Canon PowerShot S1 IS Review
Although the S1 IS nominally sits in Canon's 'S' range (alongside the S40, S45 and S50) - and indeed shares several basic design elements, including the tilt-and-swivel LCD - it is very much in a class of its own. The curvaceous, lightweight body is certainly a departure for Canon, whose other 'serious' compact cameras have thus far been considerably more angular and simple in design. In fact the slightly bulbous, organic design is much closer to the A series of cameras, a reflection perhaps of the positioning of the S1 IS - over-specified to be considered a mere 'point-and-shooter'; a little underpowered for 'prosumers'. But the miniature SLR design works well, no space has been wasted, and a lot of attention has been paid to handling and ergonomics. Most surprising is the size; when you first pick up the S1 IS it's hard to believe that there is a 10x image stabilized zoom in there - not to mention an electronic viewfinder andfour AA batteries! Not a square cm of the surface area has been wasted, meaning it's perfectly possible to use the S1 IS 99% of the time without ever seeing a menu, kudos to Canon for producing the first fully-specced 'super zoom' camera that you can carry with you at all times without developing a stoop.
In your hand
With the current fashion for simple, minimalist cameras that eschew buttons and switches in favor of menu-driven control it is a real treat to use a camera designed first and foremost for taking photographs, not as a matching accessory for your iPod. Its looks may be a bit 'love it or hate it', but the S1 IS feels, and in most cases operates, like a real camera. The handgrip is excellent, and the most important controls (zoom, shutter, shooting mode) are all perfectly placed for one-handed operation (though with a 10x zoom lens you may want to put the other hand to use too!). Despite the plastic construction the S1 IS feels robust and well balanced; at 370g it's very light for a superzoom, but with four AA batteries loaded up it has just enough weight to offer decent stability without straining the neck strap.