Canon PowerShot G9 Review
Like the G7 before it, the G9 is an undoubtedly handsome, serious-looking camera with classic 'rangefinder' styling and a build quality that puts most digital SLRs to shame. The external skin of the body is nearly all-metal (only the top plate is plastic) and the attractive matt-black finish exudes quality; and impression that's reinforced by the weight; at around 370g with battery and card the G9 is one of the heaviest compacts on the market and is, for want of a better word, nicely 'dense'.
Although superficially very similar to the G7 there are differences. Most obvious is the larger screen, which now takes up an even larger proportion of the back of the camera and has squashed the optical finder and meant a couple of the buttons (playback and shortcut/direct print) had to move out of the way - and shrunk a little in the process. One small - but welcome - change is a small thumb rest on the top right hand corner of the back plate and a slightly more prominent finger grip on the front of the body. This might not look like much but it improves handling significantly - far more than appearances might suggest. The only other immediately noticeable change is that the cosmetic ring around the base of the lens (which is removed when using the wide or tele converter) is now painted black. I preferred the chrome of the G7, but this is a small detail.
In your hand
The more I used the G7 the more I grew to appreciate how different it is to the vast majority of compacts that have passed through our offices over the last couple of years. It's one of those rare cameras that people can't resist picking up and playing with; it has that satisfying tactile quality and weight that comes with the kind of self-indulgent over-engineering normally reserved for swiss watches. Compared to the G7 - and now the G9 - even most entry level digital SLRs feel like plastic toys, and despite sharing many internal components with much cheaper compact cameras it really does have the air of a serious photographic tool about it.
But of course the classic 'rangefinder' styling and clean lines come at a price - unlike most cameras in this class the G7's lack of anything to really 'get hold of' meant it only really felt safe supported with both hands. The G9 is much better, thanks to the improved grip, but it's still essentially a fairly heavy smooth block - hardly the ideal design for a camera.
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