After using the Canon Powershot S95 for about a month, I believe I have finally found the ideal point-and-shoot replacement to my dSLR. I am now more confident to take this on long trips instead of my Canon 7D. Check out the full review of the Powershot S95 after the jump.
As a successor to the S90, the Powershot S95 has a similar build and construction, only a bit smaller this time and with several enhancements and additional features to boot.
The Canon S95 comes in a compact, no-fuss, matte-black metal casing reminiscent of the popular Ixus line (just a little thicker). Feels solid on the hands and has that nice grip — not too small or too big.
All the familiar controls are found on the top and the right side of the back panel. Long-time Canon users will not have any hard time familiarizing themselves to the controls and menu. The ring at the base of the lens controls settings for ISO, exposure, white balance or even manual focus (much like the lens barrel of an SLR) while the Function knob can be dialed to set the aperture. There’s a ring function button at the top, beside the Power button, to activate that.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the S95 is the 28-105mm lens that has a maximum aperture of f/2.0. It’s not the widest in its class (there’s the 24mm of the LX3) but it takes really crisp and vivid shots. The high aperture opening also makes for better depth of field and works wonders even on low light conditions.
Here’s a quick slideshow of some of the photos I took using the S95:
The camera also sports a number of built-in effects, one of which is the miniaturization which I really liked. The effect is more dramatic if you’re positioned in a very elevated place (like a 10th floor building) and your subject is shot from above.
I also liked the Color Swap and the Color Accent (uses a picker to swap colors of subjects or mute everything else except a chosen color). Here’s a sample of a Color Accent using red.
There’s also an HDR effect but I found the output not that impressive. That or I just can’t get a good subject environment to test it with. The benefits of the HS system is not very evident but I found taking macro shots much easier and more accurate.
Camera performance ranges from good to exceptional — fast shutter speed, good focusing and a really nice combination of high ISO and large aperture opening allows for both creative shots and high-quality photos. The manual controls is really a bonus but I found the presets and custom settings more than adequate for most of my needs.
Video recording is also great at 720p HD although I found the lack of auto-focus in this mode a little disappointing.
The built-in flash pops from the top left side when needed although I rarely use it. Perhaps, one of the shortcomings of the S95 is the low-capacity Li-Ion battery. At just 1000mAh, it wouldn’t last you the whole day. I’d recommend getting a second and high-capacity battery (there’s a 2350mAh 3rd-party battery that costs about Php3,000).
Key features of the Canon S95:
10-megapixel CCD sensor
28mm wide, 3.8x zoom, Hybrid IS
lens control ring, full manual & RAW shots
3-inch PureColor II G LCD
720p HD movies, HDMI
High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode
The Canon Powershot S95 came in with a suggested retail price of Php27,950 but it has already gone down. Some sellers are offering it for as low as Php18,000. Got mine in Funan IT Mall in Singapore back in October for about the same price and came with an 8GB SD card. The S95 is a must-buy for those who are looking for an all-around point-and-shoot camera — just make sure you get a good deal for it. And don’t forget the extra batteries.