Canon PowerShot S95 review

Canon’s 10-megapixel S95, upgrade to the S90, is aimed at photo enthusiasts who value the portability of a snapshot model but don’t want to forego creative control. Notably, it includes a manually operated function ring that encircles the lens barrel. Key functions, such as adjusting focal length in incremental steps, can be attributed to this and activated with a time-saving twist of the wrist.

As well as improved handling, the S95 is slightly slimmer than its predecessor with a depth of 29.5mm, yet incorporates a 3.8x optical zoom lens that offers a focal range equivalent to 28-105mm in 35mm film terms. A pop-up flash is sunk into the top plate, while a shooting mode dial at the opposite edge includes Smart Auto, which compares any subject against 28 pre-programmed variables. With no optical viewfinder, pictures are composed via a clear 3in, 461k-dot resolution LCD.

Like Nikon’s P7000 and Panasonic’s LX5, the PowerShot S95 feels solid despite its smaller form factor. Canon has thoughtfully provided a roughened texture to its flat surface, the same as on its EOS 7D DSLR, to stop fingers slipping – useful in the absence of a handgrip.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is the S95’s asking price. At just shy of £400, you could alternatively secure an entry-level DSLR. Still, as well as manual control you get to shoot unprocessed Raw files alongside standard JPEGs, multi-frame HDR images to preserve both highlight and shadow detail, plus, less surprisingly, HD movie recording capability – here 1,280 x 720 pixels at 24fps with stereo sound. Canon has also found space for HDMI output alongside standard AV port under a flap at the camera’s side. Unfortunately, because of the optical zoom’s operational buzz, only the digital zoom is accessible when shooting video.

Stills-wise, we found the S95 to be a reliable tool, delivering even exposures and colours that erred on the side of the naturalistic, with minimal barrel distortion when shooting at maximum 28mm-equivalent wide-angle setting.

OUR VERDICT

Noise is well hidden up to and including ISO1600, and even at ISO3200 images are usable. When shooting handheld indoors we did get occasional blur from camera shake. Inevitably, a small form factor has its compromises, but few here are insurmountable.

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