Michael Topham tests Canon’s pocket-friendly compact with a pop-up electronic viewfinder
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: Verdict
It’s a well-known fact that the trusty compact has come under serious threat from smartphones these past few years. There’s something to be said for the convenience of having a good camera on your phone that can be pulled from your pocket to take a decent snapshot, however if you’d like your secondary camera to offer better image quality, a longer-reaching zoom and far superior handling than a smartphone, this is where advanced compacts like the Canon G5 X Mark II still present an advantage.
Canon’s intention of making it less bulky and more portable has been very successful. It’s genuinely trouser pocket friendly unlike the original G5 X. We have the introduction of the pop-up EVF to thank for this, which with its 120fps refresh rate and superb colour reproduction makes for a great way of composing and reviewing shots in high-contrast conditions. It’s not as advanced as the EVF’s you get on Sony’s latest RX100 models though, which don’t require you to manually pull out the eyepiece before you can use it.
Speed and buffer performance are two other areas of improvement. Shooting at up to 30fps could be lost on a vast majority of users who don’t shoot action, sports or subjects that demand such speed, nevertheless it’s good to see Canon getting one over its Sony RX100 VI and RX100 VII competition in this department.
It beats its Sony rivals when it comes to handling and touchscreen control too, but with a lack of phase-detection autofocus, it’s a bit sluggish at focusing in low light and can’t compete with Sony’s remarkably responsive real-time autofocus algorithms. Opting to make it slimmer has come at the price of losing a fully articulated screen and for £899 I’d expect it to have a microphone input and the option to attach a lens hood or screw-in filters like you can on the G1 X Mark III.
Most importantly, the images the G5 X Mark II produces are very pleasing. Dynamic range at the low end of the sensitivity range offers a good amount of leverage when editing raw files and usable results can be obtained up to ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 at a push. The fast lens also creates attractive background blur, which is far more natural than the artificial defocused look you get from many smartphones.
In a nutshell, the Canon G5 X Mark II is a very capable advanced compact that’ll be great on those days when you’d rather leave your DSLR or mirrorless camera at home and travel light. It’s not perfect in every way and is very expensive when you start comparing it to what else you could buy for the money. As advanced pocket compacts with a 1-inch sensor go, it’s the best stills-focused offering from Canon to date.