Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for PowerShot_S100_silver_angle_1000x756.jpg

  • 12-megapixel "high sensitivity" image sensor
  • 5x wide view optical zoom lens covers 24-120mm
  • f/2.0-f/5.9 max aperture range
  • Canon's new Hybrid IS system
  • 3.0-inch "Pure Color" LCD with 461K pixels
  • DIGIC 5 image processing  
  • Smart Auto shooting Mode
  • Dedicated Video Recording Button
  • Movies at1920x1080 (1080p), 1280x720 (720p HD), 640x480 or 320x240 with audio, with a frame rate of 30fps
  • RAW and JPEG still image capture modes (RAW+JPEG too)
  • In-camera HDR mode
  • In-camera ND Filter
  • Powerful Li-ion battery pack
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC memory card slot
  • HDMI output

Pros
  • Solid metal Build
  • Awesome f/2.0 - f/5.9, 5x zoom lens
  • New 12-Megapixel sensor creates larger and still very impressive images
  • A slew of easy-to-use custom shooting settings
  • Full manual control with Neutral Density filter for unmatched control from a compact camera
  • Capable Smart Auto mode
  • Top-notch 3.0-inch LCD screen
  • Cool and handy control ring mounted around lens bezel
  • Outstanding high ISO performance for a camera of this size
  • Upgraded to full 1080p HD video capture
  • Cool in-camera HDR mode
  • Increased burst mode speeds over past 2 models
  • Added GPS capabilities
Cons
  • Noticeable aberrations in some sample images
  • Weaker flash (falls off very fast when using the zoom)
  • New features consume a lot of power and can be tough on the camera's battery
  • $430 price tag is not for everyone
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.0 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 - 7/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.7 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.56 seconds
  • Normal burst =  2.72fps
  • AF burst = 1.04fps
  • HQ burst = Captures 8 Full-Sized images in 0.80 seconds (10fps)
  • GUI navigation = responsive
  • RAW mode only had a noticeable effect on performance during the burst shooting.
  • All tests were taken using the PNY Professional (Class 10) 8GB SDHC card, Program mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Once again Canon has improved on an already powerful and easy to use digicam. With a full set of upgraded hardware and outstanding quality, this is a wonderfully powerful camera with amazing quality. 
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an extremely capable camera that can be used as a substitute for a dSLR that captures high quality images and can be slid into your pocket or purse with ease.
Canon's new PowerShot S100 follows in the line of the PowerShot S90 and S95 from the last two years. These slightly more advanced digicams were designed for people with a little more photography and camera knowledge, but with its Smart Auto mode, anyone can use it the first time they pick it up. This popular and powerful digicam has been blessed with some major internal upgrades over the S95 from last year. A new 12-Megapixel "High Sensitivity" CMOS imaging sensor, DIGIC 5 image processor, f/2.0 5x optical zoom lens, Neutral Density Filter, GPS and full 1080p HD video capture will really make you drool; especially if you own one of the previous models. All of this has been inserted into a very similar sized and shaped body that includes the pop-up flash unit and 3.0-inch 461,000 dot LCD screen.

Handling the S100 is easy with either one or two hands. A thumb and finger grip gives you excellent control over the camera. Both the shutter release and dedicated video recording button are easy to press and well located. The continuation of the lens ring dial and selection dial on the back keep changing settings quick and easy. While its loaded with creative features, they are all easy to use, including the HDR and other special shooting modes. Framing and viewing your images is accomplished on the 3.0-inch, 461,000 dot LCD screen that has been found on the last two models. Featuring 5 levels of brightness, the highly detailed images are easy to see in any lighting conditions.

Canon also added GPS to the camera for easy logging of the your favorite shooting locations. When the GPS logger is on, it will log the camera's location all the time, even when it is turned off, so you will have to careful with your battery. Using the included software with the camera allows you to map out your entire trip afterwards picture-by-picture so that you can recreate the trip in the future. The GPS also allows you to set the camera to the exact local time based on the GPS satellites.

Looking at our outdoor images, we see outstanding overall image quality; as was expected in the continuation of this powerful "S" line. The new 12-Megapixel High Sensitivity CMOS imaging sensor and DIGIC 5 imaging processor produce sharp, well exposed images with less image noise that with a standard CCD sensor. This HS system is not only more sensitive when it comes to capturing light, but it also allows the camera to capture images at a much higher rate of up to 9.6fps. Mixed in with our excellent outdoor images, the museum shot stood out with the overexposed sky and aberrations around the tree. Other than this we see outstanding color with just a few other hints of aberrations within the outdoor images. 

Also new on the S100 is its 5x optical zoom lens. Expanding on both ends of the zoom range, it now has a 35mm equivalent of 24-120mm and a bit more versatility. There is no need to be alarmed with the new lens, as it still offers that fast f/2.0 maximum aperture at wide angle, giving you same low-light performance featured on the S95. While the telephoto magnification is still not enough to shoot close-up images from across a field, it gets a little closer while giving you even more one the wide end as well. This range is perfect for typical shooting, and works very well for close-up portraits.

Our indoor sample images are where you can really see the amazing image quality from the S100. ISO 80-400 are crystal clear, showing all of the finest details within the image. Jumping up to ISO 800 still looks great, but when looking at 100% you can see that the finer details start to disappear. It's not until ISO 3200 that noise starts to become apparent and quickly jumps at ISO 6400. Even though the noise shows up at the higher end, the S100's quality excels at each setting. Assisting with your low-light images is a unique automatic pop-up flash unit. While this flash isn't incredibly powerful, the camera's high sensitivity capabilities and fast lens help to extend its range when shooting at the wide end. With a range of up to 23ft. (W) you will not have any trouble lighting a medium sized room, but when you zoom in, the range will decrease drastically until you hit the 7.5ft. max. effective range at the telephoto end.

Portraits in either Smart Auto mode or Portrait mode are as easy as can be. The camera's Face Detection software works almost instantly, recognizing faces within the frame and adjusting the settings accordingly. Our sample images show perfectly exposed faces with soft, natural skin tones. Along with the standard face detection, the advanced shutter modes allow it to automatically capture an image when everyone in the frame smiles, someone winks or when an additional face is detected within the frame.

While the S100 has most of the standard special shooting modes that you will find on any other PowerShot model from Canon, there are two additional settings that we would like to mention. First the camera comes with a built-in Neutral Density filter mode that reduces the available light by 3 stops (1/8). This allows you to use slower shutter speeds and smaller apertures in bright situations. Our example shows the difference in the running water with and without the filter. Secondly the camera features an Automatic HDR shooting mode. With just one press of the shutter release, the camera will capture 3 images with different levels of brightness. It will then select the portions of each image to combine to create your HDR image. Our sample shows a little overexposure in the sky and some dark areas inside the bridge, but for an auto program inside the camera, it did pretty well. 

Two years ago we looked at the S90 and were a little disappointed with the lack of HD video capture. Last year Canon fixed this with the addition of 720p HD video capture on the S95. This year Canon finally added full 1080p HD video capture capabilities to the S100. You still have options for lower resolution video if needed, but it was nice to see Canon step up the S100's video capabilities. During recording the camera keeps focus pretty well even while panning with a moving subject, which is a problem for some cameras. Its video quality is actually very good for a compact camera, producing clear movies that will look great on the HDTV. They run smoothly both on the camera and on the computer and the f/2.0 lens allows you to record your movies in less than perfect lighting conditions with no problems. There is also a slow motion movie mode that is great for dramatic shots and studying sports movements like a golf swing.

Powering the S100 is a 3.7V, 1120mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery, which is an upgrade over the S90 and S95's 1000mAh pack. Canon still claims you can get about 200 photos on s single charge; same quote as the S95. We were able to capture over 100 still images and several short movies without any trouble, along with concluding our other tests on a single charge. With the new 12-megapixel sensor, DIGIC 5 processor, and GPS radio, the power does go a little faster than with the old hardware; which is probably why Canon opted for a slight stronger battery. This shorter battery life compared to other cameras of this size is a small sacrifice for the improved quality and performance shown here. Also included with the S100 is a compact, portable quick charger that allows you to keep your battery and a spare charged and on hand at all times. We feel picking up a spare pack is a very wise choice, especially if you plan on using the camera's GPS features often.

Bottom Line - Canon's PowerShot S100 is a fantastic compact digicam that has been designed with the quality and features that a professional can enjoy, while still providing the ease of use for any first time photographer. With a new 12-Megapixel HS CMOS sensor, DIGIC5 image processor, 5x optical zoom lens, f/2.0 maximum aperture, GPS functionality, and full 1080p HD video capturem it's easy to see why Canon is a leader in the industry. Image quality is no different from past models, providing some of the highest quality images that we have seen from a compact digicam. This wonderful camera is available now with a MSRP of $429.99 USD, and well worth it in our humble opinion.


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