Product review: Canon PowerShot G2

This digicam, with its 4.1-megapixel CCD and 2,272 x 1,704-pixel image, will exceed your expectations. Read CNET's product review.

By Jody L. Gianni

Which is better: improvement where much is needed or where none is needed? Hard to say, but with the new PowerShot G2, a camera that not only betters the previous model but manages to exceed any expectations for a new model, Canon makes everyone happy. With its new 4.1-megapixel CCD and a 2,272 x 1,704-pixel image at its largest resolution, this digicam's offerings will certainly impress you.

On the surface
Even though it seems hard to top last year's G1, Canon has made aesthetic and functional changes that truly better its latest model (see Figure A). The most obvious change is the color, which has gone from gunmetal gray to a warm champagne color with metallic-gray accents. The dimensions on the G2 are virtually identical to those of its predecessor, yet the G2 has a more substantial look and feel. The controls and dials are positioned such that you'll rarely need to take your finger off the shutter, assuring that you'll always be ready to get the shot. Click here to check the latest prices for this product.

Figure A
Canon PowerShot G2—CNET Rating: 9 out of 10

Just like the G1 and the Pro70 before it, the G2 sports a cleverly designed, flip-out-and-twist LCD monitor. When not in use, the display can be inverted and folded back against the rear of the camera body, thus protecting the screen from fingerprints and damage from bumps and scrapes. When used in the Out position, it can be tilted up or down so that you never have to bring the unit up to your face. You can take creative shots this way by raising the camera high above your head or casually concealing it down low without even having to bend at the waist! Even more fun is the ability to take a perfectly composed self-portrait. The LCD screen itself is quite realistic, revealing clear, crisp previews that are not as blown out as the ones on the G1's LCD monitor. And with the LCD's antireflective, matte coating, outdoor shots taken with the G2 are now much easier to compose. However, we did notice a bit of a delay when we tried to focus with the LCD instead of the viewfinder.

Beyond the appeal of its LCD, the G2 also shows off some of the finest images we have seen from any consumer digicam to date. In CNET Labs' jury tests, the images were wonderfully crisp and appropriately color saturated. They also revealed an impressive dynamic range, even in low-light situations. If nothing else, the G2 excels in image quality where other digicams pale in comparison.

Another view
A noteworthy functional improvement on the G2 is a three-point autofocus system. Now, instead of being locked into one singular point of focus, you can create perfectly focused images no matter where within the frame your subjects are positioned. Just align one of the three white boxes in the viewfinder with your subject, use the thumb dial to choose the appropriate box (turning it green), and press the shutter button halfway to focus. You can also select up to 13 different exposure modes using the rotary dial on top of the camera. The Image Zone modes are fully automatic and should be selected based on the scene you are shooting. New to this mode is Color Effect, allowing users to choose between Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, or Black And White. Even more control can be obtained, however, in the Creative Zone by choosing from Program AE, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, and Manual. The Movie mode has been improved as well, now offering two resolution modes that include sound.

With the $999 list price G2, Canon definitely has the more advanced photographer in mind, but amateurs and first-time digicam users should not shy away. Compared to that of other digital cameras in the same class, such as the Nikon Coolpix 995's, the G2's interface is quite welcoming. This camera's higher resolution, better image quality, and faster signal processing are all well worth the price.
Product specifications
Product type Digital photo camera
Digital zoom 3.6 x
Sensor resolution (effective) 4,000,000 pixels
Sensor resolution (gross) 4,130,000 pixels
Optical sensor size 1/1.8"
Optical sensor type CCD
Light sensitivity ISO 400
Still image format JPEG
EXIF version 2.2
Analog video format NTSC
Digital video format AVI
Image effects Black & White, Sepia
Min shutter speed 15 sec
Max shutter speed 1/1000 sec
Continuous shooting speed 2.5 frames per second, 1.5 frames per second
Shooting modes Frame movie mode
White balance Custom, automatic, manual
White balance presets Fluorescent, cloudy, speedlight, tungsten light, daylight
Lens aperture F/2.0-2.5
Optical zoom 3 x
Lens type Zoom lens
Auto focus TTL phase detection
Focal length (35mm camera equivalent) 34 - 102 mm
Min focal length 7 mm
Max focal length 21 mm
Focus adjustment Automatic, manual
Min focus range 27.6 in
Macro focus range 6-70 cm
Zoom adjustment Motorized drive
Camera flash type Built-in
Effective flash range 2.3 ft - 15 ft
Flash modes Fill-in mode, auto mode, flash OFF mode, red-eye reduction
External flash terminal Hot shoe
Exposure modes Program, manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority
Exposure metering Evaluative, center-weighted, spot
Exposure compensation ±2 EV range, in 1/3 EV steps
Media type CompactFlash
Memory included 1 x 32 MB Flash - CompactFlash Card
Image storage Hi 2272 x 1704 : 4 - with 16MB card, Super-fine 2272 x 1704 : 7 - with 16MB card, Fine 2272 x 1704 : 13 - with 16MB card, Normal 2272 x 1704 : 26 - with 16MB card, Super-fine 1600 x 1200, Fine 1600 x 1200, Normal 1600 x 1200
Display type LCD display
Diagonal size 1.8"
Technology TFT active matrix
Display form factor Built-in
Optical viewfinder type Real-image
Audio input
Audio input Microphone
Microphone operation mode Mono
Microphone technology Electret condenser
Connector type 1 x USB, 1 x composite video, 1 x audio output
Expansion slot(s) 1 x CompactFlash card - Type I/II
Additional features
Additional features Built-in speaker, auto power save, date/time stamp, DPOF support, AE/FE lock
Software included Drivers & utilities, Adobe PhotoShop LE, Canon PhotoStitch
Battery 1 x Lithium Ion rechargeable battery
Physical characteristics
Enclosure color Metallic silver
Depth 2.5 in
Height 3 in
Width 4.8 in
Weight 14.8 oz
Service/support One-year warranty

This article was previously published on 9/10/01.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox