In a previous article, I described my extremely positive experience using Canon's PowerShot G1 X, PowerShot G12, and PowerShot S100 with matching waterproof cases for several days. In this article, I'd like to share the advantages I found traveling with these cameras.
I am the kind of traveller whose backpack is typically 80% camera equipment and 20% clothes, often packing at least two high-end DSLR systems. So, the question at hand is this: will these PowerShot cameras replace my full-fledged EOS DSLR systems, at least in situations where convenience, size and weight really matter? I definitely had my doubts, but read on…
These G- and S-series PowerShots offer the same exposure control as EOS SLRs. Users can set their cameras on Aperture-priority (Av), Shutter priority (Tv), or Program (P) modes. For photographers who prefer full control, there is also a Manual (M) mode, which offers total and absolute control when combined with Spot metering (in the FUNC menu on S-series models) and a live histogram display (press DISP button to call it up). Remember that in this case the histogram is reading the entire image area, not simply monitoring the tonal values of the Spot-metered area. To learn how to interpret, and use histograms effectively, click here.
What about close-focusing? Instead of bringing a dedicated macro lens, these PowerShots have it built in for photographers who enjoy creating macro images. These examples of the Macro feature using the PowerShot G12 and S100 show the sharp and detailed close up shots that these cameras are capable of.
How about Image Stabilization? It's included as well. Just because these cameras are small, that doesn't mean that they compromise when it comes to their lenses. You might be surprised to learn that the 35mm film equivalent focal length on the G1X is 28–112mm, the S100 is 24–120mm, and the G12 delivers an amazing 28–140mm. This gives a great range from wide to telephoto that is normally seen in the standard zoom ranges of popular EF lenses such as the EF24–70mm f/2.8L II USM, EF24–105mm f/4L IS USM, or EF28–135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.
These cameras also offer HD video recording (the G1 X and S100 cameras capture up to full HD 1080p, and the G12 shoots up to 720p HD).
As an added bonus to advanced amateurs and professionals, all of these PowerShots also shoot in RAW. This offers a similar image flexibility found in EOS systems. Canon's RAW files can be adjusted and processed in the included Digital Photo Professional software, or in current third-party software applications.
There are instances where shooting JPEG images may be preferred. In those cases, users will find interesting features that allow for convenient in-camera processing for improved image quality or creative effects. On example of this feature is called "My Colors" (found via Function Button -> My Colors) which lets users fine-tune the default level of sharpening, contrast, and color saturation for JPEG files, effectively tailoring the image quality to the lighting and scene at hand. I enjoyed using the "Positive Film" setting because it reminded me of the look of my favorite (now discontinued) E6 slide film stocks.
Another image-quality feature for JPEG shooters is i-Contrast, which helps bring out detail in dark shadows and soften the hard contrast often produced when shooting in bright mid-day sunlight.
Note: These features only apply to JPEG files, and have no effect on RAW images.