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Design

The G2's design was functional and definitely more curvaceous than the G1, however it wouldn't have won any beauty contests especially in the odd champagne finish. Later in Europe the black G2 was an improvement but still had the same body design. To my eye at least the G3 looks far better with cleaner lines, better control layout and a neutral silver finish. Simple touches such as the alignment of the viewfinder window, AF assist lamp and flash along the same etched line add to the cleaner, 'designer' appearance of the G3. The body is half metal, half plastic. The front and top of the camera as well as the back of the LCD monitor are made from a metal alloy, the rear, half of the base and hand grip are plastic.

Around the back of the camera the primary improvement is in the way the fold out and twist LCD now fits flush into the back of the camera whether facing out or closed. Control layout is logical and once you get used to the new button assignments and the overlaid FUNC menu everything you would need to change in a normal shoot is available without having to dive into the menu system.

Side by side

Here beside the model it replaces (PowerShot G2). You can see the improvement in the design and look of the G3. Size hasn't changed that much although the G3 is a little lighter than the G2. One of the main control changes is the addition of the new command dial on the top of the hand grip. Note that the extending portion of the new lens barrel is thinner than the G2.

In your hand

In your hand the G3 feels comfortable, the hand grip is just the right size, the inside of the grip is coated in a hard rubber material, the outside is plastic. Weight balance is good, the Lithium-Ion battery is mounted inside the hand grip which means that the camera doesn't pull to the left.


Status Panel

On the top of the camera is the status panel which provides a multitude of information on the current photographic and digital settings such as available frames, exposure adjustment, white balance etc. Note that this LCD panel has changed slightly since the G2 (which had the same panel as the G1). The panel is not backlit.

A detailed breakdown of displayed information can be found on the diagrams below.



LCD Monitor

The G3 has the almost trademark Canon flip-out and twist LCD monitor. The entire display can be folded away (screen in) when not in use, protecting the screen. You can then flip out and use it out away from the camera body or twisted 180 degrees and folded back into the body just like any other digital camera. In an improvement to this design Canon has now moulded the rear of the camera so that the display fits flush when folded in.

The screen itself has an excellent matte anti-reflective coating, add to this that the screen is bright, high resolution and very sharp (some sub-pixel sampling going on there!) and you get one of the best LCD monitors of any digital camera.

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, etc. etc. The LCD provides 100% frame coverage.

Click on the right hand image below to see a QuickTime movie showing some of the possible positions for the LCD (687 KB).


Viewfinder

As with most digital cameras the G3's viewfinder is the standard 'optical tunnel' type. Ok for the occasional use but not something you would really want to use all the time (thankfully the LCD monitor is there for that purpose). Big negative point for Canon in that the lens barrel actually obstructs the bottom left corner of the view. The viewfinder offers just 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.)
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