Our trip to Maui involved lots of camera issues. We're a Canon family, with a G1 for me, an A20 (the aforementioned waterlogged A20) for my wife, and a low-end Canon for my 9-year-old daughter (bought after she shot 15 rolls of APS film in Europe last year).

My G1 has been a great camera. It's not quite as flexible as an SLR - you don't get interchangable lenses, and it doesn't zoom enough to do kid's sports, but overall I take a lot more pictures. My plan was to take the G1 to Maui with me, but 3 hours before the flight I realized that I had left it at our ski cabin, so it was time for an unscheduled upgrade. I chose the 4 megapixel G3.

The G1 is a "prosumer" model. It has 2048x1500 resolution, decent glass, a 3x zoom, aperture and shutter priority, manual focus, a really-nice flip and tilt-LCD, and a bunch of other features I've probably forgotten. The two features that had the most effect on my shooting are the tilt-LCD (take high and low angles easily), and the multiple-exposure panorama (aka stitching) support. Both let you get shots that you just couldn't get before.

It's amazing how much better the G3 is than the G1.

  • 4x zoom, to 140mm equivalent.
  • High-speed multiple exposure (2.5/second, up from 1.5/sec on G1)
  • lower power, faster processor
  • autofocus bracketing
  • Optional histogram display on playback
  • user-defined custom modes, accessible from the mode dial
  • neutral-density filter
  • Faster startup (4 seconds vs 8 seconds on the G1)
  • intervalometer (picture every n seconds)

The faster processor is great, as is the high spead multiple exposure. When I take candid pictures (of kids or adults), I like to take 5 or 6 exposures in every situation, and this gets them muh faster. The better zoom is great. There are two features especially worthy of mention.

The first is the intervalometer. I used this to take sunset pictures one night, and just set it up to take pictures while we barbecued and drank Mai-Tais. Every 55 seconds or so, the camera would turn on, take a picture, and turn off. Neat

The second big new feature is the neutral density filter. It reduces the light by 3 stops. So, why would you want to do that?

The two big variables in photography are aperture (how much the lens is open), and shutter speed (how long it's open). To get the right exposure, these two variables have an inverse relationship - the more the lens is open, the shorter the exposure needs to be. The aperture also controls the depth of field, so if you want everything in focus you need a small aperture (big number), or if you want the foreground and background out of focus, you need a large aperture (small number). Similarly, if you want to stop action, you need a short exposure time, and if you want to blur action, you need a long exposure time.