Reading the press releases about the Canon PowerShot S100 might give one the impression that the image quality for every shot taken with the camera will be on par with a DSLR. Well it’s not.
But the really good news is that the images are quite remarkable considering that they come from a small camera with a relatively small sensor.
As of this writing, I know of no other digital camera that slips into your pocket that is capable of producing such high quality photos in a wide variety of lighting conditions.
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High quality images from the S100
The S100 is capable of taking high quality photos under most lighting conditions. In bright light, colors are pleasing, accurate and vibrant. Color fringing, if present at all, is minimal. There is a slight, but welcome, increase in dynamic range compared to its predecessors. Click the thumbnail on the left and note that there are no blown highlights on the white areas of boat where blown might typically be present.
Many outside photos compare favorably to those taken with a quality entry-level DSLR and kit lens.
The low-light capabilities of the S100 surpasses many compact cameras. Images are relatively noise-free up to ISO 800 and are a quite usable at ISO 1600. Even some ISO 3200 shots may surprise you. High ISO images are not on par with bulky cameras with large sensors but, hey, the S100 only weighs 6.98 ounces (198 grams).
Some in-camera noise reduction (which can be lowered by changing a camera setting) may cause a lack of detail when viewing images at 100% on a computer monitor. Most images can effectively be sharpened when editing. The photo of the football helmets on the left was taken at ISO 640.
Automatic White Balance is generally accurate. White Balance can be adjusted when needed using presets or by doing a custom white balance.
S100 image sharpness
According to PC Magazine, “among cameras currently on the market, the S100 is the sharpest high-end compact that we’ve tested.” Though some quibble about the sharpness of the S100 when viewing images at 100%, I’ve found the sharpness to be just fine. You can adjust the amount of in-camera sharpening via the My Colors > Custom Color menu but don’t overdo it or you’ll have sharpening artifacts. I keep my sharpening setting to the default, preferring to sharpen images when editing.
Getting the best IQ from the S100
To get the very best image quality out of the S100, be willing to move away from some of the factory default camera settings [suggested camera settings]. If you prefer to shoot in an automatic mode, switch to P Mode so you can tweak a few settings when needed. It’s well worth the effort and it’s relatively easy to learn to adjust important settings such as Exposure Compensation.
Minimal photo editing will greatly enhance images when using steps similar to those outlined in this article.
Sample S100 images
Below are samples that showcase the quality images you can expect from the S100. They were shot as JPEG files.
More S100 images (slideshow):
For best view of photos, click slideshow icon for full screen mode.
See more photos taken with the S100 at my pBase gallery, including unedited, full resolution images.