Canon Digital Ixus / S100 Elph hands-on
So now you've read the official announcement, I had an exclusive hands-on with this tiny, steel cased, power packed digicam and have summarised my impressions along with some exclusive photos of the camera.
Honey, I shrunk the S10. Well, not quite. The Digital Ixus (also known as the PowerShot S100 Digital Elph) is certainly a new camera, there's lots of new features, new ergonimics and a new case.
The Digital Ixus has a lovely solid steel case, with its completely flat front profile (when the camera is powered off) it's easy to slip in your pocket or the optional soft case (which can also carry spare batteries and CF cards). It's a camera which feels tough, and amazingly dense. There's a tiny lip on the back right side which makes gripping the camera surprisingly easy, finger resting naturally on the shutter release. From a size point of view you can see how much smaller than the S10/S20 it really is, an amazing feat of miniture optics and electronics.
Lens system (35mm - 70mm @ 35mm equiv.) is all new to the camera, as are most of the controls, now with a dedicated record / play switch (which we first saw used on the FujiFilm 4700Z) this makes quickly reviewing your shots amazingly easy.. you'll wonder why digicam manufacturers ever designed the mode control any other way.
They've managed to fit a 2 megapixel CCD in there so image resolution looks to be good, a new Ai AF three-point focus system which automatically calculates the best focus point from three points on the frame, designed to ensure that subjects just slightly off center will be in focus (the camera won't be fooled into focusing on the background).
On the base we find the tiny battery door which takes Canon's new Lithium-Ion battery (I didn't take a shot of it but it's really tiny, more like a very small handphone battery). Canon have always supplied their cameras with a proprietary rechargeable battery pack, however It's the first time Canon have used Lithium-Ion rechargeable which has big pay-offs in weight and capacity.. These tiny batteries should last and last. As a kind of "afterthought" theres a tripod mount (what's it doing over there... hmmm).
In the above left image you can see the simplicity of the control system, On/Off, Zoom control, Play/Record control and the shutter release. Simple, but effective. For the first time Canon have integrated the playback controls of magnify and thumbnail into the zoom control. Note on the second picture, the CF slot only accepts Type I cards..
Here's the back of the camera, with a row of controls for flash, drive (single, continuous, self-timer), focus modes (macro, landscape), menu and display (LCD on/off). Menu system is also new to the Digital Ixus, easy to navigate with the basic number of manual controls. Smaller 1.5" LCD (as you'd expect on such a small camera) which is bright and clear.
Shown right is the optional AW-PS200 all-weather case which makes the camera waterproof down to a depth of 3 meters (not sure of availability in different regions...)
As I'll be reviewing this camera I'll not draw any major conclusions at this stage (it'd be unfair also as I've not really had an opportunity to really put it through it's paces or check the image quality). However this is the smallest 2.1mp digital camera available, I'm sure it'll become very popular.. It's got total "gadget value" it's beautiful to look at and handle, tough as nails and yet packed with promise...
You don't get the picture if you don't have the camera with you. The Digital Ixus / S100 Elph is the kind of camera you can take everywhere and still get decent 8" x 11" prints later.