Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Canon Powershot G9 digital camera

I feel compelled to write about my camera because three people/friends have bought the same camera recently upon my recommendation.

This is the third digital camera I have owned.

The first one was bought in 2001 and was a gift from my mother. It was a small, silver Kodak somethingorather and had 2 megapixels and NO optical zoom. Also, photos without the flash came out looking like nothing. It only really took good photos outdoors in adequate lighting. It was pretty crap and I ended up resorting to using both my SLR and compact film cameras instead and was dying for a new digicam...

The second one was bought in 2004. I bought it on eBay because I really wanted the black model which was not sold in Australia (I really really hate silver!). Also, I could get it cheaper that way. I paid AUD$600 (including exchange rate and shipping) instead of the $800 I would have paid if I had bought it in store locally. It was the Canon powershot S50 and had 5 megapixels and 3x optical zoom. The seller didn't ship overseas but I got it through a very unconventional way. I had it shipped to my uncle who lives in the States, he brought it to Taiwan. He and my dad were going to be in Taiwan at the same time so then he passed it to him and then my dad brought it back to Australia - phew! I was so happy with it. It was brand new in the box and what with all the bad stories about eBay I didn't have any problems with the seller nor the item. It still works perfectly now, despite me dropping it a few times too.

Despite the S50 being a great camera (has several manual modes and can record in RAW format) there were some things I longed for which it didn't have. I really missed the ability to use filters (as I could with my SLR camera), I really wished the optical zoom was 'better' (preferably at least 10x), I wanted 'image stabilization', a better macro mode, a 'vari-angle' LCD screen, and the 2:3 format.

I researched and researched (am a research-aholic as well as a camera-aholic) and concluded there wasn't a single camera that existed that met ALL my criteria. I searched through endlessly to no avail. I contemplated getting the Panasonic or Olympus models with the superzoom - 10x, 12x, 18x even! or the Canon S5IS (at the time S3IS). However the more I researched the more I realised I really wanted a smallish camera and a Canon camera as I really think they make the best cameras. Almost all the news photojournalists use them.

I found a little beauty called the Canon G7 and decided that was the one I wanted. But what with being in debt from the wedding, it had to take a back seat for a while... luckily I waited because in September 2007 the Canon PowerShot G9 arrived on the scene. I had suspected that a new model would replace the G7 but Canon wasn't giving anything away! I perused forums and blogs awaiting any news and hoped that the G8 would be able to record in RAW format (the G7 couldn't) and have a better than 6x zoom. I got the first wish but not the second. However, the LCD screen on the G9 is much better too. It is a whopping 3" and you can view it easily from all angles making overheard or low shots easy.

So in October (just before the Japan trip) I finally got my hands on the little G9 beauty. I bought it in Pacific Digital Plaza in Xujiahui (after scouring PDP, Metrocity and Hong Kong Plaza for the best price). I paid about AUD$580 for it (it had only just come out in China at that time).

It's not a perfect camera by any means but it suits me perfectly. Many have asked me (knowing I'm a photo/camera buff and that I studied photography throughout high school and university) why I didn't get a DSLR. The reasons are simple:

1. They are expensive and get outdated much more quickly than film SLRs
2. They are big and heavy and after having a neck injury I no longer wish to carry a heavy camera around my neck
3. I like to take 'photojournalistic' every day type shots and you can't do that easily when you have a big huge camera which attracts attention
4. I don't like the feeling of being a target of being mugged whilst I am travelling overseas. I have actually been mugged before for my cameras (they didn't get away with anything except some cash) so it's not a pleasant feeling!
5. I know people buy SLRs and mean well but never end up using them much and taking them out because they are 'too big', 'too bulky' and stuff. So what's the point of a camera if you aren't going to use it?
6. I don't believe that SLR cameras 'take' better photos, in the same way that buying a Porsche won't make you a better driver. It's the PERSON that takes the photo, not the camera!

So, I wanted a camera that had SLR type features and functions but was still compact. The G9 is not small by any means but I can easily still fit it into my palm, my pocket, or a pocket inside my handbag. Best of all it has the ability to use filters with it, or to add on an external flash (which is my next camera-related purchase). I think the 6x optical zoom is good enough. I rarely need to zoom in that much and the digital zoom takes it up to 24x zoom! Another bonus for me is that it takes the exact same batteries as my other Canon camera.

I love it! I won't rave on about the technical aspects and tests as you can read about that on various sites online. But if you are a G7/G9 owner who stumbled upon this make sure you check out this site - customized accessories for the G7/G9 which look like they actually were made by Canon, including a hot shoe cover, and the new cable release.

I spoke to a friend who is also a Canon fan and was also looking for a new camera and was contemplating getting a low-end DSLR till I told her I had my eye on the G7 and together we awaited the released of the G9. We contemplated getting the G7 (since it would now be cheaper) but both ended up getting the G9. Then, I had another friend tell me that they bought the G9 too (previously a G2 owner). Then, recently, I met up with my sister and her boyfriend here in Taiwan and he was fascinated with my camera and I was telling him all the great features about it and it won him over too! And he ended up buying one just hours before leaving for the airport to go back to Sydney. He was particularly impressed by the fact that it is 12.1 megapixels! :)

So to summarise... I'm a secret geek girl at heart, I love gadgets (except mobile phones), and I love the Canon G9! It fits most (but not all) of my criteria and I hope to use it for a long-ish time (well, at least 3 years judging by my history ;) )

PS - the reason why the model 'G8' was skipped was because it sounds like a rude word in Chinese!! hahaha...(the S4IS was skipped too because 4 is a bad luck number in Chinese/Japanese superstition).

PPS - I have now taken over 10,000 photos with it (5,000 alone on the Japan trip) in just 3.5 months - scary!


Missing Paris but thrilled to discover Shanghai! said...

Dear 'Shanghai Expat Wife',
I stumbled upon your blog by coincidence (google search) and am super exited to have found your blog! I am a bit of am expat myself, grew up in Germany (went to preschool in Australia) go to University in Paris and will take a semester abroad in Shanghai (with a joint program from NYU and East China Normal University.) Although I am a comparative politics and development studies major with a focus on human rights law I always wanted to take a photography course. Therefore, I registered for a photography course in Shanghai. The professors' CV and the syllabus for the course sound amazing since in your blog you mentioned that you studied photography and are a research addict I have a question and would appreciate your advice greatly. The camera and equipment required for the course is a digital SLR 35mm medium format, a 28,35 or 50 lens, as well as a flash and a tripod. Would you recommend buying the camera and the equipment in Shanghai or should I buy it at home? The camera I was considering is the Canon EOS 400D which costs about 570 euros (about 830 us dollars) here. Do you think I will be able to buy the same camera for less or the same price in Shanghai and if yes which store would you recommend? I will arrive on Monday the 11 of February but the semester only starts a week later so I would potentially still have some time to shop around. Thank you so much in advance for your reply! oh my email is

ShanghaiExpatLife said...

Interesting! I have emailed my comments to you :) I am pretty sure buying the camera in Shanghai would be cheaper than getting it in France (or anywhere in Europe) though, after exchange rate.

Pi. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pi. said...

Hi Shanghai Expat Wife,
I am going on tour with a dance company next week to Seoul, Beijing and Macau and the reason I am writing you is the following.
I loved your article about the G9 and want to buy this camera in Asia.
What I can't find on the internet is relevant prices in Asia.
Should I buy it in South Korea or in China..?
Can you help me out in finding the price in South Korea and Macau.
This would really narrow my search for the right city to buy this excellent camera.
Thank you so much for your effort.