Canon PowerShot G6 Review
Timing & Performance
Canon PowerShot G5 owners really won't notice a big performance improvement with the G6, and that alone is a disappointment. Startup is quicker, by about three quarters of a second, but it's still three seconds (not the slowest in our 7mp group test, but not the fastest either). Shutter release lag using the LCD monitor was a surprise as it seemed and measured slower than the G5. Auto Focus wasn't awful but neither was it particularly fast, especially when compared to cameras like the Sony DSC-V3, the G6 always managed to lock without hunting at similar focus distances but this still means a 0.6 second or slower delay on top of the shutter lag. Continuous shooting was just as much a mixed bag, good buffer, poor speed. Overall the G6 simply isn't as fast as you'd expect considering its prosumer image and heritage.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3072 x 2304 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,600 KB per image).
Media used for these tests
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
- 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
|Power: Off to Record||Live view appears||3.0||3.4|
|Power: Off to Play||Initial image displayed||2.6||2.8|
|Power: Record to Off||2.8||2.8|
|Power: Play to Off||0.5||0.5|
|Mode: Record to Play||Image displayed *1||0.5 / 2.1||0.5 / 2.2|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens extended, live view returns||1.8||1.8|
|Play: Magnify||To 10x magnification||1.0||1.0|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.0||1.0|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Auto AF Area - Auto exposure)||0.7 - 1.0|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle (Spot AF Area)||0.6 - 0.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Auto AF Area - Auto exposure)||0.8 - 1.5|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto (Spot AF Area)||0.6 - 1.5|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||Viewfinder||0.1|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD Monitor||0.2|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||0.8|
|Off to Shot Taken||Wide angle (Auto AF Area)||4.0|
|Shot to Shot||Record review On||2.2|
|Shot to Shot||Record review Off||1.9|
|*1||Switching to play mode immediately after taking a shot takes just half a second (as the camera has the image cached), however browsing or power off empties this single image cache.|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/250 sec during these tests.
Continuous Low speed
Frames in one burst
|3072 x 2304 RAW||0.6 fps (1.6 sec)||5||12.6 sec|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Super-Fine||0.6 fps (1.6 sec)||16||2.4 sec|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||0.7 fps (1.4 sec)||27||3.2 sec|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Super-Fine||0.8 fps (1.3 sec)||34||2.0 sec|
Continuous High speed
Frames in one burst
|3072 x 2304 RAW||0.7 fps (1.4 sec)||5||8.3 sec|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Super-Fine||1.6 fps||11||3.0 sec|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||1.6 fps||16||1.3 sec|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Super-Fine||1.6 fps||19||1.1 sec|
|*1||You can take a frame as soon as there is space in the cameras internal buffer (writing continues "in the background").|
The fact that the G6 can shoot RAW continuously and that it appears to have a fairly large buffer are no consolation for the lack of shooting speed. In Low speed mode we see an average of around 0.7 fps (one shot every 1.4 seconds), in High speed just 1.6 fps. This is a step back from the PowerShot G6 and is certainly behind competitive cameras. I'm also fairly surprised at the discrepancy between our measured performance and those quoted in the camera specifications (1.0 vs. 0.7 fps and 2.0 vs 1.6 fps). There's little point labeling 0.6 fps as 'continuous shooting'.
* UPDATE: Canon are telling me that their specified figures are for the LCD switched off, while I didn't take that into account when writing the above comments all cameras are tested in the same way and the G6 should be able to perform in a similar way to other digital cameras with the LCD on.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator beside the viewfinder had gone out. This means the timings also include the cameras processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". (It's also possible they're slightly inaccurate because of the G6's blinking indicator).
Media used for these tests
- 1 GB SanDisk Extreme III CF card (Type I)
- 1 GB Lexar Pro 80x CF card (Type I)
|Image Type||Time to write, secs||Time to display, secs|
|3072 x 2304 RAW||8.9||8.6||0.7||0.7|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Super-Fine||4.5||4.3||1.3||1.1|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||3.5||3.5||1.1||0.8|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Super-Fine||2.8||2.8||0.7||0.7|
|Image Type||File size
|Images on a
1 GB Card
|3072 x 2304 RAW||6,800 KB||138|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Super-Fine||2,600 KB||326|
|3072 x 2304 JPEG Fine||1,500 KB||523|
|2048 x 1536 JPEG Super-Fine||1,200 KB||615|
The G6 returns to its live view approximately 1.6 seconds after pressing the shutter release (or longer if record review is enabled), the write times shown above are for the camera to complete writing the file in the background. Unlike some cameras the G6 can also write RAW files in the background and so you can get on with taking the next shot uninterrupted. I wasn't particularly impressed with the processing / write times, it's impossible to say how much of the 4.5 seconds to write a JPEG Super-Fine is taken up with processing but it's still twice the time required by some competitive cameras (though this time doesn't stop you shooting).
Low Light Auto Focus
This test is designed to measure the minimum amount of light under which the camera can still focus. The focus target is our lens distortion test chart (shown here on the right), camera is positioned exactly 2 m (6.6 ft) away.
Light levels are gradually dropped until the camera can no longer focus. This is carried out at both wide angle and telephoto zoom positions (as more light reaches the focusing systems with a larger aperture).
at focal len.
AF Assist Lamp
Lowest light focus
|Wide (35 mm equiv.)||F2.0||On||Complete Darkness|
|Wide (35 mm equiv.)||F2.0||Off||1.5 EV|
|Tele (140 mm equiv.)||F3.0||On||Complete Darkness|
|Tele (140 mm equiv.)||F3.0||Off||2.1 EV|
|Light intensity (Lux) = 2.5 x 2^EV (@ ISO 100), 10.76391 Lux = 1 foot-candle (fc)|
With its AF assist lamp the G6 manages to focus in complete darkness (as we'd expect), what's quite impressive is how quickly it can lock and that it really doesn't need to have the lamp on for long. Indeed a re-focus at a similar focus distance results in a quick flash of the AF lamp and you're locked. Without the lamp the G6 needs a moderate amount of light to focus on our test chart.
We ran the camera through our new battery life test. This test is designed to be fair and comparative to each camera and battery type:
- Take 4 shots without flash
- Wait 2 minutes (50% of the time powering the camera off)
- Take 1 shot with flash
- Wait 1 minute
Batteries are fully discharged and recharged before the test and all cameras were reset to their factory default settings. Here are the results:
Prosumer / SLR-Like
|Battery||Power||Battery life||Number of shots|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 14 mins||125|
|Minolta DiMAGE 5||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||1 hr 56 mins||195|
|Nikon Coolpix 5700||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 08 mins||215|
|Canon PowerShot S40||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 13 mins||225|
|Minolta DiMAGE S304||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 18 mins||235|
|Canon PowerShot S45||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 28 mins||240|
|Nikon Coolpix 4500||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 27 mins||250|
|Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z||NP-80||4.1 Wh||2 hr 29 mins||250|
|Nikon Coolpix 990||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 995||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 30 mins||255|
|Nikon Coolpix 5000||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||2 hr 32 mins||260|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 33 mins||260|
|Canon PowerShot Pro1||BP-511A||10.2 Wh||2 hr 36 mins||265|
|Canon PowerShot S50||NB-2L||3.9 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Minolta DiMAGE S404||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Sony DSC-V1||NP-FC11||2.8 Wh||2 hr 39 mins||270|
|Olympus C-7000 Zoom||LI-12B||4.5 Wh||2 hr 44 mins||280|
|Nikon Coolpix 8700||EN-EL1||5.0 Wh||2 hr 45 mins||280|
|Minolta DiMAGE 7i||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 46 mins||270|
|Olympus E-20||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||2 hr 48 mins||285|
|Canon PowerShot G1||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 00 mins||300|
|Nikon Coolpix 5400||EN-EL1||4.8 Wh||3 hr 06 mins||315|
|HP Photosmart 850||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 12 mins||325|
|Sony DSC-S75||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 15 mins||330|
|Nikon Coolpix 8800||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||3 hr 27 mins||350|
|Fujifilm FinePix S602Z||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 29 mins||350|
|Canon PowerShot G2||BP-511||8.1 Wh||3 hr 32 mins||355|
|Casio QV-4000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 38 mins||365|
|Olympus C-5050 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||380|
|Casio EXILIM EX-P700||NP-40||4.5 Wh||3 hr 48 mins||385|
|Sony DSC-S85||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||3 hr 50 mins||400|
|Sony DSC-F717||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 02 mins||405|
|Pentax Optio 750Z||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 03 mins||415|
|Sony DSC-V3||NP-FR1||4.4 Wh||4 hr 05 mins||415|
|Nikon Coolpix 8400||EN-EL7||8.1 Wh||4 hr 09 mins||420|
|Sony DSC-F707||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||4 hr 20 mins||440|
|Fujifilm S7000 Zoom||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||4 hr 23 mins||445|
|Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2||NP-400||11.1 Wh||4 hr 26 mins||450|
|Canon PowerShot G3||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 32 mins||455|
|Canon PowerShot G5||BP-511||8.1 Wh||4 hr 33 mins||460|
|Pentax Optio 550||D-LI7||6.6 Wh||4 hr 36 mins||465|
|Minolta DiMAGE A1||NP-400||11.1 Wh||5 hr 02 mins||515|
|Leica Digilux 2||BP-DC1-E||10.1 Wh||5 hr 05 mins||515|
|Sony DSC-F828||NP-FM50||8.6 Wh||5 hr 28 mins||540|
|Fujifilm FinePix S5000||4 x AA NiMH 1600 mAh (GP)||7.7 Wh||5 hr 31 mins||555|
|Canon PowerShot G6||BP-511A||10.3 Wh||5 hr 38 mins||570|
|Olympus C-8080 WZ||BLM-1||10.8 Wh||5 hr 52 mins||595|
|Other test notes:|
| LCD monitor is left on during
the battery test
The camera is powered off half of the time and left on half of the time (switch every 10 iterations)
There are now higher capacity AA NiMH batteries available, however in the interests of fair
comparison we will continue to use our 1600 mAh test set
We weren't that surprised to see the G6 challenging the Olympus C-8080 WZ for our top spot, the G5 lasted almost five hours on its lower capacity battery, the newer battery and improvement in power savings delivered an hour more shooting in our test, a truly impressive five and a half hours.
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