Just what can the G9 do in a way of quality?

I just found Bill Lockhart’s blog and his experience with the G9 its well worth a read and his images are fantastic!

I do have to say though that “Digital” is making photographers lazy, with film if you were lazy the results just looked crap, but digital and software…Well enough said!
There are too many tog’s out there just letting the camera sort out the image, and as Bill points out, he took great care to get the exposure right…the wise will research and experiment on this and may even try to apply the Zone System to digital!

Bill Lockhart’s Blog » The Canon Powershot G9 – A User’s Review

I have always preferred a small camera to a large one. Yet I still find myself with 20 pounds of equipment on my back during long walks across sometimes wet and muddy paths in remote regions of the world. And just getting to such regions is often a nightmare with all the baggage restrictions one must consider when flying. Having a small camera that produces high quality images, is therefore a quest that I have pursued for some time.

When the Canon Powershot G9 was announced I grew excited about a 12 megapixel camera that weighed only 12 ounces and could fit in a shirt pocket. And I eagerly read several reviews of the camera made by professionals who understand digital camera technology far better than I do. Most of those reviews were mixed with pros and cons. But, being the stubborn person I am, simply reading what others have to say about any product won’t do, I have to use the product myself. It is an obsessive compulsive thing. I want the hands on experience.

So, I bought the Canon Powershot G9. Initially, my reason for the purchase was my forthcoming trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. My interest was primarily in doing underwater photography while snorkeling in the islands. I did not think that the G9 would be useful beyond that purpose. I was totally wrong.

Following the intense experience of shooting with the camera for three weeks, I thought perhaps a few words about the camera might be useful to others who are serious about buying a small camera for use not just as a travel camera, but one for general use at home, at school, or during special occasions. And, I thought it might be useful to provide some example photographs done with the camera so that others might see what the camera can do. If one is interested in technical stuff, the canon website provides detailed specifications for the camera here.

The first question I asked myself was: “Will the camera produce high quality images?” And the answer is yes. Here is one of my first shots taken near my home in Safety Harbor, Florida, just before sunrise.

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One might say that I was stunned by the quality of the image. Clarity was superb. Course I was shooting at ISO 80, and I was using a tripod, and I was really working to get the exposure correct. Given all that, I was still amazed at the images I shot that morning.

But the truth is, in most instances, photographers will not use a tripod, even though using one is fundamental to high quality images. Call it the, “I just like to walk around and shoot what I like without a lot of heavy stuff to contend with” compulsion that 99% of camera users follow; and I am one of them. It is my worst fault.

So, as I began my journey to Ecuador, I took the time to visit South Beach in Miami while awaiting an afternoon flight. And it was fun walking around shooting stuff without a lot of gear in tow. Especially my 20-pound backpack.

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And while shooting, guess what, photography was fun again — the freedom just to walk around and record what I saw was easy to do and unobtrusive. The clear advantage was the flexibility of the zoom lens and the size of the camera. Most folks I encountered just considered me to be another tourist on vacation taking snapshots. And that was exactly what I was, just a guy on vacation having fun.

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And I found some interesting things to point the camera at. Like Bogie. I still think Bogie was the best actor there ever was, and I loved his style and attitude. Call me a Bogie wannabe.

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Seems that a distant relative of mine wound up living in Tanzania a long time ago. And, he had this boat. Turns out his boat was used in filming The African Queen. In my view, the greatest movie ever made, well, I sorta like High Noon too. Gary Cooper is my other hero.

But, I digress. So let’s get back to the G9. And, let’s look at some example photos taken from the perspective of a tourist on vacation. Like this shot taken at Punta Suarez in the Galapagos Islands. Just a street scene. Nothing more. I do like the colors though.

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Course, even tourists sometimes work hard to get that special shot to show grandma and the gals at the office what it was like in the Galapagos Islands, after all, going on vacation is about sharing stuff with others, even though most of the time others could care less, but it does the heart good to hear someone say, “Oh wow, you are so lucky to have gone there, someday I hope to get there too.” Even though they don’t ever ask you how much it cost.

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And of course, junior may just show the shot to his class when the teacher starts talking about environmental stuff. A shot perfect for talking about endangered species on “conservation day” at your son’s elementary school. “Gosh Jimmy, your dad took this shot? Way cool.”

Course Jimmy may not show his class this shot. It’s not the sort of thing that elementary kids care much about. But, then I have seen similar shots in magazines. Wish I knew one that would buy it. -)

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Well, photography is about memories. It’s about capturing stuff we want to look at again and again. Especially when you get older and forget what it was like to roam the streets of Ecuador. Stuff like music I heard, especially that fantastic sound of the pan-flute. Awesome.

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Or even better, remembering a nice lady I met at a local market. Her eyes sorta tell the story of what it is like to travel. There are nice people everywhere.

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To summarize, I like the Canon Powershot G9 very much. It’s an outstanding camera. I look forward to using it constantly in the days ahead, especially when I get to Scotland in late March. Can’t wait to try doing some landscapes with it. Course, knowing me, I will still have my Canon 1Ds Mark II and my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L with me, despite the weight, cause I know it will produce the best images I can do, if I take the time to get the exposure right and use a tripod. But, I still have high hopes for what Canon is doing and has done with the Canon Powershot G9. And I have some recommendations for Canon, most likely never to be consider by them, but here’s my list for the perfect camera:

1. Keep it small, the same size.

2. Put back the swivel LCD panel you had on the Canon Powershot G6 so that guys like me who are 6′ 2″ tall can do lower perspective shots without lying on the ground!

3. Do something about noise at higher ISOs. You guys are putting too many pixels in the wrong sized sensor.

4. Give me a better lens. In fact, give me the best lens you can produce and make it wider, say 16mm using the 35mm standard. Yep, wider.

5. Charge me a lot more money for it. I would be willing to pay say four or five times the price for better lenses and better resolution at higher ISOs.

6. Do something about the viewfinder. At least put something in the viewfinder that tells me what I am actually shooting. I don’t like composition using the LCD. It ain’t natural.

I’m not asking much.

In the meantime, I’ll be out shooting with my new Canon Powershot G9, looking for that special moment when the light dances. And, I will be looking at shots done with the same camera by a real professional photographer like my friend Darwin Wiggett. Gotta go buy some filters!

And, if I find some good stuff, I will post the shots on my website here, where larger versions of many of the shots shown in this blog are now.

Bill Lockhart’s Blog » The Canon Powershot G9 – A User’s Review

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5 thoughts on “Just what can the G9 do in a way of quality?

  1. Thanks for posting that (and reposting the review). A really interesting read and the photos are superb. Ok, so I’m finally and definitely sold on getting one!

    Re your remark that digital’s making photographers lazy… maybe its because I’m just starting out with digital (and had a brief but bad experience with film) but I find that its actually working the other way for me.
    Now that I can get virtually instant feedback on my shots, making it easy to diagnose what I may have done wrong, I’m working harder to try to get everything right before pressing the button.
    Whether that’ll continue as I become more practised I can’t really say of course, but I have no reason to suppose that it won’t.

  2. Hi Mike,
    The thing is you are different, your keen and trying to learn the traditional way and that is the only way as far as I know to learn photography. A lot of people just make an image (often with the camera set to AUTO) and fix it all in photoshop after the event.
    With film you had to have it right at the beggining, to get a full toned print. but the same also applies to digital…but few people print there images so don’t see the poor quality, monitors hide a lot!
    You can apply all what you have learnt and it will work equally with a film camera 🙂

  3. Cheers LifeSpy. Yeah, I’m certainly keen (though get incredibly despondent after every session when I look at the results) and trying to catch up on all the things I miserably failed to learn all those years ago.

    Even though I’m now not averse to a bit of the old post-processing I still firmly believe that the better the product to start, the easier it’ll be to tweak at the other end (but only if needed of course).
    Think this is probably a carry-over from my graphics days where it was an unwritten rule (certainly in my studio anyway) that, given the processes an artwork is subjected to in order to produce print (be that posters, brochures, leaflets, letterheads or whatever) its imperative that the so-called “camera-ready artwork” should be as perfect as possible.
    Unfortunately there were (and probably still are) quite a few graphic artists/designers who didn’t follow this dictum, consequently leading massive amounts of extra work for the printers (I know this from first-hand experience, having arrived at graphics through the printing route!).

    So I suppose really its just a case of old habits dying hard.

    Re your remark about having the camera set to AUTO, you wouldn’t believe how ashamed of myself I was for shooting in that mode, and am so pleased now that at last I’ve managed to get the confidence to get away from it, even when it means that results aren’t always what I want or expect or even particularly like (which is most of the time actually dammit!).

    One odd thing I have discovered though… despite all I’ve said just now I actually quite enjoy tinkering with the file afterwards. In fact, after a session I get really impatient to get back home, import the lot into Lightroom, see what I’ve got and start playing.

  4. An afterthought… so does that mean that, some years down the road when I finally get to the point where I’m reasonably satisfied with what I’m doing, theoretically I could get a film camera and do “proper photography”?

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