This is a great little camera for me, as it does everything I've been missing with my current (now backup, spare, also-ran) Fujifilm Finepix.
I generally have two main uses for my camera; I photograph landscapes, cityscapes and figures as source material or as supporting information along with sketches for paintings and I also use my camera to document my finished artwork.
Although I naturally wish to take the best photos I can, they are secondary to my main practice; I categorically am not a professional photographer – not even a hobbyist; my camera is a tool which helps me better realise my primary goal.
I'm therefore best served by a camera that's easy to use and set up, functionally reliable enough to allow me to snap away, secure in the knowledge that I'll get the results I need. The G5X is just such a camera.
The most useful features are the large and incredibly practical turn and twist viewscreen, coupled with an excellent automatic image stabiliser; my Fuji had a slow and frequently unreliable autofocus, even with a tripod – no such problem with the G5X – even hand-held shots are sharp and exposure and colour balance is true and natural, all just on the automatic setting.
Like any recent model of digital camera there's a fairly easy to use (and familiar) menu system, once you establish which buttons control the selection; there isn't much of a manual provided in the box but the downloadable PDF file provides a comprehensive guide. It's a damned nuisance not having an easier reference (digital manuals seem to be the current standard for practically every device now) but an hour or so of reading (and possibly a print-out of a few key pages) should be enough to use the camera with confidence.
The build-quality is fine; metal-bodied, relatively well thought-out ergonomically, though like most compacts, buttons can be pressed accidentally until familiarity is established; the electronic viewfinder is an amazing feature, kicking in automatically when you raise it to your eye, which makes it feel like using a DSLR. The mounting of the viewfinder on the camera body rather spoils the overall design, making it rather bulky for a compact and harder to find a generic case for it, but that's a small point – at this price range though, it wouldn't have hurt Canon to have provided a soft cloth bag or something – aside from the strap, battery, charger and minimal starter manual there's nothing else provided.
The Wi-Fi and NFC facilities are, I'm sure, attractive features to some (I know one professional who values the Wi-Fi connection) but these aren`t of a great necessity for me; again, many digital cameras have a multitude of features I don't need, but the serious user will find plenty of control options to satisfy here. The HD movie function, the touchscreen option etc., - it isn't lacking in bells-and-whistles. I'm particularly impressed by the stability and seamless operation of the macro function in automatic mode, which is very useful to me.
If you regard my assessment as the veiwpoint of a basic user, the G5X is a beginner-friendly, well-featured compact digital; it's the most expensive camera I've ever owned and has a lot of features, but for me a camera that does the basic things well with absolute reliability is worth paying for; it may not be the best option at this price-range but it is a very good one.
While this camera is not a DSLR, it still packs a whole lot of punch for a device of this size. Roughly 11cm wide, 7cm high and 5cm deep, and and weighing about 400g, the camera comes with a neat thin Canon strap, battery pack and downloadable instruction manual.
The lens is retractable, meaning auxiliary lenses cannot be added, but the camera has numerous digital options to replicate these, including fisheye lens, toy camera lens, as well as all the usual options for night shooting, portrait mode, soft focus, sepia, monochrome etc.
The best features for me are the ability to connect to WiFi/NFC/Bluetooth. You can use this to automatically sync and save photos to Canon Image Gateway website, which is extremely practical if you're on holiday and want to back up your photos every night. Not only does it allow you to free up space on your memory card, but it also allows you to keep your pictures safe even if your camera/memory card is lost or stolen.
You can also download app to link your smartphone or tablet to the camera, allowing you to send photos from the camera to your other device (making it quick and easy to share pictures on WhatsApp or social media); to scroll through all the items on the camera from this device; and to even use the phone to shoot photos remotely. This is quite a nice option in addition to the camera's customisable timer, giving you a bit more control over shots.
The other standout feature for me is the rotatable screen. This not only makes it easy to take selfies (if you're so inclined), but, because the screen tilts through 180 degrees, means the camera can be placed on the floor, and you can angle the screen so you can still easily see what the viewfinder is capturing. I recently placed the camera in some long grass and took some shots of my nephew running around. I then angled it upwards and got some shots of hit against the clean blue sky (example attache to this review). It provides a really stunning effect that I wouldn't have been able to capture without this rotatable screen, unless I was just going to angle the camera and shoot without knowing for sure what I was shooting.
The screen can be made into a touchscreen, which is really useful when flicking through menus or checking out your photos at the end of the day. You can also set an option so that you can take photos simply by tapping the screen once. I prefer to use the button, but it's a nice option to have, and quite nice for young children who want to have a go on the camera.
The camera is also capable of making full HD films (though you can amend the settings to reduce the quality of the film to just HD or lower).
Technically, I am sure there are better cameras out there, but as a compact, portable, and practical camera with some nice features, I think you'll be pushed hard to beat this. While at home, I'd perhaps be more tempted to use my larger DSLR, for travelling, it this Canon PowerShot is absolutely ideal.
My previous PowerShot was a A640. What I like about the PowerShot range is that they are powerful little cameras which are easy to carry around. Handy if you don't want to lug your DSLR and lenses about. All in all I used the A640 a lot, was impressed with its features, and it came to be my go to camera when I wanted to do some macro photography.
Regarding its features, the Canon PowerShot G5 X is a lot like the A640. Boasting a tilt and rotate touchscreen, a great little viewfinder, and countless shooting modes, the G5 X comes with neck strap, battery, battery charger, and quick start guide.
It looks like a mini DSLR. In some professional reviews, others have regarded it as a bit ugly looking, but I actually think it's pretty cute. It's bulky (which will be a downside for some people, don't expect to go shoving this in your pocket), however, with all its dials and switches you can see why. The strap that comes with it is easy to fit and should sort any carrying problems, just sling it around your neck.
The screen on the back flicks out and rotates. This has always been a favourite feature of mine. The A640 did it, and I'm pleased to see that they've continued to implement this feature. It's great if you have people in front of you (think at a concert or something like that), you can lift the camera above the crowd, and tilt the screen so that you can still see what you are shooting.
As a touch screen it works well and is very responsive. You can also tell the camera to focus on something in particular, by just tapping on the screen.
If the touch screen isn't your thing, and you want to do it the traditional way, the G5 X has a great viewfinder for you to use. I'm pleased that this is the case, the viewfinder on the A640 was terrible, and for some reason never showed you everything that the lens was seeing.
Modes wise, there are plenty, and those who have used a Canon DSLR will recognise each symbol and how each mode works.
The modes are as followers: Auto (smart auto - perfect for beginners, or someone lacking confidence in shooting), TV (shutter priority), AV (aperture priority), M (manual mode - adjust shutter and aperture), C (custom), movie mode (shoot films), special scene mode (settings designed for a specific scene - such as fireworks or snow, also includes some fun effects such as fisheye, tilt-shift and toy camera), and creative shot mode (takes a selection of photos and applies different effects to them).
If you are a beginner to photography and thinking, 'I'll never remember all this', the G5 X will display on the touch screen what you have selected and what that mode does. Handy.
Which leads us onto the question, is this camera newbie friendly? Absolutely. For those uncertain about the many modes, or lacking in confidence about getting a shot, just switch the dial to 'auto'. The camera is then excellent at setting up the shot, without you having to do a thing accept press the shutter button. In this mode it will do things like, if you get close to something, detect that you want to take a macro photo, and automatically adjust everything without you lifting a finger.
It's a camera that looks impressive and serious, but it's not without its sense of fun. Tucked away in the 'special scene mode', you'll find some fun effects. As this is a camera with a fixed lens, Canon, have added some effects that you'd only get with a DSLR by adding the relevant lens, such as fisheye and tilt-shift.
Performance wise, don't go expecting something that will be able to match a DSLR in performance. Whilst its shutter is quite nippy, it doesn't match up to the shutter on my DSLR. However, this isn't the point of the camera. This camera is a hybrid, its meant to have a balance between and point-and-shoot and a DSLR, and the G5 X gets that balance pretty well.
Downsides? Well yeah sure, it would be pretty handy to have something that just slots into my pocket. But if I want that option, I'll just use the camera on my phone. So size-wise, I don't consider the G5 X's chunkiness to be its downside.
I will however, mention that the only manual you get is a quick-start guide. If you want the manual that tells you the ins and outs of this camera, then you have to download it from Canon. I find this disappointing as, if you want to look up how to do something (unless you have the manual printed out), you'll have to access the manual on your phone. The manual is also 217 pages long. Can't say I'm willing to use ink up to print it off.
It's also worth mentioning the lens. It collapses up and in to make the camera a bit more compact. However, be careful, as it does have a habit of sucking up hair and other bits with it. I haven't had it happen with the G5X, but with my A640 (that had the same lens mechanics), it dragged a hair into the lens, and I ended up with a hair appearing on all my pictures until I sent it away to be fixed.
For some people, the battery life might be considered a negative. However, I haven't had much of a problem. I've seen other reviews that say it devours battery life quickly, and this might be true. If it does become a problem for me then I'll buy another battery.
Price wise, I consider this camera to be a little too expensive. Yes, it's impressive, and powerful, but for the price you could buy a DSLR and lens. With a price tag like this, it's probably going to scare off any beginner to photographer thinking that with a price like this, this camera is only for professionals, which is simply not true.
In conclusion, I love this camera, and it has finally taken the place of my A640. It's a worthy successor. It's 20 MP means you get fantastic, highly detailed shots. It's many functions means there's a shooting mode for whatever you can imagine, whilst its fun effects encourages you to get even more creative . Built in wifi means that you can send your pictures from your camera to your phone or tablet quickly (just download the app). And there are so many features, and many I haven't even mentioned.