Michael Topham tests Canon’s pocket-friendly compact with a pop-up electronic viewfinder
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: Features
It would have been easy to build the G5 X Mark II similarly to its predecessor, but instead Canon decided to make it more portable for photographers after a smaller camera to compliment their EOS DSLR or mirrorless camera. You’ll notice it loses the distinctive central EVF and merges its mode dial with its exposure compensation dial on the corner of the top plate to form a slimmer, more attractive body that now fits inside a trouser pocket.
As well as improved styling, it has a longer-reaching 8.8-44mm f/1.8-f/2.8 lens, which is equivalent to 24-120mm in 35mm terms and features optical image stabilisation that’s effective to four-stops. The focal length exceeds the 24-72mm reach on the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III and produces a shallower depth of field at telephoto lengths. Its zoom is longer than the G5 X and G7 X Mark III’s 24-100mm zoom too, and the Sony RX100 V’s 24-70mm lens for that matter, however it doesn’t get you as close to distant subjects as the 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom offered by Sony’s more recent RX100 VI or RX100 VII pocket compacts.
The lens includes a switchable 3-stop neutral density (ND) filter, allowing users to shoot with wider apertures in bright conditions or to slow down shutter speeds, which can be useful for portraiture and capturing motion in images. The ND filter can be set to on, off or auto.
Behind the lens lies a 1in, 20.1-million-pixel stacked CMOS sensor – the first of its kind of be introduced into the PowerShot series and one that influences faster readout speeds, and in turn, faster continuous shooting. It offers 8fps burst shooting with autofocus between frames, or 20fps with fixed focus from the start of a burst. If you’d like to shoot faster there’s a new high-speed Raw burst mode that initiates 30fps shooting in the CR3 Raw format. When these speeds are compared to the 5.9fps maximum burst on the original G5 X, it highlights just how far speed performance has come in the last four years.
Another contributing factor to this increase in speed is the new DIGIC 8 processor. As well as processing its data quickly, the camera provides other EOS-like image processing features such as Auto Lighting Optimizer to balance exposure in difficult conditions.
Elsewhere, there’s a maximum shutter speed of 1/25,600sec using the electronic shutter and an ISO range of 125-12,800, expandable to ISO 25,600. Users will want to take note that the shutter mode has to be set to mechanical to access high-speed continuous shooting and automatically switches to electronic shutter when the new Raw burst mode or star trail scene mode is selected. By using the electronic shutter rather than the mechanical shutter it can help reduce the risk of vibration between shots.
For focusing, the camera relies on a 31-point contrast-detection AF system. With no Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology on board though it’s neither as advanced nor as hasty as the G1 X Mark II when it comes to acquiring focus on moving subjects. It does provide Face Detection and object tracking, but again this is no match for the RX100 VII’s real-time tracking, Eye AF and Animal AF modes. The lens has a respectable minimum focus distance of 5cm at wide-angle, dropping to 20cm at full telephoto.
From the mode dial there’s the usual PASM modes for enthusiasts, with a familiar set of automated Scene modes for beginners who’d like to point and shoot with minimal input. The option to capture a panorama or star time-lapse movie are hidden within these scene modes. In addition to the usual Canon Picture Styles there are 11 creative filters, the best being a grainy black and white effect.
When it comes to video there’s no 3.5mm microphone input like there is on the G7 X Mark III, but there is the option to record movies in 4K resolution at a frame rate of 30 or 25fps for as long as ten minutes using the full width of the sensor. 4K movie capture at 24fps is absent and you’ll be better served by the G7 X Mark III if you want to live stream to Youtube and record video in the vertical format for Instagram.
A small built-in pop-up flash is positioned centrally above the lens and Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity options are both present. A connection button at the side below the USB-C and HDMI Micro (Type-D) ports provides instant access to various connectivity options.
The way the camera uses Bluetooth to form an always-on connection with your phone, allowing you to use your phone as a basic wireless remote control at any time via the Canon Camera Remote app works very well. It can also be used to fire up the camera’s Wi-fi for more advanced remote shooting. Equally, you can use the Bluetooth to start up the camera’s Wi-fi, browse through your pictures, and copy your favourites across for sharing – even if the camera is switched off and in your bag.