After years of shooting with a dSLR I decided it was time for a change. As much as I loved my EOS 40D and lenses I really wanted something simpler and more portable. I read a few blogs by other photographers who sometimes use compacts for the convenience and even one guy who packed up all his gear and experimented shooting with nothing but his iPhone for a few months.
Big Power In A Small Package
The G16 is Canon’s top of the line compact, but at just 2.99 x 1.57 x 4.29 inches it’s not much bigger than a smart phone, and can easily fit in a pocket. Manual mode gives you full manual control over all of the camera’s functions, something I really wanted, since I’d usually shoot manual with my 40D.
The auto focus is the fastest in Canon compact history and there’s virtually no noticeable shutter lag. They’ve come a long way since the old compacts that had the long delay before recording the image. There really wasn’t even much of an adjustment for me coming from shooting with a dSLR. It’s also capable of capturing full 1080p HD video at 60fps, which was another reason for making the switch, since my old camera didn’t shoot video at all.
The Powershot G16 features a 12.1 megapixel 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and Canon’s latest image processor, the DIGIC 6 which produce some amazing quality images. Some of the photos you see on this site, and some of the videos, like the one in this post were shot with this camera. It also has great low-light performance with an ISO of up to 12800.
The Dynamic Image Stabilization is automatic and actually detects type of movement and compensates in a way as to not interfere with the desired effect you’re going for. For example it can detect panning motion and will even detect if a tripod is being used and turn off the stabilization entirely.
High speed continuous shooting at full resolution is available in P, Tv, Av and M modes, similar to continuous shooting with a dSLR. Canon Speedlite flashes and other EOS accessories can be used with the G16. I do sometimes miss my old super wide angle lens, but the 28-140mm zoom on this camera covers a wide enough range to be very versatile for most everyday shooting situations.
The Ikelite 6147.16 housing for the G16 measures 6.8 x 4.9 x 6.0 inches (including the controls and port) making it very easy to handle both above and below the water. It weighs only 3 lbs. and is just slightly negatively buoyant, so it’s very easy to manage even when snorkeling. All camera functions can be accessed when inside this housing, with the exception of the diopter adjustment dial.
Let There Be Light
Wireless TTL exposure is supported when using Ikelite strobes, although the reason I went with the fiber optic vs. the standard (wired) TTL housing is because of its smaller size. With sensors getting better, ISO getting higher, and dive lights getting smaller and more powerful, I’ve been reading some articles about shooting underwater with continuous light instead of a strobe, which is what I’ve started doing.
Shooting Wide Angle
For wide angle shooting underwater I added a WD-4 Wide Angle Dome which can be removed and replaced underwater. About 3/4 of the camera’s zoom range can be used with the dome on, but I usually keep it at the widest setting. After all the whole point of the dome is wide angle shooting. Underwater you’re already getting very close to your subject, and 28mm isn’t very wide to begin with.
Get A Handle On it
This housing can also be fitted with one of Ikelite’s tray and handle kits, which make handling the housing and mounting strobes even easier. Since it’s already a pretty small housing and I don’t plan on using strobes, I decided to keep it simple. I made a very small custom plate that screws to the bottom and has single hole for a bolt snap, so I can clip it to a D-ring when I’m not shooting.
I occasionally miss the super wide angle zoom I had with my dSLR, mostly just when shooting underwater. And my 50mm macro lens, since getting good depth of field shots is hard with a compact…impossible if you’re not very close to your subject. Although in writing this review I stumbled across a setting that will let you do that. In fact this camera has tons of specialty settings for different types of shooting that I’ve yet to even discover.
The small size and weight (portability) are worth the trade offs of what you lose by ditching your SLR. Being bigger than the tiny compacts, though, and having a grip, the G16 feels very comfortable in your hands. That along with the extremely fast auto focus and lack of any noticeable shutter lag make this camera a lot of fun to shoot with, and not a huge adjustment of you are making the switch from a dSLR like I did.