Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

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Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Brian Masney » Jul 11, 2008 9:00 am

I am looking to buy a new camera for cave photography to replace my aging Kodak camera. Has anyone used the Canon Powershot G9 for cave photography? How do you like it?

I have several external flashes with Firefly slaves. Does the camera flash have a setting so that the on-camera flash only fires once?

Has anyone used the wide-angle lens that you can order for the camera? Are the pictures still crisp?

Do the images come out noisy using ISO200 or ISO400 with a 1-2+ second shutter time?

The only thing that I don't like about this camera so far is it does not have a bulb setting. The shutter can only stay open up to 15 seconds.

Any other cameras that you can recommend? Here are my requirements:

* Must be digital and be at least 10 megapixels. Small form factor. (I already have a SLR but it is too big to take on most cave trips.)
* Must be able to accept a wide-angle lens
* The flash must have a setting so that it only fires once for the firefly slaves.

Brian
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Scott Parvin » Jul 11, 2008 11:55 am

Hi Brian!

I have had a Powershot G5 for a few years, and it has worked great. It's 5MP is starting to become a little dated, so I'm in the market for a new camera, too.

You may want to look at the Olympus SP-570 UZ, it looks good on paper. Unlike my Canon (and the G9), it does have a bulb setting. I've haven't completely decided yet, but it looks like the Olympus is leading the pack so far.

Let us know what you decide.
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Brian Masney » Jul 29, 2008 8:06 pm

I finally bought the G9 and for the most part I like it. I've only had it underground once and I only had about 10 minutes to play with it. My biggest complaint is the photos that I take underground have an orange tint. I can use a custom white balance setting under manual mode to improve things but the color still looks a little off. Does anyone have any other suggestions for ways to improve the color without doing a lot of post processing of the images afterwards?

I also bought an Opteka Wide Angle Lens for the camera but I am sending it back. The corners of the photo are cut off due to the lens. I have a similar lens like this for my Kodak digital camera and it doesn't have that problem. I read some reviews online with the same complaint and they recommended using the Canon Wide Angle lens instead.

Brian
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Teresa » Jul 29, 2008 9:58 pm

Had my G9 since January. Has been underground several times. Have the whole kit: Canon tele/wide converters, and a Quantaray 430X equivalent with off camera flash and diffuser.

Closeups are excellent with good color. I found with the flash I needed to take 2-3 photos to get the orange tint to go away, and change the auto white balance. Changing the white balance does the trick mostly. The orange tint sort of means that there isn't enough light on the subject-- have had that happen elsewhere, too. Taken photos on manual with 200 ISO and no problems. 400 ISO and it starts to get grainy, but that was the case with Tri-X black and white film. I just took a bunch of photos down a sinkhole with no flash: only an incandescent light in the karst window, and yes, it was orange, but that's because that's the light color to start with. I think the no flash photo was handheld at 1/4 sec, 80 ISO and the red warning light flashing furiously. It had a very pointillist effect...not quite a photo.

I think I might put a light blue colored filter over your flash and see what happens to the color. The camera also comes with a number of converter mountable colored filter for the lens. G9 does extremely well in auto mode. I also use the P mode a lot, since it gives you a full range of flash effects (off, on, auto). I wish the flash had a 1/4 or 1/16 mode; as it is, I use a white handkerchief for flash where I need to more light, but not too much and to cut down on glare. Not really happy with the circular polarizer, actually. Cave passage shots at 10-15 ft and off camera flash-- I couldn't ask for anything more.

This camera has more versatility and produces better pics than anything I've seen in it's class. It's really hard to take a bad photo that cannot be saved under any conditions, and I've been pleasantly surprised with a number of the snapshots I've taken -- I couldn't have taken them better with a similarly priced film camera. I'd easily give this camera a 9 for overall performance, and an 8.5 for performance underground. Just remember, you've got to use a lot of light to get the color corrrect, or it will fade towards the red.
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Stelios Zacharias » Jul 30, 2008 4:31 am

I have had the G9 for about 6 months and I have taken it into 5-6 caves so far. The flash does have a single fire setting (in manual mode). It can also be set at full, 2/3 power or 1/3 power (great for setting off the firefly even from a distance, without bleaching the foreground). I cannot comment about the colour, usually I play about with the white balance settings until I am happy. I submit some photos below, which are not exactly great (autofocus sometimes let's you down in the cave and I am still learning to use my new digital camera). They have all been reduced from the 4000 by 3000 pixels to 800 by 600. No other processing has been done. They were all taken during the 2nd Balkan Speleo Reunion Camp held in Greece in June, hence the large number of people in some of the photos.

Image
The cave has snow on the floor, the setting is at 200 ASA with the flash set to 1/3 and the firefly setting off the flash held behind my sister. It is underexposed, and we did not take the time to correct this (it was cold!).

Image
This is again at ASA 200, using the light from my helmet (Princeton Tec Apex), no flashes. Nikos is showing us a cave lobster he's put on top of his DUO.

Image
This is an underground river - again at ASA 200, but with the full 15 seconds exposure and multiple flashes and handheld lights.

Image
Again at ASA 200, using ambient light from the helmet torches of those present - again no flash. It is sort-of hand-held exposure of 0.6 sec (about my limit for hand-holding)

Image
Again at ASA 200, again using ambient light from the helmet torches of those present without flash. It is sort-of hand-held exposure of 0.6 sec (about my limit for hand-holding)

The G9 is my first digital camera after many years of shooting with an SLR. Sometimes the results are a little too "compacty" for me, but most of the time I am happy. In caves I usually shoot by other visitors' helmet light at 200 ASA and 0.6 sec at f2.8 . I hope these comments help.
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Evan G » Jul 30, 2008 7:59 am

I was reading through this thread having never heard of the G9 so I "googled" an image of the camera and found something interesting:

http://www.mzephotos.com/equipment.html


Image
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby Teresa » Jul 30, 2008 12:26 pm

Thanks for the advice on the flash adjustment, Stelios. I didn't know that...and will find it quite useful.
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby NZcaver » Jul 30, 2008 2:22 pm

Stelios Zacharias wrote:The flash does have a single fire setting (in manual mode). It can also be set at full, 2/3 power or 1/3 power (great for setting off the firefly even from a distance, without bleaching the foreground).

Thanks - this helps to confirm my suspicion that many current Canon digital cameras have this feature.

I discovered these single fire settings on my compact A540 a couple of years ago, purely by accident (and posted about it here). I couldn't find anything in the specs for my camera which mentions this feature anywhere. But it was certainly a pleasant surprise for cave photography! Earlier this year I bought the S3 IS, mainly for wildlife photography. It too has the adjustable-intensity, single fire flash feature.

I'm pretty happy with Canon. Now that I've finally discarded my old 35mm SLR, I may even look at getting a Canon DSLR some day.
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Re: Questions about the Canon Powershot G9

Postby YuccaPatrol » Sep 4, 2008 7:41 am

I you don't have to use the hotshoe, Canon offers a pretty reasonably priced underwater housing. I have the housing for my G7 (nearly identical predecessor to the G9), but since the camera is technically my wife's, I am using an older Olympus in an underwater housing.

Great camera though!
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