With a wealth of physical controls, the Canon PowerShot G5 X is aimed squarely at the enthusiast photographer. Callum McInerney-Riley tests it out
Canon’s Artificial Intelligence Auto Focusing system (AiAF) is on board the G5 X, with 31 contrast detection focus points. It’s designed to analyse scenes and identify the subject to achieve a better focusing performance. There’s a host of options in the focusing menu, including face detection AF, face select, track, 1-point AF and touch AF. As you would expect there are options for one-shot – Canon’s term for single focus – and Ai Servo, which is Canon’s terms for continuous focusing.
In both modes I found the focusing to be perfectly adequate for day-to-day shooting in moderate light, but the contrast-detection focus system has issues with low-contrast scenes, especially in low light. The focus-assist beam certainly improves things, but it’s still rather slow, especially at the telephoto end.
Occasionally, the focusing will hunt for an area, fail to find the subject, illuminate the focus point as green and just stop trying. This means you have to restart your focusing, which can be a bit annoying. Overall, though, while it’s certainly not the fastest, it’s not terrible, and for the vast majority of situations it’s unlikely to cause a real problem.
Manual focusing has a few nice features. In the menus, it’s possible to turn on focus peaking, which will highlight high-contrast edges to indicate when a subject is in or near optimum focus. Also, manual focus can be assigned to different control wheels. By default, the focusing is set to the D-pad scroll wheel at the rear of the camera, but I found assigning it to the lens control ring gave an almost mechanical feel to it, and meant I could use the viewfinder at the same time.
White balance and metering
Throughout my time using the PowerShot G5 X, I rarely needed to correct the metering. The only time it really needed to be changed was when I wanted to intentionally under or overexpose an image. For the most part, I used evaluative metering, but the touchscreen makes spotmetering much more usable. I also found it very useful for high-contrast scenes that surpass the dynamic range of the camera.
Straight out of the camera, the JPEG images are very bright and punchy. Skin tones are rendered particularly well and even cold wintry scenes have a colourful charm about them. In a wide range of lighting conditions, the auto white balance was consistent and accurate, and the presets are also spot on. There are a variety of picture styles for the JPEG images on the PowerShot G5 X, including landscape, portrait and vivid. Sometimes I like to shoot with a picture style such as monochrome. However, I also want the raw version, because if it’s a good shot I like to be able to process it the best I can. When shooting raw + JPEG, however, picture style is annoyingly greyed out in the menu.