of the hottest cameras of last year was undoubtedly Canon's PowerShot
G3 (see our review).
It looks like Canon may have another hit on their hands this
year with the 5 Megapixel version of the G3, known
G5 ($799 street price). The G5 is the exact same camera as the G3,
except for these four differences:
The G5 apparently uses the same CCD as the PowerShot S50 (see
main competitors of the G5 are probably the Nikon Coolpix 5400
and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1 (see
our review), which are also
5 Megapixel, 4X zoom cameras. If you haven't seen it already,
G5 vs. DSC-V1
shootout. There won't be a photo comparison with
the 5400, as I have not yet received a production model camera.
more note before I begin. Since the G5 is so similar to the G3,
the text in both reviews will be similar. Rest
assured that all sample photos and analysis is original -- I'm
to save some time.
in the Box?
PowerShot G5 has an excellent bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
5.0 Mpixel Canon PowerShot G5 camera
Li-ion rechargeable battery
Adapter / battery charger
featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions, ArcSoft Camera Suite,
page camera manual + software manual (both printed)
a 32MB card is larger than you'll get with some other 5 Megapixel
cameras, it's really just a starter card. I highly recommend
getting something much larger -- 256MB is my recommendation.
I've long been a fan of the 1GB IBM Microdrive,
and that is supported by the G5, but keep in mind that it puts
extra strain on the battery. There are plenty of "regular" 1GB
CompactFlash cards out there, so you may want one of those instead.
G5 uses the same BP-511 Li-ion battery as its predecessor. The
has a very respectable 8.1 Watt/hours of power. Here's a look at
battery life on the G5 and the competition:
of shots, 50% LCD use
in playback mode
|Nikon Coolpix 5400
that the DSC-F717 is always using the LCD/EVF)
doesn't publish the same kind of information about battery life as
Sony and Canon, so I can't put any CP5400 data in the chart,
aside from the power rating. Nikon does say that you can use
the camera for 110 minutes with 100%
use. My guess is that the 5400 lies somewhere between the V1
and the G5.
downside of proprietary batteries like the BP-511 is the cost
($50) and the fact that you can't use standard batteries (as
you can with AA-based cameras) if you're in a bind. That's why
I personally prefer cameras that use AA batteries.
it's time to recharge, you just plug the included AC adapter
into the G5. This same AC adapter can be used to power the camera
in the studio,
or when you're transferring photos to your computer. It takes
80 minutes to bring the battery back to 90% capacity, and then
2 more hours to fill it to 100%.
G5 includes a lens cap and strap to protect your 4X zoom lens.
an option on many other cameras, Canon still includes a wireless
remote control (shown above) with the G5. You can control the
camera in both record and playback
mode with this device.
you like accessories, then you'll love the G5.
In the lens department, you can purchase the WC-DC58N wide-angle
converter ($149) to shorten the focal
length to 24.5 mm, or the TC-DC58N tele converter ($110) to bring
the zoom up to 245 mm. A 58 mm close-up lens is also
available. Note that the LA-DC58B conversion lens adapter ($20)
is required in
to use any of these.
G5 is compatible not only with Canon's EX-series
Speedlites, but also their
Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX ($450) and Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX ($650).
accessories include a soft carrying case and dual battery charger
w/car power adapter ($140).
G5 can also print directly to all of Canon's Card Photo Printers,
as well as any of their Bubble Jet printers that support the
direct print function.
the G5, Canon includes version 13 (!) of their excellent Digital
software, as well
as ArcSoft's Camera Suite 2.0. The main programs in
the DCS software package are ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser (Mac/PC
PhotoStitch (a great panorama creation product), File Viewer Utility
(does what it sounds like) and Remote Capture (which lets your
Mac or PC control the camera over a
Canon's software continues to be head and shoulders over the competition
in this reviewer's opinion. Best of all (for us Mac users, at
least), all the software is
OS X native.
is also one of the best at creating camera manuals. Unlike the "VCR
manuals" produced by some other manufacturers, Canon's manuals
are well laid-out and easy to read. There are thick, printed manuals
for both the camera and the software.
you've seen the PowerShot G3, you'll know what the G5 looks like.
The G5 is a bulky, mid-sized camera which won't fit in
of your pockets. There's a bit of plastic mixed in with the metal
frame, but overall it's pretty solid. While the G5 can be operated
with one hand, I found it to be more comfortable to use both
I had both "in house" at the same time, here is a comparison
of the G5 and the Coolpix 5400:
let's take a look
at the dimensions of the G5 and its competitors:
(W x H x D, inches)
x 2.6 x 2.3
x 2.9 x 2.8
||4.3 x 2.9 x 2.7
you can see, the Sony is quite a bit smaller and lighter than
either the G5 or the CP5400.
all that out of the way, let's begin our tour of the G5 now.
G5 has the same 4X, F2.0 - F3.0
optical zoom lens as the G3. The lens has a focal range of 7.2
- 28.8 mm, which is
equivalent to 35 - 140 mm.
inside that lens is a neutral density filter. I'll explain
why you might want want one later in the review.
lens itself isn't threaded, but by removing the plastic ring
around it (by pushing the button just left of the "PowerShot
G5" label), you can add lenses or filters.
the ring, screw on the conversion lens adapter and lens, and
you're set. You can also use 58mm filters with the G5,
but you'll need the
the top-right is the G5's light guide flash, originally introduced
on the G3. The light guide design prevents the wasting of
flash power that is common on "regular" flashes
by better focusing the light. The working range of the flash
is 0.7 - 5.0 m at wide-angle, and 0.7 - 4.0 m at telephoto.
For the Coolpix 5400, the range is are 0.5 - 4.5 m (W) and
0.5 - 2.8 m (T). On the DSC-V1, the range is a measly 0.4
- 2.8 m (W)
and 0.4 - 2.0 m (T).
6/16/03: A reader pointed out that on the G3, there
was always a shadow (from the lens) in the lower right corner
of flash photos taken
at wide-angle. Sure enough, the G5 does the same thing:
the lower-left of the flash is the G5's microphone.
the left of that, just
above the lens, is the autofocus (AF) illuminator. This bright
light helps the camera focus in low light situations.
This feature should be on every camera, in my opinion.
G5 has the same rotating 1.8" LCD as its predecessors, and
it's one of the features that makes this camera stand out in
The LCD can rotate in a number of ways, as you can see above
and below. It can also point toward the subject,
for self-portraits (the image on the LCD will be shown right
nice to see that Canon hasn't started shrinking the LCDs on their
high end cameras, unlike some other manufacturers <cough...
The resolution of the LCD is even a little higher than on the
G3, and it's just as bright and fluid as before. Like with all
it can be difficult to see in bright sunlight.
the top-center of the photo is
the optical viewfinder, which is quite large. It shows
83% of the frame, according to Canon. I do have two complaints
about it, though. The first is that at the 1X-2X zoom settings,
a great view of the lens barrel. As you zoom toward the telephoto
end of the focal range, the lensdisappears. Based on reader feedback
about the G3, this bothers a lot of people.
other complaint is with the diopter correction knob. While I'm
very happy that it's there (being someone with poor vision),
found the knob too small and difficult to turn.
the left of the viewfinder are three buttons. They have different
functions depending on which mode you're in, record or playback.
From left to right:
mode (Auto, flash on, flash off) - redeye reduction is turned
on in the record menu
(Evaluative, center-weighted, spot)
- quickly moves ahead in playback mode
the other side of the optical viewfinder is a button for manual
focus and voice annotations (up to 60 seconds). Like some other
higher-end cameras, the G5
enlarges the center
of the frame in manual focus mode, so you can make sure you're
subject is in focus. A little gauge on the right side of the
LCD shows you the current focus
distance. You use the command dial (on the top of the camera) to
adjust the focus.
The Function menu
three buttons to the right of the LCD are for (from top to bottom):
speed (Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
effect (Off, vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia, black & white,
exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments) /
flash output (1 - 3)
/ quality (see chart later in review)
- turns LCD and info on it on/off
||Display - toggles between full size image
and image info
items that I want to cover in more detail are the bracketing
and photo effect
G5 can do two types of bracketing: exposure and focus. With exposure
bracketing, you pick a median value and choose the range. For
I could do -1/3EV, 0, and +1/3EV. It's shown graphically on the
LCD and it makes sense. AE bracketing is a good way to ensure
photos are properly exposed. Focus bracketing is the same idea:
you choose a median value and the camera focuses a littler further
away and a little closer. It makes more sense if you try it yourself.
flash exposure compensation feature varies, depending on what
you're in. Normally, it works exactly like regular exposure compensation.
In manual mode,
you can adjust the flash power in three steps: 1/3, 2/3 or full
strength. If you've got an external flash attached, you'll have
a wider range of control: 1/16 to full strength in 1/3 steps.
photo effect feature lets you quickly adjust the color and
sharpness of a photo. For even more control, you can use the
custom effect feature to manually adjust the contrast,
sharpness, and saturation. Each of these three options has
a low, normal, and high setting. You can use photo
effects in any mode, including
tour now, at the top-right is the four-way controller,
with two buttons below it. The four-way controller is used, of
course, for menu navigation. It's also used for setting
the exposure compensation
(-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments) and white balance. The
G5 has plenty of white balance settings, too. The
right, you can have two custom white balance settings stored
for easy retrieval.
menu button does just as it sounds -- it invokes the menu system.
The "set" button
below the four-way controller is used in the menus, and it also
activates the G5's "FlexiZone" focusing system. When
this is used, you can move the focus point anywhere on the frame
using the LCD
the four-way switch. There is a border of about 1/4" on the
LCD where you cannot go. This is the nicest system of its kind,
in my opinion.
enough about the back of the camera -- let's head to the
there are even more buttons and dials up here. I will work my
way from left
G5 has a large, data-packed LCD info display up here. I'm not
going to read off what it says (that's what the manual is for),
but you can get a pretty good idea by looking at it. The one
is that it's not backlit -- that is one of the few things on my
wish list for the next revision of the G-series.
the right of that is the hot shoe. I've covered Canon's flash
options earlier in the review. The G5 will also work with non-Canon
cameras, though you'll probably have to manually select the flash
right of the hot shoe you'll find the drive mode button,
with the power/mode switch below that. The available drive modes
include two types of continuous shooting (more on that later),
(2 or 10 seconds), and a remote control option. The power switch
turns the camera on and off (obviously), and also is used to
move between record and playback mode.
to the right, you can see the shutter release button (with zoom
controller around it), and the mode wheel. The zoom controller
smoothly and quietly moves the lens from wide-angle
to telephoto in just over 2.5 seconds.
G5's mode wheel has a
load of options, including:
on this later
help making panoramic shots
mode, most settings locked up
chooses shutter speed and aperture. All menu options are unlocked.
choose the shutter speed and the camera picks the correct aperture.
You can choose from a number of speeds ranging from 15 sec -
1/2000 sec. The 1/1600 and 1/2000 shutter speeds are only available
above F4.0 at wide-angle and F5.6 at telephoto.
pick the aperture, the camera picks the appropriate shutter
speed. The choices range from F2 - F8 and will vary, depending
on the current focal range.
pick the aperture and shutter speed. See above for values.
||Two sets of your
favorite settings, easy to access.
you can see, you can store two sets of custom settings right
on the mode wheel. Once you've found the settings you like, just
go to the menu and save them to the C1 or C2 position.
final item up here (at top-right) is what Canon calls
the "main dial". You'll use this to adjust things like
is the side of the PowerShot G5. Under a plastic cover, you will
find I/O ports for DC in (for the AC adapter), digital (USB),
and A/V. I'm surprised that Canon hasn't followed Sony's lead and
switched to the faster USB 2.0 standard (or better yet, use FireWire
that is the speaker. Next!
the other side of the G5 is the CompactFlash slot,
which is behind a somewhat sturdy
plastic door. Like on the G3, this is a Type II slot, and the IBM
Microdrive is fully compatible. With 1GB Type I cards now available,
the Microdrive isn't as appealing as it once was.
included 32MB memory card is also shown.
here is the bottom of the camera. You can see the metal tripod
as well as the battery compartment. The tripod mount is neither
centered, nor inline with the lens. That's the bundled BP-511
battery over on the left.
the Canon PowerShot G5
G5 takes about four seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start taking pictures -- exactly the
same as the G3. When the camera is turned on, a startup screen
with accompanying sound is played. You can edit these, or turn
them off, in the My Camera menu.
you depress the shutter release halfway, the camera generally
quickly, in under a second. It may take a little longer if the
AF-assist lamp is used or if the camera has to "hunt" a
bit. I have heard discussion about improved AF speeds on the
I didn't notice any major improvement over the G3. The
G5 also did a good job focusing in low light.
the picture is taken promptly, with no noticeable shutter lag.
No live histogram in record mode on the G5
speed is very good on the G5. You will wait for just 1.5 seconds
before you can take another shot, even in RAW mode (assuming
review is turned off).
mode, by the way, is an image format in which the
(raw) image data is stored in a lossless, compressed format.
The files are larger than normal JPEGs, but are still much smaller
TIFF files (which the
G5 doesn't support). Information about exposure and white balance
are stored in the file, so you can tweak them later on the
That's also the point where you can save RAW files in other formats,
such as TIFF or JPEG.
a picture is taken, you have three options. Press the */Delete
button, and you can delete the photo as it is being written to
memory. Press the Func. button, and you'll be able to save the
image in RAW format instead of JPEG. And, by pressing the Display
button, you can see the exposure data and histogram of the photo
you just took.
a look at the image size and quality choices available on the G5:
Images on 32MB card
(2592 x 1944)
(1600 x 1200)
(1024 x 768)
(640 x 480)
are named IMG_xxxx.JPG, where x = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering
is maintained even if you replace and/or format memory cards.
onto the menus!
menus haven't changed a bit since the G3. They are still well
laid out and easy-to-navigate. Here's a look at the
record mode menu:
sync (1st, 2nd-curtain)
shooting (Standard, high speed) - see below
(2, 10 sec)
delay (0, 2, 10 sec) - delay before picture is taken when remote
control is used
AE point (Center, AF point) - what part of the frame is used to
judge exposure while in spot metering mode
filter (on/off) - see below
zoom (on/off) - turns on focus point enlargement feature in manual
mode (Continuous, single) - whether camera is always focusing
or only when the shutter release is pressed halfway
zoom (on/off) - using this will reduce photo quality
(Off, 2-10 sec)
- see below
settings (to C1 and C2 on mode wheel)
for some further explanation on some of those.
are two speeds for continuous shooting: standard and high. The
rate is 1.5 frames/second at the standard setting, and 2.0 frames/second
at the high speed setting (this is slower than on the G3). In
high speed mode, you cannot review the images on the LCD after
can. I was able to take 9 shots in a row in standard mode, and
10 shots in high speed mode (both at the Large/Superfine setting).
It took about 28 seconds to finish writing the nine images (from
standard continuous mode) to my Microdrive.
Neutral Density (ND) filter is a light reducing filter, which
allows you to use slower shutter speeds
or larger apertures, that normally wouldn't be possible
due to the bright outdoor light. Now this
one feature you don't see every day on a digital camera.
there's the Intervalometer (gotta love that word). This tool
let you set up the G5 for time lapse photography. You choose the
interval between shots (1-60 minutes) and the total number of
to be taken (2-100). Using the AC adapter is necessary.
is also a setup menu on the G5, so let's take a look at that. Here
are the interesting items:
brightness (Normal, bright)
power down (on/off)
volumes (for shutter, playback, startup, operation, self-timer)
number reset (on/off)
rotate (on/off) - rotate your images automatically in playback
units (metric, imperial)
(English, Deutsch, Français, Nederlands, Dansk, Suomi,
Italiano, Norsk, Svenska, Español, Chinese, Japanese)
system (NTSC, PAL)
My Camera menu allows you to customize the startup
screen, beeps, and phony shutter sounds that your G5 makes. If
bother you, you
can also turn them off.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
G5 produced an excellent macro shot of our famous 3" tall
subject. Color and sharpness are both spot-on. The
focal range in macro mode is 5 - 50 cm at wide-angle, and 15
- 50 cm at
telephoto. The optional close-up lens will give you a focal range
of 10 - 25 cm (only at the telephoto end).
recordable area in macro mode is 75 x 55 mm at wide-angle, and
56 x 42 mm at telephoto.
night test shot had its good and bad points. The good news it that
it's well exposed and the noise levels are low. The bad news
is that there are a bunch of purple halos around bright lights
in the picture. The G5 seems to have a bit of a problem with
purple fringing, and I'll get to that in a bit.
way to use faster speed speeds (like when you don't have a tripod)
is to crank up the ISO sensitivity. Here's what happens to the
noise levels when you turn up the ISO:
anything interesting in that series of crops? Sure, the noise/grain
went up along with the ISO, but did you also notice that the
purple halos went away? As the ISO went up, the aperture closed
F-numbers) which got rid of it. And that's generally the trick
you can use to get rid of purple fringing -- but more on that
in a second.
The distortion test shows just minor barrel distortion and
no vignetting or blurry corners.
had a lot of trouble with the light guide flash and redeye
on the PowerShot S50 and G3, and it's just as bad with
the G5. As you can see, even with redeye reduction turned
on, the subject still has "demon eyes". Not everyone
has had trouble with redeye on the S50 and G3, though, so your
mileage may vary. Here are two tricks that you can try that
may reduce redeye. First, try to keep the subject directly
lined up with the flash. If that doesn't work, a simple but
more expensive solution is to use an external flash. You
correct redeye fairly well in software.
bottom line about the PowerShot G5's photo quality is this:
exposure, color, and noise levels are all excellent. The
class-leading resolution, or darn close to it. Canon tends
to go for a softer, smoother image than some other manufacturers,
which helps to keep noise levels down.
thing that bugged me, though, was the level of purple
and/or purple halos in areas with a lot of contrast. It's
not surprising to see this on a "fast" lens with
the aperture opened up all the way -- the Olympus C-5050Z
is a fine
Not surprising at F2.0
It's gone at F4.5
Not pleased to see this at F4.0 though
way around this is to close down the aperture, by using a
higher F-number (see the church sequence in the gallery for
an example of this). I was surprised to still see some purple
fringing at F4.0, an aperture
normally consider "safe" from this phenomenon.
The purple fringing certainly isn't in every shot
-- but I saw it often enough
that the G5 lost a few points with me in the image quality
have two photo galleries full of images from the PowerShot
G5, including some comparisons with the Sony DSC-V1. See
the standard gallery or the shootout
gallery, and decide
if the G5's photo quality is right for you!
PowerShot G5 has the same above average movie mode as the G3.
3 minutes per movie at 320 x 240 or 160 x 120. Of course the
32MB card only holds about 1.5 minutes worth of 320 x 240 video,
but if you had a larger card, you could do 3 minute movies.
is recorded along with the video, which is saved in AVI format
the M-JPEG codec. The frame rate is 15 frames/second, which is
typical for a digital camera movie mode. You can use the
photo effects (described earlier) in movie mode, so you can
is the case with most cameras that record sound with movies,
you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
G5 allows you to edit
your movies in playback mode. You can delete unwanted frames
from the first or second half of the movie, and either save it
as a new movie, or overwrite the current one.
is a short, but exciting sample movie for you:
to play movie (1.2MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
playback mode is exactly the same as on the PowerShot G3. There
aren't a lot of gimmicks, but all the features are
well-implemented. Basic playback features include slide shows, image
image rotation, and DPOF print marking.
"zoom & scroll" feature is best on Canon cameras, and
it's extra fast on the G5, thanks to the DIGIC image processor.
can zoom into your images up to 10X, with many steps in between.
Scrolling around in the enlarged area is very snappy.
between images is very quick as well -- about a second between high
you want more information about your photo, just press the Display
button. You can
find out almost everything about your photo, including a histogram.
Does it Compare?
Canon PowerShot G5 is a very good camera that is kept from
greatness by a few annoying flaws. First, the good news. The
G5's photos are usually excellent, with superior resolution,
low noise, good exposure, and accurate color. The camera's performance
is robust, it has more manual controls than you can count, and
the playback and movie modes are better than average. The G5
is also unmatched in terms of available accessories.
the bad news. There were two photo quality issues that bugged
The first issue was purple fringing. While not nearly as
bad as some other cameras I've tested, I felt
of fringing was too high for a camera with this price. I'll
let a camera get away with a little purple fringing at F2.0 or
F2.8, but at
F4.0 it shouldn't be there. My second image quality complaint
may or may not affect you, and that's redeye. I've had a lot
of trouble with Canon's newer cameras that use the light guide
flash, which seem to produce a lot of redeye compared to a
regular flash. Redeye really varies from person to person, so
to draw a firm conclusion about this issue. My last complaint
about the G5 is one that I had with the G3 as well (not surprising,
as they are practically the same camera) -- and that is the
lovely view of the lens barrel while at wide-angle.
those three issues are my only complaints about the PowerShot
G5. I still do recommend the camera, just not as enthusiastically
as I would've liked.
does the G5 hold up against the DSC-V1 and Coolpix 5400? Well,
since I'm yet to test a production Coolpix 5400, I can't compare
it against the G5. I have used the DSC-V1, however, and my experience
was the same as this one: a nice camera with some annoying flaws.
Even with the redeye and purple fringing, I still think the G5's
photo quality is superior to the V1's, especially with regard
to resolution, color, and noise. Perhaps a better competitor
for the G5 is the Sony DSC-F717, which despite having few manual
controls, probably still has the best image quality of any 5MP
you can't decide between the G3 or G5, here's my recommendation.
If you're planning on making large prints (and by that I mean
larger than 8 x 10), you'll probably do best with the G5.
Otherwise, I'd probably save a few bucks and get the G3 instead.
hope this helped in your decision making!
photo quality in most situations (though note issues below)
expandability in terms of lenses, flashes
zoom a nice change from the usual 3X zoom
Type II slot
movie, playback modes
an AF illuminator lamp
of manual controls
focusing system lets you focus on any area of frame
I didn't care for:
worse than expected
much purple fringing
blocks view through optical viewfinder at wide-angle setting
correction knob difficult to operate
VGA movie mode found on other Canon cameras would be nice
full-featured 5 Megapixel cameras to check out include the Canon
PowerShot S50, Casio
FinePix S602 Zoom (uses 3.3MP
Photosmart 935, Minolta
DiMAGE 7Hi, Nikon Coolpix
5400 and 5700, Olympus
C-5050Z, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717 and DSC-V1.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the PowerShot G5 and it's competitors before you buy!
to see how the photo quality turned on? Check out our PowerShot
a second opinion? How about a third?
another opinion on the G5 from Steve's
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.