Snap Verdict

Sometimes you just gel with a camera and the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is one of those cameras for me. I love it. It’s small enough to slip in a jacket pocket yet has a viewfinder built-in, an excellent control arrangement and a flip-up touchscreen. It’s also 4K-enabled without a crop factor and it captures great images. If I was being really picky, I’d like a mic port, and it would be lovely if it was weatherproof. But even without those points, I think it’s a great little camera.

Key Specifications

  • Sensor 1-inch type Stacked CMOS
  • Pixel count 20.1Mp
  • Lens f/1.8 – f/2.8 24-120mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Screen 3-inch 1,040,000-dot tilting touchscreen
  • Viewfinder 0.39-inch type 2,360,000-dot OLED
  • AF System AiAF (31-point, Face Detection or Touch AF with Object and Face Select and Track), 1-point AF (any position or fixed centre)
  • Shutter speed 30-1/25,600sec, Bulb
  • Sensitivity 125-12,800 expandable to ISO 25,600
  • Exposure modes Auto, P, A, S, M, Hybrid Auto, Scene, Creative Filter
  • Metering options Evaluative (linked to Face Detection), Centre-weighted average, Spot
  • Flash modes Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Synchro
  • Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Battery Rechargeable Li-ion
  • Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-1 compatible)
  • Weight 340g with battery and memory card
  • Dimensions 110.9 x 60.9 x 46mm

Features

We keep hearing that compact camera sales are on the slide, but it seems that there are still a few models that are popular enough to make new versions worthwhile. According to Canon UK’s David Parry, the Canon PowerShot G5 X has been very popular with Canon DSLR users looking for a smaller camera. The new Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II fits the bill even better as it loses the lump on the top where the original camera has its electronic viewfinder (EVF).

Instead, it has a pop-up EVF. This is the same 0.39 type, 2,360,000-dot OLED EVF as is in the PowerShot G5 X, however, it sits within the body. You just pop it up and pull back the rear element when you want to use it.

In another key change, the PowerShot G5 X II has an 8.8-44mm f/1.8-2.8 lens. That’s equivalent to 24-120mm on a full-frame camera. The extra 20mm reach at the telephoto end gives a little more scope for framing subjects tightly. It could be a popular choice for portraits, especially given the f/2.8 maximum aperture at the longest focal length. That enables the background-blur.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II Review

Helpfully, the lens is also stabilised and gives up to 4stops of shutter speed compensation.

There’s also an ND filter built-in to reduce the exposure by 3Ev when necessary.

Sensor

Canon has given the PowerShot G5 X II the same 1-inch type stacked CMOS sensor with 20.1million effective pixels as the PowerShot G7 X Mark III launched at the same time. It’s the first time that Canon has used a stacked sensor design and paired with the Canon Digic 8 processing engine, it enables impressively fast shooting rates.

Consequently, the PowerShot G5 X II is able to shoot at up to 30fps (frames per second) in RAW Burst Mode for up to 70 images. Alternatively, it can shoot at 20fps for up to 89 C-RAW images, 55 Raw images or 118 frames in Jpegs.

If you want to shoot with continuous AF, the maximum rate drops to 8fps for up to 320 Jpegs.

In addition, the camera can shoot 4K video without cropping. Wahoo! That means the angle of view doesn’t change when you switch from stills to video or from Full-HD to 4K video.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II Review

Build and Handling

The loss of the SLR-style viewfinder bump makes the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II  look less Soviet-block than the original model. And at 110.9 x 60.9 x 46mm instead of 112.4 x 76.4 x 44.2mm, it’s smaller. It’s more pocket-friendly.

A rubberised grip on the front of the camera and a thumb-ridge on the back make the camera feel pretty safe in your hand. And, solid too.

On the top, there’s a mode dial with a few automatic settings as well as the PASM options favoured by the enthusiast target market.

Beneath this dial, there’s the exposure compensation dial so you have quick control over the appearance of the image.

In addition, there’s a control ring around the lens for adjusting key settings.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II Review

The controls on the back of the camera are fairly standard. There are the usual shortcuts plus buttons to give direct access to the main and quick menus.

Screen and Viewfinder

Canon also makes good use of the touch-control afforded by the 3-inch 1,040,000-dot screen. It means you can navigate quickly through settings and make the selections you want with ease.

The screen can also be tilted up through 180-degrees. That’s good news for selfie-shooters or anyone who likes to shoot from above or below head-height.

Also, as the lens’ widest effective focal length is 24mm, you can feasibly shoot selfies or vlog with the camera at arms length.

Like teh screen, the viewfinder shows a nice level of detail. At 0.39-inches the viewfinder screen isn’t the largest, but it’s a good size for a small compact camera. It seems a little unsophisticated that you have to pull out the rear element and then push it back in before popping the EVF back down, but I’ll take it over having a larger camera.

To be honest, I expected the pop-up and pull-out process to annoy me far more than it does. The mechanism also feels reasonably solid.

Performance

The Canon PowerShot G5 X II impressed me from the outset. Firstly, the autofocus system is fast, even in quite gloomy conditions. That’s great news if you’re looking for a camera to slip in your bag to take everywhere.

I have no complaints about the colour from the PowerShot G5 X II. The auto white balance setting is a good starting point for most situations, but I generally prefer the warmer results produced by the Daylight setting – especially in shaded conditions. I tend to avoid the shade setting as I think it makes images look a bit too warm.

Canon’s Picture Styles are available to adjust the colour to suit the shooting situation. I tend to rely on Standard or Faithful, but the Monochrome setting is useful when I want to shoot black and white images. I find that the contrast needs a little boost in Monochrome mode though.

Of course, as the PowerShot G5 X II is capable of shooting raw files, you can tweak the colour to get just what you want. But it’s nice to get the Jpegs close to that, especially if you transfer your images to your phone to share on social media etc.

Exposure

I used the PowerShot G5X II exclusively in evaluative metering mode and it did a great job with the exposure in most situations. There were a few occassions when I used the exposure compensation dial to darken the highlights a bit, but it was entirely predictable.

With Exposure Simulation mode activated in teh menu, the viewfinder and screen give an accurate preview of the image exposure. This means you can use the evidence of your eyes to get the exposure as you want it.

Image Quality

There’s a good amount of detail in my shots from the camera. Helpfully, the recent update to Adobe Camera Raw means I can now process the raw files and compare them with the Jpegs. At low sensitivity (ISO) settings, both file type have nice fine detail.

Noise is also controlled well. Even the results at ISO 12,800 are reasonably good although you may need to limit the print size to 7×5-inches or similar. I’d also recommend shootin raw files so you can apply a bespoke level of noise reduction. Some fine details can be smudged in the Jpegs.

I’d try to stick ISO 3,200 as the maximum. That seems to deliver the best compromise between noise, noise reduction and detail. The results look nice and natural. Pushing beyond that results in visible grain, however, I wouldn’t be concerned about using ISO 6,400 if the conditions demanded it.

Video

The 4K video from the Canon PowerShot G5 X II is a good match for the stills. However, the dynamic range feels a little limited at times. Also, on a sunny day at the peak of summer, the built-in ND filter isn’t enough to keep the shutter speed down to 2x the frame rate.

As there’s no mic port you either have to reply on the built-in microphone or use a separate dedicated audio recorder. The onboard mic records a bit of hiss so an external recorder is the best option, or you can overlay music in editing.

Sample Images

Verdict

Canon has made some interesting upgrades with the PowerShot G5 X II. The pop-up EVF is a great improvement, while the step-up to 4K video recording is overdue.

I like the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III, but the PowerShot G5 X Mark II is my favourite of the two cameras. It’s a nice, dependable camera for enthusiast photographers. The image quality is also excellent up to around ISO 3,200, with a good level of detail and pleasing colours.

I just wish that Canon had also given it a mic port so to enable better audio recording. And maybe made it weatherproof.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II Image Gallery

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