Like all digital cameras, the Canon Powershot s90 isn’t perfect. Unlike other compacts I’ve owned, including sub-compacts, it’s taken considerable time to get a feel and familiarity with the camera.
In my case, I think it’s worth the time and effort because of the excellent image quality in a wide variety of lighting conditions. However some of the quirks are enough to dissuade others from purchasing the camera.
The s90 control wheel
The control wheel on the s90 moves too easily. When the camera is turned on, it’s easy to inadvertently move the wheel, which in turn can change the camera setting assigned to the dial. It’s so annoying that I’ve written a separate article about it.
The s90 is very compact, packed with a lot of advanced features. Because of the large screen and minimal amount of real estate, it can be difficult to use the buttons and dials. Those with large hands may find using the s90 difficult.
s90 motorized pop-up flash
The flash is motorized and can pop-up and hit your finger where you naturally place it while holding a camera. It is annoying and is something you have to keep in back of your mind. To minimize the problem, don’t use Auto Flash mode. Keep the flash off, and only turn it on when needed. After your finger gets whacked a couple of times, you’ll learn to move it whenever enabling the flash.
On the other hand, considering the tiny size of the flash, it quite good. Fortunately, the s90 has flash compensation so you can adjust the flash output when needed.
Flash white balance and tungsten lighting
When taking photos inside where there is tungsten lighting and switch to Flash white balance, photos will turn out very orange. This is strange since you’d expect Flash WB to work when using the Flash.
s90 wide angle barrel distortion
As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, the s90 exhibits distortion at the widest angle (28mm equivalent). This is not unique to the s90 and many other wide angle and interchangeable lenses have barrel distortion. The distortion is much more evident when viewing RAW files since the camera processes JPEG distortion, among other things, internally.
Barrel distortion can be corrected when post processing. However, for those who shoot a lot of architecture or scenes with linear shaped objects near the edge of the frame, the s90 may not be the best choice.
The fast lens
Besides having a sensor larger than most compact cameras, the s90 has a fast lens at its widest angle (28mm equivalent). However as soon as you start zooming the smaller the aperture becomes, requiring higher ISO numbers (or use of a tripod) when photographing in low light. The aperture range of the s90 is F2.0 – F4.9.
Visit Gail’s pbase gallery for sample photos taken with the Canon s90.