Canon PowerShot S2 IS Review
The S2 IS features a grand total of seven white balance settings including the default automatic mode. There's also a manual (custom) white balance option, which is created by aiming the camera at a white (or gray) subject and pressing the SET button. Automatic white balance appeared to work well outdoors and in fluorescent lighting, but as per previous Canon digital cameras less well in incandescent light, where it produced a strong orange color cast (though not as bad as some models!). It is advisable to switch to the tungsten preset (or set a custom WB) when shooting indoors if you don't like a warm cast to your indoor shots.
|Outdoor - Auto WB
Red -0.8%, Blue -1.9%
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red -0.3%, Blue -1.2%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 1.8%, Blue -4.9%
The built-in pop-up flash unit has a specified range of 5.2 m at wide angle and 4.0 m at telephoto (when the ISO is set to auto) - in both cases this is around 1.0 m (39 inches) greater than the S1 IS. In use we found it to meter very well indeed, with most indoor flash shots perfectly exposed unless the subject was closer than around 0.7 m, at which point some burning out of highlights occurred. The FUNC menu offers a Flash Exposure Compensation setting (-2.0 to +2.0), and the AF illuminator (missing from the S1, now thankfully included) helps focus in low light (though it isn't powerful enough for such a long zoom camera - it only really works over distances of about 1.3 m and lower).
|Skin tone - Slight warm tone, excellent exposure||Color chart -Slight warm tone, excellent exposure|
One of our complaints about the S1 IS was the rather mediocre macro performance, so we were very interested to see the new 'super macro mode' in the S2 specification. First let's look at the standard macro mode, which allows you to get down as close as 10cm (at the wide end of the zoom). It's okay, but nothing special (fitting an area of around 11cm across into the frame) and is actually worse than the S1 IS. At the telephoto end of the zoom you can actually get slightly higher magnification (photographing an area of around 8.5cm across), with less distortion and less corner softness, albeit from a much greater distance (about 70cm).
|Wide macro - 108 x 81 mm coverage
24 px/mm (608 px/in)
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 36 mm
|Telephoto macro - 85 x 63 mm coverage
30 px/mm (773 px/in)
Corner softness: Low
Equiv. focal length: 432 mm
Super Macro mode
If its normal macro mode is nothing to write home about, the S2 IS has a rather unique trick up its sleeve - a 'super macro mode' that allows you to focus down to an unprecedented 0cm from the front element. Yes, that's right, this is the first compact we've ever seen that can actually focus on dirt on the front of the lens! Of course there aren't many things you can actually photograph from 0cm - they either need to be lit from behind (you can use the S2 IS to shoot 35mm slides (example) if you don't mind the cropping, distortion and corner softness!) or small enough that they don't fill the frame. In most cases the shadow of the lens obscures your subject so much that you can't use it at distances of less than a few centimetres, at which point the subect area you're photographing is around 40mm across - roughly the same as most of its competitors (such as the Panasonic FZ5), but with the ever-present danger that you'll move so close that you end up causing permanent damage to the front element of the lens. Still, it's fun to play with and does allow you to take some unique photographs.
Super macro - 20 x 15 mm coverage
Focus distance for this shot was 0cm (chart lit from behind).
|Banknote detail, backlit.||Flower, with stamen touching front element|
Here for visual comparison are three identical shots taken at 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO settings in our studio. Although the ISO 50 and 100 results are pretty clean (they have relatively low luminance noise), the effects of noise reduction at ISO 200 are fairly obvious, and at ISO 400 there is a distinctly 'blotchy' appearance to the mid-tones and shadows. Usable, and no worse than most of its competitors, as with all cameras in this class, we'd recommend using the S2 IS ISO 400 setting only when you really have to.
|ISO 50 100% crop||ISO 100 100% crop|
|ISO 200 100% crop||ISO 400 100% crop|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
The S2 IS exhibits remarkably low distortion given the huge focal length range - 1.0% barrel distortion at the wide end (better than the S1 despite the wider angle), and only the tiniest amount of measurable distortion at all at the full 432mm telephoto end. There is also only barely measurable - and hardly noticeable - vignetting.
|Barrel distortion - 1.0% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 36 mm
|Pincushion distortion - 0.1% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 432 mm
Specific image quality issues
Generally image quality was good, though by no means perfect. The images are generally well exposed, well focused and pretty detailed. If viewed at 100% they have the same smoothness - and overall lack of biting sharpness - as the S1 IS results, though they are considerably better. We also found sharpness drops fairly dramatically at apertures of F6.3 and higher (due to diffraction effects), though this is by no means unique to this camera - it's just useful to know you get the sharpest results in the F4.5 to F5.6 range.
Aside from the fringing issue mentioned below our only complaints are a slight tendency to overexpose, the usual lack of dynamic range seen with all 5.0 MP cameras (which results in more blown highlights than we'd like to see) and a slightly 'over-processed' appearance, specifically over-sharpening. At least you can play with the contrast, sharpness and saturation - see the next page for more details.
We found some fairly prominent chromatic abberation (red fringes on the top of edges, blue on the bottom) in the corners of most wideangle shots at F4 or below (first two examples), and some purple fringing at the boundaries of high contrast edges (3rd example below), though it's better than the S1 IS, and only seems to be a problem in scenes with very bright, blown highlights.
|100% crop||36mm equiv., F4|
|100% crop||36mm equiv., F4|
|100% crop||36mm equiv., F4|
|splat by Eb Swarbrick|
from Album cover for a rock band
|Madagascar1 by Jaklab|
from Mind and matter - the creations of humanity.
HTC's newest handset, the HTC U11 Eyes, improves on the standard U11 by slapping a dual camera on the front for 'portrait mode' selfies with real-time bokeh simulation.
Missile scare notwithstanding, we spent a lovely few days in Hawaii shooting with Sony's newest APS-C E-mount lens. See how it measures up capturing the spectacular scenery that the Aloha State is known for.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-G9, we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras Under $2000 and Best Cameras for Sports & Action buying guides.
Hasselblad has introduced its next-generation multi-shot camera body, built to shoot 400-megapixel photos by using sensor-shift technology to combine up to six exposures into a single monster image measuring 23200 x 17400 pixels.
CVS is banning digitally altered beauty imagery on its store-brand beauty products, and plans to mark other brands' images as "Digitally Altered" if they're not up to snuff by the end of 2020.
Canon has announced that it will introduce a series of printers that allow users to refill the ink tanks themselves—a surprising shift that could, in theory, save customers quite a bit of money.
Adventure and lifestyle photographer Lucy Martin put together a useful little video that goes over her 18 favorite Lightroom shortcuts—a great guide for beginners.
Following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, magazine publisher Conde Nast has severed ties with both of the famed fashion photographers, and released a code of conduct for future photo shoots.
Photographer Christopher Payne captures the 'colorful world of craft and complexity' you'll find in the General Pencil Company's factory in Jersey City... and almost nowhere else.
A new feature in the Google Arts & Culture app compares your facial features to its database of thousands of artworks, finding your fine art "doppelganger."
Recently, we spent a day in Los Angeles with photographer, cook and food blogger Kylie Mazon. Join us and see how Kylie approaches the challenge of shooting lifestyle and promotional images for a downtown hotel with the Canon EOS M6.
Leica has announced a pair of short telephoto lenses for its SL full-frame mirrorless camera. The APO-Summicron-SL 75mm and 90mm F2 ASPH lenses feature an apochromatic design to reduce chromatic aberration, one aspherical element and minimum focusing distances of around 0.5m.
The Panasonic G9 is the brand's top-tier stills camera. We've updated our already large sample gallery with even more photos to enjoy.
The latest product of Huawei's collaboration with Leica is a smartphone with a great all-around imaging feature set that left us very little to complain about.
In this quick video, award-winning travel photographer Bob Holmes shares nine of his most basic and straightforward tips for finding great images, even when you're in a rut.
Gudsen has launched a new gimbal that’s aimed at mirrorless photographers. With a payload of 3.9lbs/1.8kg, the new Moza AirCross can provide stabilization to a mirrorless body even fitted with a cinema lens and a new in-handle option can provide power to Sony and Panasonic cameras.
The Lensbaby 46mm Macro Kit comprises of three stackable filters with different magnification levels, which can be combined with several of the company's "bokeh effect" lenses.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that an upcoming full-frame mirrorless camera from Nikon will sport an all-new "Z-Mount" with an extremely short flange distance of just 16mm.
A lot of people still have positive associations with the Kodak brand and its iconic logos, but it’s worth clearing something up: not everything with the Kodak name on it has much connection to a bunch of clever people in Rochester, New York.
A leaked image of a Galaxy S9 retail box indicates the new model might come with a variable aperture lens and a super-slow-motion video mode.
The portable little scanner features a 3.5-inch color screen, an integrated SD card slot for saving your scans, adapter trays for different types of film, and an HDMI port for viewing your scans directly on an external display.
Yesterday, Canon Italy and Canon Spain accidentally shared a composite photo that contained stolen elements shot with a Fujifilm camera. Today, in a response on social media, the company somehow managed to make things worse.
We've got a pair of Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN lenses in the office: one for Micro Four Thirds and the other for Sony E-mount. In this article we have some impressions of the MFT version, as well as some other lenses in this class worth considering.
Most wedding photographers are probably open to a little bit of feedback from their clients, but one Hong Kong couple was reportedly so upset, they provided their photographer with a detailed 30-page report full of their grievances!
It appears Huwei's ties to the Chinese Government and a fear of espionage have played a role in AT&T's decision not to offer the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and it's Leica-branded dual camera to customers in the United States.
The Autel Robotics EVO looks like the first serious competitor for DJI's Mavic Pro Platinum. With a better remote, slightly better camera, and a slightly cheaper price tag, this drone could steal some serious Mavic market share.
Sony has released firmware version 2.00 for its flagship a9 mirrorless camera. The most notable improvements are to continuous AF, but overall stability has been addressed, as well.
Kodak just debuted a bitcoin mining machine for rent at CES, leaving photographers slack-jawed and confused, and cryptocurrency mining experts balking at what they claim is an outright scam.
Hong Kong drone manufacturer Yuneec has announced three new drones at CES including an update to the Typhoon H with a bigger sensor with more resolution and the ability to shoot 4K at 60fps.
Oops. In their rush to post a pretty picture last night, multiple Canon social media accounts accidentally shared a composite, huge portions of which were stolen and shot with a Fujifilm X-T1.