As you can see the body design and layout are identical to the S45, which in turn was identical to the S30/S40. The front and top of the camera sport a 'brushed metal' strip, the rest of the camera is made from metal (apart from battery cover, buttons etc.).
The sliding lens cover is also the power switch, open it fully and the camera will power up, lens extends, push it towards the lens and the camera will power off, lens retracts. You can't close the lens cover on the lens as you can't move it past a set position until the lens has retracted.
Other distinctive design features include the super-slim flash window and single (integrated) battery and compact flash compartment. At the back of the camera it's worth noting the shooting priority play switch, flipping this switch to the right enters play mode, a half-press of the shutter release always returns it to shooting mode.
Holding the S50 to shoot it is surprisingly comfortable, despite the lack of a 'proper' hand grip at the front, the camera is still deep enough to feel steady in your hand. The thumb recess molded into the back of the camera aids grip and stops the camera from tipping anticlockwise.
LCD Monitor (rear)
The S50's 1.8" LCD sits behind a protective plastic cover, unfortunately Canon haven't blessed it with the excellent anti-reflective coating seen on other PowerShot's.
That said the LCD is fairly bright and sharp and provides plenty of feedback. Through the setup menu you can select two levels of backlight brightness (obviously the brighter of the two will have an affect on battery life).
A standard 'optical tunnel' style of viewfinder and there's no dioptre adjustment. Through the viewfinder you'll see central aiming brackets which also correspond (roughly) to the edge of the focus points. There are also no parallax correction lines which would assist framing at close distances. The viewfinder provided approximately 84% frame coverage. My advice; get used to using the LCD monitor.
The two lights beside the viewfinder indicate the following:
|Green Steady||Good AF Lock, sufficient light|
|Green Flashing||CF Card activity / Camera startup|
|Yellow Steady||Macro focus / Manual focus mode|
|Yellow Flashing||AF difficulty, cannot lock focus|
|Orange Steady||Flash charged and will fire with next shot|
|Orange Flashing||Shot may suffer from shake blur (slow exp.)|
The Green Steady (Good AF) and Yellow Flashing (Bad AF) indications are repeated on the main LCD in the colour the selected focus area bracket turns after the AF has finished.
Battery / Compact Flash Compartment
On the base of the camera you'll find a single compartment door behind which are found the Compact Flash slot (Type I or II; Microdrive supported) and the battery slot which takes the NB-2L 7.2V, 570 mAh (3.9 Wh) Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. Battery is charged by supplied charger (below). If you open the door while the camera is still writing to the CF card a high pitch beep will continue until the write process has been completed, otherwise opening the door powers the camera off.
Those who are very observant may have noticed a small channel running from the battery compartment to the right side of the camera, this is for the optional AC adapter. The cable from a dummy battery runs along this channel and out of the side of the camera through a small spring loaded door.