S100: Pros and Cons

There is a lot to like about the Canon S100!

This highly advanced pocket camera has winning combination of small size, larger sensor than found in most compacts and a fast lens at the widest aperture. But like all digital cameras, it’s not quite perfect.

What I like about the S100:

  • Image quality – on par with my S90 which had excellent image quality. The S100 has the edge on high ISO performance.
  • Size – a lot of advanced features and controls packed into a camera that weighs just under seven ounces (198 g)
  • Longer and wider zoom range than its predecessors (24-120mm vs 28-105mm)
  • Less noise at high ISO for better low light performance and the ability to shoot at higher shutter speeds in bright light  (depends on focal length used and actual brightness of light).
  • Excellent menu system – actually, it’s the best menu system I’ve ever had on a Canon compact camera, and certainly better that all other cameras I’ve owned.
  • Much improved ergonomics – The S100 has a matte textured surface, a minimalist finger grip on the front of the camera and a nicely contoured, well-placed thumb grip on the back. Combined, these improvements make the camera easier to use and hold than its predecessors. Still, I’ve added a grip.
  • Focuses quite rapidly in many lighting conditions, though it’s slow compared to a DSLR).
  • ISO 80-6400 instead of previous 3200 max; ISO 1600 does surprisingly well considering the smaller size of the sensor.
  • Continuous shooting at 2.3 fps; High Speed scene mode captures eight frames at 9.6 fps (JPEG images only)
  • Larger shutter release button than predecessors
  • Built-in Neutral Density Filter
  • Dedicated video button – you can take movies in any shooting mode by pressing the video button. However, you can’t adjust Exposure Compensation unless you switch the dial to Video mode.
  • AutoFocus, AutoExposure and zoom during video

What I dislike about the Canon S100

  • Slow lens at the long end of the zoom
  • Battery depletes too quickly, especially if you shoot video or use the GPS features. You need a spare battery or two.
  • Lacks dedicated button to open the built-in flash. It still jolts up. I keep mine turned off and manually enable it when needed.
  • Using AE/AF Lock is awkward. You must simultaneously press the shutter button halfway and one of two arrow buttons on the four-way controller to selct AE/FE Lock or AF Lock. You can register one of the functions to the RING/FUNC Button.
  • LCD screen could have a higher resolution than 461k dots
  • Lacks bevel around the LCD
  • Panorama and High Dynamic Range modes are showing their age. For example, Sony’s Sweep Panorama is so much better and automatically stitches images in the camera. To use Canon’s HDR mode, you need a tripod.
  • Only ISO 80 can be used for exposures longer than one minute. The s90/95 do not have this limitation.
  • Chincey wrist strap – no slider to tighten the strap around your wrist.
  • No hard copy of the manual, only PDF version.
  • Expensive, though you can sometimes get it at a discount.

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