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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution, as good as we could expect of a compact five megapixel
  • Good metering, good tonal balance which maintains shadow detail
  • Good natural light white balance, strong and balanced colours
  • Fast lens (F2.0 - F3.0)
  • Control over cameras internal processing algorithms (saturation, tone, sharpness)
  • Low noise at ISO 50, not as clean at ISO 100, more sensitive than rated value
  • Shooting priority play mode (a half-press of the shutter release always returns to shooting)
  • Excellent range of manual controls
  • Good shot-to-shot times, startup time compromised by four second lens extension
  • Superb fold-out and twist LCD, bright and assisted by anti-reflective coating
  • Manual focus has magnified loupe and ruler readout
  • Flexible continuous shooting modes (buffer after processing)
  • RAW file format maintains 12-bits of data
  • Ability to turn JPEG shot into RAW during record review
  • Compact Flash Type I or II and official Microdrive support
  • Flash hot-shoe, manual flash power, flash sync control (slow / curtain)
  • Voice annotation feature
  • Orientation sensor, although JPEG's are only tagged not rotated
  • Built-in ND filter useful for bright outdoor / flash shots
  • Intervalometer (time lapse)
  • Excellent night exposures, should allow exposures longer than 15 seconds
  • AF assist lamp works well
  • Included Infrared remote control
  • Superb battery life
  • Battery charges in-camera, charger doubles as AC adapter
  • Excellent included software suite including remote capture software with live viewfinder
  • Good accessory support (quality wide angle and telephoto lenses, chargers, case)


Conclusion - Cons

  • Chromatic aberrations visible at wide angle or maximum apertures
  • Noise above ISO 50 worse than the competition
  • 'Shallow angle jaggies' visible on resolution chart
  • Viewfinder partially obstructed by lens barrel
  • Control dial doesn't work well if rotated too quickly (it 'stutters')
  • No auto nine-point AiAF as seen in the PowerShot S45/S50
  • Zoom controller does not have enough steps / multiple zoom speed
  • Status panel is not backlit
  • Manual mode limits in relation to combinations of aperture and shutter speed


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Canon PowerShot G5: (5 megapixel prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 9
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8.5
Ease of use 9
Value for money 8

The PowerShot G3 built on the success of the G2, it has gained a huge following and proves to be very popular among the prosumer 'shutterbug' photographer as well as those wanting to develop their photography skills. The G5 should have no problem in that respect, as it is identical to the G3 from a feature and functionality point of view. It provides all types of photographer enough or as little as they require. It also has lots of unique features not found on competitive cameras such as a switchable ND filter, orientation sensor, one-button RAW creation, Intervalometer, included InfraRed remote and not to forget the superb battery life.

Image quality and resolution are as good as we can expect from a compact five megapixel, Canon's excellent demosaic and sharpening algorithms delivering detailed, clean images. I had wondered why Canon didn't choose to introduce the G5 in Photokina last year and simply skip the G3, the answer it appears is among our test results. The G5 suffers from higher noise than the G3, and notably higher than the competition, it also has a chromatic aberration problem which is more than I would expect to see on a modern digital camera.

Another problem is price, Sony have done such an excellent job with the much smaller and lighter (yet just as capable) DSC-V1 that its $100 lower price will certainly hurt the G5. While the G5 is a superbly capable digital camera in its own right you could save yourself some money, lose only a few pixels and avoid the extra chromatic aberrations by picking up a G3.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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