Canon PowerShot S90 review: Canon PowerShot S90

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Typical Price: £380.00

Canon PowerShot S90

(Part #: CNETCanon PowerShot S90)
4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

5 stars 3 user reviews

The Good Superb control ring on lens; excellent image quality; able to shoot raw files; compact body; straightforward design.

The Bad Rear controller can be frustrating; lack of a hi-def movie mode.

The Bottom Line The Canon PowerShot S90 is a cracker. It's not just elegant, compact and beautifully made -- it also combines high-end photographic controls with a straightforward interface, a seriously good lens and image quality that raises the bar for all other camera makers

8.8 Overall
CNET Editors' Choice Nov '09

The pocket-sized, 10-megapixel PowerShot S90 marks the return of Canon's S series. Pitched just below the PowerShot G11, the company's flagship compact camera, the S90 boasts similar high-end features in a much smaller body. But is it really worth around £380?

Punches above its weight
The S90 may be the mighty G11's smaller brother, but what has the G11 got that the S90 hasn't, apart from twice the bulk? Just like the G11, the S90 has the program auto-exposure, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes that professionals and enthusiasts will demand, plus a couple of dozen scene modes for the less experienced.

This test shot shows dense, saturated colours, first-rate definition and less barrel distortion than you get with the G11. The S90 might be small, but it delivers excellent image quality (click image to enlarge)

Like the G11, the S90 has a new 10-megapixel sensor designed for improved overall image quality and better high-ISO performance. Opting for 10 megapixels is a bold move in a market where the highest-possible resolution still seems to count for everything, but it's paid off, because, although you don't quite get digital SLR performance, you do still get excellent image quality.

The G11 has a 5x wideangle zoom, whereas the S90 only has a 3.8x zoom. But the S90 has an f2 maximum aperture, whereas the G11's is f2.8. In other words, the S90's lens has twice the light-gathering power, at least at the wideangle end of the zoom range.

The spinning rear controller can be rather frustrating, but the S90's build quality is excellent

The G11 has an articulating, 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD display, but the S90's is slightly larger, at 76mm (3 inches), and has the same 461,000-pixel resolution. Also, although the G11 has those rather wonderful external knobs and dials, the S90 offers an old-fashioned control ring around the lens that can be used for anything from ISO to lens-aperture adjustment, and it works beautifully.

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