As you can see from the images above from the outside the G5 is absolutely identical to the G3 apart from the color of the body, and I personally feel that the camera looks far better in this color (more professional, more purposeful). The body is half metal, half plastic. The front and top of the camera as well as the back of the LCD monitor are made from a metal alloy, the rear, half of the base and hand grip are plastic.
Around the back of the camera the primary improvement is in the way the fold out and twist LCD now fits flush into the back of the camera whether facing out or closed. Control layout is logical and once you get used to the new button assignments and the overlaid FUNC menu everything you would need to change in a normal shoot is available without having to dive into the menu system.
Side by side
Of the three similarly specified digital cameras below
the G5 is the largest and heaviest. It's almost 200 g heavier than the
subcompact Sony DSC-V1 (5 mp, 4x zoom) and 100 g heavier than Nikon's
Coolpix 5400 (5 mp, 4x zoom). Primary external differences between the
three are that the G5 has a status LCD display (top of the camera), the
DSC-V1 has a pop-up flash, the G5 and 5400 have flip-out and twist LCD
screens (the V1 does not).
In your hand
The G5 feels comfortable to hold, there is a clear space on the rear of the camera for your thumb and the front finger grip is fairly well proportioned (although having the two side by side I actually prefer the Coolpix 5400's). The inside of the grip is coated in a hard rubber material, the outside is plastic. Weight balance is good, the Lithium-Ion battery is mounted inside the hand grip which means that the camera doesn't pull to the left.
On the top of the camera is the status panel which provides a multitude of information on the current photographic and digital settings such as available frames, exposure adjustment, white balance etc.
A detailed breakdown of displayed information can be found on the diagrams below.
The G5 has the almost trademark Canon flip-out and twist LCD monitor (remember they were the first to do this on a digital camera with the Pro 70). The entire display can be folded away (screen in) when not in use, protecting the screen. You can then flip out and use it out away from the camera body or twisted 180 degrees and folded back into the body just like any other digital camera. In an improvement to this design Canon has now molded the rear of the camera so that the display fits flush when folded in.
The screen has an excellent anti-reflective coating, is bright and sharp (Canon seem to have perfected the use of sub-pixels to enhance display detail). The flip-out and twist design of the LCD is perfect for the studio, out in the field, for protecting the LCD when it's not in use, taking waist level shots, overhead shots, self portraits, etc. etc. The LCD provides 100% frame coverage.
As with most digital cameras the G5's viewfinder is the standard 'optical tunnel' type. Ok for the occasional use but not something you would really want to use all the time (thankfully the LCD monitor is there for that purpose). Big negative point for Canon in that the lens barrel actually obstructs the bottom left corner of the view (nothing's changed since the G3 then). The viewfinder offers just 84% frame coverage.
The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:
|Green Steady||Good AF Lock, sufficient light|
|Green Flashing||CF Card activity|
|Yellow Steady||Macro focus / Manual focus mode|
|Yellow Flashing||AF difficulty, cannot lock focus|
|Orange Steady||Flash charged and will fire with next shot|
|Orange Flashing||Shot may suffer from shake blur (slow exp.)|