Canon unveiled the original PowerShot G1 just before Photokina last year (September 2000). It took quite a few people who were expecting a Pro70 replacement by surprise. The G1 immediately struck a chord with people considering Nikon's Coolpix 990 or Olympus's C-3030Z. And here we are just less than 12 months on with the next evolution, the 4.0 megapixel PowerShot G2.

The G2 is based on the same 'prosumer compact camera' form factor with an almost central lens, viewfinder window and right-handed flash unit. Immediately obvious this time around is that Canon realized the little 'blip' of rubber on the G1 wasn't enough as a sensible grip, now we get a fully moulded (though plastic and a little thin) hand grip. The second most obvious change is the colour. The camera is done out in a kind of 'three tone' - the front is champagne coloured magnesium alloy, the center (top / sides) silver plastic and the rear a kind of metallic painted silver plastic.

The G2 features the same extending 3x, F2.0 - F2.5 'Canon Zoom Lens' (which I'm assured is made by Canon) as we saw on the G1 and the ring surrounding the lens can be removed to take the optional lens thread adapter, required to add optional wide angle, telephoto or macro lenses.

Here's a quick breakdown of the primary differences between the PowerShot G1 and G2.

Canon PowerShot G2

Canon PowerShot G1
CCD effective pixels Click for help 4.0 megapixels 3.2 megapixels
Max image size Click for help 3.8 megapixels 3.1 megapixels
CCD size** Click for help 1/1.8" 1/1.8"
CCD Colour Filter Array Click for help G - R - G - B C - Y - G - M
Max resolution   2272 x 1704 2048 x 1536
Lower resolutions   1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480 1024 x 768, 640 x 480
Metering   Evaluative, Center-Weighted, Spot Center-Weighted, Spot
AE Program Shift   Yes, after AE Lock No
Shutter speeds   15 - 1/1000 sec 8 - 1/1000 sec
Continuous shooting   2.5 fps or 1.5 fps 1.7 fps
Focus Areas   Three, selectable Automatic
Colour Exposure mode   Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, B&W Colour, B&W
Manual Focus Zoom   Yes No
RAW mode 10-bit   Yes No, 8-bit
16-bit RAW acquire   Yes No
Histogram   Yes, play review mode No
Supplied storage   32 MB Compact Flash card 16 MB Compact Flash card
Direct Printing   Yes, Canon printers No

It's good to see that Canon have been paying attention to G1 owners complaints and solved some of the problems it had. Especially noteworthy is the new Evaluative metering system and the ability to select one of three focus points (I can imagine the sighs of relief on our Canon Talk forum as I write this).

Review notes: Products shots / menu captures were made on a pre-production G2, final review was completed (image quality / comparison / features / samples) using a full production G2.