Canon Powershot G5 review

4 out of 5
£600

For

good image quality, plenty of manual controls

Against

large compared to competition,

Building on the popularity and prowess of the G3, Canon’s latest high-end compact is the G5, a five mega pixel camera. While the camera is basically a black G3 with an increase in the mega pixel count from 4mp to 5mp, the extra resolution will be welcomed by high-end users looking for an alternative to Olympus’ C-5050, Nikon's 5400 and Sony’s DSC-V1.

The camera features the same sturdy styling as the G3 and there is a host of buttons available on the back of the device all within fingers reach making this a comfortable camera to use. Sitting amongst the numerous buttons is the large 1.8" screen. It can be mounted on a vari-angle bracket that allows it to be fully rotated to allow for shooting at various heights and levels. The bracket also ensures that your LCD display won’t be scratched when carried around as the bracket closes to protect the screen.

Picture settings are displayed either on the LCD display or via a separate one on the top of the camera giving you an uncluttered view of the shot in hand. This is also great if you want to see which settings the camera has selected without relying on the back display.

As with the G3, the G5 features a hotshoe connection for those looking for additional control over their flash settings, although the camera does offer an internal flash with three manual power adjustment settings and four flash modes including Red-eye reduction and Slow Sync Speed.

Inside and the camera features a 1/1.8" CCD censor that provides 5.0 million pixels. The Canon-manufactured zoom lens has an f/stop range of 2.0 to 8.0 and the lens offers 35 - 140mm equivalent to a 35mm film camera through its 4x optical zoom. For those wanting to get closer, the camera also has a 4x digital zoom taking the capable total to 16x overall zoom. While this sounds impressive on the surface that is all it is and used in the field the digital zoom produces images that should really only be used for reference rather than publishing.

Focusing and metering your shots can be done in a number of ways - TTL 1-point (any position is available or fixed centre) AF lock and Focus Bracketing offer the focusing options, while spot metering and AE lock are available with ISO speed settings of 50 - 400.

While everything can be manually changed, and with this sort of camera that is likely to be the case, there are 13 shooting modes to chose from to get you started. These include everything from Automatic to Night Scene, Stitch Assist and Movie mode with sound.

As with most Canon cameras the image quality is very good, and being a five mega pixel camera means you have very high resolution details. The response time from pressing the button to taking the shot was very quick, allowing for easy capture of action shots. Still images can be saved in four different size settings with a further four compression settings to allow you to get the most out of the 32Mb card supplied in the box. The highest setting is (L)2592 x 1944 and then goes down accordingly; (M1) 1600x1200, (M2) 1024x768 and (S)640x480.

Test shots produced some interesting results - The digital zoom as expected caused problems (see deer right above). This shot was taken about 20 yards from the subject with the digital zoom setting set to 16x, the highest the camera can go. Viewing the image at anything over 16% of its size and the image starts to be affected by heavy noise, pixellation and distortion - producing an image only 4" x 5" and therefore not ideal for printing in its original size.

However close-up and portrait shots proved to have large amounts of detail in them and coped well with colour. The flower shot was taken using the macro mode and produced vibrant colours. Using the spot metering function we were able to hone in on the single flower in the front of the image and this has allowed us to throw the rest of the shot out of focus.

Verdict

The Canon G5 is larger than the Olympus C-5050 and the Nikon 5400. As well as that, this is really only an upgrade from the G3 in the mega pixel count and some believe nine months too late in the coming, wishing that this instead of the G3 had been released at Photokina in Germany. That said, as a standalone product away from the G3 it is still a very good camera with plenty of options for the high-end digital camera user. Images close-up held lots of detail, and colours are vibrant. The digital zoom is something that should be avoided, but then that is the same with most of the Canon range. If this hadn't been a simple follow-up it would have been in-line for a hot product award. If you're a new high-end user though you can ignore the history lesson and put it on your shortlist.