Canon PowerShot S95 full 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.

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