Canon replaces PowerShot S95 with S100 and better video, GPS

The company's new version of its popular camera gets some nice features, but a higher price tag as well.

Canon USA

The back has an improved thumb rest and a direct movie record button.

Updated September 15, 2011: The original post contained errors based on incorrect specs originally provided by Canon.

The Canon PowerShot S95 is a very good, popular camera with some commonly complained about flaws: among those are the poor flash design, lack of a grip, narrow maximum aperture at the telephoto end of the zoom range, short battery life, slow performance and relatively expensive price. With the S100, Canon seemingly addresses a few of these--the addition of a small grip looks like the exception--though it does add some desirable new features: a wider-angle 24mm start to the zoom range, manual controls and zooming during video, and a built-in GPS.

Here's the product landscape into which Canon's releasing the S100:

  Canon PowerShot S95 Canon PowerShot S100 Fujifilm FinePix X10 Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5Samsung TL500
Sensor (effective resolution)10-megapixel CCD12-megapixel BSI CMOS12-megapixel EXR CMOS10-megapixel CCD10-megapixel CCD10-megapixel CCD
1/1.7-inch1/1.7-inch2/3-inch1/1.63-inch1/1.63-inch1/1.7-inch
Sensitivity rangeISO 80 - ISO 3,200ISO 80 - 6,400ISO 100 - ISO 12,800ISO 100 - ISO 6,400ISO 80 - ISO 3,200ISO 80 - ISO 3,200
Lens28-105mm
f2-4.9
3.8x
24-120mm
f2-5.9
5x
28-112mm
f2-2.8
28-112mm
f1.8-2.5
4x
24-90mm
f2-3.3
3.8x
24-72mm
f1.8-2.4
3x
Closest focus (inches)2.01.2n/a0.40.42.0
Continuous shooting1.9fps
frames n/a
2.3fps
n/a
7fps
n/a
2fps
23 JPEG/8 raw
2.5fps
3 JPEG/n/a raw
1.1fps
n/a
ViewfinderNoneNoneOpticalOptional EVFOptional OVF or EVFOptical
Autofocusn/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a11 area
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
Meteringn/an/an/a324 arean/a
n/a
Shutter15-1/1,600 secn/a30 - 1/4,000 sec60-1/2,000 sec; bulb to 16 min60-1/4,000 sec16-1/5,000 sec
FlashYesYesYesYesYesYes
Hot shoeNoNoYesYesYesYes
LCD3-inch fixed
461,000 dots
3-inch fixed
461,000 dots
2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed OLED
610,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated AMOLED
920,000 dots
Image stabilizationOpticalOpticalOpticalSensor shiftOpticalOptical
Video (best quality)720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo720/30p Motion JPEG AVI
Mono
720/30p AVCHD Lite
Monaural
30fps VGA H.264 MP4
Monaural
Manual iris and shutter in videoNoYesn/aNoYesNo
Optical zoom while recordingNon/an/aYesYesYes
Mic inputNoNon/aYesNoNo
Battery life (CIPA rating)220 shots200 shots300 shots (est)320 shots400 shots350 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches)3.9 x 2.3 x 1.23.9 x 2.3 x 1.14.6 x 2.7 x 2.24.4 x 2.6 x 1.74.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.2
Weight (ounces)6.87.012.3 (est)9.39.2 13.1
Mfr. price $399.99 $429.99 n/a$499.99$449.99$449.99
Availability August 2010 November 2011November 2011January 2011August 2010July 2010
Canon will offer a silver model.

(Note 9/16/2011: Canon has now informed me that it's not a BSI sensor.) Maybe Canon will surprise us with the photo quality, though I'm not a big fan of BSI (backside-illuminated) sensors for high-quality shooting (they're great for low-light snapshot photography and video). Canon ups the image processing to Digic 5--but given the change in sensors that was probably necessary--and claims improved shooting in auto. It also has the rather useless High Quality Burst mode, which captures 8 frames in 9.6fps. Canon has said nothing about real performance improvements, which I find worrisome.

Then there's the price. I understand that with the addition of the new features it makes sense that the camera gets more expensive. But people complained about the S95's $400 price tag; $430 may just break the bank. And in case you were wondering, as far as I know Canon doesn't intend to update the G12 in 2011.

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