S110: good but one major disappointment

Started Jul 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
boogisha Contributing Member • Posts: 579
Re: S110: good but one major disappointment

I had a Canon 300HS. I loved the size & portability, and was happy with the picture quality. The one thing I missed was manual control, so I gave the 300HS to my niece and purchased an S110. Great build quality, good quality photos, and full manual controls!

But when I took the S110 out to the beach one sunny afternoon and tried adjusting shutter speeds, I was disappointed to find the aperture only closes to F8. Daytime shots with shutter speeds over half a second are all overexposed, even with the ND filter on. I was very disappointed as I really enjoyed playing with shutter speeds on my SLR from 20 twenty years ago (I seem to remember F22); I loved slowing water at beaches, waterfalls etc. Can't do it with the S110.

I'm hoping this will be addressed in future models.

Hi, thermal1, first time reading your topic title (and the whole topic) one might conclude that S110 fails to deliver something you rightfully expected - but I think it`s your expectation that lacks a dose of realism, so saying that it has one "major disappointment" is actually pretty unfair to the camera, especially to this camera (S110).

I was very disappointed as I really enjoyed playing with shutter speeds on my SLR from 20 twenty years ago (I seem to remember F22); I loved slowing water at beaches, waterfalls etc. Can't do it with the S110.

Reading that you have used SLRs 20 years ago I might have expected that you know a bit more about some technical aspects regarding the f number, but if not, I would definitely advise reading/thinking about it a bit more. Not to get me wrong, it`s not my intent to be rude, just that actually becoming familiar with why is something made the way it is might help you overcome the "disappointment" part Or at least understand it better.

For example, I may assume that SLR you`ve used in the past (and those that you may use nowadays, too) was quite a bit bigger than your current S110...? It had much bigger lens, some of them probably being as big as your whole camera is today (S110).

Well, making things smaller does come with a trade-off, and that`s where the answer lies.

As technology advanced, many of nowadays digital cameras have the "image capturing surface" (a digital sensor, what used to be a film back in the days) much smaller than it was when filmstrips were used, and yet you get the same or better picture quality.

(Please note that some dSLR camera even today have quite large sensors that represent the size of the filmstrip used in the past, and these are known as "full-frame" dSLRs... Their image quality is usually one of the best that can be found today, and their size and price is quite something, too )

Getting back to the story, we now usually have smaller sensors, period. In small compact cameras, these sensors are usually around 1/2.3" (sensor diagonal, yes, being less than half an inch), where in some more advanced compacts (as S110 is), it`s around 1/1.7", up to 1" (Sony RX-100). (link)

Now, this allowed (or demanded) quite a few changes on the lens side, too - the lens is much smaller and much closer to the sensor. There are some other consequences caused by all this shrinking (as depth of field changed, too, to make for one example), but we`re now interested in its influence on the f-number.

To make it simple, f number, used to show "lens speed", or the amount of light that passes through the lens (the lower the number, the bigger the entrance hole, the more light getting through the lens), is calculated as focal length divided by diameter of the entrance pupil (hole).

In the days of filmstrip SLRs (or nowadays full-frame dSLRs), saying "a focal length of 50mm" was exactly that - lens being 50mm away from the filmstrip (sensor). (Actually, there is a bit more math and terms involved, but let`s not make things complicated as it`s not that important for the point of the story).

Nowadays, digital camera usually say something like "focal length 24-120 mm equivalent" (S110). This "equivalent" is important, as it means "angle of view equivalent to 35 mm (full-frame) sensor". But the lens is not really that much away from the sensor - for S110, it`s actually as close as 5.2 mm (wide) to 26 mm (tele)! And it`s similar with other compacts, too.

Back to the thing we all love - math

To get an aperture of f/22 on a full-frame sensor dSLR (or old 35mm SLR) for the focal distance of 24 mm, the size (diameter) of the lens entrance pupil (hole that lets the light in) would need to be = focal length / f-number, equals 24 mm / 22, equals ~ 1.1 mm in diameter.

To get an aperture of f/22 on a small compact like S110 for the focal distance of "24 mm equivalent", being 5.2 mm in reality, it would mean the entrance pupil (hole) would need to be = focal length / f-number, equals 5.2 mm / 22, equals ~0.24 mm in diameter - that`s one fourth of a millimeter!

And now we see the real issue - having such a small hole causes a lot of problems with lens design (being related to the laws of physics, optics), a major loss of picture quality being one of them.

Even if possible to create the lens like that (not sure if it is, though, yet it probably will be one day), it would highly influence the overall price of the camera, making it pretty unaffordable for the majority of population - and yet, only a small number would probably have any use of such a small aperture. Having all that in mind, it`s pretty understandable why small compact cameras usually go up to as high as f/8.

Also, not to forget, the lenses are usually the most expensive part of any (d)SLR setup, and for a reason, as the lens itself is one of the most important elements in capturing the light the way we want it - and that`s what photography is all about, from the technical point of view.

In the end, for fun, let`s do some more math - if you had a pupil entrance of 0.24 mm in diameter on your old 35 mm film SLR, for a focal length of 24 mm, the f-number value would be = focal length / diameter, equals 24 mm / 0.24, equals f/100!

* * *

With all this said, I may conclude that your disappointment is not with S110, but with the current state of technology and compact digital cameras as a whole, and it`s mainly because you weren`t informed well prior the camera purchase.

What you aim for might as well be available one day, but now, I`m afraid that an external ND filter (as already proposed) is your best shot.

Keep exploring all the possibilities (and limitations) of your new digital friend, and I think you`ll have a lot of nice pictures with it - and a lot of fun, too And being the size it is, making it possible to have it with you all the time, might pretty much compensate for its f/8 "limitation", as having the camera near by just when you need one is really priceless...

I`m a mere amateur, but you may check some of my images taken with S120 in this topic (images are also contained in the replies, too, the last ones being from our recent trip to Jordan, Middle East). I really enjoy the camera, and the more I learn about it, the more I enjoy using it

Have a nice shooting!

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Canon PowerShot A75 Canon ELPH 300 HS Canon PowerShot S120 Canon PowerShot G7 X
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