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Canon adds classic styling to its new PowerShot G cameras with large sensors

In November, two new Canon PowerShot G-series cameras will go on sale: the G5 X and G9 X. They are a slight departure from the tank-like G-series cameras we’ve covered before, adding a few classic cues. Both cameras use Canon’s 1-inch, 20.2-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor. The G9 X, at $530, becomes the entry-level G-series model, while the G5 X, at $800, slots in the middle, between the G3 X (above) and G7 X (below).

Since the G5 X and G9 X use the same sensor and image processor (Digic 6) as the G3 X and G7 X (two cameras we bestowed our Recommended and Editor’s Choice awards, respectively), we have a general idea of how well they’ll performed (although we always reserve judgment until we actually try them out). You can expect quality stills and videos (up to 1080/60p) and an ISO range of 125-12,800, although the G3 X and G7 X weren’t always great low-light performers during our testing, despite Canon claiming otherwise. Like their siblings, the new cameras offer Canon’s latest Wi-Fi and NFC wireless implementation for connectivity and pairing, which we find effective and straightforward to use.

But the new cameras are different. The G5 X bears a resemblance to classic Canon film cameras, like the F-1 and AE-1. That’s due to the built-in eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF) that’s above the lens – the only G-series model in the current lineup to have one – giving users the feel of an interchangeable lens camera. Designed for enthusiasts or to be a secondary camera, the G5 X’s EVF uses an OLED display that’s rated 2.36-million dots. In addition, there’s a 3-inch LCD (1.04-million dots) that flips out and into adjustable angles. The G5 X has a stabilized, 4.2x (24-100mm) f/1.8-2.8 lens, and there are mode and exposure compensation dials along the top. A control ring around the lens let you quickly adjust a favorite setting, and there’s a hot shoe for accessories.

The G9 X has the typical boxy form-factor of many pocket cameras (bearing no resemblance to the old G9), and it’s designed for step-up users who want an easy-to-use camera but with a larger sensor. Besides black, the G9 X is available in a black-and-silver with leather body that gives it a retro look. The G9 X has a 3x (28-84mm), f/2-4.9 lens – not as bright as the G5 X lens. The LCD is touch-capable, but it’s fixed. There’s a control ring around the lens, but there’s no hot shoe or an exposure compensation dial.

The cameras shoot uncompressed RAW, and have full manual control. The build-in ND filter can be activated via the menu, and there’s a bulb exposure mode. In addition to an external charger, the batteries can be charged in-camera. The Star Mode has been improved, with manual focus and finer breaks between star trails.

These two cameras reflect stats from the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) that show an increasing trend towards cameras with 1-inch sensors or larger. While the G-series were once considered the flagship PowerShot models, we believe they are now becoming standard.