S100 is a third reincarnation of Canon’s S series that started in 2009 with S90. A year later, Canon lunched an improved version and called it S95 in 2010. Finally, in late 2011 S100 was launched.
We have used S90 as our main family point-and-shoot for a couple of years and have been quite happy with it bar some usability annoyances like the way-too-loose rear wheel that is so easy to move by accident, inability to use optical zoom when shooting video etc. But then, a few weeks ago, the flash stopped working. When I found out that the repair would cost me £65 (which is about how much you can now sell S90 for on ebay) I felt it would be more sensible to upgrade to something a bit more up to date. After a bit of research and after considering several other cameras like Nikon 1 and Fuji X10 I again settled on Canon. The main aspects influencing my choice were (in priority order):
- Image quality
- Size and portability
- Build quality
S100 in my opinion offers a great balance of these four parameters — it makes great pictures, it is quite compact (98.9 x 59.9 x 26.7 mm), build quality is great (metal) and is still rather affordable (just under £300 if you are lucky).
Overall, the camera is faithful to the S90 legacy in terms of overall design style, menu system and controls. I was quite pleasantly surprised how much smaller the camera is compared to the S90 though. The body surface now has a “texture” so it’s much easier and secure to handle. It also sports a rubber “mini grip” on the back as well as a thin vertical rubber strap on the front. Both of these design changes are really useful, even though I would prefer the “grip” on the front to be a bit more profiled. One additional rather nice and practical touch is the dedicated record button on the back that allows you to start movie recording instantly regardless of the mode selected — it saves the precious moments when you are trying to catch something that in a hurry.
Spec-wise, Canon upped most of the parameters and a new zoom lens (slightly wider as well as longer - 5.2 ~ 26mm f/2.0 ~ 5.9, equivalent to 24 ~ 120mm), full HD movies (1080/24p), and 12 MP (rather surprisingly) CMOS sensor. Another thing worth mentioning specifically is that S100 feels much faster than S90 — it starts faster, it shoots faster. This makes a big difference especially when you have kids and need to be fast with your camera to capture “the moment”. Of course, as before, you can still use fully manual control as well as the usual P, Av, Tv, C and Auto modes.
I am not entirely impressed by the built-in lens cover which is rather flimsy (just a soft touch with a fingertip is enough to open it) and that I think may prove a little problematic when carried around without a case. Talking about a case — Canon’s own PSC-900 leather case looks lovely but is not really suitable for carrying in a bag or a rucksack — too fancy. Instead, we use a “zippable” semi-hard case that protects the camera better, does not increase the overall size too much and we don’t have to worry that the camera will accidentally fall out. Yes, it does not look that great, but it does the job it is supposed to do rather well.
I am very happy with the new S100. Still early days of course, but so far it seems that in the two years since S90 launched, the S-series made a big leap forward — S100 is a great camera and I would readily recommend it.
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