Product Review: Page (1) of 3 - 01/09/02 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Canon PowerShot G2

4.1 Megapixel camera great for websites and animated textures By Stephen Schleicher
Canon PowerShot G2Digital cameras have been the blessing of every digital content creator, whether the images captured are used for websites, product shots, textures for 3D models, desktop publishing, or even just reference. In the old days of digital cameras (a short three years ago), the more megapixels a camera had the more expensive it became (sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars). As times changed, cameras have gotten cheaper. Granted, the more megapixels you have the more you are going to spend, but instead of tens of thousands of dollars, now you can just spend hundreds of dollars. Recently I placed the Canon PowerShot G2 camera on my holiday wish list of gadgets and gizmos to have. As it turns out I couldnt wait until Christmas Day, and ended up purchasing one just before my trip to California.

In early November I was really looking for a new digital camera. The Agfa CL50 that I had been using the last couple of years was nice, but for the type of images I really wanted to capture, I was going to need something better. As an animator, going out and capturing your own textures for use on your models can be a huge timesaver later in the production process. In order to capture high quality textures, you need a camera that can deliver. The 1.5 megapixel camera that I had been using just wasnt up to par for that. Also I wanted a camera that had features that would let me adjust exposure and focus. I had pegged the Canon PowerShot G2 as the potential winner, but didnt want to make a purchase without being able to see the results first, and trying to find a location in this desolate land they call Kansas that actually carried the camera was even more problematic.


Stephen and Mickey
Paulo Flower
The Canon PowerShot G2 takes great photos - if you are mugging with Mickey Mouse (top photo by Stephen Schleicher), or capturing dynamic shots (bottom photo by Paulo de Andrade). Click images for larger view.
Timed Exposure
In low light you can use a timed exposure to get a very nice romantic shot. Click for larger image (photo by Paulo de Andrade
Then I got an email from fellow Digital Media Net Producer Paulo de Andrade who wanted to show me some of the pictures he had just taken with his new camera. The images were fantastic! And as it turned out, his camera just so happened to be the Canon PowerShot G2. Those results were enough to convince me to go ahead and make the purchase, and I am glad I did.

Considering this camera is targeted toward the advanced amateur, this compact digital camera is very surprising. With 4.1 million pixels (4 million effective), 3x optical zoom, and a built in flash, this camera can capture some truly amazing images. On the most basic level, this camera acts as a simple point and shoot digital camera that will automatically focus, adjust iris, exposure and flash to help those with little photography experience take images that can be used right away. For those with more experience or for users trying to capture a particular effect, the Canon PowerShot G2, has several shooting modes to help out. These shooting modes are very similar to the shooting modes found on other Canon gear including the GL1 and XL1S.

    Manual Mode -- user has complete control of all of the camera settings.
    Aperture Priority -- user can set the aperture to control the depth of field. The shutter speed is set automatically.
    Shutter Speed Priority -- user sets the shutter speed, and the camera sets the aperture. This is nice as you can do time exposures up to 15 seconds. The drawback is the camera has a built in noise reduction filter for slow shutter speed shots and this can cause the image to look a little soft in the end.
    Program Mode -- the G2 sets the aperture and shutter speed automatically.
    Auto Mode -- all parameters are automatic.
    Pan-Focus -- allows for greater depth of field and faster shooting speeds.
    Portrait -- the G2 sets a large aperture to narrow the depth of field and blur the background when taking portrait shots.
    Landscape -- just the opposite of Portrait mode in which the camera sets a deep depth of field.
    Night Scene -- the G2 uses a slow sync flash and exposes for the background to shooting at night.
    Photo Effect -- the G2 has several built in digital effects to create black and white images, sepia tone, or enhanced color shots.
    Stitch Assist -- if you are taking panoramic shots, or plan to create QTVR movies in a program like REALVIZ Stitcher, then this mode helps to ensure that images have proper overlap.
    Movie Mode -- two shooting modes capture 15fps in QuickTime format.


The Lens
Wide Shot
Telephoto shot
The optical zoom on the G2 lets you take very wide images (top) or zoom in to get framing just right (bottom). Click images for larger views (photos by Stephen Schleicher)
Digital Zoom
Avoid using digital zoom when you can. The results often leave something to be desired. Click for larger image (photo by Stephen Schleicher)
The Canon PowerShot G2 4.1 megapixel CCD has a built in RGB filter that helps to improve clarity and reduce noise in the image. But the CCD isnt the only thing that helps make good pictures. The lens of the G2, with a 7-21mm focal length (35mm equivalent focal length of 34 to 102mm), will produce images from a nice wide, to just on the other side of telephoto. If the 3.6x optical zoom wont do it for you, the G2 also has an 11x digital zoom. Personally, a digital zoom is not something you want to use often as it usually leads to pixilated image that leave something to be desired. The camera has a normal auto focus from 2.3 feet all the way to infinity, and it also sports a macro focus for images between 6 and 70cm.

There are two ways to frame shots with this unit. The first is the built in viewfinder, which unlike some other digital cameras, is a real optical viewfinder, letting you see what you will get using the optical zoom. A slight problem with this type of viewfinder is it cannot show you what the digital zoom looks like. The other problem is if you are outside -- say at the beach -- it is very hard to hear the servos that let you know when you have moved in and out of digital zoom mode. If you heed my advice about digital zooms, you can turn that off in the menu. I like an optical viewfinder because it lets you see the image clearly, and not an LCD representation that are found on some other digital camera viewfinders. A drawback I that there is no eye cup, and if you are a glasses guy like me, that can limit what can be seen in the viewing area.

The other viewfinder is the flip-out LCD monitor. A flip out LCD panel is nothing new and is found on almost every digital device today, but this panel does have excellent resolution at 512 x 218 pixels and is bright enough to be used even on the sunniest day. The panel can flip out to the side, or be rotated around and collapsed for normal shooting. When the LCD panel is folded back, you can often forget that the screen is pointing out when you go to put the unit away, and this can be a potential for damage (see disadvantages section). The other drawback to an LCD panel is that it forces you to move the camera away from your body when you are framing a shot, which causes the camera to be less stable and susceptible to movement. However, if you use a tripod, or rely on a steady hand, then you shouldnt have many problems.

LCD Viewfinder
The Canon PowerShot G2 has a flip out LCD panel that works great even on the sunniest days.

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Related Keywords:Canon, PowerShot G2, digital camera, photography, animation, graphics, web design, website, content creation, desktop publishing, digital webcast, digital animators, stephen schleicher

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