Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot
  • 20.2 MP High Sensitivity CMOS Image Sensor
  • DIGIC 6 image processor
  • 4.2x optical zoom lens
    • 24-100mm equivalent
    • f/1.8-f/2.8
  • Intelligent Image Stabilization (IS)
  • 2.36M OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0" LCD Vari-Angle touchscreen
  • ISO 125 - 12,800
  • Wi-Fi & NFC
  • Compatible with Canon Camera Connect App
  • Full 1080p HD Video Recording @ 24, 30, or 60p
  • Star Mode
    • Stair Trails
    • Star Time-Lapse Movie
  • Built-in flash
  • Dedicated hot shoe
  • Top-mounted mode & exposure compensation Dials
  • Customizable lens-mounted Control Ring
  • 3.5mm mini-jack for optional RS-60E3 Remote Switch
  • Full Manual
  • RAW + JPEG image capture
  • Built-in ND Filter
  • Pros
    • Excellent image quality in most types of scenes with 1-inch image sensor
    • Good mix of automatic and manual control shooting options
    • Maximum aperture of f/1.8 is good for shooting portraits
    • Having a viewfinder is a great option in this price range
    • Electronic viewfinder is of a strong quality with more than 2.3 million pixels
    • Display screen is sharp and is fully articulated, while offering touch capabilities
    • Built-in Wi-Fi allows for remote control with a smartphone app
    • Video recording at full HD up to 60 frames per second
    • Q menu is a good design feature that makes G5 X easy to use in all shooting modes
    • Camera allows for both RAW and JPEG image formatting
    • Inclusion of hot shoe allows for addition of external flash unit
    Cons
    • Optical zoom is limited to 4.2x
    • Camera is chunky with an odd-shaped design, making it tough to fit in a standard pocket
    • Some control buttons are a bit too small to be used comfortably
    • Battery life is well below average
    • Built-in flash unit only can be opened manually; there's no popup flash button
    • Camera's performance slows considerably when shooting in RAW image format
    • Shooting in RAW and JPEG at the same time requires changing an odd menu setting
    • Shooting RAW and JPEG at same time eliminates many special effect shooting options
    • Image sharpness suffers a bit at the most wide-angle focal length setting
    • Large number of dials requires practice to learn to use correctly and quickly
    Timing Test Results
    • Power up to first image captured (with start-up image enabled) = 1.8 seconds
    • Power up to first image captured (with start-up image disabled) = 1.8 seconds
    • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 0.1 seconds
    • Shutter lag with autofocus = 0.1 seconds
    • Shot to shot delay without flash = 1.4 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 0.6 seconds with review Off
    • Shot to shot delay with flash = 2.6 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 2.6 seconds with review Off
    • Continuous Mode, One Shot AF, JPEG = 10 frames in 1.2 seconds @ 20M
    • Continuous Mode, Servo AF, JPEG = 10 frames in 2.1 seconds @ 20M
    • Continuous Mode, One Shot AF, RAW = 5 frames in 6.3 seconds @ 20M
    • Continuous Mode, Servo AF, RAW = 5 frames in 6.5 seconds @ 20M
    All tests were taken using a SanDisk Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
    Bottom Line
    The Canon PowerShot G5 X is similar to other models in the G series of PowerShot cameras, but it does offer an electronic viewfinder and an articulated display screen, both of which make this model easier to use than others in the G series. And the G5 X maintains the strong image quality of the other advanced compact cameras from Canon in this family, while starting at a reasonable price point. The G5 X has a small 4.2x optical zoom lens and well below average battery life, factors that may disappoint some photographers. But it is an overall strong camera if you want an advanced fixed lens model.
    Pick This Up If...
    You need high-end image quality in a fixed lens camera that has a viewfinder, you need full manual control options in your camera, and you don't mind having a small optical zoom lens.
    Canon has produced a strong series of what it calls premium compact cameras in the PowerShot family in the past few years. These models bear little resemblance to the PowerShot models from several years ago, where Canon focused the PowerShot brand on basic point-n-shoot cameras that kept prices low.

    These newer PowerShot cameras are strong models with large image sensors, fast performance, and really good image quality. One of the latest models in this family is the Canon PowerShot G5 X, which keeps many of the strong features that are the best aspects of other G series PowerShot cameras, while adding a couple of new features to give this model some appealing advantages.

    The Canon G5 X isn't going to work for every photographer, primarily because of its 4.2x optical zoom lens, which is going to limit the types of photographs you can shoot. And its suggested starting price puts it in the range of an entry level DSLR, which might be a better option than the G5 X, depending on your needs. But when compared to other premium compact cameras, the G5 X's price is a reasonably good value. And for those seeking an advanced fixed lens camera, this model is well worth considering.

    The biggest improvement in the PowerShot G5 X versus some of Canon's similar models is the inclusion of an electronic viewfinder. The G5 X's EVF is impressive, offering more than 2.3 million pixels of resolution in the viewfinder. And, the camera automatically switches the view between the EVF and the primary display screen as you lift the camera to your eye, which is a handy feature that greatly increases the camera's usability.

    Another improvement found on the G5 X is the addition of a fully articulated display screen, which means you can twist and tilt the screen up to 180 degrees, which allows for shooting selfies and odd-angle photos. Most of the past models in this line of premium compact PowerShot cameras offered tiltable display screens, but no rotation.

    Canon didn't reorganize its menus to take advantage of the G5 X's touch screen capabilities, which is disappointing. Menu screens with icon based navigation options would be better, but Canon has used the same basic menu structure for its cameras for quite a few years. The manufacturer does offer a Q menu screen with the PowerShot G5 X, which provides a shortcut to commonly used shooting functions displayed as icons, which is perfect for touch screen navigation.

    Canon chose to maintain some of the best aspects of this G series family of cameras in the PowerShot G5 X, including a strong 1-inch, 20.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor. While this image sensor isn't as large as what you'll find in an entry-level DSLR camera, which often uses an APS-C sized image sensor, it works well versus other fixed lens camera image sensors. The G5 X's image sensor allows you to capture photographs of extremely good quality in both outdoor and indoor lighting conditions. ISO settings up to 12,800 are possible with the G5 X, allowing for good low light performance. Noise really isn't noticeable in this model's images until you reach ISO 3200.

    You have the option of shooting in either RAW or JPEG image formats, or you can even shoot in both at the same time (although Canon made activating this feature a bit more complicated than it needed to be). In some shooting conditions, you may notice that the G5 X's RAW images don't quite offer the dynamic range that you'd find with some DSLR cameras. But RAW image quality is still very good in general, especially for what beginning and intermediate photographers are seeking.

    With a powerful DIGIC 6 image processor, the G5 X matches the other models in the PowerShot G series, providing a JPEG burst mode speed of up to 5.9 frames per second, which rivals entry-level DSLR models. Its performance slows considerably when shooting in the RAW image format or in RAW and JPEG together though. You also will lose many of your options for applying special effects to your JPEG images when using the RAW and JPEG format together.

    The PowerShot G5 X has a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, although the camera's lens struggles to produce sharp images at the wide angle setting. And the limit of a 4.2x optical zoom measurement is a potential drawback, unless you plan to use this camera primarily for portrait or landscape photos. (If you're looking for a large zoom camera in the G series of Canon cameras, consider the PowerShot G3 X, which has a 25x optical zoom lens.)

    If you want a fixed lens camera that will fit in a pocket, the Canon G5 X may not fit your needs either. It's a bit of an odd-looking model, with plenty of dials and strange angles, in part created by the placement of the unit's viewfinder. Some of the buttons are a little small to use comfortably too. The large number of dials may be confusing to learn to use at first, but it won't take you long to figure out their functions, which will eventually help you to save time in operating the camera.

    Perhaps the biggest problem for this model is its below average battery life. Don't expect to record more than 200 images on a single battery charge, which lags well behind many digital cameras, let alone those in the G5 X's price range. You'll almost certainly want to purchase a second battery for this model at some point, so include that cost when calculating your budget.

    Canon gave this model built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, but they aren't very useful because of how quickly they drain the battery, which already has below-average performance. You can use the Wi-Fi connectivity to control the camera wirelessly through a smartphone app, which is handy. Just be sure to have a second battery on hand if you want to use this feature.

    Bottom Line - The Canon PowerShot G5 X is one of the top premium compact cameras currently on the market. It produces very good image quality behind a 1-inch image sensor and 20.2-megapixels of resolution. The primary drawback in terms of image quality with this camera is some softness in photos at the wide angle setting of the lens. This camera allows you to control the camera's settings as much or as little as you want, moving from full manual control to full automatic control with a twist of the mode dial. You can record images in RAW, and you can use an ISO setting as high as 12,800 to improve low light performance. Throw in the G5 X's strong electronic viewfinder, its fully articulated display screen, and a series of control dials, and there aren't many advanced fixed lens cameras that can equal it. This model is a fast performer, offering good burst mode results, fast start-up, and minimal shot-to-shot delays, but its performance does suffer considerably if you're shooting in the RAW image format, rather than the JPEG image format. Even though the PowerShot G5 X has a starting price of several hundred dollars, the cost of this model is competitive versus other premium compact cameras. You likely will want to purchase a second battery to compensate for this model's poor battery life, which will bump up the true operational cost of the G5 X, but it still offers a good value in general ... unless you're also considering purchasing DSLR cameras, as you probably can find an entry-level DSLR for a lower price than the G5 X. The PowerShot G5 X isn't clearly different enough from other G series Canon premium compact cameras that you're probably going to want to migrate from one of them to this model. But if you're looking for a first camera in this category and you don't mind the small optical zoom measurement found in the G5 X, this model is well worth considering.

    Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.