Canon PowerShot G1 owners will find the G2's layout very familiar. Canon has done as little as possible with the overall ergonomics or control layout, primarily because there wasn't really that much wrong with the original. They have (clearly) added a hand grip, which is adequate for the job, a rubber coating would have been nice.
Other subtle changes are the colour of the camera, champagne gold magnesium alloy, silver central strip and slightly darker gray metallic plastic on the back. Note also that the camera now has strap eyelet's on both the left and right so that it will hang horizontally rather than vertically from the strap. The overall shape is very slightly more rounded and the flip-out and twist LCD hinge is a little neater.
Here's the 2001 4.0 megapixel PowerShot G2 next to the 2000 3.2 megapixel PowerShot G1. To me the G2 has taken on a more stylish, almost (dare I say it) feminine look compared to the industrial, chunky looking G1. Which appeals most to you will be a matter of personal preference. Size wise the G2 and G1 are virtually identical.
As I mentioned above single handed grip is improved compared to the G1 thanks to the shaped front hand grip. On the back a small dotted anti-slip pattern sits under your thumb well out of the way of any controls / buttons.
Status LCD (top)
LCD Monitor (rear)
Just like the G1 and the Pro70 before it the G2 inherits the cleverly designed flip-out and twist LCD monitor. The whole display can be folded in when not in use, thus protecting the screen, then flipped out and used either in the 'out' position (tilted up or down) or inverted and folded back against the rear of the camera just like a conventional digital camera.
The screen itself has an excellent matte anti-reflective coating, add to this that the screen is bright, high resolution and very sharp and you get one of the best LCD monitors of any digital camera. With the two cameras side-by-side the G2's display seems to have physical more pixels but the live view image doesn't appear to be as sharp (to my eye). The G2's live view is also much closer to the final image exposure than the G1's over-bright live preview.
The flip-out and twist design of the LCD 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.. Click on the right hand image below to see a QuickTime movie animation showing some of the possible positions for the LCD (256 KB).
The G2's LCD provided a truly impressive 100% frame coverage, this means that just about everything you see from edge to edge is exactly what the final image will contain.
The viewfinder on the G2 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 the cheapest APS film camera. There's a small dioptre adjustment lever just to the left of the viewfinder. I really wish Canon had taken some kind of a lead and provided a decent viewfinder or even switched to an EVF.
The view through the viewfinder has a simple central focus / AE cross, nothing more. No parallax correction lines for close-ups. The viewfinder provided approximately 84% frame coverage.
The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:
|Green Steady||Good AF Lock, sufficient light|
|Green Flashing||CF Card activity|
|Yellow Steady||Macro focus / Manual focus mode|
|Yellow Flashing||AF difficulty, cannot lock focus|
|Orange Steady||Flash charged and will fire with next shot|
|Orange Flashing||Shot may suffer from shake blur (slow exp.)|
The Green Steady (Good AF) and Yellow Flashing (Bad AF) indications are now repeated on the main LCD in the colour the selected focus area bracket turns after the AF has finished.
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 EOS-D30 Digital SLR and some Canon DV camcorders (and can be purchased for approximately US$70 / £55). There will also be soon be a newer BP-512 Lithium-Ion battery, this has the exact same capacity and is only different in that it has a flat top instead of the double curved top.
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.