Canon has just announced the update to its popular Powershot S-series with the new S100. Unlike the jump from the S90 to the S95, the new one has quite a few changes. Most notable, it has a new lens, new sensor, and new processing engine. I’ve been a user of the S90 since its release two years ago, and it’s very exciting to see the series evolve. Let’s examine what’s new and how it compares to the old models.
The switch to the 24mm lens will be welcome for many photographers who value a wide angle. Panasonic’s LX-3 and LX-5 always had the monopoly on the wide angle lens in this market segment. The extra reach of 120mm will be welcome too. Although the new lens is a bit slower at the long end at f/5.9; it’s not even half a stop, so what’s the fuss all about? One nice surprise is that the new lens can focus up to 3cm in macro mode, a noticeable improvement from 5cm on the S90/95, but not quite as good as the Olympus XZ-1 at 1cm. The new sensor is 12 MP, while the rest of it’s peers have stuck to 10 MP, although it is CMOS instead of CCD. We’ll have to see how it pans out and if Canon keeps the low noise crown in this segment. It’s sad to note that the S100 has lost several external controls: the shortcut button and the drive mode. I am a frequent user of both of those buttons, but with the ever useful Func. button, those options won’t be too far away. The new nods towards ergonomic comfort are very welcome, with the padded thumb grip on the back and the vertical slit on the front. It’s a touch larger than the old models, though only by a fraction; it will still be plenty pocketable. It also has built-in GPS for instant geo-tagging. Although not as minimalist as the previous models, it’s still a beautiful camera that will probably sell like hotcakes.
Compared to S95
- 24-120mm F2.0-5.9 (vs 28-105mm F2.0-4.9)
- 12.1 MP 1/1.7″ Canon CMOS sensor (vs 10 MP CCD)
- 3cm macro (vs 5cm)
- DIGIC 5 image processor (vs DIGIC 4)
- ISO 80-6400 (vs 3200 max)
- 2.3 fps continuous shooting (vs 0.9)
- Full HD (1080p) video recording (vs 720p)
- Optical zoom in movie mode
- Super slow motion movie recording
- Built-in neutral density filter
- Direct movie record button
- Built-in GPS unit with image tagging
Overall, despite a few niggles it looks like a compelling upgrade, and I’ll probably be trading my trusted S90 in for one of these bad boys. It’s also interesting to see that the S100 also comes in a matte silver option, although I’ll stick with black.