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January 03, 2012

Canon Powershot S100 Review

The Canon S100 is the successor to the highly popular S95 and continues the same tested and proven formula for a point-and-shoot digital camera — wide aperture and manual control in a solid, light and portable body. Check out our full review of the Canon S100 after the jump.

The Canon S95 was a best-seller for its great image quality, HD video recording, an f2.0 aperture that’s good for low-lit conditions and a full manual mode very few other point-and-shoot cameras have.

The Canon S100 sets that up one notch, offering full HD 1080p video capture, higher optical zoom capabilities and GPS functionality.

When the Canon S100 was announced, it doesn’t seem to have any significant difference to the S95 so I was really curious to find if there’s something more to it beyond the exterior. Take note though that the sensor was changed from CCD to CMOS.

It’s got an almost similar body design and size (just a bit smaller and lighter). The smooth and matte finish is now a bit rougher although still matte but more like a sand-paper finish. There’s a thin strip of rubber up at the front to provide better grip. The dual microphones are now at the top corner, just above the Canon logo.

The familiar Canon controls are still there at the back although there were also some minor changes introduced like the dedicated video capture button and the repositioning of the Ring Function button which also serves as the delete button.

In Manual Mode, the ring can adjust the aperture (from f/2.0 to f/8.0) while the smaller dial at the back can adjust shutter speed (ranging from 15 secs to 1/2000) and ISO (80-6400). And since there’s built-in GPS, it can actively tag location of all photos taken by the S100. The camera’s ability to connect to GPS satellites even if in the off state can hasten battery drain though so you’ll need to adjust this function accordingly.

The camera is pretty fast — you’re ready to shoot in under 1.5 seconds from the off state, fairly fast and accurate focus and close to 3 frames per second of continuous shooting.

As expected, picture quality is impressive. Great photos even on low-light conditions with minimal noise or aberrations (mostly, at under ISO 800). Even at ISO 6400, the photos are decent. Colors are well saturated and spread evenly.

All the sample photos here are taken at JPEG 9M with an average file size of 2MB. You also have the option to shoot both RAW+JPEG at the same time.

Aside from Manual Mode, you’d almost set the camera to Auto but there’s the usual option for Av, Tv P, SCN and Creative Filter (same as the S95 like miniature, HDR, fisheye,and color swap).

Macro shots are equally good with a minimum focusing distance of just 3cm (or just over an inch away). The image stabilizer and anti-shake features also helps in getting a good close-up shot, whether in broad daylight or at night.

I loved the 720p HD videos on the S95 but the S100 also captures the same great videos at 1080p @ 24fps. The 720p resolution now captures up to 30fps while an option for slow-motion video can be done at 640×480 @ 120fps.

The dedicated video button is now separate from the shutter button which helps you easily figure out if you’re taking photos or videos, especially in those moments when you’re in a rush. The camera also actively focuses when you’re shooting videos so you’re never out-of-focus. What I was looking for was have manual focus when taking videos but it look slike I cannot do it here.

This 39-second HD video has a file size of 101.4MB. As long as you’re using a Class 6 or higher SD card (I use a SanDisk Extreme 30MB/s with this one), you’re good.

The pop-up flash is still useful when shooting in low-light to dark conditions but I only use it when it is absolutely necessary. For the most part, I’d adjust to a high ISO setting and lower the shutter speed to compensate for lack of ambient light.

Canon Powershot S100 specs:
12.1MP CMOS sensor
1/1.7″ sensor size
f/2.0-5.9
Image Stabilizer
Digic 5 processor
ISO 80 – 6400
24–120 mm focal length
5x optical zoom
4x digital zoom
3″ LCD display
f/2.0 – f/5.9 aperture
1/2,000 – 15s shutter speed
Built-in flash
2.3fps continuous shoot
1080p video recording at 24fps
SD/SDHC/SDXC
RAW + JPEG file format
HF-DC2 High-Power Flash (optional)
Built-in GPS
Li-Ion battery 1120mAh

There’s a Digital AV Out and an HDMI port so you can actually hook this up to an external display (HDTV) for direct playback.

What I found disappointing is the battery life. This is my same frustration with the S95 and Canon didn’t even improve the capacity of the NB-5L battery. Add to that disappointment is the new battery size — the one on the S95 would not fit the S100. I guess I have to buy a high-capacity battery for this one when I’m on a long trip (I remember seeing a 2400mAh or 3200mAh battery before for the S95 so I’m hoping there’s one for the S100 too).

After a couple of weeks with the Canon S100, I thought it didn’t really have much to offer if you’re already using the S95. It would be wise to stick with the S95 for now but if you can dispose it for a good price, then the S100 is the logical upgrade. If you don’t have a point-and-shoot camera, the S100 is a really good choice.

While the Canon S100 is not yet officially released in the Philippines, a number of online stores are already selling it for around Php21k and up. It’s available in silver and black but it looks like only the black varinat is widely distributed. I got my unit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last December for under Php19k.

Canon Powershot S100 replaces the S95
Canon PowerShot S100 in the flesh, first impressions
Shoot-out: Nokia 808 vs. Galaxy S3 vs. Canon S100

19 Responses to “Canon Powershot S100 Review”

  1. el toro bumingo
    Twitter: eltorobumingo
    says:

    It’s a very light DSLR! :)

    • edu
      Twitter: Tarakiman
      says:

      a point and shot digital camera.. not DSLR

    • blitz says:

      It’s point and SHOOT, not point and SHOT. /rolleyes

      Besides, I think what he was trying to say is that the quality is comparable to a DSLR.

  2. June Justine
    Twitter: iAMZuperJei
    says:

    Nice entry Sir Yuga! Kinda need a new P&S naman, might try this one.

    Just the battery life, gaano katagal/ilang shots pwedeng magawa before it becomes empty?

    @El Toro: P&S po siya not a DSLR.

  3. Marco
    Twitter: akosicoy
    says:

    I like that!

  4. Elfin says:

    Yuga where can I have those 2400 or 3200mAh battery for the S95?

  5. applefanboy says:

    Canon is for faags!

  6. Another simple and straight review! Kudos to you Yuga! Funny enough, Canon silently launched their Canon Powershot S100 a few days ago. Here’s an article on it – http://goo.gl/5EwC1

  7. awts says:

    OMG… people are so dense these days… El Toro meant its a P&S with DSLR capabilities…

    its like an Tablet = its a very light Desktop PC…

    im out….

  8. Fan boy says:

    Go for LX5.

  9. kayoyama says:

    i saw it in the mall… 28k.. ang mahal…

  10. Roilan says:

    Sir Yuga,

    Naretain po ba ung feature na color accent na meron sa S95 dito sa S100?

    Thanks…

  11. Soul Annihilator
    Twitter: soulannihilator
    says:

    Can the HDMI port be used as input to the camera? For example you want to record a PS3 gameplay and you don’t want to just point the camera to the TV.

  12. xas
    Twitter: shazaei
    says:

    whops! i found a store selling canons. s100 is closed to 29k. some stores sell s95 at 14,500. i’m torn

  13. Canon Scanner Repair
    Twitter: scanrstore
    says:

    I’ve always been a big fan of Canon point and shoots. I had two of the digital elfs and they lasted forever.

  14. Romy says:

    I go for long zooms, say 20x or longer.

  15. Brynn Jornacion
    Twitter: Dermaholic_
    says:

    Im torn between deciding on canon s100, g12, or g1x? Any opinions? :)

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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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