Canon PowerShot S95 8 to 10 Megapixel

Canon PowerShot S95 8 to 10 Megapixel 


One look at Canon's new PowerShot S95 will have you moving "upgrade my digital camera" to the top of your to-do list. The ultra-slim, ultra-intelligent S95 is loaded with all a serious photographer's must-haves, including a bright f/2.0 Wide-Angle Lens and professional-style control ring for intuitive manual control. Canon's HS SYSTEM is on board for spectacular performance and image quality in low light. And, new for a compact, the S95 incorporates Canon's Hybrid IS for blur-free shooting even close-up. You'll shoot stunning 720p HD video with stereo sound, then watch it immediately on your HDTV with the simple HDMI connection. If photography's your passion, now is the perfect time to step up to PowerShot S95.


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[Jan 27, 2011]


Tons of features/modes


Can feel slippery in hand.
Small shutter and on/off buttons
Learning curve
Short-ish zoom

Note: I have written a more detailed review of the Canon S95 with pictures at

My Canon S95 Flickr gallery:

I set out on a quest to find a small, RAW capable camera to replace/accompany my DSLR on backcountry hikes, bike rides, and ski trips. I love my DSLR, but wanted a pocket sized alternative for the mountains.

I looked long and hard at several P&S cameras. I read reviews, forum threads, and scoured Flickr for sample images. I had fairly specific demands for what I wanted, which eventually narrowed my search. But initially I looked at as many cameras as I could. I was, in effect, catching myself up on several years of camera technology and design. And frankly, it was fascinating research. Cameras today are doing more, and costing, less than ever before. Which means that photographers are doing more (and spending less) than ever before.

Ultimately my specific demands boiled down to this: Get the best image, in the smallest package.

The S95 was the camera that fit those demands.

The image quality is fantastic. Rich colors, detailed horizons, crisp, clean edges. I find my RAW images need less adjustment in post than my previous P&S cameras. The image quality is comparable to my Canon 20D.

The great thing about this camera is that yes, it's advanced (as noted in the previous review) but it has enough auto-features to appeal to the novice wanting to learn and improve, or even to the mom taking pictures of the kids. The more advanced features will allow users to grow into the camera, extending the overall usefulness and life of this friendly little P&S.

The S95 is robust enough to be a viable DSLR back-up as well. Instead of two large bodies, a photographer could carry the S95 in his pocket and still be mostly effective if camera A were to fail.

One of my favorite features of this camera is the bright 2.0 lens. This camera really does well in low light situations.

The lens ring, which can be customized to control any aspect of the camera is a handy, very convenient element of the S95. It makes on-the-fly one-handed adjustments very fast. It has taken some practice to master the ring (especially when hurrying to get a shot of a biker or skier) but over time has become easier and easier.

The S95 has proven so far to be a worthy trailside companion. It boots up quickly, is easily switched from mode to mode, focuses fast, and has minimal shutter lag. However, like any P&S, there is some shutter lag. It’s limited, and can be nearly eliminated with a little anticipation and planning. But I blew more than a few shots when I was learning the nuances and quirks of this camera. I’m still working out some of those kinks, but I attribute those more to my own abilities, than to the camera itself. Practice, practice, practice.

I love this camera. I carry with me all the time. I've shot landscapes, mountain bikers, skiers, and shots of my kids. It has performed admirably in all situations.

My quest to find the perfect P&S was a rousing success.

Customer Service


Similar Products Used:

Various other P&S Cameras.

[Dec 24, 2010]


Excellent image quality
small size
array of functions
fast operation


Need to read manual to get the hang of the camera.
Expensive at regular price.

The Canon S95 is not designed for a beginner, someone who wants photos of the kids and dog. At first, the controls are confusing, one is never sure where the function you want is located. There are 13 physical controls including two adjustment wheels and some combination settings. Unfortunately, the manual is in a PDF, a format I use but absolutely hate.

However, when one sits down with the camera and the manual, going through it page by page, the functions start to make sense. In reality, the camera, once you get the hang of it, works faster and easier than most others. The two wheels remind me of my old EOS-3 film camera. I never liked the back wheel on that camera but, on the S95, they both work well.

Both wheels can be customized, allow you to make your choice of changes without going to the menu. My front wheel, the one surrounding the lens, I have set to be the ISO. I change ISO values a lot, this makes it absurdly easy. The back wheel, surrounding the 4-way function pad, I have set for exposure compensation.

The front wheel is really nice as it has definite click stops. The back wheel takes a lot of getting used to. The slightest pressure activates the pad function rather than turning the wheel. That took a lot of practice to get right.

There is also a user controlled "S" button that can be customized for yet another function. I set it to be manual white balance. This is really wonderful, as the AWB on this Canon, just like every other Canon I have ever used, really stinks! Now, I just point the camera at something white, push the "S" button, and it's set.

The menu has the usual long list of choices and there are several display modes including a live histogram. I first encountered a live histogram many years ago on a Pentax P&S, it's nice to have it back again. There is also an option to superimpose guide lines on the LCD screen which I find very useful with my other P&S, the Panasonic FZ8.

I should mention that the S95 has no optical viewfinder, just a fixed 3-inch LCD screen. I took it out today in very bright sunlight and had no problem using it. I did, of course, cover it with a protective film so I can carry it around in my pocket. It truly is a pocket camera, very small and convenient yet easy to hold.

There are thousands of modes on the S95. Lots and lots of scene modes for the adventurous as well as the usual manual, Av, Tv, and P modes. I will give the scene modes a try in the future but I'm not really into that. However, there is an HDR mode that takes three shots and puts them together for you. I intend to play with that in the future. I have learned from past experience that, in most cases, the only two modes that make sense on a P&S sense are P and Tv. Aperture priority is pretty much wasted with these tiny focal lengths and manual is a waste of time with a small camera.

There is also a full Auto mode but I don't use that so I can't say anything about it. There is also a "custom"mode that the user can set to be anything at all. I have not used that either.

The camera allows a huge amount of in-camera manipulation, everything from cropping to color to special effects. Personally, I do that sort of stuff on the computer. Trying to do a good job on a 3-inch LCD seems like a lot of trouble.

There is also the obligatory movie mode including 720p HD. The only video I do are one-off things in my classes. I was quite happy with the low-res movies in my Panasonic so HD means very little to me. It does record in stereo if that interests you. I can tell you that the movies created by the S95 run fine on my MacBook Pro, I have not tried them yet on my Windows machine. But hey, the day VLC can't read something...

Image quality is great, again no surprise. You can shoot in JPEG, RAW, or RAW+JPEG. I used the latter. The response time is excellent, much better that I expected for a P&S. The writing time for RAW to my old standard-speed 2 Gig SD card is much faster than my Panny. The camera accepts SD, SDHC, and a list of other silly formats including something called Eye-Fi. On Sunday, I'll run off to Wal-Mart and get a fast SDHC card and see if that makes even more of a difference.

So, I took it out and about this morning just trying it out. No great shots, it's super cold and windy and I'm not getting any younger! Having the lens go wide (28mm equivalent at f2) is very nice. The telephoto tops out at a mild 105 mm, adequate although not matching the 450 mm of my FZ8. The Panny fits in a big coat pocket, the S95 fits nicely in my pants pocket. I like the fact that is is thin rather than smaller but thicker (my old and beloved Canon S100). I'll be walking around with it much more, hopefully during the Big Snowstorm that was promised but now looks unlikely.

One problem with software. Adobe Lightroom does not read S95 RAW files. There is an update but it only works with version 3.x. This stinks big time. I have no interest in buying another version of Lightroom but Adobe will not add new camera support to older versions. Maybe I should have gone with Aperture as MacOS can read S95 RAW files. So, I use the DNG Converter to convert my S95 RAW files and then use these DNG files with Lightroom. I should not have to do that extra step.

Canon provides several nice pieces of software. I did not install the image browsing stuff but I did add the processing and PhotoStitch (I love that) software. The processing software is fine but not the same as Lightroom as you would expect. It does however correct optical aberration inherent in the lens.

As I get older I find that my interest in hauling around a big DSLR and lenses just isn't fun anymore. The S95 can be slipped in a pocket without a thought. Our own VCP students here at the college start out with P&S cameras in their first year and do a remarkable job. After seeing what another member, Alison Turner, does with only her small camera makes me feel better! The fact that she spells her name correctly is a bonus (not 2 "L"s!). Let's be realistic, I'll won't be creating murals, or even prints of any size very much.

The Canon S95 is an excellent choice for an experienced photographer who wants a small pocket camera for those times when the DSLR is too much. To get the most out of the camera, you have to read the manual! If you are the type who only uses the Auto function, there are many other cameras, much cheaper, that will do an excellent job for you.

Customer Service

None for this product but my two times deling with Canon service for other cameras (one was user oops) were fast and efficient.

Similar Products Used:

Lots of Canon equipment from P&S to DSLRs. Panny FZ8. Pentax and Canon film cameras.

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