The S90, and to a lesser extent the S95, received widespread complaints about ergonomics. I’m happy to report it has improved on the S100.
Few complained more than I did about the poor ergonomics of the Canon s90. It is slippery. It has a rear control dial that inadvertently and easily moves before one realizes, often too late, that camera settings were changed. Fortunately, third party camera accessory makers came up with innovative solutions that you can read about in my Canon S90 blog.
S100 improved ergonomics
I’m happy to report that the ergonomics of the Canon S100 has improved a lot. The surface is nicely textured to help prevent slipping. There is a thumb rest on the back of the camera and a narrow finger grip on the front. While the front finger grip is far from perfect, or as svelte or comfortable as Richard Franiec’s custom grips, it makes holding and using the camera easier
The rear control dial can be easily rotated with a finger but is sufficiently taut to prevent accidental moving. Thankfully, users will no longer have to monitor the camera when taking photos for unintentional changes to camera settings. And you’ll no longer have to hold the camera in contorted ways to avoid touching the dial.
The shutter-button is larger than on the S90 and the other buttons and dials are well placed.
Thank you Canon!
Some quibbles about the S100 ergonomics
Unfortunately, the flash has not changed. It still pops up so fast that it can knock a finger out of the way unless you consciously think about it before enabling the flash. Lots of luck if auto flash is enabled. The camera really could use a small, dedicated button to manually raise the flash.
Like it’s predecessor, the S95, the S100 doesn’t have a bevel around the LCD screen like the S90. The bevel affords some extra protection for the screen if you lay the camera down on it’s back.
Canon skimped on the wrist strap. It has no slider to tighten the strap around your wrist when carrying it. For now, I’ve made one knot in the strap closest to the camera and it works, though I may eventually replace the strap with a better one. Oh, and the strap is a pain to attach to the camera. Canon made the holes so small. I ended up using a paper clip to push the loop through the holes.
The S100 manual
Though not an ergonomic issue per se, the S100 does not come with a hard copy of the manual, only a PDF version. You’ll have to sit next to your computer or similar device to read it.
For individuals not familiar with the Canon interface or some of the camera features, having to be glued to a monitor to wade through the 236 page manual can be daunting: no underlining important passages or dog-earring pages to mark a place. My version of Adobe Reader (v.9) does not allow bookmarking. Of course, you can always print out the manual in its entirely or in part.
Holding and using the S100
Like all small cameras, the Canon S100 can be awkward to hold especially if you have large hands. But thanks to the improved ergonomics, holding and using the camera is easier than its predecessors without having to buy third-party accessories.
However, the ergonomics of the S100 can still be improved with Richard Franiec’s custom grip. It makes the camera even easier to hold and less likely to slip out of your hand. [More info about grip]