Canon S100 Review

 
Camera Reviews / Canon Cameras / Canon PowerShot i Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon PowerShot S100
Resolution: 12.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/1.7 inch
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(24-120mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 80-6400
Shutter: 15-1/2000
Max Aperture: 2.0
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.
(99 x 60 x 27 mm)
Weight: 6.8 oz (192 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $430
Availability: 11/2011
Manufacturer: Canon
Full specs: Canon S100 specifications
12.10
Megapixels
5.00x zoom
1/1.7 inch
size sensor
image of Canon PowerShot S100
Front side of Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera Back side of Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera Top side of Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera Left side of Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera Right side of Canon PowerShot S100 digital camera

S100 Summary

Canon's premium pocket digital camera, the PowerShot S100, gets a facelift, plus the addition of a wider lens, higher resolution video, a few more megapixels, and built-in GPS. It's not quite as fast in the autofocus department as we like to see, but otherwise it's an incremental improvement in all areas, making Canon's premium pocket camera even better.

Pros

Slimmer than past models; 12-megapixel resolution sensor improves on image quality across ISO range; Video includes 1080p, autofocus, and zoom during recording; HDR mode works well.

Cons

Costs $30 more; Slight buzz when zooming while recording video; Grip isn't as useful as it could be; Slow autofocus.

Price and availability

Pricing for the Canon S100 is set at around US$430, an increase of $30 from the S95's pricing, and a return to the same price point as that of the S90. In the US market, availability began November 2011.

Imaging Resource rating

5.0 out of 5.0

Canon PowerShot S100 Review

by Shawn Barnett, Stephanie Boozer, and Zig Weidelich
Posted: 02/23/2012

Though it's a follow up to the S90 and S95, pocket cameras built for the enthusiast photographer, the Canon PowerShot S100 is quite a departure from both in a few key areas. First, its resolution is higher: twelve megapixels, up from ten. Second, its lens is wider and longer, now ranging from 24-120mm equivalent rather than 28-105mm. And third, it includes a GPS radio. There are other differences, like a faster shutter speed of 1/2,000 second, and a higher ISO of 6,400, but we'll get to those. As such, it meets the 24mm wide-angle lens of the Panasonic LX5 and now exceeds the resolution of both the LX5 and Olympus XZ-1, its two clearest competitors; and it alone includes a built-in GPS. In that spec, it competes more with travel zoom digital cameras than premium pocket cameras, but Panasonic and Olympus have yet to revisit the category with new models.

POWERSHOT S100 BEAUTY SHOT
PowerShot S100 Top
POWERSHOT S100 Back

The price also rose by about $30, to $430, but that still leaves it $70 cheaper than its competition. This rather minor price increase has held for several months, and it really rankled two fellow reviewers over on C|Net. I thought it was more to do with the rise in the Yen than with the new features, but surely there's $30 in the value of a wider lens and higher resolution sensor, right? I couldn't care less about the GPS, but that's at least an $8 part.

Well, I've spent a little longer than I wanted to with the Canon S100, and while I like it, it doesn't jazz me quite as much as my beloved S95. Yes, I finally bought one when the price dropped reasonably. And frankly, with the S95 among my choices when heading out the door, I've had a hard time grabbing the S100 for this review.

Physical appearance may have something to do with it. Especially in this color, the S100 is quite unattractive. I have no idea what color this is, but it's ghastly to my eye, both in person and in photographs, and in all lighting situations. They also changed minor styling points, like the bulging mode dial and shutter button when compared to the flat, recessed, minimalist styling on the S90 and S95. I think they were going for some kind of retro look, but it was a mistake. The black ones look better, but not enough. Despite my distaste for the color and minor design notes, however, the PowerShot S100 is still a very good camera, as our test results bear out.

I thought the little finger grip on the front, combined with the divot, would be a good thing, but I quickly covered it with Richard Franiec's excellent aftermarket metal grip and I haven't looked back. It's an essential accessory as far as I'm concerned, available for US$29.95 at http://www.kleptography.com/rf/.

Canon moved the stereo microphones from their former locations left and right of the lens near the bottom of the S95's front to left and right of the shutter release button higher up. I have no opinion on the move, but perhaps it was to reduce noise from the lens motor while zooming. The S95 didn't zoom at all while recording video, another improvement to the Canon S100 that you might add to the $30 price increase.

Thankfully despite the styling changes, the S100's basic controls are the same, though they remapped several of the buttons on the back. The Ring Function button moves from the top to the rear, where the Shortcut button used to live. You can still reset the purpose of the Ring Function button, to instead bring up ISO or serve as an AF or AE lock, for example. A new Record start button is also on the back, allowing quick access to default Movie recording without switching modes, another plus over the S95. Adding that button in moved the Playback button down, displacing the Display button, which moved to the Four-way navigator, displacing the Self-timer mode from a physical control. It's now in the Function menu, which works fine.

LCD. As I mentioned in the other reviews, the 3-inch LCD is gorgeous, almost to a fault. Its display is so vibrant and beautiful, indoors and out, that the images look a little better on the camera than they do on the computer or even the printer without a little tweaking. Resolution is 461,000 dots, not as high as some, but high enough for focus-checking.

PowerShot S100 Lens

Lens. Another change is that the Canon S100 is about 3mm slimmer when closed than its predecessors, quite surprising considering the 5x lens. If you look closely at the front surface of the lens, something you have to do in person, you can see that the front element is not a convex surface. It's closer to flat. But if you look very closely with a light just at the right angle, you'll see that it's a complex curved surface, resembling still water after a drop has disappeared into its surface. Canon is putting its relatively new molded aspherical lenses right out front.

I tried capturing an image of the lens surface, and this is the best one I could get. A movie would be better, but this works well enough. There does indeed appear to be a divot in the center. This same kind of front element is present on the S90 and S95, by the way, even though the focal lengths are different.

Ranging from 24-120mm, the lens is indeed more versatile than past models, and corner to corner sharpness is pretty good, with very little chromatic aberration. Maximum aperture ranges from f/2.0 to f/5.9 at telephoto, and the minimum aperture is f/8.

Sensor and processor. Upgrading from the 10.4-megapixel CCD in its predecessors, the Canon S100 uses a 13.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, which also allows it to shoot 1080p video, whereas the others were limited to 720p. The DIGIC 4 processor is replaced with a DIGIC 5, which is said to offer improved noise reduction as well as chromatic aberration correction, and may be responsible for the slightly faster autofocus.

Storage and battery. Images are stored on an SD card, including SDHC and SDXC, not included. The Canon S100 also uses a different battery, the 3.7V, 1,120mAh lithium-ion NB-5L, CIPA rated for 200 shots on a charge.

 

Canon PowerShot S100 Shooter's Report

by Shawn Barnett

Despite my distaste for certain cosmetic elements of the Canon S100, there's no question that the new camera is a great pocket companion thanks to its broader list of capabilities. I suppose when one of these cameras takes hold of you, as has the S95 to me, it's harder to appreciate its successor, no matter how much better it might be. But the S100 is improved in several ways, fixing some things that still bug me about the S95.

Setting -1 EV captured the real light at hand, with the flower in sunlight while the rest of the plant was in deep shadow.

EV control. On the S90 and S95, it was very easy to touch the rear dial accidentally turning it, which adjusts the Exposure Value, or EV. It was very bad on the S90, so they moved the dial down a few millimeters and stiffened the wheel a little on the S95, which made enough of a difference that I don't usually activate it accidentally. What would make more sense, I argued in the S95 review, would be to require a press on the EV button to activate the EV control, as it is on nearly all other cameras. I understand that they made these cameras for people who want to deviate from the meter's settings more frequently, but accidental activation ruins more shots than is acceptable. That's a long way to saying that enough people must have complained, so they made the dial on the Canon S100 inactive until you press the EV button. Bravo!

Shutter lag. One problem I strangely don't struggle with much is the S95's very slow shutter lag. At 0.64 second at wide angle, it's not good, but the Canon S100's shutter lag is only a little bit better, coming in at 0.57. In use, it seems a lot faster. Both are slower than the Panasonic LX5, which turns in a slowest time at telephoto of 0.37 second, while the Olympus XZ-1 is only a tiny bit faster, at 0.52-0.54 second. With both the S95 and S100, I tend to think they're running a little slower than I'd like, particularly if I want to adjust something in a hurry. I take it as one of the compromises necessary for a small, quality camera; but truly, fast should be part of the quality equation.


Outdoors and in. The Canon S100's video is quite a bit better than the S95's. Not only is it 1080p, the camera can zoom and autofocus while you shoot. There's a slight buzz in the video as the zoom motor works. Indoor video looks pretty good, with good white balance and good low-light performance.

Movies. 1080p Full HD movie mode is a nice improvement on the Canon S100 that's hard to ignore if you want better quality video, as the S95 is limited to 720p. As I've pointed out, you can also zoom optically while recording video, a major plus, and the camera will slowly refocus as subject distance changes, also new. Very nice. Finally, Canon added a Record start button on the back of the S100, allowing you to start recording video even without turning the Mode dial to Movie mode. The S95 had no such feature. The button would probably be better placed on the top deck of the camera, as it's easy to shake the camera while pressing the Record button. 1080p video is only at 24 frames per second, which can seem a little choppy. 720p is at 30 fps, though, as is 640x480. There are also Super Slow Motion and Miniature video modes.



Range. The Canon S100's f/2.0-5.9 lens has a very good wide to tele zoom, ranging from 24-120mm, or 5x.

The 24mm problem. The premium Canons until recently stopped at 28mm, but now the S100 goes as wide as 24mm equivalent. I think it's great to have 24mm, but as I've pointed out before, too many shooters will take most of their photographs at that initial focal length, a setting that will have a tendency to distort human figures, particularly heads out toward the corners. For people pictures, it's usually better to zoom to 35mm at least, so I've set the front ring to control the zoom lens in steps: 24, 28, 35, 50, 85, 100, and 120mm, rather than the default function of the ring, which steps through ISO settings. This way I can quickly find a common focal length for a given purpose and fire away.

And here's an interesting twist: If you've set the zoom via the zoom toggle surrounding the shutter button, the camera will power on to the 24mm setting. But if you turn the front dial to set one of the preset values--say 35mm--then power down, the camera will return to that setting when you power the camera back up. The camera remembers the presets, and displays the value onscreen for your reference. So if you want the camera to start up at a "safer" setting than 24mm, set it via the front ring before turning off the Canon S100 (the S95 behaves the same).


Low light. Indoor shots are pretty easy. This was shot at f/2, 1/20, ISO 800. The second image above is a 100% crop to show detail.

Though it's nice to have an f/2.0 lens at 24mm, it's important to remember that changes by a third stop to f/2.2 when zoomed to 28mm, while the S95's 28mm setting starts at f/2.0. Not a big deal, but worth remembering. At 35mm, maximum aperture is f/2.8, then 50mm is f/4, 85mm is f/5, 100mm f/5.6, and 120mm is f/5.9.

Low light. I was impressed with detail and image quality indoors, and our low light test targets really tell an impressive story, particularly when compared to the S95. Color saturation is lower, but detail is higher, a surprise from a CMOS sensor. The S95's Macbeth chart is a mottled mess at ISO 3,200, for example, but looks comparatively good from the Canon S100. So long as I left the camera's ISO in Auto and held the camera still, low light shots were fairly easy to get, about as reliably as the S95. At times I've raised the ISO myself when I knew detail wasn't quite as important as getting the shot, and then I knew what I was going to get.

I like that you can adjust the ISO Auto settings, limiting the top ISO to a range of ISO 400 to 1,600. If you want a higher ISO, you have to set it manually. You can also set the rate of change, from Slow to Standard to Fast.

In the lab, the Canon S100 didn't focus as well as the S95 unassisted in low light, but I always shot with the AF-assist lamp enabled. If you're trying not to disturb sleeping children or to shoot video in low light, you might have a little trouble with the S100, but I didn't run into any issues in my shooting.

Bracketing. The metering on the Canon S100 is good enough that I seldom need bracketing, but when the subject is important, I like to use it. You can also shift the EV on the bracketing either positive or negative, which is great when you want to shift the starting exposure significantly when it's a dark or light subject. What I like is that you can just set it and press the shutter button once and the camera will automatically fire off three shots. You don't have to press the button three times, nor remember where you are in the bracketing series at any given time.

HDR. HDR seems to work about the same as it did on the S95, but it really requires a tripod to use it properly. Now it has its own position on the Mode dial, replacing the mostly useless "candle" mode. All my attempts at handheld shots had at least one of the three shots out of alignment with the others.

JPEG from RAW HDR Default HDR Sepia
HDR Black and White HDR Super Vivid HDR Poster Effect

The Canon S100's HDR is great in a pinch, though, and as I demonstrated with the S95, it's good for bringing detail out of bright or dark areas. I had no clouds in the sky this time, so the differences are more subtle.

Map Utility. You can select a range of images and have them displayed on a map. Clicking on the image or the pin brings up the image in a window. Images can be exported to Google Earth with GPS information.

GPS. As I mentioned, I'm not much into GPS on pocket cameras, but what's great is that there's no bulge or other ostentation related to it. It's there if you want it, and can be shut off if battery life is more important to you, as is usually the case for me. One plus to firing up the GPS is that it sets the camera's time by the GPS signal, making each snapshot that much more interesting.

Unlike some cameras, you don't get much from the GPS while you're out and about; there's no on-camera mapping feature, for example. But later when you get home, you can use the included Map Utility software to match your images to a map and even track your route from shot to shot, if you enabled the GPS Logger function. In the screen shot at right, you can see where I took each shot, but not the path I took as I shot, because I had GPS Logger switched off. GPS acquisition seemed fairly quick, but battery life was a little shorter than I expected. I didn't exhaust it in a single shoot, but whereas I can shoot the S95 casually for a week, I couldn't do that with the Canon S100 with the GPS on.

Menus. The PowerShot S100 has a fairly standard Canon menu system, which is split between a Main three-tabbed menu and a Function menu. I'm really happy that Canon stuck with the old-style Function menu, which includes a list of tabs down the left side, with the options listed across the screen. Some PowerShots still have the slot-machine style Function menu, which is harder to use.

Relative resolution. The upgrade to a higher resolution sensor does improve the number of pixels on the image. The quality of the detail seems about the same, but that larger size does mean it's better, and as such should result in larger print sizes.


Canon S100 vs Canon S95

ISO
Canon S100 ISO series
Canon S95 ISO series
8
0
1
0
0
2
0
0
4
0
0
8
0
0
1
6
0
0
3
2
0
0

6
4
0
0
 

 

Canon S100 vs Panasonic LX5

ISO
Canon S100 ISO series
Panasonic LX5 ISO series
8
0
1
0
0
2
0
0
4
0
0
8
0
0
1
6
0
0
3
2
0
0
6
4
0
0
1
2
8
0
0

The Canon S100 does a little better than the Panasonic LX5, particularly at ISO 800 and 1,600, and its ISO 6,400 quality can make a decent 4x6-inch print, but so can the LX5's reduced-resolution image, so they're both still quite comparable.

Despite my minor design criticisms of the Canon S100's cosmetics, it really is improved in several ways, from image quality to video quality, and even its speed is a little faster. Add in the GPS, and it seems worth an extra $30, especially if that's important to you.

See our image analysis and conclusion below!

 

Canon PowerShot S100 Lens Quality

The PowerShot S100 has a 5x, 5.2-26mm zoom lens, equivalent to a 24-120mm zoom on a 35mm camera. For more detailed lens test results, click on the Optics tab.


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Soft at upper left
Tele: Sharp at center
Tele: Only a hint of softening, upper left corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Canon PowerShot S100's zoom shows some blurring in the corners of the frame compared to what we see at center, though blurring is confined to the furthest corners (much of it is caused by distortion correction). At telephoto, performance is better, with only a hint of softening in the corners, but the effect isn't that noticeable at full frame. Good results overall.


Wide: Slight barrel distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: A tiny amount of barrel distortion, though barely visible

Geometric Distortion: Barrel distortion is actually quite low at wide-angle (0.6%), and distortion is barely there at telephoto (less than 0.1% barrel). The PowerShot S100's DIGIC 5 processor does a good job controlling distortion, as the effects are only slightly visible in some shots. See the Optics page for uncorrected results.


Wide: Low
Tele: Low

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is low in terms of pixel count and brightness. Telephoto shows similar results. At both zoom settings, just a hint of red pixels are visible. The S100's DIGIC 5 processor does a very good job suppressing CA. See the Optics page for uncorrected results.


Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Canon PowerShot S100's macro setting captured a slightly smaller than average area of 1.80 x 1.35 inches (46 x 34 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both quite good, though there's some softening in the extreme corners from field curvature of the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode. What we can see here is better than average.) The Canon S100's flash had some difficulty throttling down at this distance, causing overexposure where the flash wasn't blocked by the lens. The overexposure plus the shadow from the lens resulted in a very unevenly lit image. Plan on using external lighting for the closest macro shots with the S100.


 

Canon PowerShot S100 Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Canon PowerShot S100's LCD monitor showed just over 100% coverage at wide-angle, and telephoto. Very good results here.


 

Canon PowerShot S100 Image Quality

For more detailed image quality test results, click on the Exposure tab.


Color: The PowerShot S100 produced good saturation overall, with minor to moderate oversaturation in reds, greens, browns, blues and purples. Some colors such as bright yellow, aqua and cyan were actually undersaturated by a small amount. A few hue shifts are noticeable, such as cyan towards blue (probably for better-looking skies), red toward orange, and yellow toward green. Dark skintones show some added warmth, while lighter skin tones appear more natural, if pinkish at times. Good results overall.


Auto WB:
Good, though slightly green
Incandescent WB:
Too pink
 
Manual WB:
Good, though a hint cool

Incandescent: Manual white balance handled our incandescent lighting best overall, though with a tiny hint of cool green. Incandescent responded with a strong pink cast, while Auto produced more accurate results than average, with a slight green tint.


Horizontal: 1,700 lines
Vertical: 1,700 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,700 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred at between 2,400 and 2,600 lines per picture height.


Wide: Bright
Tele: Fairly bright
Auto Flash
Slow-Sync Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) doesn't always work well at wide angle when the reported distance goes beyond 16 feet, because that takes the camera out of the main lab, however the target at wide-angle was bright at 23 feet, though the S100 boosted ISO to 640. The telephoto test came out fairly bright at 7.5 feet, also with ISO boosted to 640.

Auto flash produced somewhat bright results in our indoor portrait scene, but used a relatively slow 1/25 second shutter speed, and ISO 320. Slow-Sync flash used a slower shutter speed of 1/5 second at ISO 100. The Canon PowerShot S100's image stabilization should help with slower shutter speeds, but any movement (of camera or subject) could be problematic at these shutter speeds. Shot taken at ~5 feet (~1.5m) on a stable tripod.


80
100
200
400
800
1,600
3,200
6,400

ISO: Noise and Detail: The PowerShot S100 produced low to moderate noise at the lower sensitivity settings, though some smudging and loss of fine detail is visible even at the lowest ISO if you look carefully. Fine detail remains strong up to ISO 200, though. At ISO 400, smudging becomes more evident, as does chroma noise in the shadows. Fine detail takes a big hit at ISO 800, and chroma noise is more evident in the shadows and midtones. ISO 1,600 was softer from more aggressive noise reduction. At ISO 3,200 and above, luminance noise becomes much more visible, along with stronger chroma noise especially at ISO 6,400. See Printed section below for how this affects prints.


Print Quality: ISO 80 and 100 look great at 13 x 19 inches, and make a nice wall display print at 16 x 20.

ISO 200 also looks quite nice at 13 x 19 inches.

ISO 400 images are usable for wall display at 13 x 19, but softness in the red channel is more noticeable. Reduction to 11 x 14 looks a lot better.

ISO 800 shots are soft at 11 x 14. They look quite good at 8 x 10, with the exception of a slight loss of contrast in our red swatch.

ISO 1,600 images are good at 5 x 7 and usable at 8 x 10 for less critical applications.

ISO 3,200 shots are soft at 8 x 10, looking more like a watercolor painting. They look better at 5 x 7, if still a bit soft in our red swatch.

ISO 6,400 files are usable at 4 x 6, but appear a little flat in the colors.

Pretty good quality overall, a general repeat of what we saw with the S95, though with a little better performance at ISO 1,600 and 3,200, and of course the new 6,400 setting.


 

Canon PowerShot S100 Performance

For more detailed performance test results, click on the Performance tab.


Startup Time: The Canon S100 takes about 2.4 seconds to power on and take a shot. That's about average for its class.


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is slower than average, at 0.57 second at wide angle and telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.071 second, not the fastest out there, but reasonable.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is sluggish, capturing a JPEG frame every 2.30 seconds in single-shot mode. Standard continuous mode captures JPEG frames at 2.35 frames per second with seemingly no limit, also slower than average, though HQ Burst mode captures up to 8 frames at a very fast 9.2 frames per second. See the Performance page for RAW and RAW+JPEG timing.


Flash Recycle: The Canon PowerShot S100's flash recycles in about 7.5 seconds after a full-power discharge, slower than average.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was only able to focus down to just below the 1/2 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Canon PowerShot S100's download speeds are very fast. We measured 11,024 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • PowerShot S100
  • Wrist strap
  • Battery charger
  • Battery pack
  • USB cable
  • Software CD-ROM

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. These days, 8GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, you may want larger. Speed Class 6 or higher is recommended for HD video.
  • Camera case

 

Canon S100 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Slimmer than past models
  • Higher resolution with slightly better light sensitivity
  • GPS radio syncs clock, shows where images are captured on bundled map software
  • 5x stabilized lens covers 24-120mm equivalent
  • 1080p video
  • Camera autofocuses while shooting video
  • Optical zoom is also available while capturing video
  • Very fast High-speed HQ Burst mode (9.2 fps)
  • Good low-light performance for stills and video
  • HDR mode is helpful with some landscape shots, doesn't seem to overdo it
  • Good, standard Canon menu system
  • Retains good image quality compared to S95 and LX5, improving just a little
  • Low barrel distortion in JPEGs
  • Very little chromatic aberration in JPEGs
  • RAW and RAW+JPEG capture
  • Good macro capability
  • Good control over color saturation
  • Good auto white balance
  • Very good resolution
  • Excellent image quality as ISO rises
  • Good printed results
  • Fast USB transfer
  • Costs US$30 more than predecessor
  • Slight buzz is audible when zooming during video recording
  • Full HD video at 24p only
  • 24mm lens can cause distortion in people pictures
  • Somewhat soft corners at wide angle
  • Weak flash (common in compacts)
  • Autofocus speed could be faster
  • Low light autofocus limit without AF assist not as good as predecessor
  • Slow shot-to-shot cycle time
  • High-speed HQ Burst mode captures JPEGs only
  • Slow flash recycle
  • Lower than average battery life

 

At first the Canon S100 seems pretty similar to its predecessors. It certainly looks similar, despite the few cosmetic accents that don't appeal to me personally. Its odd color and strange grip put me off at first, but as I continued to use it and flesh out this review, it became clear that the Canon S100 is indeed a step above its predecessor, while maintaining most of the best parts about Canon's premium pocket camera.

Though I'll reiterate that the 24mm lens can be dangerous in inexperienced hands, more experienced photographers will find it a pleasure to have for landscapes and tight spaces. Wide and telephoto settings for the lens are pretty high quality for a pocket camera, partially due to the optics, and also due to image processing. When we process RAW shots, we see just how much barrel distortion the lens has at wide angle, and it's pretty dramatic. But Canon's DIGIC 5 processor can handle it pretty well. The same goes for chromatic aberration, which is fairly pronounced in the RAW files, but not at all bad in the JPEGs.

Canon managed to add extra features without making an impact on what we liked about the S95; indeed, even making the camera slightly thinner while extending the range of the lens. Raising the resolution by 2 megapixels, improving video quality, as well as making both zoom and autofocus functional on the S100 was another huge leap. To make the change in the video resolution required a switch from CCD to CMOS, a step that's reduced image quality in competing cameras, but Canon managed to improve performance, even while raising the resolution, an impressive feat.

The modest improvement in autofocus speed is welcome, if a little disappointing. Still, the Canon S100 is more for the thoughtful photographer, so I've only noticed its slow autofocus every now and then. Most of the time it works well enough and I get great shots. I'm fond of the Canon S100's various customizable controls, including the front and rear control dials. I'd be happier if I could make the rear dial do a few more things, but I'm mostly pleased that they made EV adjustment optional rather than always-on.

The Canon PowerShot S100 is an excellent pocket camera for photographers. It didn't jazz me as much as the first and second iterations of the line, but I eventually grew to rely on it for quality photos and video when I needed to travel light. It's a certain Dave's Pick, and an excellent take-everywhere camera.

 

Canon S100

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