- Browse Reviews:
Canon PowerShot S100 Above 10 Megapixel
The 12-megapixel Canon PowerShot S100 is a premium pocket camera with a fast 5x 24-120mm f/2.0 optical zoom lens. It has a large 1/1.7 CMOS sensor, full HD video, RAW shooting, built-in GPS, new DIGIC 5 processing, 9.6 FPS full-res burst and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 6400.
Submitted by Stevil
Date Reviewed: June 20, 2012
Strengths: Size, quality of the images, versatility.
Weaknesses: Price, temperamental.
In the last year and a half I've gone through five or six of these cameras. The flash dying, the lens no longer retracting, and incorrect color of the final images were but three of the issues which Canon was unable to fix so they just continued sending me new cameras. I really do love the versatility and the compact size, but my patience is wearing thin on what would appear to me as generally shoddy quality. If I didn't have friends who have had the same camera for years (the S95 which the S100 eventually replaced), I would assume it was poor quality across the board, but as it stands it seems as though it's just my bad luck, or possibly a combination of the two. Bottom line is aside from the fact that they seem to crap out on me every six months, I love everything about the Canon S100.
Price Paid: $430.00
Purchased At: BestBuy
Type of photography: People
Submitted by Morgan Taylor a Expert
Date Reviewed: May 2, 2012
Strengths: 24-120mm lens is both wider and longer than its predecessors.
2.0 aperture wide open is fast for a small camera.
GPS can log location of photos or track your entire shoot.
One of the smallest cameras out there that actually produces decent images.
Manual and Av modes.
Weaknesses: Control ring and mode knob create ergonomic issues.
Manual interface is not as easily adjusted as one might like.
5.9 minimum aperture at 120mm is quite narrow.
Battery life is not that great, partially due to the GPS unit.
Supplied wrist strap has no ability to tighten on your wrist.
After significant research, it seemed like the S100 would be the perfect point and shoot to fill the niche of "easily stored, easily accessed, wide and fast" pocket camera in my daily setup. I bought the S100, shot less than 500 photos with it, and decided to sell it.
I shoot photos for a mountain bike website, and my primary camera is a Canon T1i with either the 50mm 1.8 or the 18-55 IS, occasionally borrowing other lenses for specific projects. In mid-2010, the T1i displaced a Canon ultra-compact – the SD870 IS, with a 28-105 2.8 – which I had been using as a daily for almost 3 years. When I switched to the SLR, I found my photo-shooting habits changed. The overall quality of my images improved, but creating images meant stopping, taking off my bag, and setting up. No longer did I capture the spontaneous moments along the trails and the quick vistas and landscapes the point and shoot was so good at.
Looking at the S100's tech specs, it seemed like the perfect complement to my current setup, for less than the cost of one decent lens. The 2.0 aperture and 24mm wide angle would in theory give me a wider fast option compared to the 50 1.8 on the crop body, but, more importantly, the S100 isn't much larger than my old SD870 which meant I could carry it with me in a pocket and snap photos at will without disturbing the flow of a ride. The manual adjustments seemed like good improvements over the SD870's "manual" mode which was limited to exposure compensation through a menu. Being that I ride in the woods, I was cautiously interested in seeing what the GPS unit could do as far as tracking my shots.
So, why did I decide, after less than 500 images and only a couple of weeks, that I didn't like the S100? The two main reasons were design/usage based: the control ring and mode dial protrude from the camera itself, each causing its own problem in my pocket. First, the control ring catches on the edge of a pocket going both in and out. The SD870 was completely smooth on the outside, and popped in and out of a pocket with ease; the S100 requires extra effort in both directions. I understand this is completely nit-picky, but these are the types of problems that "pro" photographers run into when they're using compromise equipment. Second, while walking, or while taking the camera out of my pocket, the mode dial would turn by itself. I usually shoot in Av, so pulling out the camera and finding it was in Manual or Video etc is really quite irritating. I want to shoot from the hip, but I have to look at the camera to make sure it's in the mode I left it in? Both of these issues affect the convenience of a point and shoot camera. If you plan to always use the S100 with a case, you might not run into these problems, but then you're overreaching the idea of a pocket camera.
Functionally, I did find the S100 was capable of producing the images I was hoping for at the wide end. The 24mm lens is surprisingly wide when you're used to a 28mm point and shoot, which is good for landscapes, but as it turns out, not as good for action. Zoom it in and your aperture narrows, get closer and you fight motion blur. In practice, I might have actually preferred a 28mm 2.0. A big downside to the lens is the 5.9 minimum aperture at telephoto. Compare this to the Lumix LX5, another camera that was on my short list, which has a 3.3 minimum aperture at its telephoto distance of 90mm.
The functionality of the manually-adjustable interface leaves something to be desired. While you can choose the function of the control ring, any other functions – including the all-important exposure compensation – are hidden in a menu and not as easily accessible as one might hope. Apparently with the S95 one could turn the menu dial on the back of the camera for exposure compensation in both Av and Tv, while on the S100 this functionality has been removed except in Manual mode where it controls shutter speed.
The bottom line of this Bottom Line is this: it's difficult to find a point and shoot camera to satisfy a nit-picky photographer such as myself. After a bunch of research, it really seemed like the S100 was going to be great – but the in-field experience had more negative aspects than I expect with a $429 camera. The chunky design was the deal breaker; the functional issues compounded the problem. I may buy a cheaper point and shoot that's less adjustable but more similar ergonomically to my SD870, but in the meantime I plan to buy a new lens for my T1i and forget about on-the-fly photos again for a while.
Price Paid: $429.00
Similar Products Used: Canon SD870 IS (top end point and shoot in 2008)
Submitted by thien a Casual
Date Reviewed: February 7, 2012
Strengths: Fits easily into my pocket. Slightly slimmer than the S95.
Love the control of the both the control ring around the lens and the wheel on the rear of the camera.
Strategically placed rubber grips make it easier to hold
Tons of manual controls
Image quality is excellent
Direct movie record button - 1080p AND optical zoom with autofocusing!!
24mm f/2.0 lens!
Weaknesses: Was hard to locate one when it first came out, but supplies have caught up to demand. (Was worth the wait.)
My finger has blocked the pop up flash on several occasions, causing me to have to turn the camera off and back on.
HDR is useless without a tripod.
Auto ISO stops at 1600, weird.
Aperture narrows very quickly...
This is the camera I've been waiting for. Wide and fast 24mm lens, RAW, and 1080p!
I have both a Canon DSLR and an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera, but the missing camera has always been a great pocketable camera. Then Canon comes out with the S100... and it has all the features I've been waiting for!
Solid build - the rugged finish gives it a very high quality look and feel. It doesn't feel like the typical pocket camera. I suppose because it isn't. One of the main features I look for in my cameras is the amount of manual control. As I've grown in the hobby and understand what it all means, I've wanted more and more control, and the S100 has it all.
Now it's true that you won't get the same results you would from say a much larger DSLR or even a Micro Four Thirds camera, but that's the tradeoff with such a small camera. It has to have a smaller sensor. Having said that, the images you will get from this camera are awesome.
It takes beautiful photos on automatic, but if you understand the controls, you can fine tune photos to exactly what you want. The combination of manual controls, RAW format, and pocketability makes this the camera I have with me at all times. And in the end, the best camera is the one you have with you, right?
Duration Product Used: 6-10 years
Price Paid: $429.00
Purchased At: BestBuy
Similar Products Used: Canon SD780is, Canon SD1000, Canon EOS 20D, Olympus EPL-1
Check out our holiday gift suggestions for these categories!
See All Holiday Gift Guide coverage - Click Here »