Price When Reviewed: 510
Pros: This year’s update of Canon’s popular G-series compact digital camera, with more resolution, faster processing and a smaller body.
Cons: There are some ergonomic issues – the on/off switch is poorly positioned, and it’s still too large to put in your pocket. Still prone to purple fringing.
That Canon produced a PowerShot G6 at all comes as something of a surprise. The introduction of the 8mp Pro1 model earlier this year appeared to be the next step up from 2003’s 5mp G5 model, and seemed to spell the end of the well-regarded G-series of semi-professional digital compact cameras. Evidently, Canon reckons the G series still has legs despite its overlap with the Pro1.
The G6 has a 7.1mp sensor (for 3,072-x-2,304-pixel shots) and a 4x power-zoom lens of 35-140mm (35mm equivalent), while the Pro1 has 8mp and a 7x manual-zoom lens with a more versatile 28-200mm.
However, the 7.1mp resolution isn’t necessarily a drawback. All the 8mp models we’ve tried have been rather noisier than their 5mp predecessors, while noise from the G6 only seems about the same as its 5mp G5 predecessor. The new 7.1mp Sony sensor used in the G6 has slightly larger photodiodes than the 8mp sensors.
The G6 is generally faster than the G5. The autofocus is said to be up to 45 per cent faster for single shots (and 55 per cent faster for continuous) and now features nine-point autofocus with a steerable focusing/exposure point.
The latest version of Canon’s DIGIC processor allows continuous shooting of up to 14 pictures at two frames per second. It helps with single-shots, too – you can quickly take a second shot while the first is still being written to the memory card. Canon has tweaked the DIGIC settings to reduce false colours – though sadly the dreaded purple fringes still appear on high contrast edges.
Canon has dropped the attractive black finish of the G5 and reverted to a cheaper-looking silver, presumably to differentiate it from the Pro1. The G6 shape is slightly changed from the G5, with a narrower body, but with a bigger hand grip, and the main selector wheel is repositioned behind the shutter button. The control dial for exposure and programmed modes is moved to a vertical position above the preview monitor where it can easily be seen.
Less impressive is the location of the on-off switch – it’s on a corner of the body where it easily brushes against clothing and switches on unnoticed.