Crab, crab, crab
A number of people have asked (and flamed) me about problems involving the G1 focus and flash. If the problems were isolated to me as a single user, that would be one thing but sadly they're not, and they reveal what to me are the biggest problems with the G1's design, problems that have been much-improved in the later G2 and G3.
The G1's uncentered approach has serious consequences for autofocus use on real scenes. While it's fine for landscapes and may even do well for group shots, what about a head-and-shoulders portrait?
Typical G1 AF failure --
camera focused on the background
Only about 34% of the pixels
are part of the subject
Canon's G1 manual mentions "autofocus crosshairs" on page 38, but this is simply wrong they're in the optical finder and clearly have nothing to do with the Autofocus. What's more, they may give you the impression that the AF is concentrating on the area of the crosshairs (like the "target marks" did on the previous Canon design, the Pro 70) and that's simply not true.
Likewise, you might think that turning on spot metering would affect the area considered by the autofocus you might think that, but... you'd be wrong. It only affects the metering, not the focus.
The Pro 90 also has a "target bracket" area, which might actually do something (it's part of the EVF and LCD, not the optical finder). But both the G1 and Pro 90 manuals claim weakness to "Subjects with extremely low contrast to the surroundings." Even the A20 has AF brackets why does the G1 have this crippled system? Is it some failed prototype of the A20's AiAF?
Fortunately, there's a partial workaround use the digital zoom to expand the center pixels, focus, and then turn off the digital zoom. Great, but...
Digital zoom is only offered in the JPEG modes. When you select RAW storage, digital zoom isn't available. So if you want crucially-sharp focus, you'll have to compromise on image quality. Or compromise on the time it will take to flip back and forth through the menu system to switch from RAW to JPEG and back again while focusing.
The pixels are blown up so you won't really be seeing a closer view of the middle of the CCD. Bigger pixels will make it easier to see contrast, but not detail.
Those times include any time the display is turned off by rotating or the DISP button, or whenever you try to turn the LCD to face forward. Another "gotcha" is trying to flip quickly to playback mode to review images when you turn the camera back on, the AF will kick in for a sec, erasing your previous MF settings.
To use the digital zoom from RAW mode (if in JPEG mode, ignore the parts marked in blue) (and iterate the step marked in red until the shot is satisfactorily focused):
That's a lot of extra button pressing! Hope your subject is a patient one.
Downsides: it takes time to thread and unthread the diopter; you are interfering with the overall optical quality; you are reducing depth of field; and you can't focus on faraway objects.
Upside: you can't focus on faraway objects, so you have a better chance on getting a shot at the near objects you want.
For whatever reasons, the Powershots exhibit strong chromatic aberration with "black body" light sources such as incandescent bulbs and sunlight. Most of these aberrations go away with flash the difference is so strong that if you really care about color from a Powershot, especially skintones, you will always use flash illumination. But:
For whatever reasons, Canon has taken the attitude that the G1 doesn't really support flash correctly, and that only synch with Canon's own flash units is important. But:
For whatever reasons, Canon's own flash units work only with the lens wide open, and multiflash and ratio control are not supported (the infamous f/8 flash trick is truly a limited-application "trick," of very limited usefulness without multiple high-powered strobe heads, which are unsupported). So:
To get good color, you must use the settings that you really should not settings that Canon deliberately appears to be going out of their way to prevent you from using (while denying that there's any problem with Powershot focussing or flash design), even as they advertise the cameras as the epitome of user control.
The magenta shift is not visible in the thumbnail displayed in ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser, nor in the playback image in the camera (same thumbnail). It's not visible in RAW display. Only if you shoot JPEG, when you click on the downloaded image in the viewer, will you notice that the large image is not the color you see in the preview!
Strange and mysterious? Yes. Appropriate for a camera whose marketing trumpets it as top-level and with lots of user control?
Canon at least gives the user RAW format as an option. It may be heavy and slow to work with, but at least it's there. There is another screwup with regard to RAW, however at least for the Macintosh version of the TWAIN software. The TWAIN driver provided for use in Photoshop can read RAW images only directly from the camera. If you download the RAW images using ImageBrowser, and then try to read them from Canon's own Photoshop import module, it won't load. It won't even acknowledge that the images exist. What's the point of that?
Rev 19 July 2001