Michael Topham tests Canon’s pocket-friendly compact with a pop-up electronic viewfinder
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: Build and handling
Although the G5 X wasn’t exactly a big camera, its bulging EVF prevented users from easily slipping it into their trouser pocket. I also found the EVF a bit frustrating in the way it would snag and get caught pulling it from a jacket pocket. To get around this Canon has equipped its replacement with a small 0.39in, 2.36-million-dot pop-up EVF – the first of its kind to feature on a Canon G-series compact. The beauty of it is that it’s out of the way if you don’t need it and it’s there if you’d like an alternative way of viewing and composing images when bright sunlight can play havoc with reflections on the screen’s surface.
The pop up EVF is similar in design to those found on Sony’s early RX100 models and requires you to flick a finder switch at the side before pulling the eyepiece out towards you. The 2.36 million-dot resolution displays a crisp and sharp view that renders faithful colour just like the screen below it. The usual exposure values stand out white against black in the landscape format and automatically rotate when you shoot in the portrait format. You can glance at small shooting icons as well as the electronic level and histogram easily enough by tapping the info button.
One area where I think Canon has missed a trick is to combine the EVF with the power operation. I’d have liked to be able to fire the camera up as soon as the finder switch is used, likewise have the option to turn the camera off when the EVF is pushed down flush with the top plate. Users will find that it’s instinctive to use your left thumb to push the viewfinder back in before it’s pushed down. Doing so can add grubby finger marks to the glass so it’s worth keeping a lens cloth handy.
With the EVF taking the space of where the mode dial used to be, it forced Canon to merge the mode dial with the exposure compensation dial on the corner of top plate. Both offer enough resistance that they’re easy to control with your thumb without disturbing the other. With no facility to lock the mode dial like you get on many other Canon models though you’ll want to be watchful of it getting knocked in your pocket, which happened to me a few times.
Removing the ugly dial at the front of the camera directly above the grip has improved the visual aesthetic. Shutter speed and aperture control can still be taken control of independently via the ring around the lens and four-way controller at the rear, but the lens ring has lost its knurled metal texture. Not only does it feel plasticky to the touch, it doesn’t turn as positively. It’s a bit of a let down on what otherwise feels a solid and well-put together compact. Despite not being weather sealed, the camera worked faultlessly on a demanding mountain biking outing in Wales where it was exposed to torrential rain and got extremely wet.
Unlike Sony’s RX100 series of compacts, which are extremely slippery to hold and offer little grip to prevent it slipping from your hand, the G5 X Mark II has a lovely rubber grip that extends around the side to the thumb rest at the rear. It feels safe in your hands, even when they’re wet. The handgrip isn’t big, but there’s enough to wrap your middle finger around to ensure it feels secure when shooting with it in one hand. Like with most cameras, buttons and dials are tricky to operate when thick gloves are worn, but I didn’t experience any difficulty with thin gloves or the fingerless type.
To prevent accidental presses of the movie-record button you’ll notice it has been shifted down below the thumb rest. Beside the buttons at the rear is a 3in, 1040k-dot tilt-angle touchscreen, which replaces the fully articulating screen of old. Though it’s not as manoeuvrable it can still be folded 180-degrees upward to take selfies and 45-degrees downward to aid with overhead shooting. It’s a nice slimline unit that operates smoothly and folds back in to the camera very neatly.
Just above the screen is a small eye sensor that’s quick to detect your eye being raised to the EVF. With no buttons on the body to control it, you’re required to head into the Set Up 4 menu if you’d like to set the display switching to manual. Doing so automatically switches the EVF feed back to the screen when the viewfinder is pushed down and engages the EVF feed when the viewfinder is popped up and the eyepiece is pulled out.