorienting. For instance, the addition of face detection has complicated the focus-zone selection, since you configure both options from the same screen. And it's a little frustrating to have to use the up/down/left/right controls to slowly navigate your way to the desired focus zone, rather than using the scrollwheel to just zip over to it. Once I got used to the interface, though, it stopped interrupting my shooting rhythm as frequently. (I need more time to evaluate the face-detection performance.)
It helps that the camera is pretty fast. Time to first shot is a brisk 1.5 seconds, and in bright light, a relatively quick focus helps keep the shutter lag to a manageable 0.5 second. In dim light, that increases to just under a second. Two shots in a row has a decent 1.7-second gap between, though taking flash recycle time into account bumps that up to a more modest 2.3 seconds. Continuous shooting seems fixed at 36 frames, regardless of resolution, and we couldn't push the burst rate beyond 1.1 frames per second (fps), far less than the 2fps that Canon claims.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
I was really surprised by the mixed image quality, though. There were cases when my photos looked better than expected, predominantly thanks to the image stabilization. But there were also cases where artifacts I didn't expect popped up. The automatic white balance and various metering modes worked reasonably well, but I missed being able to tweak them during raw processing. (See more details and image samples here.) The movies were quite good, and if there isn't too much movement, the XGA-resolution option makes them significantly sharper.
Though the reasons for buying the PowerShot G7 have dwindled, they haven't disappeared entirely. It's an optimal choice as a second camera, when you can't or won't schlep a dSLR with you, if you're not quite ready to take the leap from a point-and-shoot to a full-fledged interchangeable lens system, or if you need the flexibility of a movie-capture mode.