Canon PowerShot S50A sleek design, a hot custom processing chip, new-look user interface, direct support for a Canon inkjet printer, and *five* megapixels of resolution!
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Page 3:DesignReview First Posted: 02/27/2003
Similar in shape and style to a high-quality point-and-shoot 35mm film camera (and nearly identical to the immediately preceding PowerShot S45), the PowerShot S50 measures 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches (112 x 58 x 42 millimeters) and weighs approximately 11.1 ounces (315.6 grams) with the battery and storage card installed. It has a sturdy, black polycarbonate body, covered by strong brushed and anodized aluminum body panels. The overall result is a very solid-feeling camera that exudes an air of quality and refinement. The sliding clamshell cover adds an attractive accent to a very sleek, streamlined design. While the S50 is a bit too long and heavy for a shirt pocket, it should fit easily into a large coat pocket or purse, and the quarter-inch wrist strap makes toting it around very convenient.
The front of the camera includes a telescoping 3x zoom lens, optical viewfinder window, and a light emitter that serves multiple purposes, including autofocus assist, red-eye reduction, and the self-timer countdown. All of these items are covered by the sliding lens cover when it's closed. The built-in flash is positioned in the upper right corner of the front panel (as viewed from the front), and the lens cover doubles as finger grip when opened, its slight ridge providing a grip for your fingers.
On the right side of the camera (as viewed from the back) is a single metal eyelet for attaching the nylon wrist strap. A small indentation at the very bottom of the camera on this side marks a sliding hatch that provides access for the AC power adapter cable.
The opposite side of the camera has a soft rubber terminal cover that lifts up in two steps. The top pulls back to reveal the A/V Out and Digital jacks, and the bottom pulls out further so the cover can swing out of the way to make connections.
The S50's top panel features a Mode dial on the right, with 13 Shooting positions divided into three basic categories: Auto Exposure, Image Zone, and Creative Zone. The Shutter button is located to the right of the Mode dial, with a Zoom button just in front of it. On the left side of the top panel is a microphone for recording audio with movies and a speaker that plays back the recorded sound.
The majority of the exposure controls are located on the camera's back panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. The optical viewfinder features two LED lamps that report camera status. To the left of the viewfinder are the Macro / Jump and Flash / Index buttons. To the right is a sliding Replay button that can be used to review captured images at any time, whether the camera is powered off with its lens cover closed, or when it's turned on in one of the 13 Shooting modes. Next to the Review button is a cylindrical, five-way Multicontroller that operates similarly to the round arrow pads found on other digital cameras. Pressing down on either end actuates the left and right arrow buttons, while the up and down buttons operate by rotating the cylinder up and down. Pushing down on the center actuates the Set button.
Other camera controls on the back panel include the Menu and Display buttons on the right of the LCD monitor, with the FUNC button, Manual Focus / Delete button, and Light Metering / Audio button located on the left. The FUNC control calls up a menu display with Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Drive, ISO, Effect, Bracket, Flash Exposure Compensation, and Image Resolution and Quality settings. The Light Metering / Audio button lets you choose between Evaluative Light Metering, Center-Weighted Averaging, and Spot (AE) Point metering modes. Pressing the Light Metering/ Audio button in replay mode lets you record up to 60 seconds of sound with individual images.
The S50's bottom panel is reasonably flat, with a sliding door to access the combined CompactFlash and battery compartment, and a threaded metal tripod mount on its left. The tripod mount is positioned slightly off-center, directly below the lens, making it easier to properly frame shots for panoramic series, although it's a little back from the lens' optical center. Because the battery door and tripod mount are so close to one another, it would be difficult to make quick battery changes while working with a tripod, something I'm probably more sensitive to than most users, given the amount of on-tripod shooting I do. On the other hand, Canon's AC adapter uses a "dummy battery" design, with the cord exiting from a small opening on the camera's right hand side, providing a convenient way to get power to the camera while on a tripod.
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