Canon Powershot G5 X: Image Quality
The Canon PowerShot G5 X cares more about nailing down a set of priorities rather than, like the Sony RX100 IV, setting new standards in any particular area. I have a hunch the Canon PowerShot G5 X uses the same 20.2-megapixel 1-inch sensor as the Sony RX100 III from 2014, for example.
It’s a great sensor, though, and combined with the Canon PowerShot G5 X’s smart JPEG processing gets you very good-looking results without much effort. Metering is generally spot-on, and the colour processing gets you charming shots, looking bright and punchy.
There’s another little RAW hitch again here, though: you can’t select any of the ‘picture style’ modes when shooting RAW plus JPEG, even though it should certainly be possible to do so. Once again, the Canon PowerShot G5 X’s RAW handling is a little ham-fisted.
Pure image quality is very good, though, able to keep up with the best of the 1-inch sensor compact club. At base ISO 125 you get dynamic range of a more-than respectable 12.2EV, with 3300l/ph detail.
That’s just slightly less dynamic range and a little more detail than we coaxed out of the Sony RX100 IV. Start upping the ISO sensitivity and the results are much as we’d expect.
From ISO 125 to 400 the results are excellent. Low on noise and high on detail, the Canon PowerShot G5 X comes up with the goods. There’s a little noise at ISO 800, but it’s only clear right down at pixel level.
I’d be happy to use the Canon PowerShot G5 X up to ISO 1600 for most purposes. Noise is well-controlled and dynamic range is solid.
Above this things start to slide as usual, with ISO 6400 shots looking quite noisy, or at least showing the ‘mushing’ effect of the noise reduction system hacking away at image noise. The native ISO goes up to 12,800, but you really aren’t going to want to use those two highest settings unless you really can’t avoid it.
The good news is that, most of the time, you probably can. The Canon PowerShot G5 X has a 5-axis optical stabilisation system that’ll let you use slower shutter speeds when using the camera handheld without ending up with blurred shots.
Canon says the OIS efficacy is equivalent to dropping down three stops. That’s perhaps a bit ambitious. I found that in general use I could shoot as slow as 1/10 a second and still get sharp results. Sony’s best OIS systems are stronger, perhaps, but having this 5-axis system still radically increases how much you can do with the Canon PowerShot G5 X handheld.
It’s a versatile little thing: ND filter to help out in super-bright conditions and a fast lens plus OIS to improve low-light shooting.
Canon PowerShot G5 X: Video
One area where the Canon PowerShot G5 X isn’t quite cutting-edge is video. It doesn’t have 4K capture. That is perhaps no great surprise when Canon has been doing anything but leading the charge on 4K, but is worth bearing in mind.
Instead, you can shoot at up to 1080p resolution in frame rates up to 60fps. And in lower resolutions at 24fps or 25fps. It’ll still do the trick for many. But if you’re a YouTube celebrity in the making, you probably want to make sure your camera can handle 4K at this point.
Should I buy the Canon PowerShot G5 X?
The Canon PowerShot G5 X is a great camera for those who want the style and image quality of a DSLR-a-like, but don’t want to have to worry about changing lenses or carrying around a giant camera bag.
There are several great smaller options out there, of course, but the Canon PowerShot G5 X strikes a great balance between being small enough for convenience and large enough to avoid feeling cramped or fiddly. It’s a lot of fun to shoot with.
It doesn’t have techie-pleasing extras like 4K video, but the only bits we really miss are those about core performance. While its JPEG shooting speed is respectable, the Canon PowerShot G5 X seriously slows down as soon as you start capturing RAWs, and the autofocus just isn’t that great in lower-light conditions.
They’re significant issues, but not ones that should necessarily put you off. If you like the idea, but are worried about these, make sure you check out the Panasonic LX100, a similarly enthusiast-led compact with faster burst shooting, 4K video and smarter contrast detect AF.
A great compact camera for those who want the DSLR feel in a smaller, more convenient package.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
Build Quality 9