Canon has announced the launch of a new 5-megapixel PowerShot G5. With a 4x optical zoom, the £679 (inc. VAT) PowerShot G5 offers 12 shooting modes - which Canon claims "delivers the flexibility and versatility typically only found in high-end SLRs".

A £799 PowerShot G5 Microdrive Kit comes complete with a 1GB Microdrive, allowing over 400 high-resolution shots to be taken and stored on a single charge without changing storage medium.

Canon's proprietary DIGIC (DIGital Imaging Core) processor delivers high image quality with two frames per second speed and efficiencies in power consumption to "help give the PowerShot G5 one of the longest battery lives of any digital compact on the market", according to Canon. 450 high-resolution shots can be taken and stored on a single charge.

The PowerShot G5's 5-megapixel CCD sensor allows photo prints up to A3 in size, as well as scope for image cropping. Lens quality is a fast f2.0 (W) to f3.0 (T) 4x optical zoom lens, (7.2 to 28.8mm), which is equivalent to a 35-140mm lens in 35mm format.

Aspherical elements Canon claims that chromatic aberration that plagues lesser quality digitals has been all but eliminated with the incorporation of two aspherical elements. Extremely fast and accurate focusing is achieved by controlling focusing with the movement of just one rear element. An optical neutral density (ND) filter is built into the lens to reduce light by three stops, permitting creative slow shutter/large aperture settings in bright conditions. FlexiZone AF/AE allows users to specify the particular spot in the frame from which to focus and meter - handy for off-centre and even on-the-edge compositions. Focus bracketing takes extra shots focused in front of and behind the subject.

Along with fully manual and aperture/shutter priority modes, the PowerShot G5 includes two Custom modes for storing preferred camera settings, Portrait and Landscape modes to minimize/maximize depth of field appropriately, and a Night Scene mode providing slow sync speed for realistic shots balancing exposure to maintain both background and foreground detail. StitchAssist works in five modes to enable precise alignment of up to 26 images for panorama and poster shots that are merged with supplied PhotoStitch software. 180-second video clips with sound can be recorded in movie mode. Photo effects include sepia, vivid colour, black and white, neutral and low sharpening.

A vari-angle 1.8-inch LCD monitor can be fully rotated to allow for shooting with the camera close to the floor or high in the air, and a mirror image display for easy self-portraits. Images can be stored in Canon RAW format - even after a shot has been taken in JPEG mode.