S90 & G11 – my final conclusions & suggestions

Started Oct 12, 2009 | Discussions
Lucien Contributing Member • Posts: 847
Differences

Great comparison! Thanks a lot.

I looked at several pictures side by side and I do notice in several instances especially with foliage that the G9 is visible sharper. The aperture is slightly different but not at their boundaries. For example:

  • Pictures 29 and 30: checkout middle left. On the S90 you see some noise in the dirt surprisingly but also the foliage shows considerably less detail.

  • Pictures 49 and 50: same story. Container detail looks similar but look at the grass and foliage on the left side. You see some smearing and blotching on the S90.

The detail differences may not show up in 4x6 prints but certainly visible on screen at 100%. However again some of the artifacts look a lot like jpg compression:-(. Looking at manual there's only large setting and 2.5MB for a 10MP file I think is a bit small. I guess only alternative is RAW. Would be interesting to see if the S90 is then more similar to the G11. I don't understand why Canon killed superfine since it really would make a difference.

ProtoPhoto Contributing Member • Posts: 984
One Stop Can Be Enormous

Personal needs vary widely. One of the reasons I have a DSLR and fast prime lens is that I have small children, and I want to be able to capture them moving indoors at night, with no flash. Millions of parents have the same need, the DSLR forums are full of them.

In that situation - using that 2.0 instead of 2.8 is both routine, and of enormous importance. Not at 1/3 second, but to allow 1/320 instead of 1/160 at 1600 ISO, to reduce or eliminate movement blur.

Indeed, it could be that the single biggest source of S90 sales doesn't turn out to be enthusiasts, but parents, if enough figure out this is the only true shirt pocket compact that lets them photograph their children at night without a flash.

Now, that doesn't invalidate ebrandon's perspective, and I very much appreciate all of his work and analysis. Thank you! But saying one stop doesn't matter, eh, all depends I guess, but it matters a lot to me...

Tigerotor77W wrote:

I'm going to defend ebrandon here. For one thing, while it's true that 1-stop at 28 mm might save a photo, the number of times one would shoot at

ISO1600, 28mm, 1/3 sec shutter, f2.0

and have a photo ruined by going to ISO3200 because of one less stop on the G11 is probably pretty low... (my example is in atrocious light, wide open, and also on the extreme limit of hand-holdability with IS). If these are conditions that a photographer routinely finds him or herself in, chances are the need for a specific camera are beyond the scope and intention of the OP's review.

 ProtoPhoto's gear list:ProtoPhoto's gear list
Canon PowerShot S90 Canon EOS 550D Canon EOS 600D Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM +7 more
PaulRivers Veteran Member • Posts: 7,420
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

Alashi wrote:

...

(Naturally, I'm looking forward to Canon's next surprise. I'd wager the S90 will become a hand-me-down in a year. Next will be a 12MP with the same pixel density--or less, higher IQ. The gauntlet has been thrown. Panasonic called Canon's hand.)

I would happy to take you up on a bet, even a 2 to 1 or 5 to 1 bet - if it was actually possible (not really over the internet).

Canon's last big pixel push was up to 14 megapixels. Even their really really small cameras (sd780) are 12 megapixels.

But they deliberately chose 10 megapixels for this camera, this being the absolute first time they ever went down in megapixels. They did this, we all believe, because anything above that level of megapixels produces more noise, less low light ability, and no actual gain in image quality in the photo. They've sorta proven themselves that, unless you make the sensor and camera physically bigger, there's no gain in adding megapixels.

Personally, I think Canon's next upgrade to this camera is obvious. They can't add megapixels without affecting it's low light capability. They probably can't add more zoom (we'll see, I suppose) without affecting image quality. So they've left themselves with one thing you want but can't get on this camera right now - HD video. All their latest lower end cameras have it (sd780, their absolutely tiny handheld camera has it, for example). But they left it out on the s90. Their competitors are adding HD video to all their cameras - personally, I think they left it out so you'll have a reason to upgrade.

Hopefully they'll continue to improve image quality and the like, as well.

OP ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

PaulRivers jokes:

I would happy to take you up on a bet, even a 2 to 1 or 5 to 1 bet - if it was actually possible (not really over the internet).

Everything is possible on the Internet (or soon will be)
http://www.betbrokers.com/

 ebrandon's gear list:ebrandon's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Ricoh GR Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Nikon D600 Canon EOS 6D +2 more
photaholic Forum Member • Posts: 70
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

PaulRivers wrote:

Personally, I think Canon's next upgrade to this camera is obvious. They can't add megapixels without affecting it's low light capability. They probably can't add more zoom (we'll see, I suppose) without affecting image quality. So they've left themselves with one thing you want but can't get on this camera right now - HD video. All their latest lower end cameras have it (sd780, their absolutely tiny handheld camera has it, for example). But they left it out on the s90. Their competitors are adding HD video to all their cameras - personally, I think they left it out so you'll have a reason to upgrade.

But by leaving HD off they potentially sway people, like me, away from buying the S90 because of this (IMO) important feature omission. Bit of a catch 22 for Canon marketers I say.

Tigerotor77W Regular Member • Posts: 161
Re: One Stop Can Be Enormous

ProtoPhoto wrote:

Personal needs vary widely. One of the reasons I have a DSLR and fast prime lens is that I have small children, and I want to be able to capture them moving indoors at night, with no flash. Millions of parents have the same need, the DSLR forums are full of them.

In that situation - using that 2.0 instead of 2.8 is both routine, and of enormous importance. Not at 1/3 second, but to allow 1/320 instead of 1/160 at 1600 ISO, to reduce or eliminate movement blur.

Indeed, it could be that the single biggest source of S90 sales doesn't turn out to be enthusiasts, but parents, if enough figure out this is the only true shirt pocket compact that lets them photograph their children at night without a flash.

Now, that doesn't invalidate ebrandon's perspective, and I very much appreciate all of his work and analysis. Thank you! But saying one stop doesn't matter, eh, all depends I guess, but it matters a lot to me...

I agree with your reply -- and sure, 1/160 and 1/320 make a difference, but I still don't think that this makes too big of a difference in the overall point ebrandon is making. The S90 also stops down quickly as the lens zooms; indeed, by 35 mm the two cameras are nearly a wash.

I just didn't think that his entire post was put into question by his statement that f2.0 vs. f2.8 isn't a big issue, but I fully understand your point that individual cases will vary.

Alashi
Alashi Contributing Member • Posts: 569
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

... a rhetorical wager ...

Noise issues on smaller sensors has improved over the years. And yes, going back to a lower pixel density has helped a great deal. The Pro1, with fewer MP (8) and lower density yet still proves it metal today. So, the S90 is like back to the future.

However, technology marches on and noise issue will continue to be resolved with sensor technology matched to lens technology. There will be a 12MP with lower noise than the S90. We will see a larger sensor yet in a small body.

When Canon introduced the 6MP DSLR body for $2200, people drooled and flocked to it. Today, it has been well surpassed for pixel count and image quality combined. But at the time, it was magic.

I applaud what Canon did with it's new 10MP contenders. I like them! But, I expect better and it will happen.

With my kids grown, I've left most of the video behind. My investment in those products was just as hairy and expensive as my still camera spending. But I'm done now and simple snippets of video suffice for me just fine. However, I can appreciate the desire of others for the inclusion of this technology (in HD) in a still camera. It's OK. If I were still active at soccer practice with my son or daughter, I'd be eager to see these great combo cameras being made.

For now, for me, the S90 is a welcome breath of fresh air with a long journey still ahead for its siblings. It's obvious from these forums that the hunger existed and the hopes and expectations were high. It's done pretty well for starters. Now, I'm restlessly awaiting their surprise for next year and all the juicy speculation it will invoke.

 Alashi's gear list:Alashi's gear list
Canon PowerShot SD400 Canon PowerShot SD500 Canon PowerShot SD990 IS Canon PowerShot SD900 Canon PowerShot G10 +29 more
OP ebrandon Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: S90's LCD in manual mode

onlooker asks:

I would like to make sure that Canon displays on S90 and G11 the actual scene including effects of settings in manual mode, which I use almost exclusively.

Yes it does. Exposure compensation & manual mode settings are accurately reflected in the preview screen.

I agree with you that the Panasonic G1's behavior is maddening in this area.

 ebrandon's gear list:ebrandon's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Ricoh GR Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Nikon D600 Canon EOS 6D +2 more
onlooker Veteran Member • Posts: 4,002
Thank you. This is very valuable information. (nt)

(nt)

Walt Bilofsky
Walt Bilofsky Contributing Member • Posts: 594
Thanks for the post - you were right there for me!

Went into a Best Buy in San Francisco today to buy the S90 (with the coupon - love this forum!).

Next to the S90 was a G11. Hmmm - it's bigger, but I have pockets it'll fit into. And all those nice features ...

Uh, saleslady - is there a PC I can use to get on line to dpreview?

And there was your post - reminding me just why I bought the S30, S40, S45 and S80, up until IS became a necessary feature.

So thanks for your excellent - and timely - review.

 Walt Bilofsky's gear list:Walt Bilofsky's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 Sony RX100 IV
Paul Marbs Regular Member • Posts: 254
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

The sensor used is not capable of giving HD video, it wasn't just left out as a marketing decision.

PaulRivers wrote:

Alashi wrote:

...

(Naturally, I'm looking forward to Canon's next surprise. I'd wager the S90 will become a hand-me-down in a year. Next will be a 12MP with the same pixel density--or less, higher IQ. The gauntlet has been thrown. Panasonic called Canon's hand.)

I would happy to take you up on a bet, even a 2 to 1 or 5 to 1 bet - if it was actually possible (not really over the internet).

Canon's last big pixel push was up to 14 megapixels. Even their really really small cameras (sd780) are 12 megapixels.

But they deliberately chose 10 megapixels for this camera, this being the absolute first time they ever went down in megapixels. They did this, we all believe, because anything above that level of megapixels produces more noise, less low light ability, and no actual gain in image quality in the photo. They've sorta proven themselves that, unless you make the sensor and camera physically bigger, there's no gain in adding megapixels.

Personally, I think Canon's next upgrade to this camera is obvious. They can't add megapixels without affecting it's low light capability. They probably can't add more zoom (we'll see, I suppose) without affecting image quality. So they've left themselves with one thing you want but can't get on this camera right now - HD video. All their latest lower end cameras have it (sd780, their absolutely tiny handheld camera has it, for example). But they left it out on the s90. Their competitors are adding HD video to all their cameras - personally, I think they left it out so you'll have a reason to upgrade.

Hopefully they'll continue to improve image quality and the like, as well.

-- hide signature --

I support my growing camera collection through this website.

If you find my comments as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $50.00.

infocus
infocus Regular Member • Posts: 217
Chose the G11

I've been shooting with point and shoots since digital came out and I wanted to step up to a more "prosumer" model. I am a former college photography prof and before digital I'd been shooting with a Pentax 6x7: a wonderful but very heavy camera.

I went for the G11. It's not too big (and certainly its profile with lens closed is much better for me than a DSLR). My last point and shoot was the Pana TZ3 and I still love it. I just wanted a bit more control, as long a zoom as possible, and decent photos (I'm pretty good at post-processing). I've only started to test the camera but so far I like it.

 infocus's gear list:infocus's gear list
Canon PowerShot G1 X Canon G1 X II Canon G1 X III
iloco Regular Member • Posts: 310
Re: I made my decision from the thread.

For my use the S90 will benefit me more than the G11.

I have a 400D and a 40D so it was eaiser to choose the smaller pocket camera I can take anywhere I go and not be noticeable....
I
--
iloco

YiannisPP Senior Member • Posts: 1,641
Re: S90 & G11 – my final conclusions & suggestions

Thanks for all the work!

It is S90 all the way, the G11 is just too big for what it delivers. S90 looks like the most desirable P&S at the moment (together with my TZ7 of course:)

DavidPisback Senior Member • Posts: 1,218
Nomination for "post of the year"

Good job.

I ended up getting the S90 (prior to reading this post, though).

I went through a lot of the same thoughts, but without the two cameras in hand. I did play a bit with them at Best Buy, though, before selecting the S90.

PaulRivers Veteran Member • Posts: 7,420
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

Sure, I understand your point. But look how popular it is already - this might be one of those -bleepin- products that it's difficult to even find in stock before christmas.

I imagine the Canon people sat down and said "what can we leave out that will provide a reason to upgrade next year?". They probably went through a list -

1. Low light capability - well, there would go like 60-80% of the reason people would buy the camera. They have to meet or beat the LX3 in order to maintain a reputation for being the "top camera maker". Can't leave that out.

2. Manual Controls - If someone else happens to come out with another camera that has better low light capability at the same time, full manual controls will still give people a reason to buy the Canon. Not to mention targeting 2 markets - one for the low light people, one for the pro photographers who want a more convenient camera.
3. Size - It's gotta fit in your pocket. Only so much you can do there.

4. Picture Quality - Pro photographers wouldn't buy it if they reduced the picture quality.

5. HD Video - the f200exr seems to have a good reputation without it. The pro photographers will snub their noses and go "If I wanted to shoot video, I'd buy a video camera!" anyways, so it won't hurt much with that crowd.

So you gotta ask yourself - what cool feature should they leave out this year so next year you have a reason to upgrade? HD video seems like the best bet. Sure, there will be a small number of people who will buy something else. But is that number of people larger than the number of people who will sell their s90 next year if a model with HD video comes out? And is that number of people larger than the number of people who will now buy both this camera for it's size and low light capabilites, and buy a Canon camcorder so they can do HD video? Canon also makes camcorders, and I'm sure they'd like to hold off impacting their camcorder market as long as possible.

I feel like they're thinking "we need to leave something out so they'll have a reason to upgrade next year", and HD video was their best bet.

Now someone always says "That's not true, they're doing that for technical reasons". I cannot really say if that's true or not, nor do I believe anyone who claims to know. Canon might say it's true - whooooooo, yeah, I totally believe that. It doesn't matter to me whether the sensor is actually capable of HD video right now, or whether they simply specifically designed it so that it could not do HD video.

And certainly I don't know that they did it that way. It's just my opinion, and one that might be wrong. But let me ask you - Canon just came out with their mid-range digital SLR with HD video. It has a 30 minute video limit on it (29 minutes, 59 seconds, according to the Canon website). Do you think that's a technical limitation? The camera just happens to be physically capable of taking 29 minutes of video, but not 35 or 80? Or - just perhaps - Canon deliberately held it back, even on such an expensive digital SLR, so as to not kill their camcorder market?

I mean, when a camera can only do 30 seconds of video, I think "maybe it's a hardware thing, some buffer fills up or something". When it's 30 minutes, clearly they're not building in 30 minutes worth of memory into the camera where it buffers it. I assume they're simply artificially limiting it for their own purposes.

Now someone is probably going to insist that I'm a conspiracy theorist or something, but it just happens to be what I'm thinking about at the moment. I give it 80% chance I'm right, 20% I'm wrong. Tomorrow I'll be thinking about something else, just my gut feeling.

photaholic wrote:

PaulRivers wrote:

Personally, I think Canon's next upgrade to this camera is obvious. They can't add megapixels without affecting it's low light capability. They probably can't add more zoom (we'll see, I suppose) without affecting image quality. So they've left themselves with one thing you want but can't get on this camera right now - HD video. All their latest lower end cameras have it (sd780, their absolutely tiny handheld camera has it, for example). But they left it out on the s90. Their competitors are adding HD video to all their cameras - personally, I think they left it out so you'll have a reason to upgrade.

But by leaving HD off they potentially sway people, like me, away from buying the S90 because of this (IMO) important feature omission. Bit of a catch 22 for Canon marketers I say.

PaulRivers Veteran Member • Posts: 7,420
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

Alashi wrote:

... a rhetorical wager ...

Noise issues on smaller sensors has improved over the years. And yes, going back to a lower pixel density has helped a great deal. The Pro1, with fewer MP (8) and lower density yet still proves it metal today. So, the S90 is like back to the future.

> However, technology marches on and noise issue will continue to be resolved with sensor technology matched to lens technology. There will* be a 12MP with lower noise than the S90. We will see a larger sensor yet in a small body.*

When Canon introduced the 6MP DSLR body for $2200, people drooled and flocked to it. Today, it has been well surpassed for pixel count and image quality combined. But at the time, it was magic.

I applaud what Canon did with it's new 10MP contenders. I like them! But, I expect better and it will happen.

With my kids grown, I've left most of the video behind. My investment in those products was just as hairy and expensive as my still camera spending. But I'm done now and simple snippets of video suffice for me just fine. However, I can appreciate the desire of others for the inclusion of this technology (in HD) in a still camera. It's OK. If I were still active at soccer practice with my son or daughter, I'd be eager to see these great combo cameras being made.

For now, for me, the S90 is a welcome breath of fresh air with a long journey still ahead for its siblings. It's obvious from these forums that the hunger existed and the hopes and expectations were high. It's done pretty well for starters. Now, I'm restlessly awaiting their surprise for next year and all the juicy speculation it will invoke.

But the question is - Once they make a 12MP sensor with less noise than the 10MP sensor on the s90, will they also be able to make a new 10MP sensor with even less noise than that?

I would imagine the lower pixel count sensor in the same physical amount of space will always be lower noise (assuming both sensors were designed by the same people at the same time).

Canon has been upping the megapixel count for years, and appears to have finally topped out. Once they've switched focus, I doubt they will be in a big hurry to resume the pointless megapixel wars.

Of course who knows, I certainly don't run Canon.

Alashi
Alashi Contributing Member • Posts: 569
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

But the question is - Once they make a 12MP sensor with less noise than the 10MP sensor on the s90, will they also be able to make a new 10MP sensor with even less noise than that?

I would imagine the lower pixel count sensor in the same physical amount of space will always be lower noise (assuming both sensors were designed by the same people at the same time).

Canon has been upping the megapixel count for years, and appears to have finally topped out. Once they've switched focus, I doubt they will be in a big hurry to resume the pointless megapixel wars.

Of course who knows, I certainly don't run Canon.

Probably, but I doubt that they will. I don't think they'll want to make yet another lower noise 10MP sensor--they'd get trounced by the competition. I see a 12MP with less noise than the S90 solidly in the plan. That's what I would do. MP's are still good to have, but really hight counts have required large sensors, like the full frame. But, smaller, better sensors are being made. The quality of today's higher MP APS-C's are as good as or better than the original FF sensors. FF sensors will disappear except for special very high MP count applications. The smaller sensors will become the norm. In a few years, look for a 25MP machine not much larger than the S90 with quality up there will current DSLR technology. These impossible things have already happened. Barring catastrophe, it will be reality soon.

(yes it will, I prayed to the Canon elf...)

Alashi

The S90 is in response to demand for higher IQ. And the competition is pushing them. When we get the noiseless 25MP in an S90 or G11 size, I'll be happy. Really..this isn't a pipe dream. The MP wars will become the high quality MP wars. A much higher quality G10 MP count will arrive in the G14.

 Alashi's gear list:Alashi's gear list
Canon PowerShot SD400 Canon PowerShot SD500 Canon PowerShot SD990 IS Canon PowerShot SD900 Canon PowerShot G10 +29 more
PaulRivers Veteran Member • Posts: 7,420
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

Alashi wrote:

But the question is - Once they make a 12MP sensor with less noise than the 10MP sensor on the s90, will they also be able to make a new 10MP sensor with even less noise than that?

I would imagine the lower pixel count sensor in the same physical amount of space will always be lower noise (assuming both sensors were designed by the same people at the same time).

Canon has been upping the megapixel count for years, and appears to have finally topped out. Once they've switched focus, I doubt they will be in a big hurry to resume the pointless megapixel wars.

Of course who knows, I certainly don't run Canon.

Probably, but I doubt that they will. I don't think they'll want to make yet another lower noise 10MP sensor--they'd get trounced by the competition. I see a 12MP with less noise than the S90 solidly in the plan. That's what I would do. MP's are still good to have, but really hight counts have required large sensors, like the full frame. But, smaller, better sensors are being made. The quality of today's higher MP APS-C's are as good as or better than the original FF sensors. FF sensors will disappear except for special very high MP count applications. The smaller sensors will become the norm. In a few years, look for a 25MP machine not much larger than the S90 with quality up there will current DSLR technology. These impossible things have already happened. Barring catastrophe, it will be reality soon.

(yes it will, I prayed to the Canon elf...)

Alashi

The S90 is in response to demand for higher IQ. And the competition is pushing them. When we get the noiseless 25MP in an S90 or G11 size, I'll be happy. Really..this isn't a pipe dream. The MP wars will become the high quality MP wars. A much higher quality G10 MP count will arrive in the G14.

...well, good luck with that. I don't see it happening myself. Camera technology has reached that point of diminishing returns over the last several years, with modern 12mp cameras taking pics that are just a little bit better than the 6 megapixel cameras of 5 years ago. Based on this rate of progression, I guesstimate a 25MP sensor on a full size digital slr is about as high as we'll ever see.

Camera technology is just no longer rapidly advancing - it's slowed down. It's kinda nice that gear you buy today isn't completely obsolete 5 years from now. But it's kinda sad that we seem to be sorta peaking out.

rocsen
rocsen Contributing Member • Posts: 774
Re: Good job - it's all about your daily work flow.

I don't really agree, Paul. Take the G11/S90 and compare their low light performance with the previous gen. It's miles ahead.

They might be limited by physics, but don't underestimate what software is still capable of.

PaulRivers wrote:

Camera technology is just no longer rapidly advancing - it's slowed down. It's kinda nice that gear you buy today isn't completely obsolete 5 years from now. But it's kinda sad that we seem to be sorta peaking out.

 rocsen's gear list:rocsen's gear list
Canon PowerShot SD880 IS Canon PowerShot D10 Canon PowerShot S95
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads