After about six to eight weeks of looking at options and reviewing models I have made my final decision on which compact digital camera to get. I am locking in on the Canon G15.
Basically the three key requirements for this camera were:
- that is was light and small-ish so that it was able to be carted around in my work bag so it went everywhere I went (I have to take this bag everywhere as it contains my blood sugar/insulin kit);
- that it took good pictures (for a compact camera); and
- that it had a negative (RAW) format option.
This compact has a 1/1.7” (7.6 x 5.7mm) sensor which puts it just into the mid-range grouping of compact digital cameras (see my chart of sensor sizes vs. typical use in the posting here). This little sensor—compared to a DSLR—has an effective image capture area of 32.5 mm² which only just puts it over the magical 30 mm² size needed to ensure reasonably noise-free low-light images.
If you buy this camera online it will cost you about $400 which also puts it right into the price zone I was aiming for (being between $350 and $500).
It also has most of the features I wanted:
- It can take negatives (i.e., RAW format pictures).
- It has a spot metering option.
- It has a viewfinder (even though there is no information shown in the viewfinder but any viewfinder is better than no viewfinder at all because I HATE looking at the back of camera when taking a picture).
- It has aperture-preferred shooting mode as one of the ‘automatic’ options.
- It has image stabilisation (although it is lens-based rather than the preferred sensor-based stabilisation).
- It has a reasonably useful zoom range which equates to 28 – 140mm in 35mm terms.
- It has pseudo-macro focussing down to 1cm.
- With a maximum aperture of f1.8 it has a reasonably bright lens (for taking low light pictures without a bothersome flash being used).
- It has a nice high top speed shutter speed of 1/4000th of second.
- It has continuous drive mode.
- It takes both the standard SDHC and the new SDXC SD memory cards.
- It allows exposure override up to ±3 stops.
- The ISO range goes way up to 12800 (to allow shooting in very low light without a flash).
- It is small (about 4 x 3 x 1.5”).
- It is light (about 350 gms).
Also, and this was important to me, it is supported by DxO Optics which is my favourite program for ‘developing’ digital negatives. For me I would not even consider a camera that DxO Optics did not work with.
If you are a ‘serious’ taker of pictures and want to get the best out of your shots I then I recommend you look into DxO Optics. Even if your camera does not take digital negatives (i.e., RAW pictures) DxO Optics can even save many JPG format images, depending on the resolution of the JPG.
It also helps that DPReview gave this camera a score of 76 which is high (click the image above to go to the DPReview review of the G15).
Mid-range compact camera tend to score around the 65 to 73 mark so 76 is a good outcome for a compact like this.
DPReview also give the G15 a pretty bad score on “Value” but this is based on the release price of the G15 which was US$699. Now, after about six months on the market, this price has plummeted down to AUS$400 so if this review were to be revisited by DPReview the “Value” score would be much better.
DPReview marked the G15 down on its video performance, but this does not bother me. I will not be taking any video with this camera. My last two DSLRs have had video mode and I doubt if I have taken one full minute of video in total.
DPReview also failed the performance of the G15’s flash. But seriously—what do you expect from any built in flash on any compact camera? And the G15 does have a hot-shoe so you can slot on a ‘real’ flash if you want to take flash pictures. Also the ISO goes up to 12,800 on manual so you are not going to need a flash very often. I can assure you the percentage of flash pictures I am likely to be taking is around 0.05 (i.e., almost nil).
Well I have ordered my G15 for $399 with free shipping from Kogan so, allowing for the New Year holiday, I figure it will arrive sometime early after the New Year week.
You can be reasonably sure that once it arrives I will be testing it out. Obviously there is no way it will produce images like the Pentax K-5, but at least with the G15 I should have it with me in my bag on those occasions when you just wish you had a half-decent camera available.