Operation and controls

In terms of controls, the G10 has more in common with digital SLRs than it does with most compacts. If the 450D/1000D is for people who are looking to upgrade from a compact, then the G10 is for those users who have a DSLR, especially a Canon DSLR, who want something smaller and more pocketable to carry around.

This is not to say that the G10 does not stand strongly as a compact camera; it can comfortably do double duty. It can easily stay in auto or scene mode, where the camera does all the thinking for you, and all you have to do is press the button. It can also behave like a SLR, where the user can leave it in Av or Tv mode, shoot in RAW and apply image parameters after shooting.

But this ability to perform double duty comes at a cost, especially if the user is coming from a less featured compact camera; it can take time to learn how to use the G10 to its full potential. This will be especially so for those moving up from less complex compacts with fewer manual controls. EOS camera owners will feel right at home here; even the hand grip will feel familiar - though after a few minutes they might wonder why there is no dedicated ISO dial on their DSLR.

Like the G9, the G10 is fully customisable, with the direct print button being able to be set to other functions (why can't you do this on an EOS camera again?) such as white balance or ND filter. The two custom modes are also retained from the G9. New in the G10 is the My Menu system that first appeared in the EOS 1D MKIII. This allows users to register some of their most used functions in one menu for faster access: DSLR-lite.

Rear of camera

The back of the G10 is dominated by the large LCD. All the shooting controls are on the right side of the camera within easy reach of the thumb for one handed shooting. The new hand grip makes the camera more secure to hold if you want to use the rear controls when holding the camera one handed, though it is still not comfortable to do so. There is a potential problem with this control layout, as the rear control wheel (around the rear control dial) is used to control the aperture or shutter speed (in Av or Tv mode) and change the scene mode in auto modes, but is not easy to rotate when holding the camera one handed. An extra control dial in the front of the camera just below the shutter button would have been better for this.

Top of camera

The top of the G10 is even more cluttered than the G9. This is a perfect P mode camera with all the manual controls on the top place you would need. The styling and control layout at the top of the camera is quite Leica-esque (not necessarily a bad thing for a digital rangefinder wannabe). You can also see the larger front grip with a nice space just right for a front control dial.

Display and menus

The menu system on the G10 is an evolution of the one on the G9. In fact much of the menu system has not changed. Canon has tweaked parts of the menu to add new features, though for the most part the user interface is virtually identical. The main new feature in the menus is the My Menu tab, which allows the user to group all their most used functions in one menu tab for quick access.

The most basic preview screen showing focus point, AE compensation setting and - as here - the setting being used in aperture priority / shutter priority mode. New in the G10, the AE compensation indicator has moved to the top left side, underneath the location of the new AE compensation dial. Pressing the display bottom will change the amount of information shown on-screen, and there is a 'grid' option (shown here) for those of us who struggle with straight horizons and - of course - a preview histogram. The higher resolution screen helps noticeably when there is this amount of information displayed.
Half-press the shutter release and the camera will calculate exposure (AE) and focus (AF) indicating the aperture and shutter speed chosen, along with a camera shake warning if necessary. As with all modern Powershots the ISO in use is indicated - even in AUTO ISO mode. If you hold down the AE lock button with the shutter half-pressed you get a program shift function with a very pretty display of aperture and shutter speed combinations.
In shutter or aperture priority mode turning the control ring moves up and down the scale with a very pleasing faux-analog display as shown here. In manual mode the +/- button switches focus between the aperture and shutter speed settings; a nice 'needle' exposure meter also appears on the right of the screen.
As usual the FUNC menu offers a wide range of controls over shooting and image parameters. Like its predecessors the G10 has a 3 stop neutral density filter you can use if you need to cut down on the light. You get the usual array of 'MyColors' effects and - more usefully - 5 levels of Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Red, Green, Blue and Skintone.
The G10 has RAW mode just like the G9. Raw + Jpeg is still available but is set in a separate menu. The record menu offers the option to save a Large/Fine JPEG at the same time as a RAW file (you can't save a 'Super Fine' but the visible difference is minimal).
There are three focus modes; 9-point AiAF (where the camera chooses the focus point 'intelligently'), FlexiZone (choose your own focus point from 375 across the screen) and 'face detection' (which does what its name suggests, and works very well). Manual focus is a simple case of pressing the MF button and turning the control dial to move up and down the scale. You can choose to have the area around the focus point magnified in manual focus mode (not shown).
The scene (SCN) mode adds 13 subject programs covering most of the common shooting situations, plus a (low resolution) ISO 3200 mode and Canon's unusual Color Accent and Color Swap modes. Record mode menu allows you to customize everything from flash synch to the spot AE point and self-timer delay. It is also here where you'll find the control for image stabilization. A new feature first seen on the S3 IS allows you to customize the on-screen display in record mode (there are two custom settings, activated by repeated presses of the DISP button).
The shortcut button (direct print button in playback mode) can be customized to control one of ten functions (including White Balance, metering mode, IS mode and AF-lock). The G10 has a useful ISO 80-1600 sensitivity range, controlled by the dedicated dial on the top of the camera. New in the G10 if you use either of the Auto ISO settings (standard or HI) the camera now saves the ISO used in the file's EXIF data.
New in the G10 is the My Menu system that was introduced in the EOS line. This menu allows the user to group their most used functions in one menu for quick access. The user can set which items appear in My Menu by placing a tick next to the items using the SET button.
New in the G10 is the i-Contrast feature which has a setting of either Auto or Off. In Auto mode, the camera makes a tone curve adjustment to brighten up the darker areas of and image so that they are better exposed. i-Contrast is only available when shooting JPEG modes (not in RAW mode). New in the G10 is AF point zoom, which zooms into the area selected as the AF zone (FlexiZone mode), or the face detected as the main face (Face Detect mode) to allow the user to check the accuracy of the in camera AF.