What's new and how it compares

Thanks to a pop-up electronic viewfinder and higher-quality lens, Canon's G5 X Mark II is a tempting step up from the already-good G7 X Mark III if you don't need that camera's specialist vlogging features. Let's take a look at what's new about the G5 X II and how it compares against the best of its competition.

Key takeaways:

  • Sensor, lens and processor combo make for a responsive, versatile package
  • Burst rates and video capabilities are fairly competitive
  • Pop-up EVF is of good quality and is a nice addition

In-depth

Let's get started at the heart of the PowerShot G5 X Mark II: the sensor. This 1"-type unit is the same size and resolution as its predecessor, but this new model is 'stacked.' Basically, this technology benefits buffering and readout speed, if not noticeably enhancing image quality. The result, when combined with the new Digic 8 processor, is a camera that responds rapidly to your inputs and shoots rapid bursts. You'll never feel as though the speed of the G5 X Mark II is holding you back.

That new sensor and processor combination allows for 8fps burst shooting with autofocus, which isn't class leading but will likely be sufficient for a lot of folks. The new 30fps Raw burst mode (with focus locked) comes with the option to retain 15 frames from before you full-press the shutter, to help you snag just the right moment. And it's worth mentioning that the 8fps burst shooting is only available with the mechanical shutter: if you go for the silent electronic shutter, you can't shoot in 'normal' burst mode, for some reason, even though the 30fps Raw burst only uses the electronic shutter. Yes, it's odd.

The G5 X Mark II also captures 4K/30p video, and to our eyes and test charts, it looks to be of good quality - we'll look at it in-depth later in the review - but if you're hoping for a pocketable cinema camera, be aware that Canon has eliminated all 24p video recording at this time, even in 1080p.

The Mark II's 24-120mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 lens is all-new as well and looks to be a solid improvement over the slightly shorter lens of its predecessor. But like its predecessor, this design doesn't close down to the minimum of its aperture range too soon after you begin to zoom in. This should extend the camera's flexibility in low light or help users get a decent amount of subject separation throughout the zoom range.

Is it the best lens we've ever seen? No, but for a compact camera at this price point, it looks pretty good. Plus, there's a built-in neutral density filter to help with video shooting and will also allow stills shooters to use those wide apertures it's capable of, even in bright light.

The G5 X Mark II is also the first non-Sony camera we've seen with an electronic viewfinder that pops up on-demand, and we're big fans of the concept. The mechanism keeps the size of the camera down, but unfortunately, it's a two-step process - you have to pop it up, and then extend the optics to use it. But it's certainly better than no viewfinder at all, particularly when shooting under the noontime sun. Unfortunately, more than one glasses-wearer in the office found that they bumped the EVF inward a bit in-use, which proved frustrating.

Compared to...

There isn't exactly a lack of options in the compact zoom camera space, though at this point, the fixed lens on each becomes one of the largest differentiating factors between them. Their zoom range and aperture variances will help dictate their strengths and weaknesses for different types of photography, and we've also considered the Panasonic LX 100 Mark II. It has a larger sensor than the other cameras here, but it has similar levels of control to the G5 X Mark II, and its price lands it in the middle of the pack.

Canon G5 X Mark II Sony RX100 VII Canon G7X Mark III Panasonic LX100 II
MSRP $899 $1200 $749 $999
Sensor type Stacked CMOS Stacked CMOS Stacked CMOS BSI CMOS
Resolution 20.1MP 20.1MP 20.1MP 17MP
Lens range
equiv.
24-120mm 24-200mm 24-100mm 24-75mm
Aperture range F1.8-2.8 F2.8-4.5 F1.8-2.8 F1.7-2.8
Focus type Contrast-detection Phase-detection Contrast-detection Depth-from-defocus
(CDAF-based)
Viewfinder type OLED OLED N/A Field-sequential LCD
Viewfinder resolution 2.36M dots 2.36M dots None 2.76M-dot equiv
Viewfinder magnification Not specified 0.59x None 0.7x
Rear screen res 1.04M-dot LCD 920k-dot LCD 1.04M-dot LCD 1.24M dot LCD
Rear screen movement 45° down
180° up
90° down
180° up
45° down
180° up
Fixed
Video resolution 4K UHD 4K UHD 4K UHD 4K UHD
Sampling method Full-width Full-width oversampled Full-width Cropped 1:1 capture
ND Filter Yes No Yes No
Intervalometer No Yes No Yes
Battery life shots per charge
LCD / EVF
230 / 180 240 / 220 235 / 180 340 / 300
Weight (inc card & battery) 340g 301g 304g 392g