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Neil vs. the G10

Ragged Glory, Philadelphia, PA, December 12, 2008
Ragged Glory, Philadelphia, PA, December 12, 2008

I was at Neil Young’s concert this past Friday in Philadelphia, not as a photographer but as a fan.  Out of curiosity I brought my Canon G10 along.  It seemed like a good opportunity to push it to its limits and see how it could perform.

The photo above looks like I ran it through a Photoshop filter but I did not.  It’s a slight enlargement of a 100% crop (72 dpi).  The image was shot at ISO 800, processed from a raw file in Canon’s DPP software and no noise filtering was added except that suggested in DPP.

So, how did the G10 do?  It did quite well.  Now, in case you think I’m crazy and have lost all sense of image quality the photo above is an extremely tiny crop of the whole image.  I was about 250′ from the stage and the image above if printed at 300 dpi would be about 1.5″ x 0.5″.  Here’s the full frame:


I think the image at the top works in spite of the grain and the digitalness because even as an abstraction this is Neil without question; the stance, the jacket and his guitar, “Old Black.”  The G10 does show a lot of grain at ISO 800.  ISO 1600 is unusable and prone to a cross-hatch effect when files are viewed at 100%.  ISO 800 sometimes gets that effect, sometimes not.  You can see it in the top image but keep in mind that it is a very tight crop and the G10’s files are huge – ~42mb as an 8-bit file at native resolution.  That effect looks like natural grain when viewed at 50% or at print resolution (usually ~25% if at 300 dpi.)  If you are sizing the ISO 800 files down that effect is unlikely to be an issue.  I’ll need to make some prints to confirm this.

What I like about the G10 is that the camera feels substantial.  There’s a good deal of metal in it and it is reminiscent of a small Leica.  Canon has arranged the analog style dials nicely making it easy to operate in manual mode. The camera is not perfect.  It probably would have been better as a 10mp or 12mp camera rather than a 14.6mp camera.  It is not a fast camera, don’t look to shoot sports with it, and I would prefer it to remember what focus point I had selected if the camera goes to sleep or is turned off, but it’s great to have as an always-around camera and is a huge step up from a cel phone camera.

Click the photo above or either of the two below to see larger versions of the images.



    Hi Jon
    I am a BIG Neil fan….I dragged my wife who is not a Neil fan to the MSG concert with Everest and Wilco…and she dragged her new Canon D60 and took some shots. I used to have a Canon F1 way back when everyone shot film. I had suggested she get a G10 or another compact….but she is a graphic/fine artist and wanted something that would give her museum quality blowups. I thought her photos were great with the D60 and she thought Neil was great playing Old Black (his old stuff….not his new stuff).
    I’m ready to buy a camera now…and WILL get a compact – any ideas on the G10 versus the SX110 or the Panasonic TZ5. I want something I can carry around in my pocket or my car and always be ready for action.
    I think your shots are great….hope you enjoyed Neil. For a guy who is in his mid 60’s he was amazing. He is one of the few true rock artists who is always exploring new directions. And when he goes back to playing the old stuff he makes it sound brand new (I saw Steve Miller last year and it was sad).

  2. Alan – Thanks for your comments. Exactly right on Neil.
    I’m not familiar with the Canon SX110 or the Panasonic TZ5 – so I won’t be of much help.
    What’s real nice about the G10 is how solid it feels and having many of the settings on dials at the top of the camera which gives more of an old-school SLR or Leica feel. The G10 is a touch big & heavy for pockets but… the quality of the images always surprises me. I’ve never had that experience from a P&S camera before.

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