Canon Powershot G16 Guided Tour

Canon PowerShot G16 Compact Digital Camera

Canon has taught its top-line compact G camera a new trick: Wireless communicaiton. What else can it do? Read on and learn what's most important about your new Canon G16.


The latest in Canon’s highly-regarded, premium G-line of small-sensor cameras with big camera ambitions, the Canon PowerShot G16 puts DSLR-type control in a small but sturdy body along with with a fast zoom lens, a 12MP CMOS sensor combined with new image processing for better results at higher ISOs, and for the first time, built-in Wi-Fi. It is one of the few cameras currently being made to feature an optical viewfinder, and Canon has added creative filters and scene modes to widen the appeal of this camera even more.

But if you’ve bought this camera already, you’ve come here to learn more about it and how to take advantage of its many features to take better photos. In this Guided Tour you’ll learn how to expand the camera’s dynamic range for improved shadow detail in contrasty scenes, override the camera’s automation to shoot manual exposure and to focus manually, and to use external flash on the camera.


Buying Guide: 9 Products that Expand The Capabilities of the Canon G16.

The Canon G16 is a solid camera and part of a system that includes auxiliary lenses to extend the 5x zoom’s range, as well as Canon’s full line of Speedlite flash. As many professionals have discovered over the years, the G line is a great complement to the Canon DSLR lineup as a small, light camera that can go almost anywhere and deliver great results under a wide range of situations.

Let’s take a closer look at the Canon G16.

Unboxing: What Does and Doesn’t Come With The Canon G16

The Canon PowerShot G16’s packaging is minimal. Open the box and you’ll find the camera, a neckstrap, a lithium battery and charger. There’s a getting started manual as well as a full User Guide on disk (you can also download the full manual from the Canon web site). That’s it! Since the lens automatically covers itself when the camera turns off, there’s no need for a lenscap (which can get lost easily).

A ring around the base of the lens unlocks and can be replaced by the Conversion Lens Adapter, which lets you mount a teleconverter, so the telephoto setting is increased to 196mm (35mm equivalent). The Filter Adapter FA-DC58D lets you mount any filter to the front of the lens. You may want to add a Polarizing filter to your arsenal. Neither of these accessories is particularly expensive.

Most importantly, you will need to buy an SD-format memory card separately in order to store images. I recommend getting a Class 10 memory card for the fastest image transfer rate. A Class 10 card  such as the Lexar 16GB 400x   or Sandisk 16GB Class 10 Extreme  will also allow you to record smooth HD video. If you are shooting mostly still images, I recommend at least an 8GB card—16 or 32GB will obviously store more, and are not expensive so it is better to get as much memory as you can afford; two cards are better since one can be a backup in the unlikely case that the other fails.

Yes, you can augment the weak onboard pop-up flash with a Canon Speedlite for flash photography; more about that later.

Setting Up The Canon G16

1. Charge the battery: It took about two hours to charge the battery.
2. Insert a memory card
3. Set the date and time.  The camera will prompt you to do this.
4. Get started!

Shortcuts for Snapshooters

The easiest way to use the camera is to leave it in Auto Mode. It will choose the appropriate settings based for most scenes and will deliver good results.  However, if you are interested in experimenting, you have plenty of options that don’t require technical knowledge in order to get creative results.

Canon has added both scene modes and creative filters, which are indicated on the top dial of the camera next to the flash with two almost aligned circles (filters) and SCN (scene).  These offer an easy way for beginners to get specific effects without having to learn how to manually change the camera’s settings. It’s all done for you.  

In Scene mode, press the FUNC. SET button to access Portrait, Star, Smart Shutter (which accesses face detection), Handheld Night Scene, Underwater (you’ll need an underwater housing for this!), Snow, and Fireworks mode.

In Filter Effects you can access HDR (high dynamic range), Nostalgic, which gives the image an old-timey effect, Fish-Eye Effect, Miniature, Toy Camera, Background Defocus, Soft Focus (great for romatic portraits), Monochrome, Super Vivid, and Poster Effect. Experiment with these and let your creativity soar!

Using the flash: When in auto mode, the flash will go off automatically when needed, although you can disable the flash by pressing the flash button (the lightning icon on the four-way control switch) and selecting flash off. If you’re in Program, Aperture Priority or Manual mode, you can activate red-eye reduction, flash with long exposure (good for balancing flash illumination with existing light) or flash off.

Shooting Movies: The Canon G16 shoots up to 1080/60p video, which will produce crisp, high-quality results. However, if you wish to change the default setting turn the program dial to the cinema icon and press FUNC SET.  Options will appear on the left side of the screen. Scroll down to the last one and press the right button to access 30fps in 1080, 720 or VGA.  



What Do The External Controls Do?

Let’s take a look at the Canon G16’s physical controls, starting with the top of the camera, from left to right. Slide the switch to pop up the built-in flash. If you want extra flash power, you can add a flash via the hot shoe. The entire lineup of Canon Speedlite shoe-mount flashes is compatible. A good match for this particular camera is the Canon Speedlite 270 EX II, a TTL flash which provides illumination to 89 feet at ISO 100. You can do a lot more with the flash function if you have a move advanced multi-flash setup for your DSLR; check out Using Advanced Features, below, for details.

Two dials are stacked on each other to the right of the hot shoe—the Mode Dial and the Exposure Compensation Dial. The Mode Dial is divided into different categories of control: User preferred settings—2 custom modes, P (program), Tv (shutter priority), Av (aperture priority), and M (manual)—Auto modes (the camera makes all the exposure and setting decisions), Scene and Filter settings, and Movie Mode.

The Exposure Compensation Dial will increase or decrease exposure (image brightness) by up to 3 stops in either direction.  The shutter release, above and to the right of the two dials, is surrounded by a zoom control that also lets you enlarge your image previews, and important feature when checking focus.  Sitting behind that is the on-off button.

Now let’s look at the camera back, starting with the optical viewfinder, which is centered above the 3-inch LCD monitor. Turn the diopter control dial on the left to bring the image into focus. When using the finder, keep in mind that it only displays approximately 70 percent of the image area, so it is better to use the LCD for composition, then hold the camera to your eye in order to reduce camera movement. The two small red LEDs next to the finder indicate camera and flash ready status.

All the way on the upper right area of the camera back are two buttons, the red button that controls video and the “Shortcut” button. Both of these buttons can be reassigned with different functions by going into the “Camera”menu, scrolling almost to the bottom and finding the “Set Shortcut” and “Set Movie” buttons, then assigning one of twenty possible camera controls to that button. By default the Movie button records video no matter what mode the camera is in, and the Shortcut button brings up a contextual menu with choices to fine-tune your preferences that change depending on which mode you are shooting in.

8 of the G16’s Most Important Menu Items

Custom Display: The camera’s default LCD display shows shooting info, but you can add grid lines to help you rcomposition, an electronic level so your horizons are straight, and a histogram to confirm proper exposure.

MF-Point Zoom: If you focus the lens manually, MF-Point Zoom will enlarge the center of the image either 2x or 4x, to help you get the sharpest possible focus.

Focus Highlight Peaking: Another important aide for manual focusing is highlight peaking, which will highlight out-of-focus areas in the color of your choosing (red, yellow or blue). The peaking disappears once your subject is in focus.

Func Menu Layout: Lets you select features you can quickly access when you hit the Func Set button on the back of the camera. The dozen items include image quality, aspect ratio, ND filter on/off, meter patern, flash power adjust, self-timer, white balance and more.

Set control dial Functions: You can change what the front dial and and control dial operate via this menu item; you can choose to have it quickly switch through M, Av, Tv and P.

Set Movie button. The round button with the red dot, by default, turns on Movie record, but you can reassign it to set over a dozen other parameters, including shadow correct, white balance, drive mode, light metering, aspect ratio, and more.

Sound Options: You can turn the camera’s start-up, shutter and warning sounds up, down, or off. Very useful of you’re going to be shooting in quiet situations where you don’t want to call attention to yourself.

Wi-Fi Settings: Change the camera’s nickname, establish passwords, reset settings—whatever you need to get online—can be controlled via this setup menu item.

Did You Know...

…You can trigger multiple Canon Speedlite flashes wirelessly with the G16? You’ll need a Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 or a Canon-compatible radio transceiver but if you have a pro Canon DSLR system, you probably already have that. (Above: Sample photo shot with Canon G16 and two off-camera Canon Speedlite 430 EX II units.

…You can shoot short video clips with your still images? Turn the mode dial to the green camera/film icon, and shoot away. Your still image will be accompanied by a 1-second video.

…you can program the Shortcut button to quickly access control 20 different  camera functions? You do this by going into the Menu, scrolling down to “Set Shortcut” and then choosing a feature you want at your fingertips, such as dynamic range, white balance, drive mode, light meter patterns, etc.

…You can operate this camera wirelessly and share images via your smart phone?

Buying Guide: Accessorize Your Canon G16

Products that will help you expand your picture-taking abilities


For Underwater Photography

If you like to dive with your camera, the Canon WP-DC52 underwater housing ($258 at Adorama) is designed specifically for the G16. It is rated for shooting down to 131 feet. There are mechanical controls that operate the camera, and you can use the pop-up flash underwater. A built-in diffuser softens the flash, reducing glare, backscatter, and hard shadows. An optional fiber optical cable lets you operate an external strobe.

For Flowers and Close-ups

With close focus down to less than an inch away in wide-angle or a bit over a foot at full telephoto extension, the G16 is pretty good at near-Macro photography. Want the real deal? You’ll need the following:  

For Fashion and Portrait Photography

You might consider this overkill, but you can operate a wireless multi-flash setup with the Canon G16! If you already have invested in this kind of kit for your big Canon DSLR rig, rest assured you can also get the same portable studio-quality lighting with two or more wirelessly-slaved Canon Speedlites and a Canon Speedlite transmitter. I tried it and it works!


For Travel, Wildlife, and Sports Photography

Change your G16’s focal range to 39.2-196mm (35mm equivalent) via Canon’s 1.4x tele converter. It’s small and lightweight, and a convenient way to get close to the action or skittish critters. An inexpensive monopod is a very good idea here.


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