Highly desirable features in a powerful compact body
Manual controls with comfortable layout
Very solid build quality
Small, discreet and attractive design
Invaluable for professional work but bulky to carry, I found DSLRs took the fun out of simple day-to-day photography and stopped taking them while traveling. Over the last 3 years my go-to compact travel camera has been my mobile phone, the LG G2 which has covered Thailand, Cape Town, Tuscany, Greece, Paris, Barcelona, Rioja, Menorca and skiing in Les Gets. There is no doubt the camera has been fantastic and very reliable, even in quite rugged conditions but I missed the process of ‘proper’ photography. If you enjoy/love photography there is no getting away from the cheating feeling while shooting on a mobile phone. While most of the photos are fine and serve the purpose, stunning locations and memories often deserve better quality, especially if you want to make any prints.
So, with a trip to Venice in my sights, it was time to find an answer.
Enter the Canon G5X.
Despite the rise of compact system cameras, I wanted to avoid carrying lenses while still having a viewfinder, manual control, high image quality…all in a pocketable solution. While the G5X will not fit into your jeans, I hardly noticed the camera in my jacket pocket. Pulling it out for quick photo opportunities was ideal and I quickly found my way around the controls. The neatly placed front dial controls shutter speed while the lens ring controls aperture. Paired with the excellent F1.8 – F2.8, 24mm-100mm lens, I was immediately reassured about my choice and knew I had a very capable camera without any of the bulk. During the few days I shot with the camera, I did not figure out how to switch off auto ISO but for speed of shooting, I was very happy only thinking about shutter/aperture and the results were extremely pleasing.
The menu system is intuitive and I found my way around it quickly. I loved the macro feature, which was great for food shots and then flick back into regular shooting for landscapes and the like. The articulating rear LCD screen is very clear and I could use it at times, then switch back to the viewfinder for other shots or if the sun was too bright. As my first time committing to a camera with an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), I was amazed how good these are now. I can confidently recommend this camera to anyone used to DSLRs and the viewfinders you find on the larger/professional bodies.
Another ‘must have’ feature for me was designated and adjustable focal points. The G5X covers this necessity very well and I left the focal point firmly in the centre throughout the trip. Should you find the focus point has accidentally moved, simply holding the focal button for a second resets you back to the centre point. The shutter button has a perfectly weighted 2 stage press. The half press fixes the focal point which then leaves you to compose the picture. It felt no different to my DSLRs so again, very happy. To further these tests, I will shoot some side by side portrait comparisons of the G5X vs 5DmkIII and add the results to this post at a later date. It will give a much clearer visual of the focal accuracy and quality of the sensor.
For essential functionality, all of the above met my main desires to a very high standard. With regards to other performance, lowlight was acceptable and I never used the flash. Focal speed was extremely fast but did falter a little in low light. However, I never found it frustrating and just took more care to hold the camera steady. Operation is near silent and I could see this being good for street photography. You can also opt to turn on/off the focus assist beam. Despite other reviews, battery life was great but these days I tend to be quite picky about the shots I want which results in fewer photos. I took about 250 photos over the 4 days and the battery needed charging on the last day- 15mins in the morning gave more than enough to get through with plenty of juice to spare. I used a spare 8GB SD card which was very convenient and provided more than enough for what I needed.
I cannot comment on the video but I imagine it will be impressive. I have seen a few samples online and it looks in tune with what you expect from Canon. No 4K yet but to be honest I’m still unconvinced 4k is necessary for most situations at this stage, particularly if your primary desire is stills.
At £600, it’s enough to make you stop and think.Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Mark 2 model is released soonish so the price will likely drop. Having said that, if you want a very capable, well made, all round performer in a compact body, I can confidently say the G5X is well worth the money and should serve you for years to come. Overall, this camera is everything I hoped for and justifies the price tag.
Below are a selection of photos to show a range of the camera’s capabilities in different environments. All were shot handheld.