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[Impressions] PowerShot G5 X Mark II: A Giant in a Tiny Body

Making its debut four years after its predecessor, the new PowerShot G5 X Mark II boasts a host of advancements, including a brand-new stacked image sensor. How does it perform? A professional photographer takes the camera out for a walk, and shares his impressions, particularly about the pop-up EVF and the astounding image quality.  (Reported by Masatsugu Korikawa, Digital Camera Magazine) 

Boats docked at harbour, Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

 

So many improvements, it is almost like a different camera altogether

The above sums up how I feel about the PowerShot G5 X Mark II, which makes its debut 4 years after the release of its predecessor, the PowerShot G5 X.

First of all, there is the longer telephoto end on the lens: 120mm in full-frame equivalent terms, versus its predecessor’s 100mm. 20mm might seem little, but it results in a huge difference in the perspective compression effect.

Then, there is the image processor upgrade to DIGIC 8, which promises even better image quality especially with the new 1.0-inch stacked image sensor (Read more about it here).

And then, there’s the jewel in the crown: The pop-up electronic viewfinder (EVF) that makes the camera look sleeker than ever. Its predecessor resembled a mini DSLR, but the PowerShot G5 X Mark II adopts a simple but classy style that some might say is “the ideal for a premium compact camera”. As the EVF retracts into the body when not in use, there are no parts that stick out, which allows it to fit more easily into your pocket.


Image quality: One word—“Outstanding”

Image quality is vital to a camera, and that of the PowerShot G5 X Mark II can be described in just one word: Outstanding.

Images shot at maximum aperture on the wide-angle end (f/1.8 at 24mm full-frame equivalent) are extremely sharp, with no visible artefacts or image quality deterioration in the edges.

This excellent sharpness also applies to images shot at the telephoto end (120mm full-frame equivalent), which is much more than what you would get from the average compact camera zoom lens. Using the maximum aperture at that focal length (f/2.8) also results in beautiful, smooth bokeh. 

At the wide-angle end, there is some barrel distortion, but at such minimal levels that it is almost non-existent. There was also barely any peripheral light fall-off (vignetting). 

Such excellent quality is probably due to the image processing technology used in the camera, and users like us reap the benefits.

Learn about optical aberrations and how they can be corrected in these articles. Tip: Digital Lens Optimizer is also available with the Digital Photo Professional software.

EOS 5D Mark IV: Lens Aberration Correction—A Close-up Look (Part 1, Part 2)


…but you might want to have some spare batteries on hand

One issue that I did have was with the battery life—it was drained after half a day of shooting. A larger-capacity battery would have required a larger camera body size to accomodate it. Those who intend to take many shots throughout the day will want to have spare batteries on hand.

 

Summing up:  A small giant that is capable of serious work

Don’t be fooled by the light, compact body size of this camera: While it certainly makes a good secondary camera for casual snapshots, it also produces excellent image quality that is practically on par with full-frame cameras. In fact, I would call it a small giant that is capable of serious work.

 

Three notable features


1. Pop-up EVF

Pop-up EVF

The EVF retracts into the camera body. To use it, you slide a switch to pop it up, and then pull it out towards you. The view is bright and clear, and will come in especially useful for shooting in bright daylight when it can get hard to see the Live View display on the rear monitor. 


2. Close-up shooting with beautiful bokeh

Close up of flowers with bokeh in the background

The closest focusing distance when calculated from the lens tip is 5cm from the wide-angle end and 20cm at the telephoto end, which allows you to be quite close to your subjects.

Tip:  To get a beautifully blurred background in your close-ups of flowers and other small subjects, shoot from 20cm away using the telephoto end.


3. Sharp images with the 5x zoom lens

Close-ups of details shot at different apertures

Edge-to-edge image quality is sharp all the way from the maximum aperture (f/1.8), and it barely changes as you narrow the aperture.

 

Sample images

Boats docked at harbour

PowerShot G5 X Mark II/ FL: 8.8mm (24mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/3.2, 1/500 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 125

The yacht harbour at Negishi, Yokohama City on a fine summer day. This was shot at the 24mm wide angle end, and the corner-to-corner sharpness is astounding: The fine lines of the elements at the edges remain completely unbroken. There is also no noticeable vignetting.

 

Close up of African lilies

PowerShot G5 X Mark II/ FL: 44mm (120mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/800 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 125

A cluster of Agapanthus flowers. The name “Agapanthus” roughly translates into “flower of love”, but in this shot taken after the peak of its bloom in early summer, it seems that the love has begun to wither! Notice how this image taken at the telephoto end is also sharp: Even the fine details in the stamens are well captured.

 

Train tracks at night

PowerShot G5 X Mark II/ FL: 11mm (30mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.8, 1/60 sec, EV-1.0)/ ISO 12800

This was shot at ISO 12,800. When shooting at night in a rather dark location, raising the ISO speed to this level allows you to use a fast shutter speed to avoid blurring from camera shake. There is some noise, but the shot is still of usable quality. The graininess goes well with this particular scene, giving it a gritty feel.

 

Nippon Maru ship docked at pier

PowerShot G5 X Mark II/ FL: 44mm (120mm equivalent)/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/500 sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 125

This shot, which shows the Nippon Maru museum ship docked at the Osanbashi Pier, was shot from the roof of the Kanagawa Prefectural Office. The 120mm telephoto end compresses the perspective just enough to achieve a well-balanced composition.

 

Learn more about the PowerShot G series at:
PowerShot G Series: Capture Beauty Effortlessly

If you’re just starting your camera journey, find out more about basic camera concepts such as aperture, shutter speed, Picture Style and white balance at:
In Focus: Camera Basics 

Or learn more about composition at:
Composition Basics: Framing, Horizontality and Verticality

 


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Digital Camera Magazine

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

Masatsugu Koorikawa

Masatsugu Koorikawa

Born in Nara. Besides taking portrait and merchandise photos for camera and music magazines, Koorikawa also releases works with the waterfront of Tokyo Bay as the theme.