Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

Started Aug 12, 2010 | Discussions
Gordon Inkeles
Gordon Inkeles Regular Member • Posts: 201
Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

I've just posted a review of the S90 as a cycling camera on The Social Biking Blog. Out of the box it's a frustrating little camera:. its size and optics are ideal for cycling but its hopeless ergonomics put the whole camera is at risk every time you use it. I see the Richard Franiec custom grip as an essential addition.
--

Here's an excerpt from the review:

Franiec has come up with a beautifully ergonomic solution for frustrated S90 owners: he's transformed an accident waiting to happen into an elegant, secure and supremely capable tool. He does include instructions for removing the grip without leaving a mark on the body, but I have trouble imagining any S90 owner taking him up on it. Indeed, you won't want to own an S90 without this grip.

I welcome your comments here:

http://bikesocial.blogspot.com/2010/08/ideal-cycling-camera-2010-august.html

Gordon Inkeles
Gordon Inkeles OP Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review
GeraldW Veteran Member • Posts: 7,509
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

In addition to the Franiec grip, the LensMate rear wheel protector ring is essential in my view. With those two additions it becomes a different animal and a joy to use.
--
Jerry

 GeraldW's gear list:GeraldW's gear list
Canon PowerShot S90 Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Panasonic FZ1000 +1 more
GeraldW Veteran Member • Posts: 7,509
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

Nice article on the S90.
--
Jerry

 GeraldW's gear list:GeraldW's gear list
Canon PowerShot S90 Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Panasonic FZ1000 +1 more
Ed B
Ed B Veteran Member • Posts: 8,319
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

I had an S90 but finally gave up on the camera.

Richard's grip was perfect but the Lensmate ring protector just didn't work for me.

I'd recommend the camera because it does a good job, for a compact camera, but for me it ended up being too small and the ring was more trouble than it was worth.

Naturally, there are many people who don't have a problem with the ring and want a very small, full function camera. For those people the S90 is perfect.

Jake Myers Regular Member • Posts: 143
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

I agree that the S90 is an excellent cycling camera but at this point, I think that I'll just wait for the "improved" S95 which, hopefully, won't require aftermarket add-ons to make it right. Jake

Turbo 46032 Regular Member • Posts: 324
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

Good article, but there's a lot more to ergonomics than how to grip the camera :-). The ring has not been an issue so far.

Does anyone make a nice leather case like old rangefinders used to go in? or a neoprene sleeve that stays on?

 Turbo 46032's gear list:Turbo 46032's gear list
Canon PowerShot S90 Nikon D90 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Canon Pixma MX860
Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

I'm a cyclist too and bought the s90 primarily as a highly portable alternative to my more versatile camera gear, primarily for cycling. I also have the Franiac grip and see it as an enhancement, but far from a necessity. I carry my s90 in a jersey pocket in a very small neoprene pouch and with a wrist strap on the camera. When I pull it out of my pocket, I put my hand halfway through the wrist strap (its usually just around my palm) as I remove it from the pouch. I took several rides with it before I had the grip and never had any problem holding onto it, and would have been protected by the wrist strap if I had. I'd already ordered the wrist strap (and the mood ring enhancer ) when I bought the camera based on all of the sky is falling reviews here about how terrible the camera was without them. I was very happy with it. When I got the grip and the ring, I put the grip on and I guess I like it marginally better with the grip, but I'd have been fine without it. And I've never had the slightest problem with the ring on the back, so I've never installed the friction ring for that.

Its nice that these things are available for those who really feel the need, and I'm pleased enough to have the fine grip on the camera, but I found it plenty useable straight out of the box. Even for cycling and handling it with sweaty hands.

-Ray

Gordon Inkeles
Gordon Inkeles OP Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

Ray,

Which wrist strap did you use? As you know, the one Canon supplies slips off the wrist easily.

You seem to have taught yourself a multi-step procedure to protect your camera. This speaks to the camera's poor ergonomics.

As for "handling with sweaty hands," I have to disagree that the S90 without the Franiec grip is "plenty usable." As I said in my review, it's like trying to hang on to a wet bar of soap. Indeed, a rubberized body would have been a much more ergonomic solution to such a small machine with so many controls, each of which requires repositioning the hands.

Gordon Inkeles

Ray Sachs wrote:

I'm a cyclist too and bought the s90 primarily as a highly portable alternative to my more versatile camera gear, primarily for cycling. I also have the Franiac grip and see it as an enhancement, but far from a necessity. I carry my s90 in a jersey pocket in a very small neoprene pouch and with a wrist strap on the camera. When I pull it out of my pocket, I put my hand halfway through the wrist strap (its usually just around my palm) as I remove it from the pouch. I took several rides with it before I had the grip and never had any problem holding onto it, and would have been protected by the wrist strap if I had. I'd already ordered the wrist strap (and the mood ring enhancer ) when I bought the camera based on all of the sky is falling reviews here about how terrible the camera was without them. I was very happy with it. When I got the grip and the ring, I put the grip on and I guess I like it marginally better with the grip, but I'd have been fine without it. And I've never had the slightest problem with the ring on the back, so I've never installed the friction ring for that.

Its nice that these things are available for those who really feel the need, and I'm pleased enough to have the fine grip on the camera, but I found it plenty useable straight out of the box. Even for cycling and handling it with sweaty hands.

-Ray

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Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

Gordon Inkeles wrote:

Ray,

Which wrist strap did you use? As you know, the one Canon supplies slips off the wrist easily.

I'm not sure - it may have been one from an older P&S or it may have been the one that came with the s90. I don't even put it on my wrist, just around the four finger palm area - that seems like enough.

You seem to have taught yourself a multi-step procedure to protect your camera. This speaks to the camera's poor ergonomics.

That's one way to look at it. I'd never think of taking a camera in a jersey pocket without SOME kind of protection from sweat, possible rain, etc. I was using the same basic case with other cameras before the s90 - the s90 is just a better camera, so I'm not gonna protect it less. And to me a wrist strap is just a good think to have on any camera (except a larger one with a neck strap). I do the same thing with the camera WITH the Franiac grip - does that mean it still has poor ergonomics?

As for "handling with sweaty hands," I have to disagree that the S90 without the Franiec grip is "plenty usable." As I said in my review, it's like trying to hang on to a wet bar of soap. Indeed, a rubberized body would have been a much more ergonomic solution to such a small machine with so many controls, each of which requires repositioning the hands.

All I'm doing is explaining that my experience was different than yours. I used it sans grip with sweaty hands and never had any problem holding onto it. I had the wrist strap there in case I did, but it was never an issue. Maybe I hold it differently than you do. Maybe the chemical composition of my sweat is different than yours. I have no idea. I'm just relating that to me it didn't feel at all like a bar of wet soap. Its probably marginally better with the grip and I realize some people hated it without the grip. I'm just saying that's not necessarily a universal truth that everyone must agree with. I agree that your mileage MAY vary. I'm stating with certainty that my mileage DID vary.

I'm glad the grip and the ring thing were brought to market. For some folks they seem like necessities. For some of us, though, the camera was just fine the way it was out of the box.

-Ray

contadorfan Senior Member • Posts: 1,385
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

I took my S90 on RAGBRAI two weeks ago and had no problems. I slipped it in the plastic pouch that it originally came wrapped in, then kept it in my fanny pack. I don't have any problems with the camera's ergonomics -- no freewheeling, no slipping -- but then I'm female with slim fingers.

 contadorfan's gear list:contadorfan's gear list
Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD
Gordon Inkeles
Gordon Inkeles OP Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

Ray Sachs wrote:

Gordon Inkeles wrote:

Ray,

Which wrist strap did you use? As you know, the one Canon supplies slips off the wrist easily.

I'm not sure - it may have been one from an older P&S or it may have been the one that came with the s90. I don't even put it on my wrist, just around the four finger palm area - that seems like enough.

You seem to have taught yourself a multi-step procedure to protect your camera. This speaks to the camera's poor ergonomics.

That's one way to look at it. I'd never think of taking a camera in a jersey pocket without SOME kind of protection from sweat, possible rain, etc. I was using the same basic case with other cameras before the s90 - the s90 is just a better camera, so I'm not gonna protect it less. And to me a wrist strap is just a good think to have on any camera (except a larger one with a neck strap). I do the same thing with the camera WITH the Franiac grip - does that mean it still has poor ergonomics?

I'm afraid the answer is yes, it has poor ergonomics. A slippery body, a set of indefinite controls, no grip at all and a flash that can pop up under the photographer's finger are just a few of the ergonomic shortcomings. Without the Franiec grip the S90 is at risk of dropping to the ground at any moment. A wrist strap isn't a bad idea, but the one Canon supplies is close to useless. A more ergonomic small camera would be something along the lines of the small rubberized Ricohs which include grips or the discontinued Nikon P6000, which incorporated a tactile grip, a viewfinder, and various dedicated controls that mimic those on Nikon's larger cameras. As a hand tool such a camera is very obviously easier to use. I realize that the S90 can produce very satisfying photos, but a photographer shouldn't be expected to struggle with the camera's poor ergonomics to get them.

As for "handling with sweaty hands," I have to disagree that the S90 without the Franiec grip is "plenty usable." As I said in my review, it's like trying to hang on to a wet bar of soap. Indeed, a rubberized body would have been a much more ergonomic solution to such a small machine with so many controls, each of which requires repositioning the hands.

All I'm doing is explaining that my experience was different than yours. I used it sans grip with sweaty hands and never had any problem holding onto it. I had the wrist strap there in case I did, but it was never an issue. Maybe I hold it differently than you do. Maybe the chemical composition of my sweat is different than yours. I have no idea. I'm just relating that to me it didn't feel at all like a bar of wet soap. Its probably marginally better with the grip and I realize some people hated it without the grip. I'm just saying that's not necessarily a universal truth that everyone must agree with. I agree that your mileage MAY vary. I'm stating with certainty that my mileage DID vary.

I'm glad the grip and the ring thing were brought to market. For some folks they seem like necessities. For some of us, though, the camera was just fine the way it was out of the box.

-Ray

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Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

We're just gonna have to agree to disagree. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. One man gathers what another man spills. You drop your S90 and I'll be there to pick it up and use it for a while.

I actually liked the controls on the S90 so much it made me rethink my main camera and I sold the push-button epl1 and got a dial and wheel controlled ep2. There is no objective truth on this - just two apparently very different sets of preferences.

Take it easy - enjoy your bike with WHATEVER camera you end up taking along on your rides.

-Ray

Don_D
Don_D Forum Pro • Posts: 19,295
S90 camera controls are superior...

Gordon Inkeles wrote:

I'm afraid the answer is yes, it has poor ergonomics. A slippery body, a set of indefinite controls, no grip at all and a flash that can pop up under the photographer's finger are just a few of the ergonomic shortcomings.

Hi Gordon,
Not sure what you mean by "indefinite controls".

As I have explained before on this forum:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1010&message=35821492

I consider the lens wheel, the rear wheel and the histogram of the S90 a superior set of controls that allow one to set and monitor all the needed functions for correct exposure. You can set the proper iso to obtain the lowest noise (and to arrive at the necessary shutter speed) without having to dive into a menu and toggle around...in my book a huge advantage.

I don't know how a camera's controls could be designed any better for total control of iso, ec, and shutter speed (aperture is much less important in a P&S) and also for fast and easy operation.

There are also other S90 control options that work well as explained by PaulRivers on one of his posts.

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OhioBowhunter Regular Member • Posts: 261
Re: S90 camera controls are superior...

Yup...tomato....tomaato...
Works great for me....
one chair, one couch, one car, one bike, one ...well you get the point.

Gordon Inkeles
Gordon Inkeles OP Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: S90 camera controls are superior...

Don_D wrote:

Gordon Inkeles wrote:

I'm afraid the answer is yes, it has poor ergonomics. A slippery body, a set of indefinite controls, no grip at all and a flash that can pop up under the photographer's finger are just a few of the ergonomic shortcomings.

Hi Gordon,
Not sure what you mean by "indefinite controls".

I'm referring to the loose control wheel on the rear of the S90, Don. The undeniable fact that it can turn unexpectedly, which many users have complained about, makes it an example of poor ergonomics. Canon can do better. In fact, all of the ergonomic improvements I'm calling for could be easily added in the next iteration of this camera and would make the camera much more user-friendly.

As I have explained before on this forum:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1010&message=35821492

I consider the lens wheel, the rear wheel and the histogram of the S90 a superior set of controls that allow one to set and monitor all the needed functions for correct exposure. You can set the proper iso to obtain the lowest noise (and to arrive at the necessary shutter speed) without having to dive into a menu and toggle around...in my book a huge advantage.

I don't know how a camera's controls could be designed any better for total control of iso, ec, and shutter speed (aperture is much less important in a P&S) and also for fast and easy operation.

There are also other S90 control options that work well as explained by PaulRivers on one of his posts.

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-- hide signature --
Gordon Inkeles
Gordon Inkeles OP Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Canon S90 Ergonomic Review

GeraldW wrote:

In addition to the Franiec grip, the LensMate rear wheel protector ring is essential in my view. With those two additions it becomes a different animal and a joy to use.
--
Jerry

Jerry

Im planning a review of the lensmate wheel protector and filters soon.

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Anfy
Anfy Veteran Member • Posts: 3,426
Please comment on this

From the DPR review:

"Most of the handling issues disappear if you shoot using both hands, something you'll inevitably do if you're using the Control Ring. It's an odd experience - shooting with a tiny camera (with no viewfinder) held like it was an SLR - but it works well and once you've mastered the controls it's surprisingly photographer-friendly."

( http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canons90/page2.asp )

Since I am waiting for the S90 to come, and think I will end holding the camera with both hands (as noted by DPR, if you make use of the Control Ring you have to ) it would be interesting to read some real life experiences.

Ciao!

Gordon Inkeles wrote:

I've just posted a review of the S90 as a cycling camera on The Social Biking Blog. Out of the box it's a frustrating little camera:. its size and optics are ideal for cycling but its hopeless ergonomics put the whole camera is at risk every time you use it. I see the Richard Franiec custom grip as an essential addition.
--

Here's an excerpt from the review:

Franiec has come up with a beautifully ergonomic solution for frustrated S90 owners: he's transformed an accident waiting to happen into an elegant, secure and supremely capable tool. He does include instructions for removing the grip without leaving a mark on the body, but I have trouble imagining any S90 owner taking him up on it. Indeed, you won't want to own an S90 without this grip.

I welcome your comments here:

http://bikesocial.blogspot.com/2010/08/ideal-cycling-camera-2010-august.html

-- hide signature --

Viva la evolución!

Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Please comment on this

Maybe that's why I never found the camera to be the ergonomic problem some others have. I tend to hold it with both hands if I need to make any adjustments. If its already set up right and all I have to do is shoot, my left hand may not be touching the camera, but I spent so many years shooting with old equipment that bringing the left hand up to the camera is kind of reflex by now, so I probably do it sometimes without even realizing it.

I tend to put the secondary adjustment on the lens ring and the primary adjustment on the ring on the back (that seems to cause so many people so many problems), so I don't have to adjust the lens ring that often. But I still have my left hand up there most of the time I think.

-Ray

Richard Franiec
Richard Franiec Senior Member • Posts: 2,527
Re: Please comment on this

Ray Sachs wrote:

Maybe that's why I never found the camera to be the ergonomic problem some others have. I tend to hold it with both hands if I need to make any adjustments. If its already set up right and all I have to do is shoot, my left hand may not be touching the camera, but I spent so many years shooting with old equipment that bringing the left hand up to the camera is kind of reflex by now, so I probably do it sometimes without even realizing it.

I don't do much biking those days but I was under impression that safe one handed shooting in any environment could be beneficial, especially for slightly more difficult circumstances like active biking. The main reason for developing grip was not going to extremes but to provide added safety, comfort and better all around experience using the camera.

I'm fully aware that ingenuity of some S90 users like adapting to the shape and nature of S90 body can go a long way, including the way of holding the cam, makeshift loops on the wrist strap or $2.00 silicon bumps in the grip area. Anything helping to hold and use this slick, $300.00+ body safely, should be applauded.

I think, Gordon's intention was not to take any of these away or discredit them.

I do appreciate his post as his quest to point out the ergonomic deficiencies of some compact cameras, namely the ones sitting on the top of available choices in the segment. After all, ergonomics and "reversed ergonomics" are two completely different aspects of user interaction with any gear.

I tend to put the secondary adjustment on the lens ring and the primary adjustment on the ring on the back (that seems to cause so many people so many problems), so I don't have to adjust the lens ring that often. But I still have my left hand up there most of the time I think.

Taking this statement into account, S90 out of the box is not the most ergonomic-friendly compact cam for biking , especially, when you have to hold it with both hands, instead having one of them on the handle bar. Neither it is for an average user.

Well the last sentence meaning might depend on adaptability of user to the tool, instead of tool being ergonomically friendly to the natural senses of users. And this is an essence of what I call "reversed ergonomics".

Cheers

Richard

-Ray

 Richard Franiec's gear list:Richard Franiec's gear list
Sigma DP2 Merrill Canon PowerShot G7 X Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Canon EOS-1D X Canon EOS M +8 more
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