There's a bit of a grey area separating bridge cameras from true compacts. The former usually offer the superior control and lens versatility offered by SLRs, at less cost and size, and without the complication of interchangeable lenses. The latter are more about pocketability. And then there's Canon’s G9.
Whether you describe the G9 as pocketable or not depends on the size of your trousers, but it certainly won't fit in skinny jeans. So it's clunky and heavy as a compact, yet small and handy if you view it as the bridge camera that its specs reveal it to be.
Perfect DSLR companion
First there's the lens, capable of 6x optical zoom – equivalent to 35-210mm on a 35mm film camera, it's perhaps lacking a little of the appeal of Panasonic's Lumix TZ3, which has a 10x zoom starting at a 28mm wideangle. However, as a serious camera for the sort of people who might be using it as a back-up to, or companion for, their digital SLR, the G9 has far more to offer.
The 12MP sensor is appreciated, but perhaps means an unnecessary number of pixels has been squeezed onto the chip – image quality is barely any better than offered by its 10MP G7 predecessor. The ability to capture photos in RAW format, however, is a definite string to this camera's bow, though, and allows more of the scene's colour and detail to be retained.
Punchy pics, slow focus
Performance is generally excellent. Pics are punchy, the image stabiliser works well and the controls are simple to get to grips with. However, focusing isn't the fastest and quality at high ISO is horribly noisy. Also, it's ironic that the gripless body, which helps to make the G9 so compact, also makes it less comfortable to hold than its more full-on competitors.
The G9 isn’t perfect and is overpriced, but is an excellent option for those times when an SLR is simply too big and clumsy to carry around, whether it's in a pocket or not.