Mat Gallagher and Tim Coleman try out four classic digital cameras that were highly desirable in their time to see if their second-hand prices still make them viable options

Canon PowerShot G6 at a glance:

  • Canon PowerShot G6
  • 7.1-million-pixel (1/1.8in) CCD sensor
  • ISO 50-400
  • 2in, 118,000-dot LCD screen
  • 35-140mm f/2-3 Canon lens
  • Optical viewfinder
  • 467g
  • 105x73x73mm
  • USB 1.0 transfer speeds of 1.5Mbit/sec

The Canon PowerShot G series has been around since 2000, and is now onto its tenth model, the G12 (there is no G4 or G8 because Japanese firms avoid these numbers). Another model, the PowerShot G1 X, is currently available alongside the G12, but is a departure from the series and features a larger imaging sensor.

The PowerShot G6 was announced in 2004 and replaced two years later. The G7 arguably showed the most dramatic makeover of any of the PowerShot G models. All the cameras up to the G6 use a 1/1.8in (7.14×5.36mm) CCD sensor, feature an articulated LCD screen, top LCD panel, fast f/2 lens, and store raw and JPEG images on a CompactFlash card. In fact, the G6 came supplied with a 32MB CF card, enough for four full-resolution, 7.1-million-pixel images. With the launch of the G7, the specification changed drastically.

Image: Taken at ISO 200, luminance noise is already evident in this image, although it is uniform in appearance, and similar to grain

As with its G5 predecessor, the G6 has a 35-140mm f/2-3 lens, Digic processor and 118,000-dot LCD screen, although the screen is slightly larger at 2in. The G6 is significantly lighter than the G5, and has an increased resolution, from 5 million to 7.1 million pixels. The G7 saw dramatic changes, such as a larger-sized 1/1.7in sensor with 10 million pixels, a maximum ISO 3200 setting, 35-210mm f/2.8 lens (with 1cm macro mode), Digic III processor, 207,000-dot LCD screen, SD memory card storage, a different battery type and was again much lighter. PowerShot G-series models have never been compact, however, with many current compact system cameras
smaller and lighter.

While the latest versions of the camera have slimmed down, the downside of this is that the supplied battery cannot match the battery capacity of the G6. The official Canon BP-511A battery used by the G6 has a large 1390mAh capacity, which exceeds most of today’s compacts. The G6 may be chunkierthan more recent models, but its well-pronounced handgrip is preferable to the slimline form of its successors.

Image: The dynamic range of the G6 is very good, with plenty of detail retained in the sky here

A modern CSC with a 3in, 921,000-dot LCD screen was tested alongside the Canon PowerShot G6, and the difference between the screens is staggering. The G6’s screen is noticeably smaller and its 118,000-dot output duller. It is difficult to view images clearly until they are on the computer screen at the editing stage. The G6’s built-in optical viewfinder does not have a 100% field of view, so accurate framing is difficult and it displays pronounced fringing.

When it comes to image quality, the G6 makes the most of its excellent lens. For a ‘compact’ camera, the quality of detail in real-world images is good even by today’s standards, and full-resolution files are perfectly sufficient for A4 prints, even up to A3 by reducing the print resolution in the image size. Image capture is, however, much more limited given the ISO 50-400 range. For those using the camera in good light this will not be an issue, and there are few cameras today that go as low as ISO 50. The Canon PowerShot G6 is fun to use and, available for as little as £80 second-hand, it is something of a bargain.

Thanks to SRS Microsystems ( for providing the Canon PowerShot G6 used in this test

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