For the weary pro (pocket)

Started 9 months ago | User reviews thread
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RLight Senior Member • Posts: 2,941
For the weary pro (pocket)
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In a sentence, the best (all-around) pocketable camera on the market for everything except sports where others do better (which I'll cover).

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The G5X Mark II ticks the important boxes of being powerful and pocketable but is coupled with an EVF and fast versatile lens while also providing an engaging experience with stellar ergonomics, Canon colors, and a touchscreen. You might ask, what's the catch? The catch, the tracking autofocus aka AI-Servo is only available in single-shot mode with all methods, or, single point if doing continuous burst shooting presumably because it's contrast detection, not phase detection. Said high-speed continuous shooting that you might use in sports-scenarios, is where you'd also want more than 120mm reach anyways, are the catches. Otherwise, I've found it tracks faces well, can hit my kids on the swing (when using single shot AI-servo, with decent but not perfect results, which is a hard thing to do), can shoot my cat in the dark (without a flash), is reasonably sharp, and has a decent macro mode. It should be noted this chomps batteries and has a plastic build which cuts down on bulk but I wouldn't push it in sandstorms or rain like I would on a G1X Mark III and you should buy a second battery.

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For pro's, the list for powerful pocket cameras is short: Canon Powershot G5X Mark II, and the Sony RX100 series. Regarding the RX100 I-VA, I recommend the G5X Mark II over it due to the more versatile lens, full-functional touchscreen and better ergonomics with excellent SOOC colors. But, where I'd say to consider the Sony RX100 is for the VI or VII and you want a pocket sports shooter. 200mm, even though slower in aperture, plus the phase detect Sony AF is where that makes sense. But for anything else / you plan on shooting sports less than other things? You guessed it, G5X Mark II is the smarter choice.

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I do recommend you read my former G1X Mark III review for comparisons of point and shoots and more about Canon's other alternative, the G1X Mark III as this commonly will pop up on people's radar that are interested in the G5X Mark II.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62431147

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Regarding against the G1X Mark III itself I'll say it's a quality vs quantity fight. The G1X Mark III gives you only 24-72mm, but, has higher quality images that come out of it, is weather sealed, has a DSLR form factor and a swivel screen (quality-things). But, the G5X Mark II does 4K, does 24-120mm, and can pocket (quantity-things).

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Regarding image quality: I'd rank this right smack between a G5X (Mark I) / G7X Mark II and the G1X Mark III. Against Sony? Sony may be a bit sharper, but, the G5X Mark II has more reach and better colors making for more interesting images leveling that playing field and arguably dominates it being married with Sony's own RX100 IV sensor, which tops DXO's charts for a 1" sensor. I've found SOOC color to be Canon-like, however, having said Sony sensor may have something to do with the large latitude the RAW files give (you should shoot RAW on this camera to get the most from it in my book) which really can sing if you're into post-processing. Here's a link to my Flickr album dedicated to the G5X Mark II, which I have shoot RAW on most of them and post-processed with a Canon DPP4 and Lightroom combo to preserve Canon colors, but, give more control over mid-tones...

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmMJVSmk

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Regarding Autofocus, likewise, see the Flickr Album above as to what it can accomplish, it's no slouch despite being limited to contrast detection. In general shooting it's more than adequate. AI-servo is suprisingly very responsive but has the caveats of either single shot which can grab a candid, but not appropriate for high speed action, or, single point for said action, but keeping the focus point over the subject is a challenge making it less suitable for that sort of thing, but I've gotten impressive results tracking my kids on bikes, scooters and the like with it. I simply don't have the problems others have reported with autofocus. I do recommend setting up C mode against Program, with AI-Servo and Single shot (not continuous) so you can get candids easily with back button focus and then switch over to another mode, even Auto, for continuous shooting needs.

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Regarding video: You can also likewise slide over to video mode for 4k (right next to the C mode), the only way you can use 4k as simply pressing the record button does 1080P in all modes except video mode itself, you must slide over to video mode for 4K. The video autofocus update Canon came out with clearly must've improved the dismal former reviews of the product as I've found the autofocus in video completely acceptable, even though it's only contrast detect, it's very responsive post-update. Sure, a G1X Mark III can do better, but, then again it can't do 4K. It really is that simple in my viewing of the material that's come out of both on my big screen TV. I'll outright say it, the 4K of the G5X Mark II outweighs the DPAF of the G1X Mark III.

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Build:

I've owned the G1X Mark III in the past and can say this is a step down. Plastic controls, plastic EVF. But, the grip is nice, the control dial is well placed and responsive. My copy of the camera, you do have to slap down the EVF a bit harder then I'd think to stow it, but have had no reliability issues. I've had no issues running with it, it's taken some knocks in the pocket and has suffered no ill. It's about the size of a wallet, but, likewise, it's about the size of a wallet, so it may pocket better in front pockets, or cargo pockets but sometimes is a bit bulky for back pockets.

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Suggested use:

The G5X Mark II is the sort of camera you keep on you to catch the unexpected. It's a good all-arounder as I mentioned earlier. Portraits, landscapes, night shots, candids, even sports / action. Video is good, has digital zoom, which is really useful. Whether you want something to do a bit of everything and fit in a pocket but have more power, or leave the bag and lenses at home, this is a nice break when you get tired of that larger rig you shoot for profession but want quality results. The RAW burst and Panorama modes deserve a shout out as they're good for catching things that blow up (gender reveals anyone?) or things that require a larger field of view (landscapes, interiors).

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Closing thoughts:

I had reservations buying this due to poor reviews of autofocus, but have not had any problems, in fact I'm quite impressed for what it is especially when you either use "Auto" mode which is quite intelligent, or, C mode programmed against P with Back Button Focus, single shot, and AI-Servo. Its image quality has been what other reviewers have been able to produce, which is to say impressive when "only" straight out of camera, but, is very impressive if you shoot RAW and post process to taste (I did the latter).

The preface I originally gave about sports, is where I'm going to interrupt my outright recommendation for most folks considering this camera... If, you are a (heavy) sports shooter, consider the RX100 VI or VII. 200mm and Sony AF is tough to beat for that. Likewise, if you're a (heavy) landscape shooter, you should consider the G1X Mark III, hard to beat 24MP, APS-C and a high quality 15mm capable lens. Portrait-heavy? Have a hard look at the LX100 II with it's unbeatable equivalence. Vlogging? G7X Mark III does straight to Youtube uploads and has the coveted microphone socket which is conspicuously missing from the G5X Mark II (considering how similar the two are).

But, each of these options fails in some other way... The RX100's fail in usability, straight out of camera color, and lens "speed" when comparing the VI and VIIs against the G5X Mark II. The G1X Mark III? It can't pocket, isn't as fast with autofocus and doesn't have the same reach. LX100 II? Image quality can be somewhat of an issue in low light from the samples I've seen for whatever reason even though it has a larger format sensor to 1" and a faster lens and obviously is as pocketable as the G1X Mark III, which is to say not really. G7X III? Less lens reach, average internet benchmark sharpness scores falls short of the G5X Mark II on top of its lacks of EVF.

All to say, the G5X Mark II does everything well, but isn't an expert in a particular category, but, does this in a pocket, does this at sub-$1000, and does this with Canon's ease of use and colors. Highly recommended.

Candids (autofocus and bokeh)

Textures and patterns (sharpness)

Unexpected travels (lightweight and pocketable)

Unexpected colors (RAW processing latitude)

Flowers (macro work)

Landscapes (wide focal and sharpness, color, RAW latitude)

Animals (zoom reach)

Cat (low-light)

Swings (Autofocus)

Which road will you take?

 RLight's gear list:RLight's gear list
Canon G1 X III Canon EOS R Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM Canon RF 35mm F1.8 IS STM Macro Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
20 megapixels • 3 screen • 24 – 120 mm (5×)
Announced: Jul 9, 2019
RLight's score
5.0
Average community score
4.6
bad for good for
Kids / pets
great
Action / sports
good
Landscapes / scenery
great
Portraits
great
Low light (without flash)
excellent
Flash photography (social)
great
Studio / still life
excellent
= community average
Canon G5 X II Canon PowerShot G5 X Canon PowerShot G7 X Panasonic LX100 Sony RX100 Sony RX100 IV Sony RX100 VI
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