s95 vs s100 auto mode improvements and not - "auto flash" fixed

Started Oct 18, 2011 | Discussions thread
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PaulRivers
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s95 vs s100 auto mode improvements and not - "auto flash" fixed
Oct 18, 2011

Just thought I would mention some areas where the auto mode of the s100 has improved or not improved over the s95 for the casual user.

Auto Flash - for both the s95 and s90, putting the flash on "auto flash" was one area where the camera was truly, awfully broken . It would choose some truly horrific settings, like choosing 1/15 iso1600 - and not firing the flash. It was the one area of the camera that was truly, totally broken. I would often recommend that if people were shooting jpg they use the "Kids and Pets" scene mode which did a much better job.

The good news is they finally fixed this - when you put the flash on "Auto Flash" the camera behaves much more appropriately -
1. Goes up to iso800 but won't go above it without firing the flash
2. Won't let the shutter speed drop below 1/50 before firing the flash

When the flash fires it still uses iso640, like the s95 did (and most compacts seem to raise the iso for flash shots now to save battery power and be able to use a weaker flash, unfortunately imo). Maybe with the high iso improvements over the s95 this will be better, though. You still can't set the flash iso separately though - you can set the iso directly but then it stays there when not using the flash unless you set it again...I wish they let you set the "max flash iso" in the camera.

Minimum Shutter Speed - 1/60 is what I prefer for a minimum shutter speed for the casual user, and Canon's cheaper compacts all use 1/60 as their minimum shutter speed as well.

Unfortunately (imo) the s100 continues the same behavior that the s90 and s95 had - it believes 1/30 is perfectly appropriate, only raising the iso after you hit 1/30, many times it will be 1/30 iso80. Also annoying is that like the s90/s95 it will prioritize the aperture over shutter speed, choosing 1/30 and f2.8 when it could have chosen 1/60 and f2.0, or 1/30 and f4.0 when it could have chosen 1/60 and f2.8. 1/30 works when the subjects are still or (usually) posing, but if they happen to look away when you take the pic or something their face will be blurry.

I call this "middle of the road" performance - you'll get some lower noise pics out of 1/30 than you would from 1/60 (when it would have to raise the iso to get a higher shutter speed), and with image stabilization holding the camera steady is - almost always possible at 1/30 with only rare exceptions. I would prefer 1/60 (as done in most other cheaper Canon compacts) though.

To be fair, I've seen some other cameras make even worse choices. My friend has a recent Nikon that would choose 1/15 on a regular basis which was terrible - people move the slightest bit and they're blurry, you have to be paying attention to even hold the camera steady at that low of a shutter speed. A lot of Nikons, Olympus's, etc are even worse.

Pop-up Flash - the flash still pops up when you turn it on. Some people have complained that it surprises them and they might drop the camera when it happens. For other people like myself it's never become a problem.

The s100's surface texture is grippier than the s95's, which makes holding onto the camera when the flash pops up by accident slightly easier. Overall it's pretty much the same though - flash still pops up.

Another weird thing is that in P mode, if you turn on "Auto Flash" the flash pops up right away regardless of if it would be used for the current shot. I personally think this is the better way to do it as it's less surprising to have the flash always pop up when you turn the flash on.

In "AUTO" mode if you turn on "Auto Flash" it works the other way, the flash pops up only when you're trying to take a pic (or half press the shutter button) which I don't like as the flash just pops up unexpectedly.

Ergonomics - the s100 is noteably easier to hold onto and shoot with than the s95. I would have rated the s90 at "usable but almost intolerable" - I could use it, and avoid hitting the loose wheel on the back, but it was like holding a slippery bar of soap. The s95 was a significant improvement with a grippier surface and better rear wheel, I had no problem recommending the s95 to other people or handing it to others to take a pic, but using it one-handed was still a little dicey. The s100 is the first one I feel comfortable with holding in one hand - the rubber are on the rear of the camera really helps, combines with the indent on the front. It's certainly the best one so far.

Conclusion - I would still rate the s100's auto mode as "good - but not great". If you want a camera so your significant other who only uses auto mode can takes pics, but also so you can use it and play with the settings I would recommend it. If you want something as a gift for someone who only ever uses auto mode - other Canon compacts might make better choices. Though as I mentioned I've personally used a couple of "casual user" compacts that made even worse choices and/or had other issues as well.

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