The Canon Powershot S95, one of the best compact cameras in the world was launched in September 2010. It belongs to Canon’s S series and was followed by the S90. Though the S90 was a decent camera when it came to performances, the S95 was the camera that blew the world away. So what does a brand do when they have launched one of the most successful compact cameras in the world? They launch a successor to it, of course. And, this successor comes in the form of the Canon Powershot S100. The brand has added some improvements to the latest model, as expected. From our introduction it is well established that the S95 is a great camera, so let’s see if the S100 can match up to it or better it.
Major improvements are on the inside
Design and Build Quality
The Canon Powershot S100 retains its small form factor and on first sight one may not reckon that it is a high-end professional point and shoot compact camera. It is fairly simple in design and has a boxy overall appearance. Though it may be simple in design, the S100 is not at all an ugly camera. It comes in two colour options, which are black or silver; which is apt, since it is after all a professional compact camera. The body of the camera has a metal finish and when held, has a rich feel to it. The camera that we received in our labs was the one that had the black finish and it certainly looked good.
On video: Canon S100
As for the design of the camera, the S100 is almost similar in size to its predecessor, but is slimmer by a millimeter. However, the new model is a bit taller in height, than the S95. The front of the camera is dominated by the lens, the AF assist, the branding and the plastic line, which acts as a hand grip. The hand grip was not found on the S95 and this will definitely assist in the handling of the camera. Another interesting feature of this camera is that it features a ring at the front, which can be used to zoom or act as an adjustment ring for aperture value, exposure value, etc., depending on the mode you are in.
The semi manual and manual features found on this camera
The rear of the camera features the large 3-inch display that is flushed along the body of the camera. Alongside the screen, the controls for the camera are located. These include a designated video recording button that can be accessed anytime from any mode. Apart from this, there are a whole range of controls that are found here that can be used for accessing the different options from the various modes. Though this area is littered with controls, they decently spaced and one may not tap the wrong button, unintentionally. The buttons do not feel cheap and plasticky, but the rounded feel gives it a sense of professionalism. There is also a thumb grip at the back, which can assist in the handling, while shooting with a single hand.
The top of the camera features the mode dial, that has the various options of shooting. Apart from the dial, the buttons for powering on the camera, the shutter release button and the zoom rocker are all located here. The flash for this camera is housed in the body of the camera and can be accessed by tapping the flash button at the back. Another notable mention is that there is the GPS name at the top, which denotes this camera as being GPS capable, unlike the S95. The side of the camera features the connectivity options, which are found under a plastic flap. These ports, include an AV out digital USB port and an HDMI port. The battery is located in a bay on the bottom of the camera and it also houses the memory card. The overall build quality of this camera is really good and it feels extremely sturdy. The flaps of this camera are built well, too. The camera is a bit on the heavier side, as compared to the S95, weighing in at 198g.
The S100, like the S95 is loaded with features and all the major improvements are located on the inside, in terms of technical specifications. This camera features a 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, along with Canon’s new DIGIC 5 image processor. The brand has used a large sensor in this camera, which measures at 1/1.7-inch and the brand has opted for a CMOS sensor, as opposed to a CCD sensor that is found on the S95. The previous model also had a smaller megapixel count as well. The use of a CMOS sensor is believed to produce better image quality, as compared to CCD sensors. With the DIGIC 5 processor, the camera can capture images a lot faster as well as has the ability to shoot high quality images at full resolution in burst mode. Apart from this, the processor also has improved image stabilization features.
Major improvements are on the inside
The Powershot S100 also features a 5x optical zoom lens and Canon has improved upon this as well with the S95 featuring a 3.8x zoom. The Intelligent image stabilizer also helps while using the zoom feature. The camera has an improved macro feature as well, with one being able to get as close as 3 cm to an object. This will be highly beneficial in capturing artistic macro shots. There are full manual as well as semi manual shooting modes on this camera, which is really good, as one can play around with the settings of this camera. Many professional compact cameras have this feature and with Canon’s easy to use interface, one can access all the settings easily by just using the scroll wheel at the back and the function/ set button.
The interface of this camera is really easy to use and like most Canon point and shoot cameras there is no real learning curve. One can get familiar with using it within a matter of minutes whether or not they have tinkered around with other cameras from the same brand in the past. With this camera featuring manual controls, one can tweak the settings as much as they desire, which is always a good thing to get the best possible image. The layout of the onscreen controls and the ability to access them is very neatly designed. One can use the scroll wheel at the back to shift through the different ISO sensitivities or other settings they wish to configure. While reviewing pictures on the camera’s LCD display, one needs to tilt the camera any which way they like, as per their convenience as it features an auto rotate ability.
Has a full metal body
The S95 had HD 720p video capabilities, but Canon has raised the bar with this camera, as now one can shoot videos in full HD 1080p at 24fps. A neat feature of this camera that is not really common is that one can zoom into a subject, while in video mode. This helps in getting up-close to objects without the need to move closer. This is a significantly vast improvement and will be beneficial for those looking to play back content on an HDTV that supports this resolution. There are a number of scene modes found on this camera and one has the ability to shoot in different environments easily and get the colours that are best suited to the environment. The camera features a number of filters, as well, which include HDR, nostalgic, fish-eye effect, toy camera, etc. These can come in handy for creating artistic photographs. The camera can store content on an SD, SDXC or SDHC memory cards. These type of cards are fairly easily available in the market and a card with a high capacity can come in useful during full HD video recording.
To start off with the performance bit of our review, we will first take a look at how easy the handling of the camera was. The Powershot S100 is not a heavy camera and can be handled easily with a single hand. Shooting images with the right hand is possible and the hand grip at the front completely assists with this usability. One can easily toggle through the different settings, as well, without any difficulty. The screen of this camera displays images vividly and accurately with no colours or tones being enhanced. The ring at the front becomes useful for adjusting different settings, which we really liked. However, when it came to the zoom, we found ourselves using the zoom rocker at the top a lot more. This is due to the convenient location of the zoom rocker. Having added a dedicated video recording button at the back, shooting 1080p videos on the fly was very easy and there was no need to go to the mode dial to switch to this option.
ISO sensitivity test
ISO Sensitivity Test
Being a professional point and shoot, this camera features the ability to tweak settings.The S100 was put to the test in a controlled environment. The camera fares really well in the ISO sensitivity test and from ISO 100 to 400, there was virtually no image noise visible. The noise is seen at ISO 1600 and at ISO 3200 to 6400, the noise is more pronounced, but images are still usable. This camera handles noise better than most point and shoot cameras available in the market.
Aperture priority test
Aperture Priority Test
In our aperture priority test, we observed that at the aperture set at its widest, which is F/2.0, there was a significant amount of depth of field. This can be used to create visually appealing photographs with the background not in focus. At F/8.0, the image appeared crisp and clear.
Canon have fitted a 5x optical zoom with this camera and it is a significant improvement over the S95, which featured an optical zoom of 3.8x. The new processor that has been added in the camera improves the image stabilizer found here and one can see that images captured with 5x zoom had next to no blur.
This can be safely categorized as one of the best point and shoot compact cameras, when it comes to performance. The detail found in images shot outdoors is really good and this can even be achieved while shooting in auto mode. But, if one wants to truly get the best out of the camera, then going into manual mode would do that. While capturing outdoor images, there was next to no fringing visible and all colours appeared accurately. The tones captured on the camera’s LCD display was the same that was reproduced on the screen. Skin tones all appeared natural and outdoor photography was really good, overall.
A lot of depth of field seen
While capturing pictures indoors or in low-lit environments, the camera performed really well, too. Details were present even in areas that were barely visible and this is due to the low aperture value, which is f/2.0 found here and the new DIGIC 5 processor, which handles noise a lot better. Canon has improved on the macro capabilities of this camera and one can get as close as 3cm to capture images. The detail found in these shots are really good, too.
Shooting videos at 1080p is great with the S100 and there were no issues noticed during playback or recording. However, a slight point that should be mentioned is that if one is in a quiet area, then the sound of the lens while zooming gets recorded. This may turn people off a bit, especially when they want the video to be devoid of any noise. The flash of the camera is powerful and can easily light up an area of over 15 feet. If one wants to capture images in burst mode, this camera is really fast and can capture up to 8 images quickly, in the High-Speed Burst HQ mode. The brand bundles a 1120mAh battery with the camera and Canon rates it at approximately 200 shots.
The Canon Powershot S100 is priced in India at a MOP of Rs. 25,000. This camera is built really well and feels extremely sturdy. Feature-wise it has some improvements over its predecessor, like the larger sensor, 1080p video capabilities, increased optical zoom and a few others. However, where this camera really does well is in the performance, as it offers above average picture quality, as compared to other point and shoot compact cameras.
Flash is powerful
This camera is ideal for practically anyone, as it is extremely easy to use and there is no learning curve, whatsoever. Though the camera may be more suited for professional photographers looking for a compact camera to tote around, any person with a budding passion for photography can also find this camera really useful.
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