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The S90's photo quality is impressive for a compact camera. However, like most of Canon's PowerShot line, ISO 400 is about the limit before you start seeing softening of fine detail. On the other hand, noise is minimal and the suppression isn't heavy to the point of destroying all detail until ISO 3,200. The S90 lives up to Canon's improved low-light performance claims. Colors are also consistent through to ISO 1,600, so usable photos at small print sizes are possible.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
If you like shooting macro, the S90 will give you nice, sharp photos with lots of fine detail. Nothing ever looked overprocessed, either.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Taken handheld at ISO 800 at dusk (1/25 at f/2). Though her eyelashes are fuzzy, detail is still plenty good enough to get a good print at 8x10 or smaller. And other than a slight graininess to the background, there's no noise to speak of.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
The f/2 lens at work in macro.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
There's a small amount of barrel distortion at the camera's widest 28mm-equivalent position (top). The zoom is short on this camera--3.8x--so I didn't expect to find any pincushion distortion and there wasn't any (bottom).
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
What I did see was chromatic aberration. It was a below average amount in situations like the one pictured where you expect to see it. It's noticeable in prints of 8x10 inches or larger (especially if you're sensitive to it).
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
Colors were excellent from the little compact. Exposure and white balance were also generally very good from the S90, though as typical from pocket cameras there was highlight clipping.
Caption by / Photo by Joshua Goldman/CNET
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