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The PowerShot G7's lens uses Canon's Small Radius coating to reduce chromatic aberrations.
Packing 10 megapixels into a camera that's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, Canon's PowerShot G7 is just what professional photographers and serious hobbyists have been waiting for: a feature-filled camera for when you don't feel like lugging around a bulky SLR.
The PowerShot G7 comes with a 6x optical zoom lens and an optical viewfinder - a nice touch, since many cameras with a zoom beyond 4x only have an electronic viewfinder. The PowerShot G7's brilliant 2.5-inch LCD has 15 levels of brightness - the only outdoor situation where we had difficulty seeing the LCD was in bright, direct sunshine. Open shade and a cloudy day proved to be no problem.
Exposure time ranges from 15 seconds to 1/2,000 second, and f-stops from f2.8 to f8. Turning an external dial sets ISO, and the shutter speed and aperture are set with a control dial on the camera's back. Speed and aperture changes pop up on a thermometer-style display on the LCD.
The PowerShot G7 doesn't capture images in RAW format, but it has several levels of JPEG compression, and you can adjust the number of pixels captured, from high-resolution 3,648 by 2,736 pixels down to lower-res 640 by 480 pixels, plus a 3,648-by-2,048-pixel widescreen setting. The mode dial on top of the camera offers quick access to shooting modes such as Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Program AE (where shutter speed and aperture are determined by the camera's internal light meter), Stitch Assist (for panoramas), Custom, Manual, Movie, and Scene. Select Scene and you can choose from 16 scene modes, including Portrait, Landscape, Beach, and Night Snapshot.
Canon also includes My Colors, a set of color effects you can apply to your pictures right inside the camera. For example, if you turn on Vivid Red, a red Ferrari will pop that much more. Even better: If you set the PowerShot G7 to Save Original, the camera generates two files, one with effects applied and one without.
All of our real-world shots with the PowerShot G7 had excellent color fidelity. Its rendition of primary colors found on a Gretag-Macbeth ColorChecker was impressive, and it did equally well with the skin tone and grayscale patches. Significant levels of noise at ISOs higher than 100 were disappointing, however. (By "significant," we mean that if you zoom in on the image digitally or enlarge it in print, you notice the grainy effect. At print sizes of 4 by 6 inches, the noise won't likely bother you.) Unless you keep the ISO set at 80 to 100, the noise splotches pop up like mushrooms after a rainstorm - that's what happens when you apply so many pixels to a small image. The PowerShot G7 takes great pictures within certain limits, but, oddly, you sacrifice some image quality because of the massive number of pixels - 2 to 3 million more than are really necessary on the sensor in a camera of this size.
The bottom line. Even with the image noise, the PowerShot G7's combination of features and superb color quality make it an exceptional compact camera.
Full of useful features. Handy optical viewfinder. Excellent LCD. Built-in color effects.
Too much image noise (graininess) at ISOs above 100.