Sunday, 24 January 2010

Camera Review: Canon G11 vs a great P&S(F31fd) and a great APS-C DSLR(Nikon D90)

the G11 takes on the F31fd and a DSLR??

The Canon G11 is the recent release in the G line for Canon. The G series has more or less tried to sit between the compact p&s digicams and the full featured DSLRs and had been the go to choice for many a photog who wanted something more portable than a DSLR but not sacrificing too much control and image quality in the process.

Canon though didn't foresee the rise of the panasonic LX3 which more or less took up a huge piece of the market share of folks interested in the G10 (at the time it launched). There are rumors the LX4 will be coming out in Feb 2010 but not sure if its true. What i do hope is that the LX4 will have a slightly better focal range, a proper lens cap and better high iso results(one can hope :)

So we come to the G11... Canon launched this and the S90 after the LX3 came on the scene so they should be LX3 beaters no? [less megapixels so more of the sensor is used for light gathering] Its a game of one ups-manship with the camera companies so one would expect this to be the case. but are they? unfortunately at this time i do not have an LX3 handy to do a indepth head to head with it (sorry boyz) but that may change in time and i sold off the s90 for the G11 after looking at all 3 of em (read about the rationale here)

Ok so what do we have here today? a head to head of the G11 with a once 'king of the hill' point and shoot the Fuji F31fd and my Nikon D90 with 18-105 kit lens...

Some key specs(in the following order) - focal range(35mm equivalent) ~ aperture range ~ sensor size ~ megapixels
1. G11 - 28-140mm [6.1-30.5] ~ f/2.8-4.5 ~ 1/1.7" ~ 10MP
2. Fuji F31fd - 36-108mm [8-24] ~ f/2.8-5.0 ~ 1/1.7" ~ 6.1MP
3. Nikon D90 with kit lens -27-160mm [18-105] ~ f/3.5-5.6 ~ 23.6 * 15.8mm ~ 12.3MP

so to the different scenes then... (all pics here have had no post processing done except rotation and cropping if needed.

(A) Widest view from the same spot (resized to 880 pixel width) Bright day - In order of goodness to me, its D90, G11, F31 and as below...

D90 [1/640" f/5.6 ISO200] the DSLR showing why its worth the $$$

G11 [1/640" f/4 ISO160] very good result... checkout the dynamic range

F31fd [1/500" f/5 ISO100] as u can see still a contender :) just not wide enough starting at 36mm

(B) From the same shot as above ~ 400*600 crops of center - In order of goodness to me, its D90, F31, G11 - the F31 was a bit dimmer in the center but it seemed to capture more detail. note that it has the same sensor size as the G11 and only caters for 6.1mp vs the G11's 10.1mp...

(C) Bokeh using slow lenses on the tele end (which means aperture is also not hot)...

D90 at 160mm [1/1000" f/5.6 ISO200] it was never gonna be that good but i am happy to find reasonable bokeh quality at 5.6 from the kit lens... of course if u break out a 85 f/1.4 thats a different story altogether...

G11 at 140mm [1/640" f/4.5 ISO80] reasonable noting the small sensor size

F31fd at 108mm [1/750" f/5 ISO100] very little blur, lack of depth of field on the f31 due to tiny sensors... (same as the G11 so the G11 has some magic going on in its processing :)

(D) Closeup of some ixora

D90 at 160mm [1/80" f/5.6 ISO200]

G11 at 28mm [1/60" f/2.8 ISO80]

this is cool on the G11... u can zoom in a lot more and focus a lot closer to get images like this... very good quality impo (i pixel peeped this and the details were excellent at 100%)

F31 at 36mm [1/140" f/2.8 ISO100] not sure if it was a setting gone wrong but the colors have blown out in the shot and its too light... put it down to photog screwup ;)

(E) Chromatic aberration & Flare (crops from originals and resized to 880 pixel width) - In other of goodness to me, its D90, G11, F31

the D90 with the kit lens did awesome on CA and flare control... check it... [1/500" f/6.3 ISO200] the details retained in the leaves and the control of the CA and flare are excellent to my eyes

the G11 did very well considering its small sensor [1/400" f/4 ISO160]

the F31 was struggling with this and loadsa CA & flare comin out... and loss of details [1/450" f/5.6 ISO100]

(G) I did wristshots of all the cameras with this watch and all turned out alright... in fact what was surprising was that my htc hd2 wristshot quality was pretty decent but the colors are pretty icky... shooting in sepia or b/w will sort this out though (but of course u may not want ALL your handphone photos to be in sepia or b/w :) condition is shady place in a bright environment. the G11 did the best and F31 came next, the d90 kit lens has too long a minimum focusing distance so was no fun for taking wristshots...

as the HTC HD2 did awright for this, the only shot from it in this post... 5MP [exif read shutter at 1/205" and aperture at f/3.2]

(H) The plant and Mr Roboto

In a dimly lit room, D90 rules on light gathering. the G11 comin second and F31 not doing so well in this test...
On Mr Roboto... the G11 rules... ISO 800 f/2.8 smoked the rest. [did a fair amount of pixel peeping on this] the D90 not being able to get a decent shot off at ISO800 or at 3200...i had to go to max iso6400 to get a worst off shot then the G11... note the apertures though yuh :)


(I) now the most important test... as you know, you are on a watch blog... i love watches and am into photography as well so when i do go for watch events(lesser and lesser now though due to other commitments), i need a decent shooter to take pics of the watches that are either passed around or are on display in dimly lit environments... so here goes...

best in hand shot with no flash - f31fd at f/2.8 ISO400 and 1/4"

best non-flash shot of a watch on display - G11 at f/2.8 ISO400 and 1/4"

with bounced flash... you get this from the D90 [1/50" f/8 ISO200]

  • G11 is a strong contender in the day for sure but its strengths come out when the lights go down. I would say that ISO800 produced very good images from a range of pix i've taken/seen and that you can use ISO1600 without worrying too much, ie u can get usable images from a couple of pix taken, but ISO3200 is definitely pushing it. handholding and getting decent shots for up to 1/4" is very cool. wish the lens was a tad faster, eg. 2.0, on the wide end but otherwise a very good camera. Highly Recommended!
  • F31 is a great camera but it is showing its age. the new fangled processors and Canon imaging capabilities are showing it up. but that said for a (more) compact point and shoot, and for not alot of $ second hand, about S$220-280, its still a winner. Recommended!
  • the D90 rocks!!! nuff said ;) ok it didn't do well for mr roboto but perhaps a faster lens or bounce flash is needed for it for that shot... it does well on all other levels. Highly Recommended!
  • Bounce flash is needed though for evening events. The G11 will be paired with the 270EX for evening/nite/indoor events/occasions, watch flash shots & macros and when other flash photography is required. I will be getting the flash within the week and will see how this combo matches up with the D90 & SB600 then :)
THE VERDICT THEN? All are winners, not a dog among them :) it depends on what you need for your purposes. if u don't mind the weight and size and want better image quality and a good selection of interchangeable lenses, the full frame and crop sensor DSLRs are the way to go...Both Nikon and Canon have great bodies and lens lineups so either choice is great just note pros and cons before diving in... [why i say no to m4/3 (GF1 and EP-2) right now] & [why i say no to Leica film & digital Ms]

if u want small and compact and don't need an external flash hotshoe, the f31fd is a great camera from a couple of years back... the s90 on paper seems a strong contender but i didn't enjoy having it(distortions and flaring). the LX3 and G11 being larger, having more control settings & hotshoes for external flashes. to end off, if i were to sum the G11 up though in one word then, it would be 'versatile'... it is a very versatile performer :)

Hope this was helpful or of interest to most. till the next time i get up to camera hijinks then :) cheers, raph

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