Canon PowerShot S200

The PowerShot S200 is a fun little camera to use, provided you don't need RAW capture or Full HD video recording.

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

About 10 years ago, Canon released a 2-megapixel camera into the world called the PowerShot S200. This is not a review of that camera.

Design and features

Fast-forward to today, and Canon is several generations into its S series of advanced compact models. The names may be recycled, but the specs certainly are not. One of the key calling cards of any S series model today is the rotating ring around the lens that is used to change shooting parameters.

The S200 is no exception in this regard, with the ring moving around the lens with satisfying clicks, simulating the effect of stopping up and down the lens. The camera is svelte enough to slide surreptitiously inside any pocket, handbag or carrying case without bulk.

The Wi-Fi functionality on the S200 is easy to use.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Due to the petite stature of the S200, it may be a touch too small for larger hands to handle. There is a wrist strap included in the box should you find it slipping out of your hands, although an extra indentation or textured grip on the front would be appreciated.

Despite the higher number and naming convention, the S200 is actually less featured than the S120, which was released at the same time. The S200 comes with a 10.1-megapixel high-sensitivity CCD sensor (rather than the more common CMOS) and Canon's older Digic V processor. At the rear, a 3-inch screen offers a fairly average 461,000-dot resolution.

This camera is also a bit of a trade-off in terms of valuable features. For example, you get Wi-Fi included but lose out on RAW image capture, something that is very useful for more advanced photographers.

The lens extends to 5x optical zoom, with the option to get a little closer with digital zoom. In terms of maximum aperture, it starts off quite bright at f/2.0 and then stops down rather dramatically as you extend through the focal-length range — down to f/8.

Most of the controls are accessible from the mode dial at the top, including full Program, Aperture, Shutter and Manual (PASM) control, as well as automatic, live mode and scene modes. The Wi-Fi functionality works well, just like all other Canon compacts that have wireless connections. Users can send photos to a smartphone, as well as tag images with GPS information from a smartphone log.


General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 5
    Panasonic Lumix SZ9
  • 1.9
    Canon PowerShot S200

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Canon rates the battery at 200 shots.

Image quality

Colours on default settings are punchy, delivering the typical results from Canon compacts. Expect vibrant greens and blues, with a touch of oversaturation to make everything pop. It's the ideal scenario for point-and-shoot lovers.

Exposures are accurate and hit a good balance of detail in light and shade areas when using automatic mode. The lens is reasonably sharp at the centre but does drop off towards the left-hand side. Depending on the scene, the S200 can smear some highly detailed shots thanks to a touch of over processing.

As you can see from the 100 per cent crop (inset), details can look a bit smudgy in busy areas.
(Credit: CBSi)

Fortunately, the lens displays very little chromatic aberration at the wide end.

Images stay clean up to and including ISO 400. As the sensitivity climbs, noise starts to creep in on photos, though the results are not at all bad until the upper echelons. The S200 can hit a maximum of ISO 6400.

As mentioned before, video recording is only provided at 720p rather than Full HD. Still, the quality is adequate for most purposes, like sharing on YouTube or social networks. Canon does allow you to use both the optical and digital zoom when filming.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/320, f/4, ISO 80

Exposure: 1/100, f/5.6, ISO 320

Exposure: 1/160, f/4, ISO 400

Exposure: 1/60, f/4, ISO 1600

(Credit: CBSi)


The PowerShot S200 is a fun little camera to use, provided you don't need RAW capture or Full HD video recording.

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