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White Balance

The G10 features the same 8 white balance settings as the G9, including the default automatic mode. There's also the same two manual (custom) white balance options, which are created by aiming the camera at a white (or gray) subject and pressing the SET button. While the automatic white balance worked well in outdoor conditions, indoors or in mixed lighting situations it performed fairly averagely. With the preset white balance settings supplied by Canon, the performance was better, and the custom white balance was very accurate (as long as you have a gray card handy). Compared to the G9, the results are mixed. The performance in Fluorescent lighting conditions are better, but in Incandescent conditions performance is worse.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 11.6%, Blue -17.6%
Poor
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red -4.7%, Blue -3.1%
Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 0.9%, Blue -11.6%
Average
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red 1.0%, Blue -1.5%
Good

Flash Performance

The built-in flash unit has a specified range of 4.6 m at wide angle and 2.8 m at telephoto (when the ISO is set to auto) - which is fine for social snaps and the occasional bit of fill-in, but is hampered by the relatively small maximum aperture as you move up the zoom range. In use the flash worked well in our indoor tests, with good skin tones, and good exposure. The FUNC menu allows the Flash Exposure Compensation to be set from -2 to +2, and a green AF illuminator aids focus in low light. There is a noticeable increase in shutter lag when using flash (around 0.3 seconds which is the same as the G9). Flash is still available in continuous (burst) mode.

The included flash hot shoe means that you can use any of the range of canon speedlights and accessories with the G9.

Skin tone - Slight warm tone. Color chart -Slight warm tone, good exposure

Macro Focus

You would expect that putting a new lens in a camera would change the macro performance. Certainly at the long end of the zoom it has. The G10 gives you better magnification at 140mm (35mm Equiv) than the G9 did at 210mm. This is quite a useful improvement, as most macros tend to be taken at the longer end of the zoom range. The distortion at the long end is very good, and the corner softness is above average. At the wide end the G10, like the G9, allows the user to get as close as 1cm from the subject (measured from the front of the lens). The magnification is lower with the G10 compared to the G9, but the G10 is at 28mm (35mm equiv) while the G9 is at 35mm. The distortion at the wide end is very noticeable, and the corner softness is starting to get bad. There is also noticeable Chromatic Aberration (CA) towards the corners.

Wide macro - 31 x 23 mm coverage
140 px/mm (3553 px/in)
Distortion: Below average
Corner softness: Below average
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
Telephoto macro - 89 x 67 mm coverage
49 px/mm (1250 px/in)
Distortion: Very low
Corner softness: Above average
Equiv. focal length: 140 mm

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

The new lens in the G10 does better in our distortion tests than the G9 did. The barrel distortion is lower , despite being wider, and the lens is completely distortion-free at full telephoto zoom (though of course the focal length is shorter than the G9). Vignetting is well controlled and while there is average softness and chromatic aberration wide open on the wide end, it is quite good at the telephoto end wide open.

Barrel distortion - 1.2% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
Pincushion distortion - 0% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 140 mm

I-Contrast

I-Contast is a new feature in the G10. In situations where parts of the image, or faces in the image are very dark the camera can apply a different curve to brighten up the darker areas to give the image more dynamic range than it would otherwise have had. I-Contrast is only available in JPEG mode (not RAW and not RAW+JPEG).

I-Contrast OFF - ISO 200, 1/40, F 3.5 I-Contrast Auto - ISO 200, 1/40, F 3.5

In the example the camera does not change the shutter speed, aperture or ISO, but the image is brighter as a whole and the giraffe is better exposed when I-Contrast is set to auto.

Specific image quality issues

A new higher resolution sensor, a new wider lens and a new image processing engine will mean a different JPEG output for the G10 compared to the G9. As you will see a little later in the review, the resolution of the G10 is very good at low ISO setting 200 and below, but at starting from ISO 400, the increase in noise, and the resulting noise reduction applied by the camera reduces the amount of fine detail produced by the camera significantly.

The loss in fine detail can be seen most in areas such as foliage or grass, which is a problem, considering that the wider lens might encourage users to take more shots of landscapes, or just wide angle shots in general (where there would normally be a lot of fine detail). The prominence of the ISO dial might also encourage users to use higher ISO settings more, which is not necessarily a good thing on the G10.

The ability to bypass the G10's noise reduction (using ACR or DPP to process RAW files) means that more experienced users are free to extract more detail from images via RAW converters and specialist noise reduction software. Certainly as can be seen in the RAW and software section in this review, more resolution is available in RAW. Users who take a careful approach to exposure and processing should certainly be able to extract more detail than in camera JPEGs.

Chromatic Aberrations

There are compacts worse than the G10 in terms of Chromatic Aberration (CA), but there are times where the G10 does very badly especially in the corners of the frame. In our resolution test chart shot in controlled conditions, there is quite bad CA towards the corners of the frame. In a real world example where conditions are not as controlled, you can see red/green fringing. CA is something that can be fixed in post processing (you get better results fixing CA on a RAW image in a RAW image editor than you do with JPEG), this is something that takes some understanding of image manipulation, and is an annoyance many users could do without.

100% crop 28mm equiv., F5

Exposure / Dynamic range / Clipping

Almost all the high resolution compacts we have tested have suffered from clipping in images of high dynamic range. While G10 is not particularly bad in this area, and to some extent this is a limitation of such a tightly packed, high resolution, small sensor, it is a problem that users should note. It means that in high contrast situations, exposing too much 'to the right' might not be such a good idea. In the RAW section of this review we will look at highlight recovery from RAW. In the example below you can see a good example of a situation where the white of the boat is too much for the camera to handle in this situation. The dedicated exposure compensation dial in the G10 will be really useful in these situation.

100% crop 28mm equiv., F4.5

This is one area where the G10 cannot hold up as a DSLR lite due to the limitations of the smaller sensor. Larger sensors in DSLRs will have greater dynamic range, and will not clip the white part of the boat as much as the G10 did in this situation. Where noise and noise reduction are not major problems in small prints, clipping will be visible even in the smallest prints.

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