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Just Posted: Canon PowerShot S100 review

By dpreview staff on Dec 23, 2011 at 00:28 GMT

Just Posted: Our review of the Canon PowerShot S100. The S100 is the latest in Canon's range of pocketable photographer's compacts, building on the success of the popular S90 and S95. This most recent model offers a more ambitious 24-120mm equivalent, f2.0-5.9 zoom in front of a Canon-made 12MP 1/1.7" type CMOS sensor, marking a much bigger advance than in the last update. Is it another step towards the perfect pocket shooter or has the camera giant over-reached itself? Find out in our review.

Note: As part of the process of working through this review we have replaced our previously-published S100 studio samples with new files. The updated shots can be accessed via the studio scene comparison widget, both in its standalone form (accessed via the 'reviews' dropdown at the top of every page) and from within the 'compared to...' pages of any review.

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Comments

Total comments: 148
12
DYNAMiTE
By DYNAMiTE (Dec 23, 2011)

when would you give a camera over than 85%
and Is there any good news about Canon's G13?

1 upvote
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

This -
The excellent multi-functional 'Lens Control Ring' that can be used to change a wide range of settings is still in place, and is accompanied by a rear control dial that no longer provides direct access to exposure compensation (as per the S95) but changes shutter speed in manual exposure mode, and exposure compensation in concert with the dedicated exposure compensation button on the camera's rear.

I really do not even understand what that last sentence means.

I would say something like "On the s90, one common complaint was that it was fairly easy to hit the exposure compensation dial and change exposure compensation unintentionally. The s95 improved greatly upon this, with the s100 it's now impossible because the rear dial doesn't change exposure compensation until you press "up" first. The downside is that it's not clear at all that pressing up does the trick, so some people may not realize you can change the exposure compensation with the rear dial at all.

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

P.S. It appears that (hey, totally understandably, I didn't realize it either until someone else mentioned it) the dpreview simply didn't realize you could press "up" to turn on exposure compensation on the rear dial -

"The rear control dial is effectively locked (in that it can be rotated but by itself does nothing) in all exposure modes except manual, where it controls shutter speed. This is a change from the S95, on which the rear dial provided direct control over exposure compensation in program, aperture priority and shutter priority modes. The change will be welcomed by some users (the rear dial on the S95 was easy to rotate accidentally, thus activating exposure compensation) but it is a shame that there is no option to set the rear dial to its 'old' behaviour. The risk of inadvertent operation aside, we're sure that some S100 users upgrading from an S95 will miss the quick access to exposure compensation that their camera's rear dial used to be provide."

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

Just to be clear -
1. You can use the rear dial to change exposure compensation. But you have to press "up" first to get it to work.

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

fyi - (I'm just trying to be helpful, seriously), here's another mention -

"If you tend to like to keep exposure compensation assigned to the Control Ring (remembering that you don't have the option to use the rear control dial for direct access to this function anymore), it is a little annoying to have to dive into a menu (however efficiently presented) to change ISO sensitivity."

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

Another mention -
"One of the most obvious is the deletion of direct exposure compensation control from the rear dial. If you were bothered by inadvertent activation of this function in the S95, you'll welcome the change (and we suspect that Canon has made the change for this reason), but if you've become used to it, you might not."

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 23, 2011)

What we've written is correct (the rear dial does nothing on its own) but since it is obviously causing some confusion I will re-edit for greater clarity....

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Alexsfo
By Alexsfo (Dec 23, 2011)

Canon is smart to limit AutoISO to 1600. I'm glad there is no option to change that. It shouldn't be listed as a con..

1 upvote
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Dec 23, 2011)

Why shouldn't people have a choice? Just because some people at Canon (and you) don't like ISO 1600+ shots, doesn't mean it cant be left on for those that do.

2 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

What the review literally said -
"Assuming that you don't need to shoot above ISO 1600 that is - annoyingly, this is the maximum ISO sensitivity that the camera will select in Auto ISO mode."

My complaint isn't that the camera is limited to iso1600 in auto mode - it might be better if it went up to 3200, haven't looked into it, but 6400 in auto mode would be to much.

My complaint though is that you can set the max iso speed - but you *cannot* set it above iso1600. Absolutely ridiculous. I don't have a problem with the default being lower than the max, but limiting the max you can manually set? eeeeeerg.

1 upvote
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

Ok, I do have a complaint for better or worse.

Dpreview has sometimes taken some really, really useful pictures. I refer to their xz-1 vs s95 comparison picture that shows how much thicker the xz-1 is than the s95 - *all the time*. Seriously - great picture! :-)

But pictures like this - are useless -
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/CanonS100/images/s100-vs-s95-top-001.jpg

They're unhelpful eye candy. Nobody cares how thick the camera is with the lens extended. I know it looks "artistic" and everything, but it's completely not useful at all. I am hoping that you will read this and consider doing these size comparisons in the useful way, with the lens retracted, like was done with the xz-1 vs s95 comparison shots.

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 23, 2011)

It's meant to show the difference in design and control layout. It's not really meant to be 'artistic'.

You'll know when we're aiming for high art - we'll put everything into HDR and bump up the saturation.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
12 upvotes
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Dec 23, 2011)

The point of the pic was to show the similarities/differences between the old and new models. If you cant ignore the size of the extended lenses and just look at the bodies ... well, I don't know, just goes to show some people will find anything to moan about!

On a constructive note; thanks for a good review ... if it wasn't for the fact I've just purchased a GF3, I might have considered upgrading my S95 (buying a GF3 after returning a NEX-5 because of the VERY poor focussing speeds (compared to the GF3) and that crappy pancake! The f2.5 GF pancake is great quality (much better than the Sony lens) and the F1.7 even better. Whilst I love the NEX, the GF3's speed, traditional sized screen and lens selection did it for me!)

0 upvotes
lovEU
By lovEU (Dec 23, 2011)

I disagree with that. This comparison might not look that useful since both the cams don't differ much but that's an information as well.

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

Certainly in no way do I think my comments are more than just my thoughts, but I've found the xz-1 vs s95 size comparison picture really, really useful, and I would love to see more comparisons like that. Pics with the lens extended are...it's just not a useful size comparison. It's hardly the end of the world or anything, but seeing a comparison of the size that matters is more helpful.

People seem to be reacting all uptight, but still haven't answered any sort of question of "why would one want to see the lens extended vs not, for other than artistic reasons?".

It's almost certainly to late for this review, but being that the s100's big advantage is it's size, would really love to see it next to cameras that it's often compared against - s100 vs 300hs vs xz-1 vs x10 vs gx1 w/power zoom lens vs t2i with kit lens - that would be really cool, and helpful. If someone knew the size of one it would show the size vs the others.

0 upvotes
Solarcoaster
By Solarcoaster (Dec 23, 2011)

It's no Sony NEX that's for sure

1 upvote
RPJG
By RPJG (Dec 23, 2011)

Exactly - it's pocketable with 24-120 etc etc. Different strokes for different folks.

4 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Dec 23, 2011)

lol, yeah, let me know when they finally get around to putting a lens better than f2.8 on the NEX.

I've heard they're finally going to come out with one - and it's physically larger than the entire s100 camera. Just the lens. Not even with the NEX attached.

5 upvotes
chadley_chad
By chadley_chad (Dec 23, 2011)

And no doubt the price of 3 or 4 S100's!!!!

5 upvotes
GSD_ZA
By GSD_ZA (Dec 23, 2011)

No, and the Sony Nex 7 is no Nikon D3S either, is it.

6 upvotes
Makinations
By Makinations (Dec 23, 2011)

"Pup-up" flash?

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Dec 23, 2011)

That's what we meant - new feature! (typo now fixed)

1 upvote
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Dec 23, 2011)

Well, the flash is kind of a dog.

2 upvotes
lolopasstrail
By lolopasstrail (Dec 23, 2011)

Nice review, I have one suggestion.

A lot of time was spent comparing it a completely different camera model, an S95. No doubt that's of interest to those who have one.

But a camera model should stand on its own right, and if being considered by some who have no experience with an S95, the running comparison just gets in the way.

What about reserving one section with such comparisons, so that those who care can zoom to it, and those who do not can jump over?

Thanks

0 upvotes
Double Dust
By Double Dust (Dec 23, 2011)

You ALWAYS can jump over...

0 upvotes
leopold512
By leopold512 (Dec 27, 2011)

After you preview of this camera I thought that i will upgrade my S60 to the S100 (much better video skills and larger lens range). But after you test I am a litte bit confused. How can the image quality be better than the S95, when the optic is not so good. Are the pictures of the S100 as sharp as the pictures of the S60? Is the S100 worth to update from the S60 or will i be disappointed. What camara would bo ok? Thanks for you help. (Sorry for my bad english)

0 upvotes
203
By 203 (Jan 31, 2012)

Just received delivery of my new S100 today.

I'm furiously disappointed to the point I feel Canon have misrepresented the functionality of this camera.

The S100 does NOT, I repeat does NOT have a full manual control mode.

In manual mode the S100 places automatic limits on the combinations of shutter speed and ISO setting you can use. Basicaly if you select a shutter speed of over one second, the option to adjust ISO is removed and locked at 80. If you like to take pictures of the night sky etc. this seriously limits the versatility of the S100 or in some circumstances renders it useless.

I would suggest regardless of whether you would ever want to use the S100 in such a way, that is not manual control! At best it's semi automatic and certainly not what a camera/photgraphy enthusiast would understand manual mode to mean and most certainly so at the market the S100 is pitched at.

Canon you have to rectify this as a matter of urgency.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 148
12