Operation and controls

The S1 IS, in common with most higher end PowerShots, can appear a little daunting at first glance - there is hardly a square inch of body space that isn't covered in buttons and switches. But don't be put off - unlike many cameras this means that virtually all the most commonly accessed shooting features get their own dedicated buttons, so you don't need to enter the on-screen menu system every time you want to change something. The sheer number of external controls is also an indication of sophisticated functionality on offer, which is well up there with much more expensive models such as the G5 or S60.

Rear of camera

The main 'digital' controls - those concerned with activating and navigating on-screen menus - are found on the rear of the camera, ranged around and to the right of the swing-and-tilt 1.5- inch LCD. Some of the buttons have a dual function according to whether you are in recording or playback mode, and there is one that is unique on a Canon compact - the prominent movie start/stop button, which can only be used in Movie mode. One nice touch is a shortcut button to which any of a number of shooting options (ISO, resolution, white balance setting and so on) can be assigned. As well as menu controls you'll also find buttons for metering mode and focus point on the rear of the camera, as well as one for switching between the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and LCD screen.

Top of camera

The top of the camera reveals just how far Canon has taken the 'miniature SLR' styling. A large shutter release sits inside the chromed zoom rocker on the prominent grip. Directly behind this is the main power switch (used not only to turn the camera on and off, but also to flick between playback and record modes). To the left is the main mode dial where you choose your exposure mode. To the far right, on the sloping shoulder, sit two further buttons, for controlling the flash mode and activating the self-timer, burst mode and using the IR remote control.

Side Controls

The right hand side of the camera (as seen from the front) houses the miniature speaker (for playing back movies and sound captions) and two controls directly related to the lens; manual focus and image stabilization (IS).

Display and menus

This is a typical record mode live view with camera setting information displayed around the outer edge of the display. Half-press the shutter release and the camera will calculate exposure (AE) and focus (AF) indicating the AF area used.
Play mode default display, a line of basic information showing filename, date & time stamp and quality setting. One of the three alternative play mode views includes a histogram display and exposure information.
The S1 IS provides play magnification up to to 10x (as shown here). You can move around the image using the 4-way controller. Press the zoom controller towards the wide angle to switch to a 3x3 thumbnail index, note that you can also enable JUMP mode which allows you to step through a full page of 9 images at a time.

Record mode menu allows you to customize everything from flash synch to the spot AE point and self-timer delay. There's even an intervalometer function. The Set up menu is pretty standard Canon, offering you control over various camera-related settings - power, audio and card formatting.
Users of previous PowerShots will be perfectly at home with the record mode FUNC menu, which offers a wide range of controls over shooting and image parameters. The My Camera menu allows you to customize the camera startup image and various sounds.