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Canon Powershot S5is Review

July 2007 | By Simon Joinson
Buy on From $799.99

The enduring popularity of Canon's 'big zoom' range began on the day the original PowerShot S1 IS was announced back at the start of 2004, heralding a return to a sector of the market many believed the photo giant had abandoned when the Pro 90 IS was discontinued a few years earlier. Since then it has been rare for there not to be an S series big zoom PowerShot in our top 10 most popular cameras (measured by clicks) despite stiff competition from Panasonic (responsible for the reinvigoration of the whole 'superzoom' sector), Sony and a handful of other players. Perhaps this is why Canon has been loathe to tinker too much with the formula established in the original model for subsequent generations. Sure, the S2 IS was a much-needed upgrade (bigger lens, big performance boost), but since then Canon has pretty much left well alone with fairly predictable upgrades to the sensor and screen, and minor feature tweaks.

And so we arrive at the camera on test here, the PowerShot S5 IS, another incremental upgrade to its predecessor that adds a couple of welcome (and some would say long overdue) features but, for the most part, doesn't mess too much with what made its predecessors some of the most appealing cameras in their class. The extra two million pixels and bigger, better screen were inevitable, the flash hot shoe a welcome surprise. Surprising too is that Canon avoided the temptation to go for a longer zoom range (now that 15x and 18x optics are becoming commonplace) - the S5 IS has exactly the same lens as the S3 IS and S2 IS before it, meaning you still don't get a true wideangle unless you attach the large optional lens converter. There is also still no raw mode (perhaps the most requested feature from serious S3 IS users) - it would now seem certain that Canon has abandoned raw capture in non-SLR models.

Powershot S5IS vs Powershot S3IS - key changes

  • Higher resolution sensor (8MP vs 6MP)
  • Digic III processor (S3 IS was Digic II)
  • Larger, higher resolution LCD screen (2.5 inches vs 2.0 inches)
  • Hot shoe flash connector
  • Higher top ISO sensitivity (1600 vs 800)
  • Increased movie clip limit (was 1.0 GB, now 4.0 GB)
  • Couple of new features (including red-eye removal, face detection AF)
  • Reduced continuous shooting (burst) speed
  • Slightly heavier

Move your mouse over the image below to see the design changes, which are fairly subtle.


Canon Powershot S5is

Canon Powershot S3is

• 1/2.5 " Type CCD
• 8.0 million effective pixels

• 1/2.5” CCD,
• 6.0 million effective pixels

Maximum Image Size 3264 x 2448 2816 x 2112
Processor Digic III Digic II
Movie clip limit 4 GB (around 30 mins VGA/30fps) 1GB (around 8 mins VGA/30fps)
Sensitivity • Auto
• Hi-ISO Auto
• ISO 80-1600
• Auto
• Hi-ISO Auto
• ISO 80-800
Autofocus modes

• Face Detection AF
• Flexizone AF
• Center AF

• Flexizone AF
• Center AF
Scene modes • Custom • Portrait • Landscape • Night Scene • Sports • Stitch Assist • Foliage • Snow • Beach • Fireworks • Aquarium • Indoor • Night Snapshot • Color Accent • Color Swap • Custom • Portrait • Landscape • Night Scene • Sports • Stitch Assist • Foliage • Snow • Beach • Fireworks • Indoor • Night Snapshot • Color Accent • Color Swap
LCD screen • Vari-angle 2.5-inch Low Temp P-Si TFT
• 207,000 pixels
• Adjustable Brightness
• 100% coverage
• Vari-angle 2.0-inch Low Temp P-Si TFT
• 115,000 pixels
• Adjustable Brightness
• 100% coverage
Continuous shooting max 1.5 fps max 2.3 fps
Battery life (CIPA standard with Ni-MH cells, using LCD) 450 550
Weight (no batteries) 450g (15.9 oz) 410g (14.5 oz)
Other • Playback red-eye correction
• LP movie mode

Canon Powershot S5is specifications

Street price US: $471
UK: £285
Body Material Plastic & Metal

• 1/2.5 " Type CCD
• 8.0 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3264 x 2448
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 640 x 480

Movie clips

• 640 x 480 @ 30 / 15fps
• 320 x 240 @ 60 / 30 / 15fps
• WAVE (stereo)
• Up to 4GB / 60 mins

File formats • Still: JPEG (Exif 2.2)
• Movie: AVI (Motion JPEG compression)

• 36 - 432 mm equiv
• 12x Optical zoom
• F2.7 - F3.5 (max)
• 11 elements in 9 groups (1 aspherical element, 1 UD element)

Image stabilization Yes (Lens shift-type)
Conversion lenses Yes
Digital zoom up to 4x (48x total)
Focus • AF: Single, Continuous
• Manual
• Focus bracket
AF area modes • AiAF (Face Detection / 9-point)
• 1-point AF (Fixed center)
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: 50cm (19.7 in) minimum (W), 90cm (35.4 in) minimum (T)
• Macro: 10cm (4 in) wide only
• Super Macro: 0cm (0 in) wide only
Metering • Evaluative (linked to Face Detection AF)
• Center-weighted average
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• High ISO Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
Exposure compensation • +/-2EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing • 1/3-2EV
• 1/3 stop increments
Shutter speed

15-1/3200 sec. (selectable in Tv and M)

Aperture F2.7-8.0 (W) F3.5-8 (T)

• Auto
• Program AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Manual
• Custom

Scene modes • Indoor
• Night Scene
• Foliage
• Snow
• Beach
• Aquarium
• Fireworks
• Color Accent
• Color Swap
White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent
• Fluorescent H
• Flash
• Custom

Self timer • 10 or 2 secs
• Custom
Continuous shooting Approx. 1.5 fps until card fills (0.9 fps with AF / Liveview)
Image parameters My Colors (My Colors Off, Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black & White, Positive Film, Lighter Skin Tone, Darker Skin Tone, Vivid Blue, Vivid Green, Vivid Red, Custom Color)

• Auto
• Manual Flash On / Off
• Slow Sync
• Red eye reduction
• Flash exposure lock
• Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments
• Manual Power adjustment
• Second Curtain Sync
• Range: 50 cm - 5.2 m (wide) / 90 cm - 4.0 m (tele)

Hot-shoe • Canon Speedlites (220EX, 430EX, 580EX)
• E-TTL with EX series Speedlites, Canon's High Power Flash HF-DC1
Viewfinder • 0.33" EVF
• 115,000 pixels
LCD monitor • Vari-angle 2.5-inch Low Temp P-Si TFT
• 207,000 pixels
• Adjustable Brightness
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• AV out (NTSC/PAL switchable, stereo audio)
Print compliance • PictBridge
• DPOF 1.1
• EXIF 2.2
• Canon SELPHY Compact Photo Printers and PIXMA Printers supporting PictBridge (ID Photo Print, Fixed Size Print and Movie Print supported on SELPHY CP & ES printers only)
Storage • SD / SDHC / MMC compatible
• 32 MB card supplied
Power • 4x AA Alkaline battery supplied or NiMH batteries
• Optional AC adapter
Weight (inc batt) 450 g (15.9 oz)
Dimensions 117 x 80 x 78 mm (4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in)

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2007 Simon Joinson / and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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