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Technique

Le présent article n'est pas disponible en Français
August 2009

The latest evolution of Canon's long established PowerShot G series of compact cameras is the PowerShot G11 model. It succeeds the G10 as the flagship model in the range and incorporates a number of new technologies to bolster your shooting abilities.

These new technologies include a Dual Anti-Noise System, an improved Smart Auto system, a new 2.8" vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD screen, 'Quick Shot' mode, enhanced shooting and playback functions, a Low Light shooting mode, and improved Servo AF that now includes AE.

Dual Anti-Noise System

The G11 features a new 1/1.7inch 10.0 Megapixel sensor which features pixels that are 45% larger than those seen on the PowerShot G10 thus giving a larger light gathering area and helping to deliver greatly improved signal-to-noise ratio.

This high sensitivity sensor works in tandem with the camera's DIGIC 4 processor, which features updated noise reduction technology via improved algorithms, in a new Dual Anti-Noise System that can offer a maximum noise reduction of up to two stops compared to the G10. For example, that means you can shoot at ISO 1600 what you could only capture at ISO 400 on the G10. You can also select the ISO speed manually up to 3200 via the camera's large ISO dial on the right hand side of the top plate. When using flash with Auto the ISO has been increased to 800.

 

The mode control dial sits on top of the larger ISO speed dial on the right hand side of the G11's top plate.

The potential benefits of Dual Anti-Noise System apply to many situations such as shooting without blur or loss of image quality in low light without the need to use flash or a tripod; more accurately capturing scenes of great contrast; and giving a greater effective flash distance when shooting subjects while maintaining better detail in backgrounds. The system also helps to expand the dynamic range in high contrast images to maintain detail in pictures that have a wide range of lighting from shadow areas to highlights.

The capabilities of the G11 are also expanded by a new Low Light Mode that can push the ISO rating up to 12,800 and deliver 2.5 megapixel images, at up to 2.4fps, in situations where you want to achieve low noise in low light. This mode is accessed via the 'candle' icon on the camera's mode dial.

Improved Smart Auto

The Smart Auto set-up on the PowerShot G11 marks another technology leap compared to the G10. The Scene Detection Technology now reads from 22 scene types as opposed to 18 on the G10 - the additional scene types are related to whether there is movement in the scene and, if engaged, the system will automatically start Servo AF/AE allowing for continuous focusing and exposure adjustments of moving subjects. The camera automatically analyses the scene using information taken from scene variables and determines the best settings for optimum output with greatly reduced risk of blur.

Smart Auto also now incorporates an improved Servo AF with AE system - a feature that allows you to continuously focus and adjust the exposure of moving subjects even when the shutter button is half depressed. This allows you to keep accurate focusing on moving subjects so you know that when you press the shutter button the subject will be in focus and correctly exposed.

	The top plate of the PowerShot G11.
 

The top plate of the PowerShot G11.

The aforementioned increase in scene types allows the G11 to automatically take into account Servo AF when tracking moving subjects. The other AF modes are single shot or continuous.

Enhanced shooting and playback functions

The shooting armoury of the G11 features a number of new features. An enhanced i-Contrast set-up expands the dynamic range when shooting in JPEG. In essence the dynamic range of a scene is now analysed prior to image processing and accurate exposures are ensured by concentrating on the distribution of brightness within certain parts of the dynamic range. In playback dynamic range optimisation still takes place and darker tones can be brightened to reveal more detail in the final image.

HD Movies can be shot up to 640x480 in VGA format at 30fps and up to a maximum of one hour in a single clip. The G11 also has an HDMI mini connector that allows for digital-to-digital transfer of images to be viewed as 1080 resolution images on an HDTV screen.

The internal flash sync speed of the G11 has been ramped up to 1/2000sec when compared to the 1/500sec sync speed of the G10. In Safety FE mode this automatically syncs the shutter speed according to the scene and greatly reduces any possible overexposure of backlit scenes. The jump in flash sync speed has the additional benefit of setting the aperture value up to two stops brighter so that you can photograph more distant subjects with flash.

When using the G11's optical viewfinder a new Quick Shot mode continuously adjusts the focus and exposure of the subject before the shutter button is pressed so the desired shot can be taken instantly without any need to half-press the shutter button.

The multi-function controller on the bottom right of the back of the G11 includes controls for manual focus, macro, self-timer and flash.
 

The multi-function controller on the bottom right of the back of the G11 includes controls for manual focus, macro, self-timer and flash.

EOS DSLR users wanting the PowerShot G11 as a back-up compact will take note of the Advanced White Balance (AWB) feature on the G11 that was previously only available in the EOS range. This technology allows you to fine-tune the white balance of an image on top of the selected preset. This is done in-camera via the LCD screen when you can adjust green, magenta, amber and blue on a 2D map.

Advanced shooting capabilities on the G11 also include a built-in Neutral Density (ND) filter that gives you greater creative control by reducing the light reaching the sensor by around three stops. For example, to capture a free flowing waterfall deploying the ND filter will allow you to shoot with a much slower shutter speed and a wider aperture to capture more light and movement in an image.


Vari-angle LCD screen

The new 2.8" vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD screen has 461k dot resolution and offers 170 degrees opening angle and 270 degrees rotational angle so that you can view potential shots from both the front and the back of the G11 camera. It greatly increases the viewing angle you have for potential images and offers 100% coverage. Brightness can be adjusted between five different levels and the screen displays a real time histogram display so that you can view conditions and change your shooting settings as you wish.

The 2.8
 

The 2.8" vari-angle PureColor II VA LCD screen rotates through a 170 degrees opening angle and a 270 degrees rotational angle and has a Quick-bright setting that allows for viewing in bright sunlight.

The resolution is the highest so far on a Canon vari-angle LCD screen and the Night Display and Wide Viewing Angle allow for easier sharing and playback of images in low light. Holding down the DISP button on the G11's backplate allows you to activate the Quick-bright setting that lets you view the LCD screen more easily in bright sunlight.

Should you choose not to view your scenes via the LCD screen the G11 also has its own optical viewfinder with a built-in dioptre correction of between -3 and +1 dioptres.

5x zoom lens

As on the PowerShot G10 the PowerShot G11 features a built in 5x zoom lens (6.1-30.5mm) that's equivalent to 28-140mm in the 35mm format. The maximum aperture at the wide end is f/2.8 and f/4.5 at the long end. Combined with a four-stop optical Image Stabilizer (IS) system this allows for hand held shooting in low light conditions and blur free images throughout the full zoom range.

The G11 also offers a true macro shooting setting down to just 1cm from the end of the lens, with just a press of the Macro button (flower icon) on the Multi-controller. You simply press 'MF' on the backplate's Multi-Controller and rotate the quick control dial to focus.

RAW shooting & DPP

The high quality 5x wideangle zoom lens has four stops of optical Image Stabilization to allow handholding without a tripod.
 

The high quality 5x wideangle zoom lens has four stops of optical Image Stabilization to allow handholding without a tripod.

It has long been a great asset to the Canon G series of compacts so it's little surprise that the RAW shooting function has stayed intact on the G11. Once again it teams up with Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software (now at Version 3.7) for a smooth workflow with control over white balance, exposure compensation, colour temperature, contrast, saturation, sharpness, tone curve and noise reduction.

In addition to this when using DPP with the G11 you can have control over lens correction to alter peripheral illumination, lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and colour blur. As with EOS the DPP software comes with the G11 and lets you take control of editing your RAW images.


Manual controls

For photographers who prefer to eschew relying on the automatic functions and features of the G11 you can take full manual control via manual exposure mode plus ISO speeds (80 to 3200), Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Program, Scene, Low Light, Movie and Custom settings (C1 and C2). These are accessible via the traditional-style control dials on the top plate of the G11.

The Speedlite 270EX is a great flash partner for the PowerShot G11.
 

The Speedlite 270EX is a great flash partner for the PowerShot G11.

The C1 and C2 Custom settings allow for your favourite combinations of shooting modes to be combined with values (shutter speed/aperture for instance), zoom location and even manual focus location. With two custom settings available on the main mode control dial there is the potential for instant access to shooting settings such as outdoors and landscapes or indoor portrait groups.

On the left hand side of the top plate, an exposure control allows you to set +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation in 1/3 stop intervals. This level of manual control puts the G11 firmly in the professional domain whilst retaining a wide appeal for amateur photographers who may like to rely on automatic modes on a more regular basis.

The rear of the camera boasts a familiar looking control wheel, combined with a FUNC SET function button and multi-controller. Together these allow input of many of the major settings and menu items. The multi-controller also allows direct access to Manual focus, flash, macro and drive mode settings.

Flash & accessories

The G11 comes with an impressive kit and works well on RAW images with Digital Photo Professional Version 3.7 in your workflow.
 

The G11 comes with an impressive kit and works well on RAW images with Digital Photo Professional Version 3.7 in your workflow.

As mentioned before internal flash sync on the G11 has been upped to 1/2000sec and features a hot-shoe on the top plate. Remember that this camera is part of a Canon system that features a host of useful accessories for photographers.

The G11 has excellent compatibility with any Canon EX Speedlite, including the Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX and the Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, and the Speedlite ST-E2 transmitter is compatible with the hot-shoe. The arrival of the Canon Speedlite 270EX earlier in 2009 has brought a clear flashgun partner for the G11 that will deliver excellent bounce flash for portraits, amongst other options.

Out of the box with the PowerShot G11 you get the camera, the NS-DC9 neck strap, the NB-7L battery pack (with terminal cap), the CB-2LZE battery charger, the AC cable (E-type plug), the AV Cable VC-DC400, the Interface Cable IFC-400PCU, and the User Manual Kit. There are also other PowerShot specific accessories that you can tap into including the new Waterproof Case WP-DC34 that allows you to shoot down to 40m below the waves, and the Soft Case SC-DC65A to protect your camera with a hint of retro style.