First look - Canon G16
Canon Germany sent me a beautiful new G16 to give a shot and see what I think of it. It's been quite some time I had a camera like this in my hands. The first G I encountered was the G9 and at that time I hadn't seen or used no other camera like it. Price, features, quality size were basically unmatched. The next one I remember really hearing of was the G11. I know there was a G1X something and so on. Times have changed a lot since 2007. Mobile phones have been slashing at the small camera market like Jason Voorhees. That not being enough the Micro Four Thirds cameras came to the market and are a revelation for many. Fuji on the other hand has basically created their own fast growing market within a market with their X series cameras. Interesting enough in all this camera craziness we find the big two Canon and Nikon to be a bit shy... or should I say misguided as the Nikon V and J cameras kinda obviously show. Also the Canon M was not the big hit everyone was hoping for. Sony on the other hand just pulled a Fuji and brought out a series of fantastic little non-dslr cameras. So... I guess you see where I am getting at. I am world of way too many cameras, is there still space for cameras like the Canon G16 and if yes, what can and should they offer.
I have only had this puppy for a few days and I am trying to get a lot of different stuff done. I did a little product shoot with it, I am shooting in the streets and some stuff I normally would shoot with my phone. Also one or two natural light portraits are in the mix. Maybe a bit obsessive, but I really wanted to get to the bottom of this. I either carry "only" my iPhone with me or bring at least one of my big DSLRs with me, and I mean at times where I am not shooting a job. It's nice to have a camera with you as you never know what is going to happen and I shoot quite a lot with my phone, especially if I want to share it via Instagram or something right away. Still there are times where I wished I had a "proper" camera with me instead of my phone. Something where I can set specific things manually and not fight/trick the operating system to get a result I want. Just set it to f2.0 at 2000th of a second and go! As good as cameras in phones like the iPhone 5s or the Nokia Lumia 1020, they still have one limit that is not yet being addressed... lens size and actually sensor size with that. Thats where my hopes for the G16 and cameras of this sort are. On our last Instagram Shootout in New York and Los Angeles Joseph Linaschke > had his Olympus OM-D with an Eyefi card in it and his iPad Retina Mini with him and did all his shots on that. I am not interested in a Micro Four Thirds system, especially not in anything with interchangeable lenses, but here comes the G16s time to shine. It is slim, the lens retracts completely into the body, it sports a full size hot shoe and feels well in my quite large hands. It also offers full manual control and a lot of technical goodies I might not touch on in their entirety, but you know where to go for a much more technical review of the camera.
In the limited time that I had the G16 the following points came up and keep in mind this is no final verdict or feeling... things like that have to form over time.
It actually is a lot of fun to shoot with the G16. Coming from using mainly larger DSLRs and my iPhone, so having full manual controls at your fingertip in a small package like that. Startup time is quick enough not to miss anything and the shutter-button has a nice feel to it, half or fully pressed and in between. The Autofocus accuracy is good, I just had some minor troubles at times with either bad light and dark spots especially when two objects are overlapping too much. Nothing frustrating, but worth mentioning. One fantastic feature the G16 sports is the manual focus with focus peaking. You have to turn the focus peaking on first, but it works great and you adjust focus by the back wheel.
Photo quality is good in any situation I put it in so far. Especially in controlled environments like the Cardhu shoot I did (more on that in a few days, incl. the final image of course).
I dark or high contrast situations the noise gets quite high, but is quite easily removed in, for example, Lightroom. but I would not go far above ISO 3200. Never say never though. Sharp, vibrant colors and thanks to the 1.8-2.8 aperture lens you can get a nice shallow depth of field. Also here I didn't have a lot time for a Bokeh-Party thought it looks promising. You have a zoom range from 28 to 140mm (equivalent). Another nice bonus is the built in Wifi module. I tried the built in Wifi with the iOS App Canon provides and I used my Eyefi card, both work without hiccups The Canon app has a nice geo-tagging feature that might be interesting for many, but the app itself... well... it just looks not worth a company like Canon. 1995 called and wants their gradients back!
You seem to be able to get decent video out of the G16, play with the aperture and most importantly it offers a 60p mode at 1080p. Also here I had basically no time to shoot anything decent and will follow up on that soonish.
Lets get to the "not so good" parts... For one there is optical viewfinder. YAY you say and yes, the fact alone it has one is a great thing, but it basically is the same one I have on my trusty Lomo LCA+. just a little window, that in the lower left corner shows you a bit of the lens and nothing else. No settings, not even an exposure meter. I get it... at this price point you can't put in a funky hybrid viewfinder like on the much more expensive Fuji X100/s, but an exposure meter... c'moooooooon!!!! then there is the screen. it could be a bit crisper, but here I really understand that the price might have been an issue and thankfully no touchscreen. Also here I have a bit bigger problem/wish and that is that the screen is fixed... no way to swivel around, like some competitors offer. I get how "pro" cameras do not tend to have that and how this cam is marketed, but your biggest competitors are going that way and it would make the G16 even more useful. the third and last gripe that I have so far with the G16 is that I cannot switch off the noise reduction completely... I might have overlooked something and I will take some time to work through all the menus and settings over christmas, but for now I haven't found a way and I do not like that.
As you can see, the negative points aren't very big points... and as far as this first look has let me I really like the G16. It is in my daily carry with my new retina iPad Mini and it feels good. And the market is very saturated with a lot of different cameras, but that gives our personal tastes and needs a lot of possibilities to explore and grow and find the camera we want. So if you are in the market for a small all in one camera like this and the negative point that I mentioned are not too important for you, go have a closer look at it or consider it for a last minute christmas gift for dad. Oh and a huge PLUS I forgot to mention above, the battery seems to be marathon runner. Will not put my hand in the fire for it just now, but I haven't charged it yet.
I will keep using it and there is certainly more to come. I should also mention that I processed the photos quite differently to show a little bit of variety and on some I used some noise reduction in Lightroom, in some I didn't. Hope you enjoyed and have a great weekend. And of course the first three photos in this post where not made with the G16.