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Canon PowerShot S100 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £382
inc VAT

Stunning image quality for a conventional compact camera, but shot-to-shot performance and battery life just keep it from top marks


1/1.7in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (24-120mm equivalent), 198g

Expert Reviews is proud to bring you this Canon PowerShot S100 review from Short Sharp Reviews – click through to YouTube for a 1080p HD version

The compact camera market has never been so vibrant, with compact system cameras (CSCs) from all the big manufacturers battling it out for pole position. All, that is, except Canon. It has yet to reveal its intentions in the CSC market, but judging by the PowerShot S100, it might not be in any hurry.

The S100 is part of an older school of premium compact camera design. There’s no big SLR-style sensor, and no interchangeable lenses. Its 1/1.7in sensor is a little bigger than those in most compact cameras, though. We’ve often seen this type of sensor give a significant boost to image quality over cameras with 1/2.3in sensors.

Canon PowerShot S100

Unlike CSCs, the S100 is genuinely pocket-sized, weighing 198g and measuring 26mm deep. It’s also significantly smaller than the Nikon P7100, which uses the same sized sensor but weighs 395g and is 48mm deep.

The S100 can’t match the P7100 for the sheer number of controls, but with its mode dial and two rings – one encircling the lens and the other around the navigation pad – adjusting exposure settings is quicker than on most CSCs. A button cycles the lens ring’s function through various options including ISO speed, exposure compensation and zoom, and its default assignment changes depending on the selected exposure mode. A Function menu gives convenient access to various other photographic settings, while less commonly used options are in a separate menu. Manual focus and exposure are well implemented, but the option to move the spot-focus point could be quicker to access.

Canon PowerShot S100

We’d have liked general performance to be quicker, too. It took 2.4 seconds to switch on and shoot. Subsequent shots were 2.5 seconds apart, rising to 2.7 seconds in raw mode and 7.6 seconds with the flash at full power. These aren’t terrible results but they fall well short of the fastest compact cameras and even the slowest CSCs. Continuous mode was better, with a dedicated scene preset that captured eight shots at 9.1fps. The screen was blank during capture, though, and there’s limited control over other settings in this mode. Alternative continuous modes ran at 1.9fps with full control over the camera, or 0.8fps with continuous autofocus.

Canon PowerShot S100

The Canon S95‘s slim, smooth body wasn’t the easiest thing to hold, so it’s good to see a plastic ridge to grip onto this time around. It couldn’t be much smaller, though – a more substantial design would have made the camera much more comfortable to hold without compromising portability.

A GPS radio is built in, but tagging accuracy was a little erratic and the majority of our photos weren’t tagged at all. We’d be tempted to leave the GPS function off, especially as it diminishes battery life. Even with GPS switched off, it’ll only last for 200 shots between charges. Recording videos really taxes the battery, too – the battery indicator often starting flashing during video recording, even though it was only recently charged up. On one occasion it ran out while recording, but we were still able to take two further minutes of videos and dozens more photos on the same charge.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/1.7in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 461,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 24-120mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 24fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none supplied
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 200 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material magnesium alloy
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 198g
Size 60x99x26mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £382

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 15 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2-8 (wide), f/5.9-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 6400
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV
White balance auto, 7 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, red, green, blue, skin tone, noise reduction, ND filter, dynamic range correction
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 3cm
Auto-focus modes flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, focus bracket, HDR