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  #1  
Old November 22nd, 2013, 11:56 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Default The Canon PowerShot G16

As many of you know, when we decided to look into a "B camera" (something smaller and lighter than our Canon EOS 40D with an EF 24-105 or EF-S 18-200 aboard), one candidate that came to our attention was the then freshly released Canon PowerShot G16.

But for various reasons (not the least of which was that it would not actually be available for a month or so and I am bad on delayed gratification), we gravitated toward the Panasonic DMC-FZ200. It had a greater zoom ratio than the G16, and I feared that the zoom-coupled OVF of the G16 might not really cut it for accurate composition (I had never looked through one).

The FZ200 turns out to be a very nice machine. It handles well, and the user interface is very likable. The EVF is quite good (although I would like it to have a larger image). Of course its mere existence dooms any prospect that I could take photographs like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Theodoros Fotometria (of course, I rarely take actual photographs anyway).

The speed of response is pretty good, but not quite what I had hoped for. (You recall my classical complaint of many years' standing in this area: "By the time it fires, the councilman has taken his hand off the mayor's knee".)

A major concern is that the flash metering is very erratic in various ways (we are using a "recommended" Panasonic flash unit.)

And I always have the vague feeling, examining the images from it, that they "lack something". (Maybe that's a bunch of mm of sensor area!) Carla says it lacks the Canon logo.

So, just to get some closure, we have indeed ordered a G16. It is now reported as being on the local UPS truck, in the middle of the 7-hour journey from the UPS depot just around the corner to World Headquarters.

So, hopefully soon I will have some reports on the next member of our arsenal of cameras of varying size (this one occupying the "fits in a big pocket" position).

Best regards,

Doug
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Old November 23rd, 2013, 07:33 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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The Canon PowerShot G16 arrived at World Headquarters about 7:00 pm last night.

General

It is a very handsome machine. Our first impression was, "it's so little, and so heavy". In fact, it has almost the same dimensions as our Canon Powershot SX150 IS (a bit thinner with the lens retracted, as a matter of fact) and weighs a few ounces more. It is readily pocketable.

It gives the impression of a nice optical instrument.

User interface

The user interface is generally quite good. The working of the controls can be considerably customized.

As with a number of Canon cameras, a key user input is a back wheel that is itself also is a four-way "tilt pad". When one wants to turn the wheel (to make some setting) it is easy to press the thing down on one side and thus deploy the parachute brake or such.

Unusual is that it has a very nice dedicated wheel on top to set exposure compensation. That's "nice".

The lens

The lens affords a range of field of view corresponding to 28-140 mm ff35 EFL. The maximum aperture is f/1.8 at full wide and f/2.8 at full telephoto.

Zoom operation is smooth, but there is not really an opportunity to have "slow vs. fast change".

One can set up a way to "jump" to one of several predetermined focal lengths.

Flash metering

Flash metering seems well-behaved both with the wee onboard flash unit erected and with a Canon Speedlite 270EX on board.

Because the body is so small, it is a bit "topheavy" even with the rather small 270EX on board.

Optical viewfinder

The optical viewfinder was a major matter of interest. Its image is relatively "small" (and my thoughts on how to quantify that, or even how to state it in a meaningful qualitative way, are in a state of flux just now, so I will not attempt to be more explicit). It is "noticeably smaller" than the image of the EVF in our new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200.

It shows a magnification of 1.0 when the lens is set to almost its full focal length, 140 mm ff35 EFL. (That is related to the "smallness" of the finder image.)

The finder image is somehow "dispirited".

The tracking of its FOV with zoom of the taking lens seems to work well. The coverage is stated at 80%.

The eye relief (distance the eye can be from the face of the window and still see the entire finder image) is small. There is no eyecup, and the window does not lend itself well to adding one.

There is no data shown in the finder image. There are the familiar indicator LEDs adjacent to the window that light, for example, to indicate that focus has been attained or that the flash (if engaged) is ready.

When composing through the finder, the monitor screen is a bit of a distraction. It can be blanked, but that requires cycling a display mode control through several phases.

Overall, I find that I do not enjoy working through the optical viewfinder.

Image quality

I have not yet taken shots that will give insight into various aspects of image quality, including the noise/resolution tradeoff over various values of ISO sensitivity.

We fully expect that overall there will be some improvement over the performance of the DMC-SZ200.

Its future

We have tentatively concluded that this very nice machine does not well fit a need here that justifies the investment in it (USD 500.00).

We may send it back to the vendor after competing our initial testing.

I'll keep you up-to-date on the final decision on that.

Best regards,

Doug
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  #3  
Old November 23rd, 2013, 08:23 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
Overall, I find that I do not enjoy working through the optical viewfinder.
I did not want to spoil your expectations, so I did not post my impression about the optical finders of the Canon G series but, in a nutshell, they are downright abominations.
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Old November 23rd, 2013, 08:29 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I did not want to spoil your expectations, so I did not post my impression about the optical finders of the Canon G series but, in a nutshell, they are downright abominations.
Fully agreed (an ex G9 victim). I've looked at the G15/16 at a shop and they seemed useless.
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  #5  
Old November 23rd, 2013, 09:04 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Jerome,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I did not want to spoil your expectations, so I did not post my impression about the optical finders of the Canon G series but, in a nutshell, they are downright abominations.
Well, quite.

But, as you know, one of my criteria for certain work is "effective shutter lag", and on the G16, when working through the OVF, it seems to be very close to zero. In fact, it may even be negative! Perhaps a little bit of "time gone by" is in the pipeline! (and this may depend on whether the monitor screen is running or not!).

So as always, we face opposing attributes, to be weighed through the model of what we look to do!

Sometimes, to clear a clogged fuel line, one must blow through a nasty hose.

The decision about the G16 is a complicated one. Carla will probably decide (heavy reliance here on the wisdom of the Cherokee).

Thanks for your inputs.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old November 23rd, 2013, 09:50 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
But, as you know, one of my criteria for certain work is "effective shutter lag", and on the G16, when working through the OVF, it seems to be very close to zero. In fact, it may even be negative!
I forgot about that particular criteria of yours. Some cameras do have negative shutter lag in that they can be put in a special mode where they take a continuous stream of pictures in a buffer and save the ones from the past when the user presses the release button. I have seen this in video cameras, but I would have to look it up to be 100% sure it exists in still cameras.
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Old November 23rd, 2013, 10:47 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Jerome,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I forgot about that particular criteria of yours. Some cameras do have negative shutter lag in that they can be put in a special mode where they take a continuous stream of pictures in a buffer and save the ones from the past when the user presses the release button. I have seen this in video cameras, but I would have to look it up to be 100% sure it exists in still cameras.
Yes, I doubt if this really has such, but its live view flow may lead to something very near it.

I'll be doing some more testing to get further insight.

The Cherokee elder has ordained that the machine remain with us.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old November 25th, 2013, 09:46 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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As you know, one of my criteria for a digital camera is a low delay between the pressing of the shutter release (let's say with focus already attained, as at "half press") and the "opening" of the shutter (optical or electronic).

This criterion comes mainly from such tasks as shooting the speaker at a meeting, where an "animated" speaker may move his face so rapidly that an attempt to catch just the right expression can be thwarted by too great a delay. In fact, the same criterion applies to shooting great-grandchildren.

We do not have complete apparatus for rigorously determining this time. We have a very nice timing clock, whose hand makes one revolution per second, with a scale that can be readily read to a precision of 5 ms. But there is not as of yet any electrical output from this at "zero" that can be used to trip the shutter release through an external interface on the camera (if any).

Thus I am basically dependent on visual observation of the zero point of the clock, and experience suggests that an error in the mean result on the order of 20 ms is to be expected.

For the cases in which if I am speaking about delay in absolute terms (that is, not taking into account any impact of latency in a monitor or EVF view of the scene), I have an additional cue by way of a mechanism that produces an audible click when the clock pointer is at essentially zero (I normally keep that adjusted to click at -10 ms to allow for propagation of the click from the clock to my position at the camera, typically 10 feet away.)

All that having been said, it looks as if for the Canon PowerShot G16, we have the following:

Image capture delay (from half press; "S1" as Canon says): approximately 40 ms.

Of course, when observing the action via the monitor screen, the latency of that display vis--vis actual life adds to the base delay.

We determine the amount of that latency this way. We have the test camera on a tripod, observing the test clock. The monitor display is enabled. The test clock is running continuously.

I then use another camera to take a shot that embraces both the clock itself and the image on the monitor screen of the camera under test. The difference in the clock pointer position between the clock itself and its image on the monitor screen gives a direct and very reliable indication of the latency of the display.

For the G16, under the test conditions so far, that seems to be very nearly 100 ms. I have tested at two (modestly) different scene luminance situations, and so far do not find that the latency depends on scene luminance.
Some "live view" systems change the refresh rate and thus the latency depending on the scene luminance.
But I have not tested over a sufficient range of scene luminance to determine whether or not that ever plays a role in the latency of the G16's monitor display.

I hope to later do testing with the rig outside, under direct sun illumination, to get a data point at the corresponding greater scene luminance level (but it is snowing today and as well I have limited mobility/agility due to some sort of orthopedic difficulty in my right thigh, so that may be delayed some).

In any case, the suggestion is that, in the case of "synchronization-critical" shots, working through the OVF (feeble though it is in various regards) can be very beneficial.

And this is of course one reason why we bought the G16.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old November 26th, 2013, 10:18 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Here we examine the "coverage" of the optical viewfinder of my Canon Powershot G16 .

This shot was taken at a focal length of 10.5 mm (ff35 EFL 48.3 mm), with the distance to the subject about 75 feet.

We see the entire taken image. The white rectangle approximates the boundary of the viewfinder image when the shot was taken. (The actual viewfinder frame has rounded corners, but I did not take the trouble to emulate that here.)



Douglas A. Kerr: 3103 Thunder Road, Alamogordo, N.M.

The substantial offset is a surprise. It cannot be attributed the offset of the input port of the finder from the lens axis (not even close).

Now something a little closer. This shot was at a focal length of 22.4 mm (109 mm ff35 EFL), with the subject at a distance of about 24 inches.

We see the entire taken image, plus (at the top) some added area (gray) for "construction". The red rectangle approximates the boundary of the viewfinder image when the shot was taken.



Douglas A. Kerr: Wall clock

Woof!

The bottom line is: It is attractive to work through the G16's OVF from a standpoint of effective shutter release lag (to use a slightly imprecise term), but as far as composition is concerned, it is pretty awful.

So, with apologies to Ry Cooder (and Earl Carrol):
"Now they often call me Speedo, but my real name is Mister Completely."
Of course the best machine we have here that deals well with both those issues is the Canon EOS 40D!

Best regards,

Doug
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Old November 26th, 2013, 02:00 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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The axis of the OVF emerges from the camera approximately 0.3 in. to the right of the taking lens axis and 1.4 in. above.

In my copy, the OVF axis proceeds at an angle upwards of and to the left of the taking lens axis. The angle between them increases at larger focal length.

This obviously represents some imperfect alignment inside the OVF. I do not know if this is within the design limits or if my copy is krank. I do not know if this can be adjusted.

One is always a little worried about a new item whose serial number ends with 000014.

I will inquire of Messrs. Canon in that regard. My hope is that within the month I can find someone who understands the issue.

Sadly, this is a case of an OVF with inherent limitations not performing up to what we would hope would be its modest potential.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old November 27th, 2013, 06:49 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Today I sent an inquiry to Canon USA customer support regarding the "offset" between the finder view and the taken image in my PowerShot G16.

In only a couple of hours, I had a response. The agent said that to her that degree of offset did not seem proper, and suggested I send the camera in for evaluation by a technician.

Of course, at this point in time I could send the camera back to Amazon.com, reporting that it malfunctions and requesting a replacement, which they would do promptly at no cost to me.

But of course I might get another one just as bad, if the problem is either that this is not supposed to be adjusted to some closer degree of correspondence, or that the production technique so far does not provide for doing that.

So I think I will send it to Canon. We will see what happens.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old December 7th, 2013, 08:50 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Our G16 is on the way back from the Canon Factory Service Center.

I have not yet seen the technician's report (which I expect will be included with the camera).

It will be interesting to see if in fact the alignment between the viewfinder view and the taken image is more appropriate than it was.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old December 7th, 2013, 01:54 PM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I forgot about that particular criteria of yours. Some cameras do have negative shutter lag in that they can be put in a special mode where they take a continuous stream of pictures in a buffer and save the ones from the past when the user presses the release button. I have seen this in video cameras, but I would have to look it up to be 100% sure it exists in still cameras.
The Fuji X10 has such a function. You can even choose between different speeds and determine the number of frames recorded before and after pressing the release button.
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Old December 7th, 2013, 02:06 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Michael,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Nagel View Post
The Fuji X10 has such a function. You can even choose between different speeds and determine the number of frames recorded before and after pressing the release button.
That sounds really neat.

Thanks.

Best regards,

Doug
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