Canon PowerShot S100 review

Updating the S95, the S100 is described by Canon as a “serious compact” and comes in regulation black to prove it. Flat-fronted and pocket sized, with an unobtrusive pop-up flash, it boasts a roughened coating that recalls a DSLR and aids grip in lieu of a proper handgrip. Worth singling out are its brighter-than-average f/2 aperture lens – the smaller the number the more light let in, the more light the, theoretically, better the quality – and integral GPS. The S100 also features Canon’s Digic 5 processor for faster operational responses, with added benefit of up to 75 per cent better noise reduction.

The 12.1-megapixel stills resolution and 5x optical zoom may sound so-so, but, like the Sony, the Canon’s focal range starts at an ultra-wide 24mm for landscape shots and group portraits, going up to 120mm – the relative lack of zoom power at least affording a slim 26.7mm depth. As this is a pocket camera most likely used handheld, the lens is supported by no fewer than seven types of image stabilisation, for sharp results when zooming, tracking action, or snapping close-ups.

With a choice of standard JPEG or unprocessed Raw files sure to appeal to enthusiasts, the real USP here is the funky Control Ring that encircles the lens. A twist of this ring alters shutter speed, ISO light sensitivity and aperture for anyone preferring a more hands-on approach.

The alternative is a Smart Auto option that compares whatever’s in front of the lens with 32 presets and automatically selects the most appropriate – useful when you want to keep your eyes on the subject.

Canon’s latest premium compact with its funky Control Ring offers a high performance alternative to a Canon G12 or DSLR

OUR VERDICT

Under the bonnet is a choice of either 1,920 x 1,080 video clips with stereo sound, or slow-motion ‘movies’ recorded at either 240fps or 120fps, plus at the other end of the scale 9.6fps stills at full resolution for action photography. In practice the modest lens reach meant we had to get in fairly close to any action, with the S100’s Achilles heel being its less than impressive battery life of just 200 shots from a full charge. Though it’s not the cheapest option, a lot has been packed in to its compact chassis, and ultimately the PowerShot S100 is the camera of choice for those looking for the most powerful Canon in the most pocketable form.

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