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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-LX5 Samsung TL500
Sensor (effective resolution) 10-megapixel CCD 12-megapixel BSI CMOS 12-megapixel EXR CMOS 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD
1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 2/3-inch 1/1.63-inch 1/1.63-inch 1/1.7-inch
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 3,200 ISO 80 - 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 12,800 ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 80 - ISO 3,200 ISO 80 - ISO 3,200
Lens 28-105mm
Closest focus (inches) 2.0 1.2 n/a 0.4 0.4 2.0
Continuous shooting 1.9fps
frames n/a
23 JPEG/8 raw
3 JPEG/n/a raw
Viewfinder None None Optical Optional EVF Optional OVF or EVF Optical
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
n/a 11 area
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Metering n/a n/a n/a 324 area n/a
Shutter 15-1/1,600 sec n/a 30 - 1/4,000 sec 60-1/2,000 sec; bulb to 16 min 60-1/4,000 sec 16-1/5,000 sec
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD 3-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 stabilization Optical Optical Optical Sensor shift Optical Optical
Video (best quality) 720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV Stereo 720/30p Motion JPEG AVI
720/30p AVCHD Lite
30fps VGA H.264 MP4
Manual iris and shutter in video No Yes n/a No Yes No
Optical zoom while recording No n/a n/a Yes Yes Yes
Mic input No No n/a Yes No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 220 shots 200 shots 300 shots (est) 320 shots 400 shots 350 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 4.6 x 2.7 x 2.2 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.2
Weight (ounces) 6.8 7.0 12.3 (est) 9.3 9.2 13.1
Mfr. price $399.99 $429.99 n/a $499.99 $449.99 $449.99
Availability August 2010 November 2011 November 2011 January 2011 August 2010 July 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.