Canon PowerShot G7 Digital Camera

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, July 2007
Published by: Canon
Requires: An interest in good quality photography

MSRP: US$599.00

Canon has stolen a bit of a march on Nikon. Of course Canon and Nikon lead the camera and photography pack throughout the world in the compact, point & shoot and 35mm-equivalent SLR markets. But Canon has crept ahead of Nikon in some important areas over the past few years, particularly in the compact camera segment. I've been a Nikon SLR user all my life, but when the SLR is too bulky or simply too much for a particular outing over the past five years I've often reached for a Canon compact. The 10 megapixel Canon PowerShot G7 is one of only a few models from the top five (Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus) that fall into what used to be called the Prosumer category—fully featured compacts offering many of the manual controls and customization functions of a digital SLR, along with fully automatic, scene modes and a movie mode. The Canon PowerShot G7, like its direct competitor the Nikon P5000, is aimed at avid photographers, amateur photographers, photography hobbyists and even some professionals looking for a high quality and reliable compact to use as a backup.

The 10.0 megapixel Canon PowerShot G7 has a 6x optical zoom lens incorporating Canon's patented optical Image Stabilizer and SR coating. The G7 incorporates Canon's DIGIC III image processing chip along with iSAPS Advanced Noise Reduction and Face Detection auto focus & auto exposure (AF/AE). The back of the camera sports a 2.5” high-resolution LCD offering a wide viewing angle and anti-glare coating. Standard shooting modes include ISO 1600 for low light shooting without a flash. The top of the camera has separate ISO and shooting mode dials. There are 25 separate shooting modes. The modes include full manual control and two custom settings selections. The top of the camera has an integrated hot shoe which supports Canon Speedlite flashguns. The lens zoom control is lever actuated by means of a tabbed ring located around the shutter button. The power on/off button is located just behind the shutter button and mounted flush with the top of body. The zoom lens retracts into the body upon power down and is protected by an integrated cover. The battery compartment on the bottom is covered by a strong, hinged, slide/snap door. The G7 uses SD cards for storage—the slot is located in the battery compartment—and is compatible with SDHC cards as well. The back of the camera contains menu and playback buttons, and a joypad surrounded by a concentric control ring/dial. There are additional controls for EV+/- adjustments, macro on/off, and customizable functions.


The original two week test and review period stretched into a month and a half. Mea culpa, but the G7 grows on you. My initial, albeit minor struggle with the camera resulted from my disappointment over the absence of a prominent grip on the right side of the camera body. Once I got used to the specific handling requirements dictated by the G7's form factor however, I was able to concentrate far more intently on making good photos. The rear LCD provides good to excellent composition and photo viewing performance in a variety of lighting situations including bright sunlight. Washout occurs when direct sunlight hits the LCD of course, but not as severely as on many competitors and the less expensive Canon siblings such as the A570IS.

The G7 sports a reasonably clear viewfinder, but it's completely inaccurate at any lens zoom setting other than 50mm. Viewfinders are nothing more than plain little windows and have no zoom capability, so it's completely mystifying to find them on any zoom lens-equipped camera. Nonetheless, at zoom settings between 40-60mm, the viewfinder can be used to compose and shoot with moderate accuracy if that's your preference or need (e.g., if the LCD is washing out due to direct sunlight).

The key G7 elements on the technical side of digital photography have been directly and extremely well designed by Canon. Automatic white balance is very accurate, providing complimentary and image enhancing settings in a wide range of natural and artificial lighting conditions. User adjustable white balance settings also work well, although the G7's sensor seems to be very sensitive to the unbalancing effects of contrasting daylight interfering with light from a flash while shooting indoors. The Face Priority features lets you move a box reticule around the the LCD to tell the camera which faces should be focused in a composition, after which the camera tracks the face(s) accurately as you recompose for balance or effect. Camera settings for color, color sensitivity, B&W and post processing functions for B&W and sepia toning are accurate and very effective. I was surprised at how well the camera performs in B&W mode—the range of grey toning, contrast and dynamic range can be stunningly good.

The quality of everything I've photographed with the Canon PowerShot G7 has been limited only by my own skill as a photographer. The various image stabilization (IS) modes work extremely well, as can expected from the industry leader in this technology. Canon introduced its IS several years before Nikon released its own Vibration Reduction (VR). The other camera manufacturers followed suit. The point is that image stabilization in almost every form will usually help you capture sharper photos more often in difficult low light conditions. The combination of the G7's sharp lens, well designed sensor and image stabilization will capture all the glorious color and detail of a terrible composition or a boring subject just as surely as it will when photographing a great composition or a fascinating subject. Basically, the G7 lets you to be the best photographer possible in a wide range of circumstances.

Cons: The G7's physical handling ergonomics clearly suffer when compared to competitors such as the Nikon P5000 and the Canon S5. The main problem is the lack of a prominent grip on the right side. People with small to medium size hands won't encounter too much of a problem, but anyone with hands even a bit larger than medium size will need a lot of time to get used to the lack of a grip and the presence of only a single, very narrow grip strip on the front of the camera. The low-battery life indicator is absent until just before the power dies, so as with all digital cameras of all descriptions, your first accessory purchase should be a spare battery. Why do all digital camera makers bother to provide high ISO settings which are functionally useless? At ISO 1600, photos are hopelessly noisy and are just as certainly useless for printing. Either limit ISO to some semblance of usability (even ISO 800 is pushing things much too far in my opinion), or develop sensor technology and noise reduction that are usable at high ISO. Failing that, high ISO settings are nothing more than feature bloat of no practical value to the vast majority of photographers. The G7 is a rock solid little camera with the associated weight to match, so we're mystified as to why Canon chose to provide narrow, shallow, 1/4" (5.5mm) neck strap anchors. Basically, you're stuck with using either the stiff, narrow, vinyl neck strap supplied with the camera, or a third-party wrist strap (never a good idea). Considering the fact that the G7 is larger and heavier than most other compact cameras, Canon should have provided either standard 3/8" (9mm) strap anchors or a deeper mount which could accommodate split rings to which 3/8" strap webbing (and therefore a decent quality strap) could then be attached. These little things mean a lot. Poorly stepped shutter button—the half-press position is hard to detect which sometimes results in accidental shots. Pricey compared to the almost-as-good Nikon P5000.

Pros: The list of useful, well designed features is endless, but fades into obscurity when compared with the G7's excellent image quality. Photos made in a wide range of lighting conditions at ISO 80, 100 and 200 look remarkably sharp, clean and well balanced. Color accuracy and balance is excellent. Dynamic range (the camera's ability to capture properly exposed bright and dark areas in a single photo) is quite good—surprisingly so for the size of the sensor and digital compact camera technology in general. It's not a digital SLR after all, but serious photographers looking for a back up camera should give the Canon G7 a serious look. Amateur photographers and photography hobbyists should also give strong consideration to the G7 for its large and versatile feature and control set, for its image quality, and for its top notch design and generally good ergonomics. The Canon PowerShot G7 offers a retro/rangefinder look that is highly appealing. For whatever it's worth to you, the G7 will turn a few heads because of its technical appearance. Hardware controls work positively and responsively. Above all else, it's easy to use the Canon PowerShot G7 to create excellent photos. I liked the G7 so much that I purchased one for myself. Highly recommended.

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