Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Good image quality, particularly in Raw
  • Versatile, good-quality lens
  • Great dynamic range
  • Stabilized 4K video
  • Built-in 3-stop neutral density filter
  • Mostly solid build quality
  • Excellent grip and control layout
  • Very responsive
  • Pop-up electronic viewfinder
  • Silent fully electronic shutter with limited rolling shutter
  • 30fps Raw burst mode is a neat feature
  • In-camera Raw conversion
  • Good wireless connectivity
  • Can be charged or powered via USB-C
  • Autofocus tracking unavailable while shooting bursts
  • Limited capture aids and overall video feature set, softer footage than rivals
  • JPEG noise reduction at high ISO values lags the competition
  • Low ISO JPEGs can have fine detail smeared due to noise reduction
  • No 24p video capture
  • Poor autofocus while shooting video
  • Somewhat limited customization
  • No intervalometer
  • No microphone socket
  • Poor battery life
  • Picky about USB chargers

Overall conclusion

Pick up a Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II, and the first thing you'll notice is how secure it feels in the hand (as long as your hands aren't enormous). The grip is nicely shaped, and the rubberized texture extends to the opposite side of the camera. Aside from the slightly cheap-feeling control ring around the lens, the textured paint and well-damped dials make for a premium feel. Limited customization options aside, the controls are well thought-out, the touchscreen is excellent and the pop-up EVF is especially handy for daylight shooting.

The G5 X Mark II is a fun camera to shoot with, wherever your travels take you.
Processed in Adobe Camera Raw | ISO 125 | 1/125 sec | F1.8
Photo by Carey Rose

Notably, the G5 X II feels super responsive - this was a big weak point of its predecessor. But on the Mark II, here's no shot-to-shot lag, it reacts to your inputs instantly, and even the 30fps Raw burst mode doesn't slow the camera down too much. This responsiveness makes for a connected experience when you're out and about, taking pictures.

And speaking of pictures, image quality is a strong point - JPEGs have pleasing color, but to get the most out of your shadow regions, we'd boost the Auto Lighting Optimizer to 'high.' The lens offers a fast aperture and a versatile zoom range, and is a good performer, if not outstanding, particularly at wider focal lengths. Raw capture is generally comparable to the competition, meaning it's quite good, and in-camera Raw conversion lets you tweak your Raw files 'on the go' before Wi-Fi transferring them to your smartphone for social sharing.

Notably, the G5 X II feels super responsive

But...and of course, there had to be a 'but'...the G5 X Mark II cannot compete with the best of its peers when it comes to autofocus and video. Sure, autofocus is accurate and reasonably fast for static and predictable subjects, but the inability to track subjects in continuous autofocus while shooting bursts could be limiting. And aside from the built-in neutral density filter, video shooters will find little in the way of capture aids (no Log option, no zebra warnings). Plus, the footage is a bit mushy and autofocus in video is, frankly, disappointing.

Arriving nearly four years after its predecessor, the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II has been a long time coming. And in that time, they've changed the design philosophy, updated the lens, upgraded the sensor, and more. Demanding shooters who need the best in terms of video and autofocus should probably look elsewhere, but overall, we find the G5 X II to be an excellent option for stills-focused shooters looking for an engaging, small, flexible, carry-everywhere camera.


What we think


Jeff Keller
Editor

The PowerShot G5 X II provides the flexible lens and image quality that I expect from an enthusiast compact camera, and it’s controls and user interface make it is more pleasurable to use than its main competitor. It’s battery life is pretty lousy and the design of the pop-up EVF could use some refinement, but that wouldn’t keep me from buying the G5 X II.


Dan Bracaglia
Editor

In terms of focal range and aperture speed, the G5 X II offers one the most versatile lenses of any pocket camera ever made. It also features some of the best ergonomics and handling of any camera in this category. However its autofocus performance, in my opinion, leaves a lot to be desired, especially in comparison to the Sony RX100 VII.


Rishi Sanyal
Science Editor

The G5 X II has a lens with a good zoom range and bright apertures, so you can capture moments both near and far - even in dimmer light. It's great as a travel camera. Unfortunately, it can't focus well on moving subjects, and video is limited by unusable autofocus, low dynamic range and mushy quality. It's one of the snappiest and most fun cameras for casual shooting, but if you're a parent who wants to capture action or simply an enthusiast that wants a significant upgrade in image and video quality over your smartphone, you might consider other options.


Compared to other high-end compact cameras

It's difficult to discuss any 1"-sensor compact camera without taking into account Sony's sprawling RX100-series, the most recent of which is the Cyber-shot RX100 VII. The RX100 VII comes with Sony's industry-leading Real-time Tracking autofocus as well as a much stronger video feature set (neutral density filter aside). It's not as nice to hold, nor as nice to use as the G5 X II, but its much-longer lens will be a better option for travelers and those that shoot mostly in the daytime. For those that need the best autofocus on the market for unpredictable subjects or the best video quality and feature set on a pocket camera, the Sony is the one to go for - provided you can stomach the roughly 30% price premium it commands. Stills-focused, non-action shooters will likely prefer the G5 X II's ergonomics and shorter-but-brighter lens.

Another natural competitor is Canon's own less-expensive PowerShot G7 X Mark III. We'll skip past the (almost identical) core specs and discuss the differences. The G7 X III is squarely aimed at the vlogging crowd, with its microphone input and live YouTube streaming. You don't get a viewfinder, and you lose 20mm equiv of zoom reach (though you don't lose much in terms of lens quality), and of course, you save $150. For our money, we'd prefer the G5 X II, but if you are on a tight budget, need a camera of this type and don't need the viewfinder, the G7 X III is a solid option.

Last but not least, let's look at the Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II. It's a bit bigger, thanks mostly to its bigger Four Thirds sensor and therefore larger optics, but its Raw image quality isn't really noticeably better than the smaller-sensor Canon. It has a similar level of direct controls to the G5 X II, offers far more customization, and its lens is higher-quality, albeit with a shorter zoom. But because the screen on the LX100 II doesn't tilt, the viewfinder isn't as nice and the video isn't terribly impressive, we'd lean towards the G5 X II for most uses.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
Category: Enthusiast Large Sensor Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Canon PowerShot G5 X II is a solid, likable compact camera that has a lot to offer for enthusiast photographers searching for a carry-everywhere solution. It's lacking in autofocus and video chops, but this is somewhat mitigated by the excellent handling and controls, snappy performance and pleasing image quality. If you're in the market for a compact zoom camera, the G5 X II isn't the best possible option for every use case, but it is absolutely worth your consideration.
Good for
Enthusiast photographers looking for a pocketable option without compromising on handling, as well as travel, street and some landscape photographers looking for a compact but capable stills camera.
Not so good for
Photographers that need the best autofocus for action or family photography, as well as video shooters who may want a stronger feature set and better video quality.
82%
Overall score