Michael Topham tests Canon’s pocket-friendly compact with a pop-up electronic viewfinder
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II – Hands-on First Look
At a glance:
- 20.1-million-pixel 1.0-Type stacked sensor
- DIGIC 8 image processor
- ISO 125-12,800 (expandable to ISO 25,600)
- 5x optical zoom (24-120mm) f/1.8-f/2.8 lens
- 2ofps burst shooting (30fps in Raw Burst Mode)
- 2.36-million-dot pop-up EVF; 120 fps refresh
- 3-in 1.04-million-dot tilt angle touchscreen
- Built-in ND filter
- Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity
After a quiet few months, Canon has introduced two new zoom compacts into its PowerShot range, along with a new multi-purpose zoom lens for its evolving EOS R mirrorless system. The Canon G5 X Mark II we’re looking at here loses the SLR styling of its G5 X predecessor to make it more portable and practical to use. Its co-announced cousin, the G7 X Mark III, features the same 1in 20.1-million-pixel stacked CMOS sensor and is more trouser pocket friendly, but has simplified controls and a shorter zoom range.
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: Features
Aimed at advanced amateurs who aren’t fond of the fiddlyness that comes with pocket compacts and those after a smaller camera to compliment their larger EOS DSLR or mirrorless cameras, the Canon G5 X Mark II has come on a long way from its G5 X predecessor. You’ll immediately notice it looses the distinctive central EVF and merges its mode dial with exposure compensation dial on the corner of the top plate to create a simplified look that’s less bulky and more akin to Canon’s G7 X series.
Behind its new and longer reaching 5x optical zoom (24-120mm) f/1.8-f/2.8 lens, you get a 1in 20.1MP stacked CMOS sensor – the first of its kind to be featured in any PowerShot compact. This presents an ISO range of 125-12,800 (expandable to ISO 25,600) and pairs up with Canon’s latest DIGIC 8 processor to deliver a fastest shutter speed of 1/25600sec using its electronic shutter. There’s also a new high-speed burst mode that initiates 30fps burst shooting in the CR3 Raw format for up to 70 frames.
The main talking point is the pop-up electronic viewfinder. It shares much of a likeness to the one Sony introduced on the RX100 III in 2014, but features a higher resolution of 2.36-million-dots, no blackout during continuous shooting and a 120fps refresh rate for smooth viewing when photographing or tracking fast moving subjects. After the finder switch is flicked at the side the eyepiece requires pulling out towards you before the EVF can be used. You may recall that on Sony’s RX100 VI you’re not required to pull out the eyepiece after popping-up the EVF, or retract it before pushing the finder back down.
The beauty of this EVF design is that it helps keep the body slimline and easy to stow in a jacket pocket. It’s the first pop-up electronic viewfinder we’ve seen from Canon, and just like the pop-up flash, it sits flush to the top plate when it’s retracted. At the rear the fully articulated touchscreen of old is replaced by a tilt-angle touchscreen. This supports touch and drag autofocus and there’s an eye sensor built-in just above it to automatically engage the EVF when it’s raised to your eye.
To prevent accidental presses of the movie-record button, this has been repositioned lower below the thumb rest. On the subject of video, the Canon G5 X Mark II records 4K-movie at 30fps with no crop of the sensor and allows users to grab still images from 4K video using its frame grab tool. It also has the ability to shoot high frame rate video with fixed autofocus at up to 120fps in Full HD. Unlike the newly announced PowerShot G7 X Mark III, it doesn’t feature a microphone port at the side and further highlights that this is a camera primarily aimed at those who focus on stills photography, but occasionally like to shoot some video.
Elsewhere, there’s the option to choose from eight well-known EOS picture style presets (Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome). It also inherits the horizontal and vertical panorama shot mode from the G1 X Mark III and the Auto Lighting Optimizer has been improved by adding a new ‘Strong’ setting that’s intended to reduce highlight blowout in exceptionally bright areas.
Other improvements have been made to the Star Mode shooting performance, which now uses the G5 X Mark II’s electronic shutter rather than mechanical shutter to reduce vibration. The refined focus bracketing function also now lets you set the number of shots (up to a maximum of 100) and the step width of focus to your desired value to create images with a larger depth of field.
In an effort to make Canon’s PowerShot models more familiar to existing EOS users, Canon has changed its compact camera user interface to a more EOS-like version. Naturally, the camera includes Wi-fi connectivity with easy connection, low power Bluetooth. A USB PD-E1 power adapter will also be available for the camera, which will allow users to shoot and charge simultaneously.
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: First Impressions
Canon has taken a different direction with its Canon G5 X Mark II and have made a conscious effort to make it more travel friendly and convenient for those who want a camera that’s easy to carry. The pop-up EVF is superbly implemented, but you do have to forgo a hot shoe to attach an external flash and it doesn’t facilitate powering the camera up or down like Sony’s RX100 series compacts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as pushing an EVF down to turn a camera off can be infuriating, or easily forgotten.
The feel of the camera in the hand is good, but I did notice the finish of the lens control dial is rather plasticky and doesn’t turn as positively as that on the original G5 X.
The extra reach at the long end of the zoom will get users closer to distant subjects and the positioning of buttons and dials across the body fall nicely to hand. Those coming from the G5 X are likely to miss the front mounted dial, but by removing it the camera has a much sleeker aesthetic when viewed head-on. It’s great to see Canon answer its sluggish burst speed critics by employing its latest DIGIC 8 image processor and offering considerably faster continuous shooting, but not everyone will appreciate the shift from fully articulated screen to the less manoeuvrable tilt only type.
Overall, the G5 X Mark II looks promising. I successfully squeezed it in my trouser pocket despite it being a camera that intended to be carried in a jacket pocket. It has a much closer resemblance to the G7 X series now that it’s lost its SLR styling and sits below Canon’s top-of-the-line premium zoom compact, the G1 X Mark III.