Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Outdoor Action Camera: Canon Powershot G Series

Left-the later G11 Powershot, Right, an early G5 which was launched in 2003. The G5 became the template for the successful G series cameras from the 2006 G7 onwards.
What is the best camera for the outdoor activist? I don’t mean which camera takes the best pictures. Although ‘best’ is very subjective when it comes to photography. One person’s ’Wow...that’s totally stunning!!!’ is another ‘Meh...bit chocolate boxy for me!’. Similarly with film photography, especially photographs taken with cameras which fall into the Lomo category. Lomo LC-A’s themselves plus Holgas, Dianes etc. Some love the light leaks, vignetting and intense saturation.To others its just a bad photograph!

No...what I was considering is which camera -or range of cameras- tick the most boxes with regard to photo quality, versatility, compactness, useful features etc...all wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing style? Most people will have their own opinions based on their own experiences but my own favourite is the Canon Powershot G series of super compacts. Remarkably, The G series began life way back in 2000 when the 3mp G1 was launched. Since that time they have been 12 G series camera and 7 GX series. The GX’s are a tad more refined with larger sensors and a larger price!

The Powershot G’s are to my eye, one of the most attractive super compacts on the market. Very retro, with film camera style dials and hot shoes and built like a proverbial tank! The camera body itself is old school metal with plastic reserved for the buttons and switches. When you pick it up you’ll notice the difference in weight between the camera and its rivals from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Nikon. It’s heavy man! That might not make it ideal as a climbing camera where a tiny compact like the Pentax Optio’s proves itself a perfect crag rat camera. For general outdoor stuff though, the G’s are small enough to put in a fleece pocket and with the additional refinements that come with a tried and tested super compact, it will take a better shot. Photographs taken on the G series have graced the front pages of outdoor magazine, guidebooks and websites the world over.

G11 left and G5 right with the popular flip out screen which was dropped in later models to the consternation of many G series aficionados.

My own first G series was the G9. Probably one of Canon’s best selling G series powershots. I loved it and used it a hell of a lot more than my big Nikon DSLR but unfortunately, I dropped it on a hard surface and smashed the rear screen. Even then, it still took photographs! I briefly had an older G7 which was going cheap on eBay. Despite a scratched lens and an alarming clunk when you retracted the lens of full zoom, it still took pretty good shots. I even sold it on on eBay at a profit. That’s the thing with these cameras. You can buy second hand and sell it on for a later model and providing you’ve looked after it, you can often get back what you paid for it. They really hold their value and are sought after.

Since then, two more G series powershots have been acquired to bulk out my heaving collection of film and digital cameras. My camera of choice for wandering the hills or shorelines of north Wales is the G11. Introduced in 2009, the G11 was the last camera in the series to offer a flip out screen which you can use as a traditional screen or reverse to protect. The G11 reversed the Powershot trend for more and more pixels and dropped down from the G10‘s 12mp to 10mp but compensated with a bigger sensor. Last week, I was waiting for a bus and popped in one of those Cash Converter shops where you can often find some nice cameras going cheap, although I always think of the poor soul who was reduced to selling his or her camera for peanuts in establishments like this!

In the display cabinet was an old G5. Introduced in 2003 and using one of those antique flash memory cards, this 5mb camera was in fact, in appearance, very much in the G series tradition. In fact you could say that the G5 became the template for all the Powershots which followed. This G5, despite being that bit bigger than my G11, was remarkably similar right down to the rear flip out screen. Early G Series cameras had a grey plastic body and the G6 which followed- apart from an ill judged design aberration- maintained the grey look. However, from the G7 onwards every Canon Powershot G series camera-including the X range- have been instantly identifiable by their chunky retro look and black body.

The Rivals taken on the 2003, 5mp Canon Powershot G5.

To be honest, I had bought the G5 to sell on as I could see on my phone that even this old Powershot was selling for three or four times what Cash Converters were selling it for. However, this weekend I gave it a run out before listing it and was delighted in the overall quality of the images. Here was an old school compact packing just 5mp on board and lacking the features which later Powershots would offer but like a lot of small mega pixel cameras from the early part of the century...Pentax Optios, Olympus Camedias and Nikon Coolpix's, the quality of the photographs quite often matches those of modern compact cameras.  Makes you think doesn't it?

Canon Powershot G Series Wikipeadia page

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