Canon PowerShot S100

The third, and latest, version of Canon’s popular pocket-sized S-series camera, the PowerShot S100 ($430 as of 12/22/2011), continues its predecessors’ legacy with a compact body and manual controls. Since thePowerShot S90 was introduced a few years ago, the “premium point-and-shoot” category has branched out significantly, with competition from cameras such as thePanasonic Lumix LX-5, Olympus XZ-1, Nikon Coolpix P300, and Fujifilm X10.

At its core, the S100 offers an all-encompassing range of manual options for experienced photographers, as well as easy automatic modes for more-casual shooters. Because it covers so many bases, it’s a great option for those who want to use it as a learning tool, as well as shutterbugs who simply want to point, shoot, and come away with outstanding-looking images.

While the S100 offers many of the same features as its predecessors—including the signature control ring encircling the lens to adjust several in-camera settings—Canon has built upon the foundation of last year's PowerShot S95 with more than a few meaningful changes. The S100 offers a wider-angle 5x optical zoom lens with a useful focal range of 24-120mm, a new 12-megapixel CMOS sensor that marks a significant shift from the previous S-series models’ CCD sensors, the company’s new DIGIC 5 image processor, full HD 1080p video, GPS, and a small handgrip. Combined with its core attributes, those updates will keep this camera on the hot list for quite a while.

Hardware and Design

The PowerShot S100 is built around a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, which is complemented by Canon’s latest Digic 5 processor. Thanks to these changes, the S100 now offers 1080p HD video capture, as well as improved low light/high ISO performance when shooting stills.

The new processor-and-sensor combo is also responsible for slightly faster continuous shooting, so there are multiple benefits from these two updates. Also notable is the 5x optical zoom lens, which now starts at a wide 24mm at F2.0 and zooms to 120mm; once you get to the telephoto end of the zoom, however, the maximum aperture stops down to F5.9.

A standard bundle (rechargeable battery and charger, wrist strap, USB cable, small printed Getting Started Guide and software) is provided with the camera, but because the S100’s battery is rated at a paltry 200 shots per charge, it’s important to pick up a spare—especially if you’re using the camera’s GPS regularly, as it puts a drain on the power source. The camera takes a mini-HDMI cable for HDTV connections, and a separately-sold underwater housing is available as well.

The truly pocketable body measures 3.90 inches wide, 2.34 inches tall, and 1.05 inches deep; it weighs about 7 ounces fully loaded, and the camera’s build feels solid in the hand. Available in black or matte silver, the S100 will fit easily into all but the skinniest jeans pockets, so it’s easy to take anywhere and everywhere. Responding to one of the complaints about the S95—the lack of a raised handgrip altogether--Canon added a low profile ridge along the front of the camera and a small thumb rest on the rear panel. It’s much easier and more comfortable to hold the S100.

The 3-inch, 461,000 dot LCD is carried over from the S95, and it works well under almost all conditions, including outdoors in the sunlight. Canon has done a nice job of integrating the GPS antenna in a way that maintains the camera’s simple lines, but the control layout has changed slightly.

For example, the Ring Function button, which allows the user to assign and control functions using the lens-circling control ring (ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, manual focus, among others) has been moved to the rear panel. I found it to be much more convenient than its position in the S95 along the top edge of the camera.

As expected, the top deck is home to the on/off button, shutter/zoom combo, and a relatively small mode dial. The camera’s small flash is positioned on the top deck, at the far left edge—just where it’s comfortable to place your left hand—and can be annoying since it pops up automatically when needed and closes when the camera is powered off.

A dedicated, one-touch “red” movie button has also been added to the rear panel. While other controls have been shifted slightly, the S100 still offers a 4-way controller with a center Function button (to call up a quick menu)—all surrounded by a control dial that can be used to scroll through menus, change shutter speed and/or aperture settings, depending on the mode selected. Overall, the S100’s control positioning works even better than that of the S95.

Shooting Modes and Features

The Canon PowerShot S100 provides a good balance of manual and automatic features, with enough of each to appeal to a wide range of photographers. More-experienced photographers will appreciate the full manual and semimanual (aperture- and shutter-priority) exposure modes, along with RAW and RAW+JPEG capture. Snapshooters can easily capture great images without a second thought using the Program, Auto and Scene modes or, if so inclined, can use the S100 as a learning tool to hone more advanced photo skills.

Scene modes include the standard portrait, landscape, kids & pets, beach, underwater (which is optimized for the separately-sold waterproof housing), foliage, snow, fireworks, and stitch assist for panoramas. Hidden within scene selections are specialty options such as: Movie Digest, which takes a video clip with each shot and compiles a movie “summary” of the day’s photography, along with Smart Shutter, which uses face detection to automatically take pictures.

The S100 has a peppier burst mode than its predecessor, as its high speed burst mode captures pictures up to 8 frames per second. Exposure and focus are set at the first shot, so you don’t get the benefit of continuous autofocus when you’re shooting in burst mode.

Canon has also added a Neutral Density filter and Intelligent Image Stabilization. The latter automatically applies the appropriate level of optical stabilization in Smart Auto mode depending on whether you’re shooting a macro shot, a panning shot, or a telephoto shot. Some of the IS options work in video, too. Standard optical image stabilization is available in the cameras’ shooting modes outside of Smart Auto, as well.

Like its predecessors, the S100 offers a number of creative filter options, including Canon’s trademark “My Colors,” with a wealth of color adjustments, selective color capture, the ability to lighten or darken skin tones and much more. New for the S100 is what has become pretty standard on compact cameras—a Toy Camera option (reminiscent of the soft shots from a Holga).

More useful, however, is the handheld night shot mode, which takes multiple shots and merges them for a better, less blurry image. It works very well, although the camera’s image stabilization and high ISO capabilities assist low-light shooting outside of that mode, as well.

Video options have been expanded as well, and the S100 can now capture full HD video at 1920-by-1080 (1080p) at 24fps (as well as 720p video at 30fps and a Web-friendly 640-by-480 at 30fps). High-speed video capture is available at a whopping 240fps at a reduced 320-by-240 resolution, as well, which is a cool option for slowing down fast-moving scenes. Creative moviemakers might want to give the Miniature Effect video mode a try, which captures sped-up-looking footage at a maximum of 6fps. The good news is that the zoom is enabled during video capture and produces little—if any—audible noise when zooming.

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Source www.pcworld.com

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