Quick tips for the G9
Follow this guide to unleash the Canon G9 full power with more than 20 tips.
I. Neck strap, cards and batteries...
Don't use the neck strap. Canon provides you with the ultimate "hey-look-at-me-I'm-a-tourist" anti-accessory: the neck strap. Consider using a wrist strap, instead. Attach it to the right (seeing the camera from the back) . You will feel your camera more secure. Bonus tip. Use a wrist strap that may be adjusted so you can safely use the camera without fear of dropping it.
4Gb cards. The 12.1 resolution of the G9 is great, but you will need more space. Use a 4Gb card. Check the writing speed and buy the fastest card you can afford. You'll notice an improvement when shooting, but also when you use a card reader to download your pic's to a computer. If you don't like to put all the eggs on the same basket, buy a couple of 2Gb cards.
Batteries. You'll need all the power you can, specially with the big display on the G9. Buy at least one spare battery; if you plan to travel it won't hurt to have a couple of extra batteries or you'll have to use the tiny optical viewfinder.
Pimp your cam with an adapter
The wide and tele converters are expensive and its usefulness is questionable, at best. But what about the adapter alone? You can Pimp Your Cam with a couple of nice accessories. If you buy the LA-DC58H adapter (or any other compatible adapter for the matter) you can use filters. Using a circular polarized would be a good move to improve contrast, reduce reflections and your G9 will look extra cool with polarized shades.
If you want a hood for your camera you may buy the LAH-DC20 adapter for the S3/S5 that includes a 58mm hood. Attach it to the G9 with the adapter+polarizer filter and it will match perfectly.
II. Garçon! The Menu, please...
Shortcut button. Having a shortcut button is good indeed, since we rarely use the direct print function. We've found that setting the tele converter is quite useful in the shortcut button. In the Camera Menu, press up the 4 ways dial (this way you won't need to scroll down the whole menu items). The "Set shortcut button..." item will appear right up to the "Save setting...". Bonus tip> Two Custom White Balance settings. The G9 has the unique feature of having two custom white balance settings to save in the shortcut button.
The heretic advice: leave it in full auto mode. The G9 is a pure Photo Aficionado dream: a highly customizable camera and that's great, but sometimes you need to take a really quick snapshot of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie joining your neighbor's BBQ (well, maybe not, but...) In such a hurry, you turn on the camera, press the shutter button, and just when you want to share with your friends (or sell the photo to your favorite tabloid) such precious memory (well, almost), you find that your mode dial was set on "M" mode and you have nothing. So, the moral is: always leave your camera in the auto mode... Just in case. You can always choose any other mode later.
Custom timer: always too fast or too slow. Although the Image Stabilization is great, sometimes you need to get extra steady with a tripod. It's really annoying to wait 10 seconds for the auto-timer and even the 2 seconds option may seem too long. Set the auto-timer to 1 second. And, on the contrary, if you're posing for the classic family photo, 10 seconds may seem too fast. You may prefer 20 seconds. To set the self-timer use the camera menu, scroll down to "Custom Timer" and press "set". You can set it up to 30 seconds. Bonus tip. If you are photographing a group of people set the "Shots" setting to 3, so you'll have more shots just in case that aunt Emma wasn't in her finest hour.
Safety Manual Focus. Turn on this option, it is great when shooting with manual focus. Once you set your desired focus, the camera will fine-tune the focus automatically providing you the best of both worlds: you chose where to focus, and the camera provides enhanced precision. Press MENU, scroll down and on "Safety MF" choose ON.
Review Info. Set it to "Focus check" in the MENU to check if the scene is clearly focused. It is great when shooting in low light conditions to verify if even with the image stabilizer everything is sharply focused.
Auto ISO shift. We don't recommend using Auto ISO, but if you like it you can choose Auto ISO shift that is an intelligent ISO changer. It won't crank up the ISO unless the scene really needs it. Since any compact camera will suffer at high ISO sensitivities, this is a great option to maintain the noise under control. Use the Camera Menu and set "Auto ISO Shift" to "button". If the camera detects that a higher ISO level may be better for the scene the shortcut button will light up. Press it and the ISO setting will be automatically set in a higher sensitivity.
Custom display. The G9 has an huge LCD screen. The "Custom Display" item on the Camera Menu will let you choose two different sets of information. You may want an uncluttered display and, on the other you may choose the whole enchilada; in this second case we've found that having the shooting info, grid lines and histogram is a very useful setting.
Protect your LCD monitor. The LCD screen is one of the most important tools in your camera, and it's very prone to scratches and even major accidents. A transparent film made for PDAs will do the trick. It's an inexpensive way to protect your monitor and, if torn, you can replace it immediately.
RAW files are better. One of the reasons there is a G9 in the first place is the ability to capture RAW files. Take advantage of the and use them instead of JPGs, unless you need to print directly from the camera or the memory card, in such cases you may want to use the RAW+JPEG setting.
ISO Settings. The G9 handles noise a little better than most compact digicams and using RAW files is a must to clean your image in post production. You can leave your camera in ISO 200 confidently instead of being held a prisoner of ISO80 and ISO100 levels. Use ISO 400 with caution and leave ISO 800 for emergencies. ISO 1600 is just in case you want to photograph Elvis descending from an alien spaceship in the middle of the night.
P Mode. It's like driving a car with Tiptronic: don't touch it and everything works automatically, but you can override it any time. The P mode is the Auto mode on steroids. Want to manual focus without worrying for aperture or shutter speed? Need a little bracketing? The P mode is a great starting point to get creative and for quick shots.
Look ma! I'm on Tv! Do you want to capture a waterfall as a silky dream? Set this mode and use 1/15 sec. shutter speed. Want to freeze the action in Junior's softball game? Set it at 1/500 and up; the camera will choose the aperture automatically.
Av and depth of field control. The G9 as any other compact camera captures most scenes with a wide depth of field sharply focused, even at high apertures such as f/2.8. The effect is not as dramatic as with a dSLR but you may choose a high aperture for blurring the background a little or you can use smaller apertures for sharper images. The Av mode is the way to go; just don't expect miracles.
M mode. You are in full command of your cameras capabilities: fear not. The G9 is pretty accurate regarding exposure setting, so just follow the "analog like" indicator of exposure and check your live histogram to have the desired look for your scene.
Not one but two custom modes. Not everyone uses the C mode, and it's a shame. You can save all your settings such as ISO, shutter speed, aperture and you can even save the zoom or manual focus settings. The G9 has two Custom Settings spaces to save your presets. Just adjust your camera to your taste and then choose the list item in the Camera Menu "Save settings..." The next time you want to recall that setting just turn your dial mode to "C1" or "C2".
IV. The FUNC.SET button is magical!
Flash. If you want more natural looking flash photos, then you may reduce a little the flash power. From the FUNC.SET menu choose +/- (Flash) and reduce it. If you want a fill flash when shooting at noon, you may pump up the flash power a little.
Evaluative metering.Most of the time the evaluative metering is the best way to go, yet if you are shooting a contrasty scene the "Spot metering" option is better.
ND Filter. The neutral density filter is pretty good if you want to use slow shutter speeds with high light scenes. If you want the get some motion blur at noon with direct sunlight, chose "ND filter on"
My Colours. If you are using JPG, there is a very useful setting buried in the FUNC.SET button, select "custom colour". When you see the "My Colours Off" option press the left button on the 4-way selector, then press "DISPLAY" (odd, isn't it?) and you'll find the El Dorado: contrast, sharpness, saturation and even red, green, blue and skin tone to be adjusted at your pleasure. These settings are so good that it should be illegal to give them for free (just kidding!) :
- Leica style setting: Contrast +2, Sharpness+2
- Sharp and saturated: Sharpness+2, Saturation +1
- Portraits in gardens: sometimes the foliage gets too much attention, set Green-1
- Landscapes: You may want more saturated skies and foliage: Green+1, Blue+1 (you can even set Blue+2 if the scene is too contrasty).
IV. Derge's Tips
Benjamin Derge shares these extra tips with us (check his photostream >>here)
Auto-White Balance is sometimes wrong. Let the camera know if you're out on a sunny day. Your greens will be greener. If you're taking pictures indoors, set the white balance to tungsten. If all else fails, use the custom white balance by pointing the camera at something white and pressing the Menu button.
Shoot the moon. If you'd like a picture of the moon, set the light metering to Spot and keep your subject between the white bars. You may need to underexpose the picture by a few steps to get full detail. Spot metering also works when you're trying to capture a silhouette. Keep the white bars on the light source behind the subject.
You can use the G9 as an audio recorder. And it has a pretty good mic, too. You can get to the audio recorder in the play mode pressing the "MIC/ASTERISK" button top right. Then start recording with the FUNC./SET You can use a wind filter in the PLAY MENU in "Audio..."
You can upload your own sound effects to the Camera. Link the camera with your computer, then select the 'Set to Camera' tab in CameraWindow and click on 'Set My Camera'. You'll be able to upload (and download) sound clips and menu pictures, which you can select between later when you're using the camera.