Canon G10: SLR Takes a Holiday

Our staff photographer puts down his pro rig and discovers the joys of a point-and-shoot

The Canon Powershot G10

At $500, the point-and-shoot proves a formidable foe for prosumer DSLRs.John B. Carnett

I'm an old-school SLR guy. I like big, heavy cameras that I can swing from the shoulder strap to scare thugs away. So I was pretty skeptical of a point-and-shoot, even a high-end model.

But when the 14.7-megapixel Canon G10 arrived, I was surprised at how sturdy it is (and still slips into my shirt pocket!). Without glancing at the instruction manual, I popped in the battery and a little SD card from my wife's point-and-shoot and headed out. Right away I was thrown back to being eleven years old again, taking pictures just because I could. It was pure joy.

I left the next day for a weeklong assignment in LA and brought the G10 along. I found myself taking it out at the airport, stopping the car to make snap shots—taking way more photos, in more places, than I would when lugging only my pro gear.

No, it's not an SLR. But it's amazing what a camera like the G10 can do. The zoom lens starts at a wide 28 millimeters and extends to a respectable 140mm telephoto (in 35mm camera equivalent) to cover most needs. The camera's hot shoe let me attach external flashes from my SLRs. And the camera shoots in RAW mode to capture data-rich files that I can manipulate any way I want in Photoshop or Canon's Digital Photo Profession program. At a shoot in LA, I told my assistant—only half kidding—that I was going to walk onto the set with just the G10.

Of course there are compromises. I didn't get the super-fast focus tracking or negligible shutter lag of my high-end SLR. But I quickly learned how to work within the G10's limits. For example, after I got home I took my 17-month-old son to the park. He's a fast-moving target, and the G10's autofocus couldn't keep up with his random zigzags at full–tilt. But it did well the rest of the time when he was more predictable.

The zoom moves faster than I'd expected, but I had trouble working the zoom and shutter buttons at the same time with one finger. And the high ISO (light sensitivity setting) won't provide the frame-worthy low-light photos that an SLR does at the same settings. But it lets you grab good-looking snapshots with ease.

In short, the high-quality but nimble G10 lets you capture surprisingly good images of all those moments that you'd miss when you're too lazy to lug out an SLR.