Canon PowerShot S2 IS Review
Canon sells the S2 IS as more than a big zoom stills camera - it's a fully-fledged digital movie camera too; the movie mode is so important it gets a separate movie start/stop button, which can be used to grab clips whatever mode you're shooting in. Movies are recorded in Motion JPEG (AVI) format with stereo (WAV) sound - why Canon didn't take this opportunity to implement MPEG-4 movies is a mystery, and a pity. That said, movie quality is superb, and the range of controls offered excellent. You can even zoom during filming (and of course the image stabilzation makes a huge difference to the 'watchability' of the results). There is a separate movie mode, but the only difference appears to be that you get a quick 'brighter or darker' AE-compensation function (assigned to the JUMP button).
Movie options include size (640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels), quality (30 or 15 fps) - though you can also use many of the parameters available in stills mode, including (if you really want to), the 'special effects' in the MyColors menu.
You can record clips until your card is full, though there is a 1GB limit to a single clip (about 6 minutes at the best setting).
640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (caution: large file!)
As noted on the previous page, the default settings used by the S2 IS produce results which many users will find to be a little 'over-processed', with relatively high contrast and sharpening. Fortunately Canon as included some control over these parameters in the form of presets (vivid, neutral, low sharpening) and 'custom' settings (low, medium and high contrast, sharpness and saturation).
Turning the sharpness down shows much more clearly the slight inherent softness of the results, with very little low contrast detail (such as foliage) being captured - which is no doubt why Canon chose to use a fairly high default sharpening setting. If you plan to use post-processing I'd certainly suggest switching to the custom mode and turning everything down, or at least using the Neutral mode.
On the other hand if you want garishly bright prints - or need to lift the color and contrast on dull days - the Vivid setting is worth a try. Reducing contrast does seem to get rid of some of the more extreme highlight clipping, but at the end of the day this is a problem of dynamic range as much as contrast curve, so there's a limit to how much highlight information you can expect to preserve in bright, contrasty scenes such as the one used in the examples below.
|Standard (default) settings||100% crop|
|Vivid setting||100% crop|
|Neutral setting||100% crop|
|Low Sharpening setting||100% crop|
Contrast -1, Saturation -1, Sharpness -1
The optical image stabilization system used on the S2 IS (and its predecessor) works, and it works well. Where the S1 IS only offered a single 'always on' IS mode, The S2 IS has three modes: Continuous (IS on all the time), 'Shoot only' (IS is activated at the moment the exposure is made) and Panning (corrects for vertical shake only). The first option makes framing easier - the IS system steadies the preview image (in the same way as the Canon S1 IS), but is less than 100% effective when it comes to actually taking the pictures. The Shoot Only option, which minimizes the amount of movement needed by waiting until the actual moment you press the shutter, is considerably more effective.
I certainly found it made handheld shots at 3, 4 or even 5 shutter speeds slower than normal perfectly possible. Impressive stuff. The 100% crops below show the effectiveness of the IS system - especially in Shoot only mode - when shooting at long focal lengths at speeds as low as 1/20 sec. We did find occasions where the continuous mode worked better, but overall the Shoot only setting is the one to go for if you can bear the juddering preview image.
Although we've no definitive test for IS systems in real-world use, I was very impressed with the S2's system, which seems roughly on a par with that offered by Panasonic in its Lumix range. These tests are rather extreme - around 3 or 4 stops slower than you could safely use without IS - and in 'real life' shots - where you are maybe using a shutter speed two stops slower than normal - the system is pretty much 100% effective.
|IS off||IS Continuous||IS 'Shoot only'|
|1/20 sec, 432mm equiv.|
|IS off||IS Continuous||IS 'Shoot only'|
|1/20 sec, 317mm equiv.|
|IS off||IS Continuous||IS 'Shoot only'|
|1/25 sec, 432mm equiv.|
Researchers at NVIDIA have used artificial intelligence to train a system that's capable of turning standard 30fps video into 240fps slow-mo video with minimal loss in quality.
Loupedeck has updated its popular Lightroom editing console with a new '+' version featuring improved build quality, more customization and support for some non-Adobe software.
Apple released a new batch of mobile photography tutorial videos this week, each briefly demonstrating how to perform various camera actions using the flagship iPhone X.
Adobe has announced development of Project Rush, a cross-device video editing application that consolidates the entire video creation workflow, from shooting to social media sharing, in a single application.
Adobe's quarterly financial report was just published, and the news is good. Q2 2018 saw a new quarterly revenue record of $2.20 billion, and 22% growth to $1.55 billion in its Digital Media segment.
Just months after launching its QuartzLine filters for DSLR and mirrorless lenses, PolarPro has launched a buyback program that will give you credit towards a PolarPro filter for trading in an old one - even if it isn't theirs.
Sigma has announced that five of its Sony E-Mount Art-series primes, announced earlier this year, are now shipping.
Adobe has announced a raft of updates across its suite of Creative Cloud apps, including Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.
The FUJINON GF 45mm F2.8 R WR is a 36mm equivalent fast prime for Fujifilm's GFX 50S. We've been shooting with one for a few days, and we're impressed. Check out our sample gallery to judge for yourself.
Video editing software package Video Pro X has received what is described as its biggest update yet to mark ten years since Magix Video Pro was launched.
Back in 2010, Canon announced that it was developing the world's largest CMOS sensor, measuring about 40 times larger than full frame. The company has just updated its website with more details.
Samyang has launched its latest lens, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 EF. This telephoto prime is a direct competitor to Canon's $1,600 alternative—and considering it's expected to retail for half the price, it looks like quite the bargain.
Scanning film takes forever and photographing negatives is a pain. The Pixl-latr aims to provide a simple solution.
Google has published an 18-page study fully detailing its synthetic depth-of-field technology that makes its single-camera Portrait Mode possible. The in-depth paper shows a degree of openness and academic mindset unusual for the industry.
Rugged, waterproof compact cameras are tough enough to survive even the most action-packed vacation, but they're not the only choice for capturing those great memories. Photographer Josh Root takes us through the options.
Kodak has restarted production of one of its most famous film emulsions - Ektachrome. Popular Science editor Stan Horaczek recently go to take a look inside.
The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD is an affordable F2.8 standard zoom for full frame Sony E-mount cameras. What's it like, what are the trade-offs, and what are the alternatives? Chris and Jordan take a closer look...
We've updated our Best Drones buying guide and there's a new winner. Find out which drone was our favorite and learn more about all current models in our updated guide.
A teardown of a Nikon D850 has provided proof that the camera's sensor is made by Sony Semiconductor. The chip's design and performance already strongly supported this, but the confirmation also gives a hint about how the industry works.
Leica Camera has announced a new compact camera that features a 24-360mm F3.3-6.4 zoom lens and a 20MP 1” MOS sensor. Essentially a re-badged Panasonic Lumix ZS/TZ200, the Leica C-Lux will save Raw and JPEG files, will offer 4K video and has a viewfinder with a 2.33 million-dot resolution.
Leica has launched a limited edition M10 with a contoured handgrip designed by luxury car manufacturer Zagato. And, to celebrate the opening of a new part of the company's Wetzlar factory, a pair of Leica-made watches are due this autumn.
The new Mijia gimbal provides 3-axis stabilization and can charge the battery of the attached device.
YouTuber George Tomlin explains the concept of sub-framing and details how you can use it to take not only make the composition more interesting, but also provide context for the scene you're shooting.
British photographer Drew Gardner tells us how his gigapixel image of the queen's birthday parade came together.
YouTube channel Company Man has shared a 12-minute video explaining the history of Kodak and the factors that led to it going from industry leader to bankrupt business.
Neewer, a photo gear brand out of China, has launched a new budget APS-C lens for Fuji X and Sony E mounts. The Fuji X mount lens offering has appeared on Amazon as a new release with a $119.99 price tag, but is currently listed as unavailable.
Two years after launching its first photo filter, Aurora Aperture is back at it again with the Kickstarter launch of its PowerXND Mark II filters.
Nikon has announced the development of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F5.6E PF ED VR lens. Thanks to its use of 'phase fresnel' optics, Nikon claims that the lens will be small and light enough to be used handheld.
MIOPS has opened up a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Capture360. This pocket-sized device is a versatile motion control box designed to be as simple or robust as your needs desire.