Wow. Just wow.
I'm regressing to a time in 2013 when small, light and potent "point and shoot" cameras were still a thing. And I'm having an epiphany about just how good these little machines were/are. Let me back up and give you some context. Small, inconspicuous, non-interchangeable lens cameras have had a rich history in the world of photography for as long as I can remember. All us refugees from university art programs in the 1970's had a Rollei 35S somewhere in our gear bucket. Minox also made a super small but amazingly good fixed lens 35mm camera that actually could fit in one's pocket back in the 1980's.
Before the DSLR took off like a comet the vast majority of people who wanted to try their hands at photography started out not with a Canon Digital Rebel but with a smaller digital "point and shoot" camera. They were cheaper to buy and easier to use. And, over time, several camera makers upgraded and enhanced their compact cameras' capabilities to the point that they could rival (in good light) cameras twice as big and four times as expensive.
Canon started producing their G series of cameras back in the very early 2000's. The first model was a G1 which I bought after having used a smattering of Nikon's own Coolpix cameras. The G1 was a 4 megapixel camera (very cool at the time) and it featured a fast zoom lens, good color and nice files. I made images for the first Sweetish Hill Bakery website with that camera!
Canon proceeded to work their way through model numbers making the cameras smaller and more capable. They were the "go-to" option for most photographers who might have spent a fortune on the DSLRs of the day and then needed a less expensive "back up" camera just in case all else failed.
About 12 years ago Canon tossed a G series camera on the market that really caught everyone's attention. It was the G10 and it was a 14.x megapixel camera with ISO 80 image quality that rivaled just about any comparable resolution camera on the market. The founder of the Luminous Landscape website, an avowed medium format digital camera user, once shot the same landscape shot both with the tiny and (relatively) inexpensive G10 and a big, Hasselblad camera with a digital back. He printed both files nice and large and challenged printers and advanced photographers to guess which print came from which camera. The tally of opinions was more or less a tie. Validation that skill and good light can reduce the expected results of superior technology to a near draw.
I bought a brand new G10 around the time I was working on my third book (Lighting Equipment) for Amherst Media. I was so enamored by the G10 that I used it, on a tripod and at its lowest ISO (80) to do all the equipment still life photographs in the book. I didn't tell anyone at the time and once the images were printed in CMYK they worked well in concert with the demonstration images done with a range of much more expensive and (supposedly) more capable DSLRs.
I was hooked. For a while. I still have a G10 and take it out from time to time to see what it can do. I am generally still impressed. That camera has the limitation of not being a great high ISO performer and once you go past ISO 200 you start confronting noise.
Last year I bought a slightly used G15 camera. It's 1:1.7 sized sensor has less resolution than the G10 but it's a CMOS sensor and handles low light better. It's 12 megapixels. One of the improvements over the G10 was the return by Canon to the faster lenses that they had outfitted G cameras with prior to the slower G10 lens. The G15 is compact and easy to use but it still delivers great images. I handed it to Belinda to use in Montreal and I've never gotten it back. It has her stamp of approval. And as an art director who has worked with images from a wide range of great advertising photographers that's a tough approval to earn.
I tried buying another G15 recently but got burned by Amazon.com. A "good" condition G15 arrived with sticky tape residue on the body and a few small scratches on the lens. It's workable but I hate starting behind the eight ball with a camera. I'll always be leery of the effect the scratches may have on my images. That camera lives in a drawer somewhere and when someone needs to borrow a "beater"camera I'll lend them that one in the hopes that they lose it or never return it.....
So, yesterday I was delivering some groceries and treats to my son, Ben, who is quarantining from the pandemic at his house with his roommates and I figured that I was already halfway to Precision Camera and perhaps I should just drop by and see if they had any interesting new arrivals in the used cabinets. I'm always on the look out for interesting photographic artifacts.
There in the case were two identical G16s. The G16 is the final expression of the long running G cameras from Canon and is basically an ultra-tweaked version of the G15. Still 12 megapixels and still the same 28-140mm f1.8 to 2.8 lens but a new processor and some new features. And....tweakiness.
Unlike the G15 that Amazon sent along these two G16 bodies were lovingly cared for and looked, for the most part, like we'd just pulled them out of a factory sealed box. I bought one on the spot. On the way home I second guessed (started to regret?) my spur of the moment purchase and decided to go out today and really test out the camera to see if I was just buying nostalgia or a real, useful and unique camera.
I headed out around 2 p.m. today, just as the temperature crested the 100 degree mark. With the humidity factored in it felt like 106. But I was dressed for the adventure and, of course, had my goofy but protective wide brimmed hat.
While the G16 isn't going to win any contests for super-wide dynamic range it's impressively sharp, the auto white balance is right on the money about 95% of the time and it's a delight to carry around on a hot, oppressive day.
Instead of my usually walk through downtown I decided to do a loop around and through the University of Texas and the environs. I did seven years there as a student and three as a specialist lecturer in the College of Fine Arts. I go back once or twice a year to lecture to classes for friends who teach in photojournalism but every time I go there's a new building, a new pedestrian boulevard, or a new high rise tower. Today was no different.
So, I've attached some of the photos I made from my hour and a half in the heat to show off the capabilities of the little G16. I am very happy with my copy. So much so that I called my brilliant sales associate at the store and asked him to hold the second one till I get back out there. Everyone's got to have a hobby; I guess my newest hobby is cornering the market on older "point and shoot" technology. Captions where motivated.
At the fried Chicken place on Guadalupe.
The G16 image stabilization is wonderful. Works well in video too.
You can't buy happiness but you can buy pristine Canon G series cameras...
That's kinda the same thing!
Working hard to keep the detail in the white electrical conduit...
Medici on the drag is closed until further notice.
The paucity of good coffee to go is becoming near critical...
I have no idea what eyebrow threading is or why UT students might need it...
the G12 has a built in ND filter. It works well. I wish all P/S cameras had one.
Mural in open shade. On the Drag.
I found a spot next to one of the engineering buildings where the cold air from the air conditioning system flowed outside. Funny to be walking around in a hundred degrees of heat and find a "bubble" of 68 degree air. A nice place to stop and make some camera menu changes.
go ahead. blow it up. It's amazingly sharp.
I know a lot about art, I just don't know what I like...
Walking by this enormous pit just north of the state capitol.
They're building a series of gigantic buildings just across from the
Texas History Museum. Huge, huge project. Many cranes...
And then back to the patient Subaru Forester. The latest VSL staff car.
I've had it for a year and five months and I have about 12,000 miles racked up.
Not a big year for driving long distances...
Maybe next year.
I had a big iced tea in a thermos bottle in the car. How refreshing!
That's it. The newest studio arrival under $300.