29 Jan 2008

Canon G9 - shutter lag

Thanks to Backlitcoyote (what a wonderful name) for the comment about the Canon G9. My initial disappointment with the camera centres around those two things – shutter lag and a lousy optical viewfinder.

That optical viewfinder is all but useless and I can’t imagine that it is beyond the resources of Canon to do a better job. Maybe if they concentrated more on how the camera actually handles in the real world – in a photographer’s hands – they would come up with something more useable.

When Backlitcoyote says it takes from 1/3 to ½ second from pressing the shutter button to the camera actually taking the photograph, is this, I wonder, even when the shutter button is already half-pressed to allow auto-focusing?

As I have said, I will put the camera to a proper test in real, practical situations as soon as I can. Meanwhile, I have to agree that the quality of the images taken on this Canon G9 is good. Maybe I just need to get used to it – but frankly, any camera that waits for half a second to take the picture just might get sent back for a refund or thrown at the wall. What possible use is a camera like this when photographing people?

I have posted my first couple of shots taken on this G9 – as you can see, nothing was moving and I used the LCD on the back of the camera to compose the pictures. The quality is fine. The photograph of the boat was done with very low side light in late afternoon, and this low light does tend to add a great deal to the crisp effect – the high resolution image is immaculate. The sky has burnt out on the left hand side, but, this can be expected with this type of shot where the foreground is so dark and the sky so bright. There are lots of ways around this, by the way, and I'll show you some in future posts.

The picture of the rock is a very simple test close-up. I did not use the macro function, just pointed and pressed. Yes, I’m impressed by the quality, but right now that camera is on borrowed time.


Anonymous said...

Philip, I am very keen to hear more about how a photographer can handle a wide dynamic range. This is something I really struggle with when photographing such scenes. Keep up the great work!! Regards, Andrew.

Anonymous said...

For me the G9 is a wonderful thing. It was purchased for those times when hauling out the big guns wouldn't be appropriate "or allowed". Of course it cant compare to the full features of my 30D & "L" lenses but thats not it's job. It's all about having the proper perspective about what it's really for. Another thing I love about it is the quality I can get out of it with my 580 EX flash and a Demb bouncer attached. It starts to get a little big at that point but still smaller than the alternative for those times that warrant it.

Anonymous said...

I bought a G9 before Christmas and have not experienced the problems you refer to, but have not really used it that much. I did try a couple of very rough subjective tests and found that there seemed to be a small difference between the Sandisk Extreme III card I use normally to a cheaper unbranded one borrowed from my wife's camera. The various settings on image stabilisation also seem to make a difference - though it's probably just my imagination!

I do use this site amongst others for reviews, see here http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G9/G9A.HTM for the G9 which seems pretty thorough. Reviews are always somewhat subjective but it's fairly detailed and includes shutter lag test information.

All depends I suppose on what one is expecting - 0.5s can be a long time in some circumstances!

backlitcoyote said...

The 1/3 to 1/2 second (subjective) figure that I quoted in an earlier comment is for relatively low light. In good light, the lag is much shorter, especially when pre-focusing or using manual focus. It's never quite as fast as my DSLR, but in good light, with a strong following wind (manual focus or pre-focus), it's pretty close. Of course, it also takes about a second to be ready for the next shot (when shooting RAW), but that has never really bothered me.

With regard to the viewfinder, some people have reported good results with the 35mm Voigtlander Brightline Finder that is designed to fit in the hot shoe (you can see it here). The 28mm/35mm mini-finder on the same page is also reported to work well. I'm considering getting one, but they're rather pricey. There are also some cheaper, off-brand finders available.

While we're on the topic of G9s, I've been particularly impressed with a couple of things about this camera. Firstly, Canon has a very good quality wide-angle lens available for it that gives you the angle of view of a 24mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Although it's rather large, and you have to also buy a separate adapter for it, I've been very impressed with the image quality.

Also, for people who are interested in using off-camera flash, I've found that my G9 syncs at speeds up to 1/1600s with Pocket Wizards (wireless triggers), which is very impressive. My Canon 20D can only do 1/250s. I think the reason for this is that the G9 has an electronic shutter, rather than a mechanical one. Fast sync speeds are, of course, useful when you want to achieve creative artificial lighting effects in bright light. By choosing a fast shutter speed, you reduce the effect of the ambient light, so that your own lighting effects are more apparent. The problem is that cameras typically cannot sync with the flash at the type of speed you need to reduce the ambient light to a desirable level. That's where fast sync speed helps. The G9 syncs at 1/1600s, and (with a small enough aperture) this is a short enough duration to let you overpower the ambient light with your flash.

Like all cameras, the G9 has some limitations, but I'm very pleased with mine.

Anonymous said...

i have a g9 and i just got an inexpensive wide angle/ macro lens and adapter .Im not expirienced with this type of camera yet but is it normal to see the oute edges of the lens adapter when camera is in widest angle position?Is it normal to have to zoom in to get past that

Anonymous said...

i have a g9 and i just got an inexpensive wide angle/ macro lens and adapter .Im not expirienced with this type of camera yet but is it normal to see the oute edges of the lens adapter when camera is in widest angle position?Is it normal to have to zoom in to get past that

Anonymous said...

Hi Philip,
Have yu tried using the canon g9 in "snap shooting" mode using hyperfocal distance settings and then saving them to C1 or C2 (like using a rangefinder in street photography).
I would be interested in your commentrs on this.
I dd an article on it with how to set it up here: http://lifespy.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/setting-up-snap-shooting-mode-on-the-g9/ ill be back to read more and I have add you to my blog roll :)