With a fairly conventional design, the G1 immediately will feel familiar to current digital camera users and new users alike. It has an almost military-like design and feel with buttons, dials, displays and bumps all over. Many people questioned the case material, the whole of the front and lens barrel bezel are metal, the top, sides, rear and LCD panel are plastic. Thicker, wider and taller than previous "S" series PowerShot digital cameras, the G1 is certainly a departure into a new area from recent Canon digital cameras. It would have been nice to have something more to grip onto at the front, the small rubber strip is more for looks than function. The camera has a very solid, heavy, feel to it. Certainly no flex or creaks from the body indicate good build quality (though it would have been nice to have metal back as well as front).
The camera is supplied with a lens cap & attachment string, and is intelligent enough to know if you accidentally leave it on displaying "LENS" on the top LCD, simply remote the cap and hit the shutter release to resume lens extension.
Back is the flip-out and twist LCD first seen in Canon's PowerShot Pro 70, this adds a little bulk to the left side of the camera (though nothing too untoward) the LCD can be locked either facing out or facing in or flipped out at any angle in-between. Top of the camera is logical enough, with a big clear LCD on the left, flash hot-shoe in the middle, exposure mode, camera mode / power and zoom / shutter release button on the right.
Here's a size comparison of the G1 beside its primary competition the Nikon Coolpix 990. As you can see the G1 weighs in smaller and more conventional than the split bodied 990, yet the G1 loses none of the 990's flexibility because it too has the ability to be used from different angles thanks to the flip-out LCD.
Rear LCD Display
The LCD on the G1 is a true revelation. I actually owned a Pro 70 for some time and loved the LCD. The G1's is just as good, the swivel joint itself is very stiff and each of the "90 degree" positions have a strong click into place (although it can hold itself at any angle in-between). When completely reversed it clicks into place on the back of the camera as the more conventional LCD position.
This design is perfect for the studio, out in the field, for protecting the LCD when it's not in use, taking waist level shots, overhead shots, self portraits.. Almost whatever you require. And I for one am glad to see its return. Additionally the LCD also has an excellent anti-reflective coating (double Kudos) and is considerably brighter and "crisper" than most digital camera LCDs, it can easily be used outdoors in bright /direct sunlight.
Top Information LCD
The top LCD provides a multitude of information on the current exposure, photographic and digital settings, available frames, exposure adjustment and white balance. A full detailed breakdown of displayed information can be found on diagram below.
It's refreshing to see a sensible LCD on the top of the camera, this means the G1 can be used with confidence even with the rear LCD folded closed.
The viewfinder on the G1 is standard digital camera quality, small and OK for those occasions when you can't frame using the LCD but sadly lacking compared to even some of the cheapest APS film cameras.. It's about time digicam manufacturers realised that users may well use the viewfinder more if it was of better quality. There's a small dioptre adjustment lever just to the left of the viewfinder, which for me at least detracts from the design of the rear of the camera slightly..
View through the viewfinder has a simple central focus / AE cross, nothing more. No parallax correction lines for close-ups.
The two lights on the viewfinder indicate the following:
|Green Flashing||CF Card activity|
|Green Steady||Subject in focus and sufficient light|
|Orange Flashing||Shot may suffer from shake blur (long exp.)|
|Orange Steady||Flash charged and will fire with next shot|
Behind a simple locked compartment door in the left bottom corner of the camera fits the Canon BP-511 Lithium-Ion battery pack which is rated at 7.4 V, 1100 mAh (8 Wh). It's worth noting that this is the same battery used in the new EOS-D30 Digital SLR and other Canon DV camcorders (which can be found for around US$70 / £55 at various online retailers). The battery pack charges in-camera using the supplied AC adapter/charger which simple plugs into the side of the camera. The orange lamp on the viewfinder flashes during charging and goes steady once fully charged. Optional double battery chargers / car chargers can also be purchased.
Here's one funny I found, the battery won't charge unless the CF door is closed...