Digital Camera Review: Canon PowerShot G9

A $450 pocket camera? Yes, if you're serious about photography.

— -- Wait a minute. 450 bucks for a pocket camera? Are you serious?

Yes, says Canon, if you're serious about photography and want something smaller than an SLR.

There's a quotation, attributed to the legendary war photographer Robert Capa: "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

Great, but how does a good photographer get close to a stranger if there's a big, clunky camera in the way? That's where Canon's G series comes in. Passing comparisons have been made to the Leica rangefinder film cameras that Capa and others used, and Canon probably doesn't mind.

You can set this camera to point-and-shoot mode, but it's not a point-and-shoot camera. While it's not wildly festooned with buttons and dials, it's geared to the photographer who wants to take over. Like many SLRs, it supports JPEG and RAW formats. If you have to ask what RAW is, this is probably more camera than you need.

Drawbacks? It's harder to learn to handle this camera than other small models. And because of the basic physics of a camera with a small light sensor inside, pictures show digital noise that may bother you at ISO (light sensitivity) settings above 400. You may look at this camera, lust for it, and then decide to go for something less pricey -- perhaps in Canon's A series, for instance.

But this is a sturdy little camera (it has a metal body, rare in cameras under $1,000). It shoots 12.1 megapixels, has a three-inch LCD, a 6x zoom lens, a hot shoe for add-on flash units, face recognition and image stabilization. That's a lot. Seriously.