First Impressions: Using the Canon PowerShot S100
1 First Impressions: Using the Canon Powershot S100
Sometimes reviews get delayed. It can happen for all manner of reasons, and I'm sorry to report that our review of the Canon PowerShot S100 is taking a lot longer than I had hoped. We're not sitting on our hands though - we've used three S100s, and the delay has been caused by concerns over optical issues displayed by the cameras that we've seen. Testing, retesting and analyzing results from multiple cameras takes time, and the worst thing we could do in my opinion is to rush a review out before we have the full picture (for a more complete explanation of the issues that we've encountered, turn to page 2 of this article).
This article is not meant to replace a full review, but rather to augment our detailed preview of the S100, published when the camera was first announced. Since we published our preview we've been able to do a lot of shooting with the S100 and although we are not yet able to pull this experience into a full review, I would like to share some of it with you as we work towards that goal. As always, all content published prior to the completion of a full review should be regarded as preview content, including image quality samples. Here then, is my take on how the S100 operates, what it is like to use, and some tentative first impressions of the image quality from its 12MP CMOS sensor.
Successor to the popular PowerShot S95 (itself a relatively minor refresh of the the S90, released in 2009) the Canon PowerShot S100 features the same basic form factor as its predecessors, including the multi-functional control dial around its lens. Despite outward similarities though, the S100 is a significantly different camera to the S95. At 24-120mm (equivalent) its lens is both longer and wider, and resolution has been upped from 10MP to 12MP. More significant than the bump in resolution though is a change in the imaging technology itself, from a CCD sensor to a Canon-made CMOS. The S100 is only Canon's second compact camera to feature a homegrown CMOS sensor, and its first attempt - the Powershot SX1 of 2008 - was far from an unmitigated success.
Other headline features include raw capture, a maximum ISO sensitivity setting of 6400, and a new DIGIC 5 processor. Unlike its CCD-equipped predecessors, the S100 can record movie footage in full HD, and the new sensor also makes it possible to shoot still images at a maximum frame-rate of 2.3fps - a significant boost compared to the S95's 0.9fps. The S100 also boasts a built-in GPS.
- 24-120mm (equivalent) lens range, F2.0-5.9, built-in neutral density filter
- 12.1 MP 1/1.7" Canon CMOS sensor
- DIGIC 5 image processor
- ISO 80-6400
- 2.3 fps continuous shooting (9.6 fps for 8 frames in High-Speed burst mode)
- Full HD (1080p24) movie recording; H.264 compression, MOV format
- Optical zoom in movie mode
- Super slow motion movie recording (640 x 480 @ 120fps, 320 x 240 @ 240 fps)
- Direct movie record button
- Built-in GPS unit with image tagging and logger functions
Using the S100
As we've come to expect from its predecessors, the S100 is a well-designed little camera that is by and large a pleasure to use. Operationally, I have few significant complaints about either the S100's design or its responsiveness at this point, and I'm pleased to see that the aspects of the S90 and S95 that we praised in our reviews of those cameras are still present in this updated model.
|Operationally very similar to its predecessor the S95, the Canon PowerShot S100, which boasts a more versatile 24-120mm (equivalent) lens is the most 'compact' of its raw-shooting enthusiast peers.|
It's good to see though that Canon has addressed one of our few frustrations with the S95's ergonomics too - its lack of a hand grip. The S100 still doesn't offer a 'grip' as such, but a thin vertical strip on the front of the camera, and a shallow 'scoop' in the body shell does make a difference to handling, allowing for a much firmer hold when the camera is used one-handed.
|The S100's 24-120mm (equivalent) lens is impressively fast at the wide end (if not at its maximum telephoto setting) and includes optical image stabilization.||It's not much, but it's better than nothing: the S100 sports a hand grip of sorts, in the form of a shallow 'scoop' in the front of the camera which incorporates a thick rubber accent, for grip.|
Chief among my favorite things about the S100 is the multi-function Control Ring around its lens throat. This ring is key to the S100's ergonomics. Well-placed for operation with the left hand, this highly-customizable ring has many potential uses. In its default configuration it controls whatever parameter Canon's engineers think is most useful for the mode that you're in: aperture in aperture priority and manual modes, shutter speed in shutter priority mode, and ISO in program exposure mode. If you prefer, you can assign exposure compensation, ISO control, or even manual focus to the Control Dial, as well as more esoteric options like stepped zoom and aspect ratio.
Thanks to the Control Ring, in my opinion the S100 is among the most user-friendly enthusiast compact cameras around, and one of the easiest to get to grips with. Like its predecessors, whose handling we praised in their respective reviews, the S100 is easy to use without sacrificing manual control, and accommodates both point-and-shoot and fully manual operation (and switching between them) very comfortably.
The S100's menu system is similarly streamlined, but to be honest, I don't find myself accessing it all that often. The 'FUNC/SET' button brings up a filleted menu of key shooting parameters which is easy to navigate using the 4-way controller and integrated control dial. As far as its operational ergonomics are concerned, the only thing I really wish the S100 had, which it does not, is a dedicated ISO button. If, like me, you tend to like to keep exposure compensation assigned to the Control Ring, it is a little annoying to have to dive into a menu (however efficiently presented) to change ISO sensitivity.
The S100 has actually lost a button compared to the S95 (which had a dedicated 'RING FUNC' button on the top of the camera and an assignable custom 'shortcut' button on the rear). There is a workaround though. If you don't feel the need to change the Control Ring function all that often, it is possible to reassign the RING FUNC button to perform one of 20 possible functions, including ISO.
As far as shooting speed is concerned, the S100 acquits itself very well. I like shooting simultaneous RAW+JPEGs (old camera-reviewing habits die hard) and unlike many of its peers, the S100 remains pleasantly fast and responsive in this mode. In fact, the delay after capturing a simultaneous JPEG and raw file before the camera is ready to shoot again is only 1.5 seconds (approx.) with an inexpensive class 6 SDHC card. This compares extremely well to the Nikon Coolpix P7100, for example, which with the same card installed, takes roughly three seconds longer.
One of the few missteps that I think Canon has made with the S100 is its HDR mode, which really doesn't work as well as it should. In this mode, which sits alongside a miniature effect, fisheye filter and posterization filters (among others) in a dedicated position on the main exposure mode dial, the S100 takes three photographs at different exposures, then blends and saves them as a single image.
It is a 'dumb' HDR mode though, in the sense that the camera makes no effort to automatically align the three frames. As indicated on the screen when you select this function, you must use a tripod to avoid ghosting, but if any element of your scene is moving, there's nothing you can do. Unlike Sony's Auto HDR mode, the S100 does not clone out 'ghost' scene elements which appear in more than one frame, and since capture is comparatively slow (at the S100's maximum frame-rate of 2.3fps) even relatively slow-moving scene elements can cause problems.
The S100's video mode is improved over its predecessor, and now offers full HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution and both AF and optical zoom during recording. I haven't shot a lot of video with the S100 yet, but what I have shot looks good. The S100 wouldn't be anyone's first choice for 'serious' video work (exposure control is limited to exposure compensation only for instance) but it is a better, and more versatile video camera than its predecessor. Footage is nice and detailed, and the inbuilt stereo microphone does a decent, if not outstanding job of capturing audio. Handling sounds are very noticeable though, and although its action is slowed, the sound of the lens zooming in and out can still be heard in footage as a soft buzzing on the soundtrack.
Dec 2, 2014
Nov 27, 2014
Nov 26, 2014
Jul 2, 2012
|Devil Rock (Stuttgart, Germany) by cornissimo|
from Neon Signs
|Carla... by lickity split|
from Beautiful caucasian female faces
|Lunar New Year Fireworks by Michael L NYC 99|
|Vatican Basilica by wam7|
from Street lights
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.
Massive corporation P&G is being sued by a Cincinnati photographer for serious copyright violations. If the courts rules against P&G, the company could pay as much as $75 million in damages.
Snapchat's camera-equipped 'Spectacles' aren't so difficult to get anymore. You can now pick up a pair through Amazon for $130.
A group of thieves has made away with tens of thousands in camera gear through a carefully orchestrated scam through Venmo and Facebook Marketplace.