Canon S100

S100: Tips & Cool Settings

Written by Gail Bjork

Cool tips and settings for getting the most out of the Canon S100, which are easily overlooked in the camera manual. Why miss out?

Useful tips for getting the most out of the Canon S100 digital camera. If you have tip that would be of interest to other S100 owners, please share it in the commenting section below.

Turn off Continuous AutoFocus and Continuous Image Stabilization

“Continuous” settings on compact digital cameras generally slow things down a bit, drain the battery faster and may not always produce the best image quality in less than ideal lighting situations. These are among the first settings I change when getting a new digital camera (Note: you can not make these changes if when using Full Auto mode. I generally use P mode).

  • Switch Continuous AutoFocus to Single Area focus – This mode gives you more precise control over where the camera locks focus.
  • Switch Continuous Image Stabilization to Shoot Only IS – Shoot Only IS is generally better for capturing still images while Continuous IS is most useful when shooting movies.

Tips when shooting video with the S100

Changing Exposure Compensation for Video

Exposure Compensation can be adjusted in Video Mode prior to recording. Press Up on the control dial, then rotate the rear control wheel to increase or decrease EC. You can watch the exposure changes on the LCD.

Listening to audio during video playback when the camera is muted

If you prefer to keep camera sounds muted at all times as I do, you can still listen to the audio recorded in a video during playback. As a video is played back, press the Up button several times to turn on and increase the volume.

Setting up Custom mode (C mode)

After turning on the camera, select a mode and any frequently used settings (including focal length) that you’d like to save to Custom Mode. Press the Menu button, press Up once, select “Save Settings”, choose OK. The settings will be saved to C mode even if you change settings in the original mode where you made the initial changes. The S100 only has one Custom mode.

Check the focus point in an image

When in Playback mode, simply press DISP. a couple of times until the focus point screen appears. The white frame shows where focus was set. You can switch frames and change the level of magnification. Check page 146 in the manual about what the gray and orange frames indicate and for other information about this useful feature.

Shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG

To shoot RAW files, or RAW+JPEG, you must select the option via the FUNC/SET menu. When shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG, the time it takes for the files to be written to the memory card can be longer than shooting JPEG only. Certain functions will be unavailable (grayed out in the menu) when selecting either of these file settings.

Macro mode does not work when Tracking AutoFocus is enabled.

i-Contrast (Dynamic Range Correction)

Dynamic Range Correction sounds tempting when you read about it in the manual, but use with caution. i-Contrast can cause noise in images. If you select 200% or 400%, ISO automatically increases (it doubles going from 200% to 400%). Auto i-Contrast uses a low ISO, keeping noise to a minimum. As the manual points out, “under some conditions, the image may appear coarse or may not be corrected properly” when using i-Contrast.

S100 “Sweet Spot”

According to many, the best image sharpness comes when using an aperture setting of F4.

Powered Image Stabilization

Use when shooting video. Enable when shooting at the maximum zoom length of the camera. Canon recommends turning Power IS off while walking or during long panning shots.

High ISO NR and Digital Zoom are greyed out in the menus

  • High ISO NR is not available when your camera is set to RAW or RAW+JPEG.
  • The Digital Zoom is fixed to OFF in aspect ratios other than 4:3, and if RAW or RAW+JPEG are selected.

Tweaking Auto White Balance

Select AWB and turn the front control dial to adjust the level of color correction. Press the MENU button and turn the front or rear control dial for more refined adjustments.

Green Tint from Mercury Lamps

Enable HG Lamp Corr. in the main menu to remove the green tint caused by mercury lamps often present in night scenes. This feature is available in Full Auto Mode.

Shortcut to Auto Exposure Bracketing mode

When the Exposure Compensation display appears on the LCD, hit DISP to enter Auto Exposure Bracketing mode.

Useful links

How to shoot video with Canon HD digicams – written by a pro; easy to understand

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

32 Comments

  • Hi Gail,
    How to make the default setting in TV or AV as always in macro mode? Even when I off and on the camera again it still at macro mode by default. Thank you.

  • Half press shutter to focus and at the same time click on Exposure Compensation on the wheel. Then you got to choose from long or short shutter time contra small or large AE. Use the wheel to change both values. And if you only want to change Shutter use camera lens wheel. Great option!!! Best regards Jonas

  • Luciano, take a look at my s100 pbase gallery to get some idea of what you can expect for getting blurred images using the s100.

    On a few images, did some tweaking in photoshop. The first three images in this gallery should give you and idea what you can expect without editing.

    You’ll need to use the widest aperture to get the best depth-of-field. It will never be like when using a DSLR, however. Here are some dof tips that I highly recommend you read.

  • Greetigs all,

    I arrived at this site by accident. I am trying to take pictures with my Canon S100 with blurred background. I have followed a number of suggestions to no avail. Is there anyone here who has been successful at pictures with blurred background? If so, could you please e-mail me at dcanada.camargo@gmail.com? I would love to receive your tips with you have been successful with it.

    Cheers,
    Luciano

  • Ben, recording time automatically stops when the movie file size reaches 4 GB. Check out page 133 in the S100 manual to learn how the time varies based on the video size setting (and memory card capacity, of course). If you shoot at full resolution, you may have no choice but to join files together in video editing software. Here are some tips on recording video with a digital camera.

  • Hi there
    Great article thank you. I was wondering if I could remove the time limit for videos, it seems to stop after 15mins… I am due to film a display tonight, and saw your website and hopefully will be able to record and let it be.

    Thank youben

  • Thanks for your help, Gail. I will definitely try and play around with the automatic focusing options. It seems like it is more difficult to manually focus than it is to manually control other options. I find that curious, but I can certainly deal with it. I should have been more clear with my landscape pictures; basically, I take pictures of mountains, which are far away. There may be some trees or slopes in the foreground, but most of the time, I want to focus on the peaks.

  • RossB, Here are some suggestions regarding your four questions:

    1- To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to completely turn off the icons. If you hit the display button when in photo taking mode some, but not all of the icons, will disappear.

    2-If you have the camera set to Landscape mode, you probably don’t need to manually focus for a general landscape scene. It’s difficult to give more specifics as there are so many possible scenes. However, this article on Landscape Photography should provide helpful information.

    3- Here’s an article on photographing the snow.

    4- If there is a person in the scene, lock focus and recompose.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  • Hi Gail,
    Thanks for your tips as well as the rest of your website. I have a few questions that I hope you or someone else can answer:

    1) Is there a way to completely turn off all icons while taking a picture? I figured out how to minimize most of them (Menu >> Custom Display…) but I still end up with one or two on the screen.

    2) I mostly take landscape pictures. This means that I want infinity focus most of the time. I can choose manual focus and adjust accordingly, but that is somewhat annoying. The best shortcut I’ve found is to make my custom mode include manual focus (set to infinity). Are there alternatives that I’m not thinking of?

    3) In the winter and spring, I take a lot of pictures in the snow. This leads to two questions. First, what settings should I play around with to get good contrast and detail when taking pictures in the snow?

    4) Second, if I figure out those settings, I may just store those as my custom mode. That is why my work-around mentioned in question 2 is less than ideal. On a typical day (like yesterday) I take half of my pictures in the snow and half on dry ground. Most of those are landscape, but then I like to occasionally take a picture of someone in the foreground (and focus on that person). Being able to switch easily between these types of pictures is a really nice bonus, even if I sometimes take less than perfect pictures.

  • alan, it’s not unusual that images look duller and less sharp when you download. I’ve owned dozens of digital cameras and have found that almost all images can benefit from minor editing: reduce in size, crop, brightness/contrast adjustment and sharpening. You can do those steps with even the most basic photo editing software. The free Picasa from Google is a good choice.

    If you use a more sophisticated photo processing software such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, try these steps.

  • Hi Gail,
    when I look at the pictures in playback mode they look great and full of sharp colors on the camera LCD, then when I download them to my pc/laptop they look duller and less sharp.
    Why is that?

  • Hi, Gail. Thanks for the tip about using the up button to enable audio playback volume. I was going crazy not hearing audio after muting camera sounds and did not want to reset settings. Could not find that tidbit anywhere in manual or in the excellent Photographer’s Guide to the Canon Powershot S100 by Alexander White. This little camera has its flaws and can’t touch overall quality of the Canon 5D Mark 2 I also use, but I love the quality and candid capabilities of a camera I slip in my pocket. It is taking me awhile to learn all the little settings to make it hum though.

  • Berry, hit the FUNC/SET button and scroll down to the icon where you can switch Continous to Single Shot. If you haven’t already, also try turning off Continous Image Stabilization. Menu button > Camera icon > scroll down to IS Settings.

  • Hi Gail,

    In your setting you mention that Continuous autofocus should be set to off. I was not able to find the menu setting to switch this on or of. I am under the impression that it is currently set to off since it does not automatically focus after I change the scene.

  • Mads, no you can’t turn off the LCD during video recording but it may help a tiny bit if you lower the brightness. The only real option is to buy extra batteries. Third party batteries can be purchased at very reasonable prices online at places like Amazon and SterlingTek. Make sure you have GPS and the logger function turned off.

  • When using the S100 for interviews from time to time, but the battery runs empty after 40 min. I wonder if it is possible to turn off the screen during video recording?

  • Deasel77, as far as I can determine, it’s not possible to change the image size via the control wheel. One way to change the size quickly is to press the Func/Set button, scroll down to the file size and use the right and left arrow to scroll and select the size. While the menu remains on the screen, take a photo. The file size menu opens again after each photo, then simply scroll and select another size. Repeat the process. The main thing you have to do is make settings changes first (eg. Exposure Compensation, White Balance, etc.).

  • Is it possible to have the control wheel (on the back of the camera) select the image size? I want to select 0.3M through 12M images on the fly… but I don’t think it’s doable.

  • There is a book by Alexander White which discusses how to use the Canon S95 since the manual doesn’t go into depth on the camera usage. Not sure if it applies to S100, but thought i would pass it along.

  • netti, yes you can apply i-Contrast in camera in Playback mode. When the photo is on the screen, press the menu button and scroll down to i-Contrast. You can also correct red-eye, crop, rotate resize and apply My Colors to individual photos. Learn how to use these basic editing functions starting on page 157 in the manual. Once an edit is applied, it is saved as a new image, so the original remains untouched.

  • Gail, according to your info about the s90, iContrast can be applied to an image in-camera when reviewing images in playback mode. Is this also possible with the s100?

    thanks,
    netti

  • victor. What you’re seeing is normal. The macro icon doesn’t disappear it just fades to a smaller size and moves to a new location (by the onscreen Mode indicator in the upper RH corner of the LCD. So if you’re in P mode and press the macro button, the macro icon will appear, then get a bit smaller and moves by the P. You will see the macro icon there until you switch off the mode or the camera itself.

  • Thanks. I understand macro photo, but what I do not get to understand is the macro setting of the camera. It shows the icon, and all of a sudden it disappears. May be that my camera is bad?

  • victor, check page 92 in the manual about how to select Macro mode. Stick within the stated focusing range and make sure the camera is set to wide angle.

    Take some time to understand the effects of aperture settings and depth-of-field. Use the search function at the site to find more information about both topics.

    You may also find these articles on basic Macro Photography and Close up photography helpful.

  • Hi Gail, that is what I have been doing (ie, SCN -> High speed burst) but I was finding that it only took 3 shots successively. But I see now that you just have to hold the button down. I was thinking of it more as a numbered setting.

    Thanks!

  • Michael, you can access high-speed continuous shooting only by switching to SCN on the Mode dial on top of the camera. Next select the High-speed Burst mode. See pages 76-77 in the manual.

  • I have a question about the burst mode: the camera and manual say “up to 8 continuous shots” but it is currently only take 3 shots, and I don’t see anywhere to change that number. Am I missing something?