Thursday, September 14, 2006

Canon Missing a Midrange Mark?

Not that I'm in the market for a replacement for my Canon Powershot G5 (about which I've written recently) but, out of a sort of proprietary interest, I still like to see what Canon's doing with that part of the line. For those not steeped in Canon's digital camera product line, the Gx is essentially the high-end of Canon's more-or-less pocketable digital camera. A large pocket to be sure. It also has a fair degree of manual control, a moderately fast lens, and a usable (if not exactly great) viewfinder. It also supports RAW mode, a camera-specific storage format that preserves the maximum amount of image data for later processing in the PC. It's ubiquitous is digital SLRs and the like but far less common in lower-end models. I think of my G5 as occupying a tier between true "point and shoots" and SLRs--albeit without fully allowing a traditional "rangefinder" level of control. Which is one of the things I like about it and, frankly, is a category of camera that largely disappeared in latter film days.

The G7 continues to improve on its predecessors in the expected ways. More pixels, more sensitivity, bigger zoom. It's abandoned it's rotating and pivoting screen in favor of a fixed, larger screen--which I may or may not find a reasonable tradeoff; the G5 design was sort of nice and I actually found I didn't use the screen for a lot of applications--just the optical viewfinder. It would be nice if that viewfinder were improved; it's not obvious one way or the other from the photographs. Although the lens is still fairly fast (f2.8), the f-stop range remains fairly narrow (f2.8-4.8)

Perhaps most disappointing, however, is that the G7 drops RAW mode. Dpreview speculates that this is to protect the sale of entry-level digital SLRs--presumably they're referring to non-interchangeable lens DSLR's here. That seems plausible; after all the electronics can't cost much and with the ongoing increase in flash memory densities, RAW should be a better fit with a wider range of camera rather than a poorer one. However, whatever the reason, it seems a bad idea. Canon has a product line here that is very close to being a really nice "digital rangefinder." But it seems determined to remain merely close.

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