Product Type: Canon digital cameras
Newest Review: ... camera but also has many manual functions similar to a DSLR, which allows us to take professional looking photos, all on this brilliant l... more
The compact camera allegedly favoured by professionals is also favoured by me!
Canon Powershot S95
Member Name: MarieHHH
Canon Powershot S95
Advantages: size, weight, picture quality, features
Disadvantages: cost, battery life, no viewfinder
A while ago I became a photography enthusiast and invested in a whizzy 'semi-professional' digital SLR with some amazing lenses that extended out to envious proportions and allowed me to compose and take superb photos. But, it weighs a lot (over a kilogram with my favourite lense attached) and required a small sack to lug it all around. The result was that I realised I was missing lots of the photos I wanted to take as I was too lazy/it was too inconvenient to take my camera with me. So, around a month ago I embarked on a quest to find a truly compact camera whose photo quality and versatility could come close to my 'proper' camera. The result was me purchasing the canon S95. But did it live up to the high standards I set it?
The S95 definitely fulfils my 'compact' requirement, measuring slightly under 10cm by 6cm by 3cm. It therefore fits easily into even my smallest handbag, or my husbands jacket pocket. It is also blissfully light (coming in at under 200g on my kitchen scales) yet feels quite 'solid', feeling more 'metal' than 'plastic.' It has no grip as such, which can make it feel a slightly precarious to handle, but it is coated in a substance supposed to help you keep hold of it. Everything is very contained and fairly flush to the camera, including the flash which pops out of the top left (and surprised one of my friends who had borrowed it and had their finger over this area while it was trying to pop out!)
The back is mainly taken up by the screen (7.5cm across) along with a small cluster of control buttons on the right hand side. The screen is essential as there is no viewfinder (a new experience for me.)
For those into the basic aesthetics of it: its matt black, modern-looking and utterly inoffensive.
Firstly, allowed me a spot of geeky number quoting (if this doesn't interest you, skip to the next paragraph) The lense allows a focal length equivalent to 28 to 105mm (=covering most photos you'll likely to want to take) with an aperture of f/2.0-f/4.9 (=sensible range). Shutter speeds covered go from 1 to 1/1600 of a second, and ISOs from 80 to 3200.
In short, the basic specs of the camera live up to those of a basic digital SLR but in a far smaller product. So, in theory it has the power to take good 'basic' photos.
Away from 'basics', it also has a range of 'fun' features that can produce some interesting photos with absolute minimal effort, including a 'fish eye' (middle of photo big, outside smaller), 'colour select' (photo comes out in black and white with just one predetermined feature colour, for example all black and white except for any red bits) and 'poster' (which makes everything a bit 'pop art' and bright.) Of course all these can be achieved with any camera and Photoshop/ equivalent program, but this just makes it faster and easier.
It also has an acceptable-quality built-in video recorder.
As a novel added extra, if you have a spare £200 you could buy a special case for it allowing you to use it up to 40m underwater.
Using the camera
The joy of this compact for me is that it can be used either as a simple 'press button, get photo' camera or virtually as a 'semi-pro' camera with you controlling the shutter speed, aperture, iso and white balance. This means that it can be incredibly easy to use (press on button, press shutter, get photo) or can be more 'rewarding' as you control the variables yourself. The problem with controlling the variables yourself is of course that since its so compact its all rather fiddly and this obviously prevents it being used as a fully manual camera in most situations.
The photos produced so far have, in general, been of a quality comparable to that which I got from my D-SLR at 'normal photo' printing size. The only disappointing ones have been those taken in low light in 'auto' mode which were taken at high ISO and were therefore predictably grainy.
The battery life (quoted by Canon at around 200 photos) has not so far been a problem but I feel I may wish to invest in a spare battery before taking it away on holiday.
Downloading the photos to computer was completely hassle-free - I didn't even need to install any additional software onto my mac - I literally just connected the camera and away it went!
When researching which camera to buy the fact that this camera is often owned by real professional photographers as their 'always on them' camera sold it to me - if its good enough for them, I figured it would be good enough for me. And my experience of it has lived up to this expectation. Its easy to keep on you, it has a great range of features and takes good photos.
The main downsides for me are the lack of a viewfinder (somehow I just find it hard to compose a photo on the screen) and the not particularly impressive battery life.
The other issue is of course the price - at currently around £300, plus the cost of a memory card, case and most likely a spare battery, its not cheap.
However, overall it is definitely worth it and I have no regrets.
Summary: Worth it!
|Ease of use:|