Powershot G1/G2/G3/G5 (and Pro90IS) FAQ$Date: 2004/01/10 07:17:45 $
Thanks to everyone who has sent me a link or set me straight on the issues presented in this FAQ, including but not limited to Bart Van Oudenhove, Jeremy McCreary, Phil Askely, Samuli Vahonen, the many strobe testers, and The Usual Suspects on DPReview's Canon Forum and rec.photo.digital kb
A lot of the electronics are identical between the two cameras. The optics, of course, are different, but the CCD and supporting setup appear to be the same.
The G2 and G3, as you might suspect, are closely-related to the G1 the G2 shares the same lens with a new higher-res CCD, while the G3 shares the same G2 CCD while connecting it to a slightly-longer zoom. Both cameras have additional electronic improvements, particularly with respect to processing speed, focus improvements, and flash improvements.
Your battery is okay, it didn't really die! Open the battery compartment, slide the battery out, put it back in, and your power level should read correctly (full charge).
This is a minor bug in the camera's charging system, and occurs if the battery is fully depleted in the camera, then charged up again while still in the camera. If you charge externally, or even just remove the battery for a second and replace it before or after charging, this problem doesn't occur.
MY G1 Is Dead!!!!!
A handful of G1s have died over the past year, and apparently all of them from the same disease: blown fuse.
The symptoms are fairly obvious sudden power loss, lens sticking out, recharging or hooking up to the AC does nothing. It's a distressing experience!
The solutions are to either send it off to a repair shop for an ugly bill; do it yourself (described by reader "proflex" in this post on Pekka Sarrinen's board); or replace it. Replacement G1's are pretty cheap on Ebay these days maybe you'd like a G5?
If It's Just the Battery
Batteries don't recharge forever. Not even Li-Ion batteries. Both of my Canon batteries pooped out rather suddenly, and within a few weeks of one another, after three years of use. Replacing them showed the problem was the batteries themselves. So far, no blown fuse (crossing fingers)!
KB Oct 2003
The Canon batteries do last a very long time, as digicams go. But...
Your definition of "forever" may not be the same as your neighbor's. The best way to know if you will need extra batteries is to know your own shooting style. Might you shoot more than 100-200 photos in one setting? Do you carry a camera constantly? Do you use continuous autofocus (always "yes" for the Pro 90)? Do you let it go a long time between charges? Do you use the built-in flash a lot? Then you may be in the market for extra batteries. The first time you need one and don't have it, you'll decide :)
The Lenmar BCVL16 external charger, listed here, is a good economic alternative to Canon's external charger. Some users have worried that the charge is not as thorough as charging in the camera, but no hard data has yet surfaced. The one user who has sent in a report is pleased with his results.
Lenmar also sells BP-511-style batteries, which reportedly work well.
Panasonic has recently begun selling a BP-511 battery, for about the same price as the Canon. It's not yet certain if there's any performance difference.
Steve's Digicams recently published an overview of the current state of AA rechargeables, and you can read it here.
The camera does indeed often focus on the background, if it can't resolve a lot of contrast in the foreground. The AF system is contrast-based, and most people just aren't as contrasty as, say, a packed bookshelf behind them. The camera will try to maximize contrast and will focus on the books, not the person.
The solutions are either:
When shooting RAW, the camera also saves a small JPEG thumbnail image. This tiny thumbnail not the actual RAW data is what will get displayed when you set the camera to playback mode. Even if you zoom into the image, the thumbnail is what you'll see, and the tiny picture will look fuzzy and chunky when blown up in the camera.
Your actual RAW image will still be perfect, once you've downloaded it to your computer. The only way to see the true detail is to view it there.
If you have a G2 or G3, magnifiaction is built-in. if you have a G1, you can do it, though the technique's not in the manual.
Use the G1 in JPEG mode (digital zoom is unavailable when shooting in "RAW" mode). Use the simple shortcut hold the SET button and jog the zoom button to the left or right to zoom in or out. The LCD display will be magnified.
(Of course, this method of zooming blows up the pixels you don't really get more detail, but the larger display makes it easier to discern the subtle contrast differences that define "in focus.")
Once focused, zoom back out and shoot (more here).
(Another alternative, occasionally useful, is to use an external video monitor as a viewfinder the large view will make focusing easier)
You can create the illusion of digital zoom working in RAW mode, by engaging the digital zoom and then using the MENU to switch to RAW mode. The RAW thumbnail displayed by the cmaera and in ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser will be zoomed-in but the actual RAW image will still be full-frame.
Yes. If you have the image review function turned on, and press the * button to delete an image immediately after shooting it, MF turns off.
If you focus manually and then aim the LCD towards the front of the camera (say, because you want to be in the shot your self), the MF turns off.
Canon's two add-on lenses (also used on their top digital video cameras) appear to be very good the G1 can also accept Canon's 1.5 telephoto. All of them use a 58mm thread, which means that any add-on lens that you could add to the Canon GL-1 video camera should also fit the Powershots (G1 and G2 owners will need to use the appropriate Canon 58mm adapter).
For the G3, Canon has created a new bayonet-based mounting system. They apparently plan a broader range of accesory lenses, but the situation is still uncertain. It looks like G3 owners may be stuck with only the Canon "official" lenses.
An alternative for G1 and G2 owners is to use Susan Doel's LensMate adapter, which provides 49mm threads instead of 58mm threads (Hopefully a G3 version will appear...). Stepper rings are also available to connect accesories of different sizes say, to connect a lens with 55mm threads to the 49mm lensmate. Most stepper rings run less than $10 (I wouldn't recommend this as an alternative to Canon's adapter for use with Canon lenses, however use Canon's adapter for those).
Other manufacturers have also made adapters Tiffen makes one for their lenses; Kenko and PDS make 52mm direct adapters. 52mm is especially handy if you also have 35mm cameras both Nikon and older Canons use 52mm as their standard filter size.
A number of manufacturers make add-on lenses that can be used on the Powershots: Olympus makes some lenses worth checking out. The A-200 (around $80-90) is a 1.5x tele, and the now-discontinued B-300 (made for Olympus's IS-2 ZLR camera around $130) is a 1.7x tele. Tests have shown that at tele, the B-300 produces better, crisper results than Canon's more-expensive lens. The B-300's only real drawbacks are size and scope it was made for Olympus ZLR cameras (you'll need a stepper ring to 55mm) and is a bit hefty and vignetting at wide angles (Canon's can be used without serious vignetting, at the price of distortion). A G1 or G2 hooked up with a B-300 and a 550EX strobe can really make you question the term "compact"!
The A-200 connects directly to the Lensmate 49mm thread, and produced very good results as well (for a summary of Olympus and related teleconverters, also try this DPReview page.).
Another option made by Olympus is their A-28 wide angle adapter, which can readily be found for less than $100.
Century Precision Optics makes lenses for video cameras. These guys are a top company in making specialized lenses for motion-picture and television purposes, well worth a check. The gear they make for the GL1 uses the GL1 bayonet mount, but they also make most of their equipment with 58mm threads. They make a 2x teleconverter and four wideangle lenses ranging from 0.65x down to 0.3x(!) (An email from Century says they are not in the still-camera lens business not surprising, since that would place them in competition with Schenider, which recently acquired Century)
Tiffen, another prominent player in motion-picture optics, also makes a 2x teleconverter that can be connected to the G1 or G2 via the Lensmate's 49mm threads (for that matter, Tiffen also produces their own filter adapter to the G1), and a 0.5x 49mm wide-angle lens. Recently, Tiffen introduced a new premium line they call MegaPlus they list the G1 in the compatibility chart, but to date no results have been seen.
Kenko makes a number of lenses ranging from a 49mm-sized 5.0x teleconverter to a 58mm-compatable 0.65x wideangle and 0.5x wideangle for 49mm.
The UK company EagleEye makes a 5x teleconverter, but I haven't seen it used on a Powershot. The only report I've heard so far is that is suffers from strong vignetting (black areas in the corners).
Raynox has also announced G1 optics, but their main page is unreadbale from my web browser. I *can* read this page showing their CRT-1800 1.8x tele. The tele seems to have quite a bit of focus error and chromatic distortion, growing towards the corners see here for full-sized example image.
For the G3, the lens focuses closer but macro lenses may not be available. Pro90, G1, and G2 owners can use macro diopters just as they would use any other filter.
Click here to see our G1 diopter test.
Century makes top-quality +1 +2 +4 and +7 diopter lenses for macro use. These differ from typical "macro lenses" in that they are achromatic their is little or no chromatic aberration (at least in visible wavelengths) from these lenses.
Most "Closeup lenses" available in photo stores can be purchased in 58mm or 49mm sizes generally these are single-element affairs that in many ways can be considered a kind of filter. My old set of Tiffens came together in a pouch +1, +2, and +4 diopters.
As an extreme example, you can use the Lensmate or Canon filter adapter, a reversing ring, and hook up a flipped-backward 35mm camera lens for use as a flat(ter)-field macro lens. It has been done!
The Pro90 has 58mm filter threads, and the G1 and G2 can either use the same 58mm threads via Canon's adapter, or 49mm via Lensmate. Intermediate sizes can also be used via stepping rings (I use 52mm filters, which fit onto Canon and Nikon SLRs, connected to a lensmate and a 49->52mm stepper ring).
The G3, with its proprietary mount, looks like it may end up permanently filter-less (not counting the internal ND0.9 filter).
Several filters can be particularly useful with the Powershot. The most generally useful is probably a protective UV or Skylight filter, which can serve to protect your lens from dirt and scratches at all times (for the G1, I leave the Lensmate on almost all the time, with a Nikon "L1bc" skylight screwed onto it, and a Nikon 52mm lens cap which occasionally draws confused looks).
The next useful filter for most users would be a polarizer a simple linear polarizer should be adequate. Experiments with both circular and linear polarizers with my G1 shows no real difference in image quality, but the price difference can be considerable.
Other useful filters include closeup lenses, effects filters like gradients, and IR/UV/HotMirror filters for photography outside visible wavelengths (more on that later).
Many filter makers provide useful guides to the uses of their filters.
You can either shoot them yourself using a lighttable and closeup lenses, or (far more dependable) use a slide converter like the one sold here by Photosolve.
Place an IR-pass filter (deep, deep, red) on the camera and click away. Different brands of filters will pass different amounts of light in different wavelength ranges, so choose carefully. The Hoya filter is a popular choice boith for results and economics.
Yes and no. It will fire, but the "A-TTL" metering method used by the "EZ" series flashes doesn't function with the new powershots (or Canon EOS-D30). The "EZ" strobes must be used as full-power manual flashes.
A table of EOS speedlights and compatability can be found here
Besides Canon's "EX" strobe series, you can use many non-TTL strobes, including studio strobe packages. See this page for detailed info and listings on non-Canon strobes compatable with the Powershot.
Sadly, the different firmware updates made by Canon for the Pro90 and G1 have actually been reported to render a few previously-useful non-Canon flashes unusable. No explanation why.
Yes, the G1 and G2 work with 550EX and/or 420EX strobes, though imperfectly. The new G3 finally provides official support for this great flash remote. Using the wireless transmitter is also the only way found so far to use the G1/G2 with the 550EX stroboscopic "MULTI" mode set the 550EX to be a manual slave, and trigger it from the transmitter via the camera "Tv" mode.
More info on the ST-E2 right here at Botzilla.
Yes indeed they are. The "Flash" White Balance setting is actually a special form of Auto White Balance (AWB), tuned especially for flash. The reason for this, apparently, is because Canon engineers know that many people like to bounce flash around a room, and flash often co-exists with ambient light. The "flash" setting tunes the WB to accomodate color that may "bleed" into the image from bounce and/or the extra contribution of ambient.
If you want a "pure" flash setting, perhaps because you are using studio strobes or some other setup where you know the uncolored strobes are meant to be the "white" light source, set your camera to "Daylight" White Balance.
What you're seeing is called lateral chromatic aberration and it's common to many digital cameras and seems to be caused by CCD's over-sensitivity to infrared light. See this Botzilla page for many details.
There are a few ways to correct this problem, including repair in Photoshop or attempts at aberration prevention using special (expensive) "hot-mirror" filters, which suppress some infrared light.
The two most-common methods of repair in Photoshop are to either adjust the overall Hue and Saturation of Magenta tones (this method is promoted by Phil Askley at this page on DPReview). Select "Image->Hue/Saturation," select "Magentas" in dialog box's pulldown menu, and reduce the saturation. This works well for many cases.
Another useful alternative (especially when the aberration occurs in a colored area, like a face) is to use the Photoshop "Select->ColorRange" function to isolate areas where the aberration occurs; then either selectively desaturate them, or (my favorite) select another color from an unaffected area, switch to airbrush, set the airbrush color option to "Hue," and paint in a more-or-less correct hue for the affected area(s). This is more work, certainly, but provides pretty good control (and using selection is the only way to go if you picture contains magentas that are supposed to be in the shot!).
Little or no chromatic aberration appears when exposures are made with flash illumination a good reason to use flash whenever possible, because flash really does give the best color.
The downside just as with using manual flash, the LCD will go black once you've prefocused. This makes it tough to shoot animated subjects using the LCD, but okay for still lifes or shooting from a tripod.
Here are sites of a few. Most are commercial, though a few are shareware or freeware.... Caution: many 3rd party programs understand JPG, but not Canon RAW (though if they understand TWAIN, they can use Canon's TWAIN driver)
Click here to see David Burren's decoding of Canon's proprietary EXIF MakerNote format.
Not too well. ImageBrowser is a "classic" application, and runs in (OS9) "Classic mode." This makes it slow. Worse yet, classic mode apps have no access to USB devices, so you can't talk to the camera!
Instead, you need to keep a bootable version of OS 9.1 around, so that you can boot 9.1, run ImageBrowser, and be able to talk to the camera over the USB line. I suggest doing all your RAW conversions at that point, before rebooting OS-X.
To add injury, Epson Photo Stylus printers like the 870 and 1270 are so far completely unsupported under OS-X :(
You can't! For some screwy reasons, when ImageBrowser downloads RAW images onto a Macintosh, it joins the multiple Canon files together into a single Mac file with multiple resources. This is all fine and good, but the TWAIN driver will no longer recognize those files. So once a RAW file has been downloaded from the camera to your Macintosh via ImageBrowser, you must use ImageBrowser to do all further RAW->TIFF conversions.
The TWAIN driver can only import images directly from the camera, or from a flashcard mounted as a disk drive (via a PC card adapter or other card reader).
PC users don't have this problem.... Canon saved it for the Mac :/
You can get other product literature directly from Canon each model's media seems to appear eventually.
Another alternative to the manual might be Dennis Curtin's G1 shortcourse.
The G1 and Pro90 should be able to print well to 8x10 and 11x14. Depending upon your tolerance and the clarity of your shot, that could go larger to 16x20 or beyond and printing to a screened four-color process, say for magazine or ad work, might permit even greater sizes. More to come on this topic (including links, since this is a general topic of interest to all digital camera owners).
This "white Paper" from Schneider Optics in Germany is one of the better references I've found on the web about the technical details of image sharpness for digital.
Another source for comparisons of 3MP printing can be found here, at the luminous landscape site.
Holding the Pro90 IS is much simpler than the G1, thanks to the Pro 90's obvious integrated grip. The G1 is problematic holding it loosely, "point and shoot style," lets the camera wobble. It gets worse with a strobe, since the camera is so small.
Using a Lensmate or Canon adapter lets you hold the camera like a 35mm rangefinder or SLR (especially if you keep your "lens hand" under the camera for support, unlike the photos on that page!), but then you run the risk of obscuring the AF assist light and built-in flash with your thumb... then again, if you're shooting in good light, you might sometimes want to obscure the AF light with your finger the bright blinking AF assist can be distracting to people who are being photographed (and besides, sometimes you may not want them to know just when you're making an exposure!).
Some users have taken to keeping a grip or a small tripod permanently attached to the camera the tiny "Piccolo" tripod is one option (personally, I keep a Manfrotto tabletop in my bag, but not connected fulltime to the camera). Some tiny tripods can be used as a grip or folded neatly out of the way very quickly.
An enterprising machinist in Kanagawa Japan has created the ultimate G1 handgrip, and sells it, too a bit pricy but well worth it, according to all who've purchased one.
Of course, it's a matter of preference whether you want to hold the camera up to your eye or at arm's length. For pure functionality, I vote for eye-level viewing a big advantage for the Pro90. If instead you are holding the camera at arm's length while fiddling with menus and displays, then shifting your own eye's focus back and forth from the LCD to the subject, then you're wasting what may be crucial split-seconds.
Set the preview time to two seconds. If you want to look at an image for a longer time, press the SET button during that two-second delay. The image will remain displayed until you touch the shutter button.
Just remove the cap, give the shutter button a half-press, and the lens will extend without having to power cycle.
Of course, if you leave your Lensmate or Canon filter adapter on the camera at all times, this is never a problem.
The "new" 340MB Microdrive has a part number of DSCM-10340 the "old" Microdrive has a part number of DMDM-10340. Some people also call the new Microdrive the "4500rpm version."
There's only one problem with the "new" Microdrive it doesn't exist!
While IBM did say that such a drive could exist, and assigned it a part number, the DSCM-10340 has never actually been manufactured.
The 1GB DSCM-11000, however, can be purchased from a variety of dealers.
As for problems with the microdrive, it seems hit and miss for the 340MB (mine died), but the 1GB seems okay. The problem seems to be more from inconsistent IBM manufacturing than from Canon (but I'm no HD engineer, and IBM may have a very different opinion!).
Yes, and it apparently causes no harm. If you fold the LCD out, you may discover that the heat is actually coming from inside the camera itself probably the CCD.
It's the sound of the lens aperture opening and closing to accomodate different light levels. The aperture is one of the few parts of all digicams that is still mechanical.
My own ranking (for now):
Check right here for a listing of the gear I (Bjorke) use.
Using a Powershot in very cold temperatures (below zero F) can be problematic for three reasons: batteries become sluggish and their life is usually reduced (including the AAs in your strobe), condensation can occur on the camera and lens, and the lubricants in the camera can freeze.
Usually frozen batteries will be the first thing to get you in extreme cold the camera will just refuse to extend the lens, and the LCD will go white.
Condensation can be more insidious, because water can be re-frozen to ice and cause very tiny problems. Be very cautious about moving the camera quickly from cold to warm (and back to cold) environments. Some people like to keep their camera in an airtight plastic pouch when shooting in the cold, to avoid condensation from outside air. Another good way to avoid trouble is simply to keep the camera inside your coat except when actually shooting (back when I lived in Minnesota and -70F windchills were not unusual, I knew many photographers who refused to use any electronics-intensive cameras, prefering used mechanical F-1's and Nikon F2s... some with the lubricants removed entirely)
Ewa-Marine also lists the G1 on their site, and surely thePro90 can't be far behind.
See our link collection here.
Pekka Saarinen has an excellent site and a nice suite of links here.
|There is a Canon G web ring:
|She'd get Pixel
|To Tax Canon
|Not a Contax
|Am loco blitz!
|Canon G Three
|Powershot G Two
|Get Pro Shot, Wow!
|Pro Ninety IS
|Ripe Tin Sony
|Powershot G One
|See Wrong Photo
While there are only a few books on digital photography, the basics of the photographic craft have been stable for a long time, and the principles of light and composition go back for centuries. That said, many good books on general photo technique can be applied to the Powershots just think of them as cameras loaded with ISO 50 (or 100, 200, or 400) slide film and off you go.
Your best bet for photo books isn't the bookstore go to the library first! Almost any library will have far more photo books than any casual individual can afford.
Good bets for general photo information:
There are many books, like Weiner's, on the specifics of portraiture, sports photography, animals, children, glamour you name it. Use your library, and don't forget to check the oversized rack many of the best photo books will be found there.
Maine Photographic Workshops are a longtime resource for ambitious and pro photographers.
Photographers highly recommended by the FAQ editor (and all of them with books in the local library and a presence on the web): Sam Abell, Elliot Erwitt, Sally Mann, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Bill Owens, Gilles Peress, W. Eugene Smith, Ansel Adams (always the only landscape shooter in lists like this... hmmm), Chris Rainier (a former Adams assistant), James Natchwey, Jock Sturges, George Hurrell, William Klein, Mary Ellen Mark... so many!
A line which has stuck with me for many years, attributed to a National Geographic editor (Robert Gilka): "We're up to our armpits in great photographers, but up to our ankles in good ideas."
Keep your eyes open, and good hunting!
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