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Canon G10

I haven’t enjoyed using a camera this much in years, and I take pictures for a living. Smaller than a digital SLR but larger than an ultracompact point and shoot, Canon’s G10 is portable yet substantial enough to hold steady. I’ve had other point and shoots in the past, but this is the first that’s given me the right combination of intuitive exposure control and ease of use, so that I actually make the effort to grab it and use it every day. The big bright LCD allows me to forgo the optical viewfinder entirely (something I never imagined I’d do), and the exposure-indicating display is similar enough to those found on the analog cameras I used years ago, with the bonus of its histogram preview. Setting shutter speed and aperture manually makes sense as it would on a full-size DSLR. With the G10 I don’t have to be bothered to choose a lens to mount on the front of the camera before stepping out of the house, so I do step out of the house with it, daily. And yet when I’m pushing pixels later on, I’m not disappointed by files that are sub-par.

Traditional camera lovers tend to enjoy the subtly classic design of the G10, reminiscent of the Contax G2 35mm rangefinder, and those same photographers might also enjoy the Panasonic LX3, with its wide Leica lens and sleek body, which is more compact than the G10 and a close competitor. l prefer the G10, partly because its greater telephoto capabilities allow me to take snapshots of unfamiliar birds while out hiking, so that I can identify them later. And it is $200 cheaper than the LX3.

G10-2sm.jpg

Image quality from its 14.7 Megapixel CCD sensor is impressive, particularly in daylight settings. Movie quality is very good (640×480 px. @ 30 fps), though zooming capability while shooting would be a welcome enhancement. The macro feature is outstanding. Full manual controls are available, as are RAW files, necessary for getting the most out of any digital camera. The G10′s predecessor, the G9, is also a worthwhile buy (check eBay, since the G9′s no longer on the market), though the pending doom of obsolescence is one step nearer.

-- Elon Schoenholz  

Canon Powershot G10
$450 (used, via Amazon)

Manufactured by Canon

Available from Amazon

Or $500 new via Google Shopping Note: The G11 has since replaced the G10, so supplies of the G10 are limited.