Gear of the Year 2019 – Jeff’s choice: Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

13 Dec
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

It goes without saying that a lot of cameras come and go through the DPReview office. Over the last year, most of them have been something you either can’t carry around for hours, or don’t want to (looking at you, Panasonic Lumix DC-S1).

One of the few actual compacts that we received (and reviewed) was the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II, which was announced alongside its nearly identical twin, the G7 X Mark III. The latter provides additional video features, while the former – targeted more toward enthusiasts – eschews these in exchange for an electronic viewfinder.

ISO 125 | 1/1600 sec | F4.5 | 69mm equiv.
Photo by Jeff Keller

When I first laid eyes (and hands) on the PowerShot G5 X Mark II, it was very obvious what camera Canon was going after: the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V. They both have fast lenses with a control ring around them, a centered, pop-up flash and tilting LCDs. Even the button layouts are similar. And let’s not forget the EVF that rises at the push of the button: a feature so similar that I wonder if Sony licensed the design to Canon.

ISO 125 | 1/1000 sec | F4 | 30mm equiv.
Photo by Jeff Keller

Despite their similarities, I’d grab the Canon every time, mainly because I find the shooting experience much more engaging. The front grip and thumb rest are perfect, and the rubberized front plate prevents the camera from sliding out of my hands. I tend to adjust exposure compensation fairly often, and I like that I don’t have to move my thumb to reach the provided dial that adjusts that setting. While I like the clicky control ring around the lens, I’m still not a fan of the small, fiddly dial on the back.

ISO 125 | 1/500 sec | F8 | 120mm equiv.
Photo by Jeff Keller

And then there’s the EVF. It’s not the cool new design found on the Sony RX100 VI and above, which extends the eyepiece automatically, but I don’t mind having to manually do so. What I don’t like is that it’s very easy to press it back in when your eye is to the finder, at least with glasses on. Speaking of glasses, the OLED EVF allows me to wear my polarized sunglasses without a problem (which can be a problem with LCD panels). The location of the EVF also keeps my nose off of the screen, which is always a plus.

ISO 125 | 1/1600 sec | F4.5 | 24mm equiv.
Photo by Jeff Keller

A lot of enthusiast compacts make compromises in order to get fast maximum apertures. On the RX100 V and Panasonic LX10, the focal length tops out at around 70mm equivalent. The Sony RX100 VI and VII have very ambitious 24-200mm equiv. lenses, but they let in 1.3 stops less light than the G5 X II.

Converted from Raw using ACR 12. Exposure and sharpness adjusted.
ISO 125 | 1/100 sec | F2.8 | 108mm equiv.
Photo by Jeff Keller

For me, the G5 X II has just the right balance. The equivalent focal length of the lens is 24-120mm, which is more than enough for the kind of shooting I typically do. The max aperture range of F1.8-2.8 gives it good light low performance and nice background blur, especially on macro shots than I enjoy taking.

ISO 200 | 1/400 sec | F3.2 | 24mm equiv.
Photo by Jeff Keller

I spent several weekends with the camera, taking it over the Cascade mountains and back again (among other places), and I have no complaints about the quality of the photos I captured. A lot of people like to crow about the vibrance of Canon color, and I’m one of them. I took a number of photos in low light and was able to pull up the shadows without too large of a noise increase: at least for my needs (read: social media).

When all is said and done, I found the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II to be a great ‘daily driver’. It’s a camera that I can stuff into a back pocket and take for walk around town – in bright or low light – and get great results straight out of the camera.

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