I don’t like the word “Powershot.” When I hear that word I picture a $99 pocket sized point and shoot that can’t compete with your everyday smartphone camera. I mention this because the Canon Powershot G5 X is not a cheap, pointless point and shoot. It is a heavily featured camera with specs aimed at the semi-serious photography enthusiast. Just call it the “Canon G5 X” and ditch powershot for all but the bargain basement models.
The G5 X is smaller than it looks. I don’t have the biggest hands and it felt very small to me. Within that small frame the G5 X is feature packed. Large 1 inch sensor with 20.2 megapixels, 24-100mm equivalent f1.8-2.8 lens, 1080p 60fps video, image stabilization, multi angle LCD touchscreen with touch shutter. high resolution electronic viewfinder, wifi, and much more.
The lens is fast and sharp at all focal lengths and manages decent shallow depth of field with good looking bokeh, something that other 1 inch sensor cameras struggle with. The G5 X offers a background defocus feature but it looks artificial at best and you don’t really need it.
Built in image stabilization allows some fairly low shutter speeds in lower light without needing to crank up the ISO value. That being said ISO speeds up to 1600 were very usable despite the 1 inch sensor. I found the G5 X had better ISO performance than the Panasonic Lumix LX-100 and its larger micro 4/3″ sensor. It’s nowhere near APSC or Full Frame ISO performance but it was surprisingly good.
Macro shooting with the G5 X was a delight. Canon lists the close focusing distance at 2 inches (5cm) but I managed to get a bit closer with manual focus. Other than dedicated macro lenses I still think smartphones are hard to beat for shooting up close although you get shallower focus area with the lager sensor in the Canon.
Metering in tough lighting conditions is a breeze with the G5 X. It handles backlit conditions very well. you can half press on your desired exposure, recompose, and shoot. Auto mode is decent too if you need to hand the camera off to someone to take a shot for you.
For all of my food photography pals out there the G5 X is a nice little alternative to your big gear or smartphone. It shoots RAW as well as lovely jpeg files that require little editing. Transfer the images to your smartphone via the Canon app and upload to your favourite social media site for everyone to see.
The RAW files are as good as you’d expect from a company that’s been making cameras as long as Canon. Not much else to add really, they’re great.
The control layout of the G5 X will appeal to the control freak in all of you. There are customizable dials and buttons all over the place including a control ring around the lens, perfect for aperture or zoom control. The controls were my biggest source of frustration despite the excellent dials and front ring. The buttons on the rear, especially the menu button the the wheel around the D pad, were too easy to accidentally push with the base of my thumb while shooting.
Battery life was better than expected although the battery indicator is typical small camera terrible. It stays at a full 3 bars for quite some time then drops to 2 bars for what felt like 25 shots, then 1 bar for even fewer shots, then dead. Why is it so hard for camera makers, not just Canon, to use a percentage based battery indicator?
The Canon G5 X retails from $799 to $999 CAD depending on current promotions. If you can live without the EVF and hot shoe the Canon Powershot G7 X ($899) is slightly smaller with identical internals.