Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review in 2021

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Last updated on December 21st, 2020

The Canon G5X Mark II is a powerful compact camera with a 20 Megapixel 1in sensor, 5x / 24-120mm zoom, popup viewfinder, tilting touchscreen, fast bursts and 4k video.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review in 2021

Canon Powershot G5 X II Review – We review the Canon Powershot G5 X Mark II, Canon’s high-speed 20mp camera, with 4K video recording and 30fps continuous shooting. The grip has shrunk and the front dial lost, but there’s still more to hold onto than the RX100 Vi and the changes have allowed the G5X to become much more pocketable than before.

Intro…

It’s a little pricey, but the G5X Mark II is one of the best compact cameras you can buy and a genuine step up from your smartphone camera. It’s handling, electronic viewfinder, optical zoom, burst shooting, and all-round image quality are impressive, even if it does lack the video-centric features of its Canon G7X Mark III cousin.

The lack of phase-detect autofocus does put it behind the latest Sony RX100 models, and it’s a shame there’s no microphone input or fully articulating touchscreen. However, if you’re looking for a mini version of your Canon DSLR or mirrorless camera to take out on day trips, then the G5X Mark II versatility and image quality make it one of the best options around.

Pros

  • Good image quality throughout the zoom range
  • Genuinely pocketable
  • New 5x optical zoom lens
  • 4K UHD video recording (10min limit)
  • More compact camera design thanks to pop-up EVF
  • 30fps continuous shooting (raw)
  • Tilting touch-screen

Cons

  • No phase-detect autofocus
  • No microphone input
  • Lacks the G7X Mark III’s YouTube Livestream
  • Limited customizable buttons
  • Plastic camera body and lens ring
  • More control in auto and scene modes would be nice

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: $899
  • The large 20.1-megapixel one-inch type CMOS sensor
  • Pop-up 2.36-million dot OLED viewfinder
  • 180-degree tilting touchscreen
  • 24–120mm f/1.8-2.8 lens (5x optical zoom)
  • Shoots 4K video at 25fps
  • USB charging

Canon g5x Mark ii Specifications

The three big new features on the G5X Mark II compared to its predecessor are a new sensor, processor, and lens – which together ensure speedy performance and impressive image quality throughout its zoom range.


That one-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor has a stacked design, which means quicker readout speeds and, in turn, faster burst shooting performance. Thanks to a new Digic 8 processor, the G5X Mark II can shoot at an impressive 20fps (with your focus fixed on a subject) or 8fps for up to 320 JPEGs with autofocus.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

 

Those figures are in perfect condition with a UHS-1 Speed Class 3 memory card and, in my experience, I found the buffer filled up quicker than that, leaving the camera momentarily frozen for several seconds before I could start shooting again.

But all you need to know is that the G5X Mark II is fast enough to capture pets, kids, and most wildlife when using the mechanical shutter. There’s even a 30fps mode for shooting up to 70 RAW files.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

 

Of course, speed is only one part of the photographic equation, and you’ll want those shots to be in focus too. On the whole, the G5X Mark II autofocus performs well, if not quite at the level of Sony’s latest RX100s. This is because it lacks Canon’s version of phase-detect autofocus, called Dual Pixel AF, instead of relying purely on the contrast-detection method.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

 

This still works well when shooting static subjects (which is contrast detection’s main strength), but it did mean a few more misses when I was shooting moving subjects, such as people and swimmers.

Sony’s RX100 cameras, including the new RX100 VII, simply offer more autofocus options and features like Eye AF and Animal AF, along with great subject tracking, which is one of the main ways they justify their higher price. Right now, the only compact to have Canon’s Dual Pixel AF is the larger and older G1X Mark III.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

 

Still, in many ways, the G5X Mark II direct rival is the older Sony RX100 Mark IV, which has a similar price ($849) and an EVF. And this is where the G5X Mark II’s new lens really stands out, offering a more useful 24-120mm zoom range (the equivalent of 5x optical zoom) compared to the RX100 Mark IV’s shorter 24-70mm lens.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

 

Canon’s lens backs this up with similarly bright apertures that range from f/1.8 at the wide end to a very decent f/2.8 at the long end, which means lots of light for it to work with and consequently less need to crank up the ISO to noise-inducing levels. See the image quality section below for examples from throughout the zoom range.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

One final feature worth mentioning is that the G5X Mark II can now be charged directly from a USB-C power bank (assuming that pack has Power Delivery), which is handy because its battery life is average at best. Its CIPA rating lags behind the likes of the Sony RX100 V and Panasonic LX100 II, lasting for around 180 shots when using the EVF (or 230 shots without). So a battery pack, or a spare NB-13L battery, are pretty essential for all-day shooting.

Image quality test of Canon G5X Mark II

The G5X Mark II new 20.1-megapixel sensor and bright lens are a great combo, producing shots with natural color, decent dynamic range, and smartphone-beating levels of detail.

It might lack the Animal Eye AF seen on Sony cameras like the RX100 VII, but the G5X Mark II’s autofocus and 20fps continuous shooting give it a strong chance of snagging shots of your fidgety cat or dog.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

If you have good light, even the far end of its zoom range produces decent levels of detail, although the results naturally aren’t quite as pin-sharp in lower light or ISO 6400 and above.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

The benefit of a one-inch sensor and bright lens is that you can use lower ISO settings in situations that might trouble compacts with smaller sensors, or smartphones that’ll be quickly reaching for their noise reduction algorithms.

Aside from some lovely natural bokeh when using wide apertures, the G7X Mark II has the controls and tools to help you get creative with your shots too – whether that’s shooting Raw for post-processing your shots later, taking macro shots from 5cm, or simply using the exposure compensation dial to create some atmosphere or silhouettes.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

What makes this model a step up from its predecessor is its burst shooting, which makes the G5X Mark II a good ally for capturing unpredictable subjects or actions.

That said, it doesn’t have Canon’s Dual Pixel AF, and while it’s contrast-based system is a good performer in most situations, you’ll get your fair share of misses with really fast-moving action.

Combine this with a slight lack of sharpness at the far end of the G5X Mark II’s zoom, and you get a camera that falls slightly short of Sony’s latest RX100s (and larger cameras like the Sony A6400) when it comes to shooting action and sport.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

Still, a lack of Animal Eye AF doesn’t mean you can’t rely on the G5X Mark II for animal close-ups, and its subject-tracking autofocus is generally pretty sticky.

The G5X Mark II’s extra zoom range of 24-120mm (compared to 24-100mm on the G7X Mark III) might not sound much, but it’s a very useful extra bit of reach, particularly for travelers.

It won’t get you right into the middle of the action at a cricket match, as the shot below shows, but the benefit of the G5X Mark II’s image quality and burst powers is that you can drop in and get a decent social media-friendly shot that would be beyond most smartphones.

Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II Review

The G5X Mark II isn’t pin-sharp at the end of its zoom, particularly in tricky lighting conditions, but it’s still decent at the far end and lets you play with depth of field effects that are again difficult to recreate on a smartphone.

Like its predecessor, the G5X Mark II’s combination of good metering and color processing produces punchy shots that stay on the right side of being realistic without looking too over-processed. The large sensor and bright lens also create some pleasing background blur that is usually only possible on larger cameras or with (less reliable) simulated bokeh.

Canon ‘G5X mark2’ all performance Test and Review!

When it comes to video, the G5X Mark II is a big step up on its predecessor, shooting 4K clips for up to ten minutes at a time (which is twice as long as Sony’s RX100 series with the full width of the sensor.

It does lack the built-in microphone input and YouTube live streaming of its G7X Mark III cousin, and there’s strangely no 24p video option, but the video quality is very good overall, even if the autofocus is again not in the same class as the Sony RX100 VII.

In the set of sample videos below I’ve also recorded a short vlogging test to give you a taste of the internal microphone’s quality – while it’s certainly passable for travel clips, vloggers will likely be better off combining the G7X Mark III with an external microphone like the Rode VideoMic Go.

Should I Buy the Canon G5X Mark II?

If you’re looking for a genuinely pocketable compact camera with smartphone-beating performance, then the G5X Mark II is certainly one of the best you can buy.

Is it worth $849? That is certainly a hefty investment for a compact camera, particularly when you consider that you can currently buy a Fujifilm X-T20 with a kit zoom for $55 less.

What you’re paying for, though, is the convenience of having an electronic viewfinder plus a sensor-lens combo that gives you near-DSLR image quality, in your pocket. And for many people – particularly those with a larger Canon DSLR or mirrorless camera – that combination will be well worth the cost.

In fact, you may find the G5X Mark II is the camera you use the most, your smartphone included, given how convenient and capable it is.

The only real black marks are the lack of phase-detect autofocus (which affects its hit-rate for action and sports) and microphone input (which you can find on the G7X Mark III.

This means those looking to save a bit of cash should also consider the Sony RX100 Mark IV (currently available for $798), which uses a similar sensor and also has a pop-up viewfinder.

But with the G5X Mark II offering a touchscreen, better zoom reach and faster burst shooting than the RX100 Mark IV, it’s certainly a very compelling new option between the older RX100s and Sony’s more capable, $1,198 RX100 Mark VII flagship.

Summary

Highly Recommended award Canon PowerShot G5X Mark II is a powerful compact camera with a 20 Megapixel 1 sensor, 5x / 24-120mm zoom, popup viewfinder, tilting touchscreen, fast bursts, and 4k video. Canon’s made a U-turn on design, swapping the chunkier DSLR-styling of its predecessor for something more pocketable and more akin to Sony’s RX100 series.

So it’s out with the fixed viewfinder hump and side-hinged screen for a popup viewfinder and vertically-tilting display. The grip has shrunk and the front dial lost, but there’s still more to hold onto than the RX100 and the changes have allowed the G5X to become much more pocketable than before.

This does, however, bring it closer to the G7X III with Canon essentially asking you to choose between the popup viewfinder and slightly longer 5x zoom of the G5X versus the mic input and Live Streaming of the G7X III. Couldn’t we just have it all in one body instead, or perhaps do identical versions, with and without viewfinders to meet different price points?

There’s also tough competition from Sony’s RX100 VA which gives you the popup viewfinder, tilting screen, 4k video, and fast bursts, but with the benefit of more responsive phase-detect autofocus for photos and video, although in its favor the G5X II zooms almost twice as long while also sporting a touchscreen and better grip.

Overall the G5X II loses much of what made its predecessor unique in the 1in the market and leaves anyone desiring a mini DSLR-styled compact to aim for the G1X Mark III instead. But by aligning it more closely to its best-selling rival, the G5X II becomes more attractive to a bigger audience. Imagine how much more popular it could have been merged with the G7X III’s connectivity.

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