Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution (much better than we expected from such a small lens)
  • Good metering, good tonal balance which maintains shadow detail
  • Good natural light white balance, strong and balanced colours
  • Good control over cameras internal processing algorithms (saturation, tone, sharpness)
  • Low noise at ISO 50, not as clean at ISO 100, more sensitive than rated value
  • Excellent build quality, solid 'brick like' feel to the camera, nice metallic finish
  • More portable and more robust design than the G3
  • Shooting priority play mode (a half-press of the shutter release always returns to shooting)
  • Excellent range of manual controls
  • Good shot-to-shot times, fairly good startup time (for an extending lens camera)
  • Manual focus has magnified loupe and ruler readout
  • Flexible continuous shooting modes (buffer after processing)
  • RAW file format maintains 12-bits of data
  • Ability to turn JPEG shot into RAW during record review
  • Compact Flash Type II and official Microdrive support
  • Voice annotation feature
  • Orientation sensor
  • Invervalometer (time lapse)
  • AF assist lamp works well
  • Remote Capture software with live video feed included
  • USB connectivity

Conclusion - Cons

  • Poor to average macro performance
  • Vignetting at wide angle and maximum aperture
  • Nine-point AiAF not available in P, TV, AV, M or C exposure modes
  • Average flash performance
  • Poorly designed multi-controller (pressing SET can be hit and miss)
  • Location of battery/CF compartment can be a pain if you use a tripod often
  • Lens slow at telephoto (F4.9)
  • AF Assist lamp doesn't have enough power at telephoto zoom
  • Limited apertures at telephoto
  • Zoom controller does not have enough steps / multiple zoom speed
  • Moderate barrel distortion at wide angle
  • Manual mode limits in relation to combinations of aperture and shutter speed

Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Canon PowerShot S45: (4 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9
Features 9
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 9
Ease of use 9
Value for money 9

The four megapixel compact market has grown considerably since the introduction of the PowerShot S40. We now have the Sony DSC-P9, Olympus C-40 Zoom (soon to be replaced by the C-50 Zoom), Minolta DiMAGE F100, HP 812 and others. The S45 inherits a great body design with good ergonomics (apart from the combined 4-way / set controller) and an easy to use appearance. The new FUNC menu has improved usability and it's now easier to understand and change any of the multitude of settings.

Build quality is excellent, the camera feels like a 'solid brick' of technology with no creaks or rattles and a good positive feel to external controls. The LCD monitor is also big for this class of camera and dominates the rear of the body, it gives good live preview and review even in well lit situations.

The S45 is essentially a 'shrunk' PowerShot G3, there are some compromises, primarily the G3's fast 4x optical zoom lens, flash hot-shoe, flip-out LCD etc. But feature for feature the S45 can provide almost the same level of manual control as the G3. It's a camera you can use as a point-and-shoot 'take anywhere' and still have the flexibility to be more creative when you want. The others may cost more but the S45 is the best subcompact four megapixel currently available. Let's hope it hits the shores of the US soon.

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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