Canon PowerShot G5 X - AF and Performance

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Canon PowerShot G5 X: AF and Performance

The Canon PowerShot G5 X has a lot going for it. Smart design, lots of solid features and a versatile lens are all points in its favour.

However, unlike the Sony RX100 IV this is not really a ‘performance’ camera. When shooting JPEG-only you get reasonable speeds of 5.9fps without constant autofocus or 4.4fps with it. These are perfectly fine, made possible by the DIGIC 6 processor.

Switch on RAW capture, though, and the Canon PowerShot G5 X shows to a crawl. This, of course, buts heads with the idea this is a camera made largely for the enthusiast. Using RAW files makes dynamic editing much easier. A lot of you will want to shoot RAWs most of the time.

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Before we’re too harsh on the Canon PowerShot G5 X, though, let’s remember that it is a good deal cheaper than the Sony RX100 IV, the 1-inch sensor rivals that so obviously decimates it on performance. It hits up to 16fps, full resolution, but costs £300-£400 more. Comparing the two is unavoidable, but price really needs to be considered too.

It is speed/performance that trips the Canon PowerShot G5 X up elsewhere, though. Focusing is not particularly advanced either. It doesn’t have any form of phase detection, instead relying on the usual contrast detection, with a ’31 point’ system.

In daylight focusing speeds are perfectly good. It’s fast and reliable. However, with lower light the difference between this and either a very advanced contrast system or a hybrid phase detection one becomes more obvious.

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With limited light and when you’re dealing with a low-contrast scene, the Canon PowerShot G5 X can often struggle, particularly when using the outer reaches of the zoom, which makes the focus assist lights of limited use. These try to light-up your subject to give the autofocus a bit more to work with, but are naturally only going to be of any use when shooting fairly up-close.

At times I noticed the Canon PowerShot G5 X’s seeking focus for a while and then simply giving up, signalling that the image was in-focus when it clearly wasn’t.  

There are various focus modes including face detection and object tracking, but the Canon PowerShot G5 X is ultimately not the best camera for those looking to shoot action. Keep your expectations realistic.

You can of course focus manually, though, and focus peaking is on hand to make that easier.

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Despite its added bulk, battery stamina isn’t any better than smaller rivals. It’ll last just 210 shots when using the screen/EVF or up to 330 when using the ‘eco’ mode. I imagine most of us will stick to standard shooting, though.

This needn’t be a deal-breaker. While the Canon PowerShot G5 X has a standard proprietary charge dock for its battery, you can also plug an external battery into the microUSB socket, the same that might be used for a phone or tablet. Keep one in your bag and you can keep the juice topped up as you look for your next shot.