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Canon PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH

Canon packs 2 megapixels and a 2x optical zoom into the "smallest digicam on the planet!"

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Review First Posted: 6/20/2000

Executive Overview
Canon's new PowerShot S100 Digital Elph camera is definitely deserving of its "ELPH" name. Its tiny size and extremely light weight easily make it the most portable digicam we've seen to date (June, 2000). The sleek, silvery body design recalls the PowerShot S10 and S20 body styles, but on a much smaller scale, of course. The S100 features a well designed, retractable lens with a sliding lens cover built in (no lens cap hassles!). When the lens is fully retracted, there are virtually no protrusions on the camera and it easily glides into just about any pocket. All the main controls are on the back panel of the camera, with the exception of the zoom lever, power and shutter buttons, and a small, notched thumb grip on the back gives you a nice, firm hold.

An optical and LCD viewfinder are both located on the back of the camera. The optical viewfinder features a pair of LEDs that inform you of the camera's status, while a central autofocus target inside the viewfinder helps you line up shots. The LCD viewfinder can be turned on and off with an adjacent button and features a 1.5 inch screen with a low temperature polysilicon, TFT color display. (Gobbledygook that means it's a very sharp little LCD.)

The Canon 5.4 to 10.8 mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-70 mm lens on a 35mm camera) offers a maximum aperture ranging from f/2.8 to f/4.0, depending on the zoom setting. Focus ranges from 22 inches (57 cm) to infinity in normal mode and from four to 22 inches (10 to 57 cm) in Macro mode. A TTL autofocus function utilizes an efficient AiAF (artificial intelligence autofocus) system which evaluates a broad field in the center of the image for more accurate focusing. There's also an Infinity Focus mode (controlled by the Macro/Infinity button) that quickly sets focus at infinity for fast shooting. The optical zoom lens is controlled by the Zoom lever on top of the camera, and an optional 2x/4x "digital zoom" function can be engaged by zooming past the optical telephoto range.

A sliding switch places the camera in Record or Playback mode. In Record mode, you can leave the camera in charge of the exposure by selecting Automatic exposure control through the Record menu, or you can select Manual mode and adjust things such as white balance, flash and exposure compensation (EV) through a menu system employing the LCD screen and rear-panel controls. There's also Black & White and Stitch Assist (panoramic) modes. Aperture and shutter speed are controlled automatically in all modes. The Self-Timer and Continuous shooting options are available in most exposure modes, via the back-panel buttons. The built-in flash offers five settings (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced Off and Slow-Sync). White balance also offers five settings (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten and Fluorescent light), all controlled through the Record Menu. Exposure Compensation (EV) can be adjusted from –2 to +2 in 0.3 EV (f-stop) units, also through the Record Menu.

The Self-Timer gives a 10 second delay with a flashing LED countdown before the shutter fires and the Continuous Shooting mode allows you to shoot approximately two frames per second, depending on available memory and image quality. The two Stitch Assist modes (one for left to right and one for right to left) allow you to capture up to 26 images in sequence, to be "stitched" together with the accompanying software.

Images are stored on CompactFlash type I cards (an 8MB card comes with the camera) with quality choices of SuperFine and Fine, and image sizes of 1600 x 1200 and 640 x 480.

An included Video Out cable allows you to connect to a television set for image playback and composition and utilizes the same interface connector on the side of the camera as does the USB digital output. A software CD comes with the camera and provides Canon's Solution Disk software for image downloading and stitching together panoramic images. Additionally, a copy of Adobe PhotoDeluxe comes with the camera for image correction, manipulation and a variety of fun templates and filters. Both software packages are compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

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