Canon PowerShot S95

The PowerShot S95 is an excellent compact camera that will complement any photographer's arsenal, provided you don't need super-fast performance specs.


8.5
CNET Rating
9.4
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

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.


There's an increasing demand for small cameras with manual controls, a demand fuelled by amateur photographers looking for a go-everywhere replacement for their digital SLR. Panasonic has had such a camera for a few years with the Lumix LX3, and its replacement the Lumix LX5, and last year Canon answered back with the PowerShot S90, which features manual controls and a wide, bright f/2 maximum aperture.

While we really liked the S90, there were a few issues that this camera needed to resolve before making it a real contender for the crown. Enter the S95, then.

Design and features

One of the perennial complaints about the S90 was its tendency to slip out of the hand due to its polished surface. The S95 gains a textured exterior that helps allay any fears of accidentally smashing a $600 piece of kit to smithereens.

Like the S90 before it, this camera features a rotating ring around the front of the lens that can be configured to change a number of shooting parameters, such as ISO, white balance and manual focus control. The button on top of the camera, labelled Ring Func., changes the parameter. A bright 3-inch LCD screen sits at the back of the camera; its resolution is 461,000 dots, but in use it's bright and very precise when reviewing.

Lens specifications are the same as the S90; 3.8x optical zoom with an f/2-4.9 maximum aperture. There again is the annoyingly placed pop-up flash that rises underneath your finger when the camera is held normally.

The biggest gain that the S95 has over the previous model is HD video recording (720p) at 24fps with stereo audio. While there's no manual control for movie mode, white balance and colour mode adjustments are available. The S95 also adds Canon's new Hybrid IS technology, which corrects camera shake from a number of different directions thanks to a built-in accelerometer.

Seasoned photographers will value the bracketing options: HDR-ready, which takes three shots at different exposures; and focus bracket, which takes three shots at different focal distances. Connectivity is taken care of via mini HDMI and mini USB ports. Note there's also an automatic HDR mode accessible from the scene mode menu.

Compared to

Here's how the S95 stacks up against these other do-it-all cameras:

XZ-1 vs
Canon PowerShot S95 Nikon Coolpix P300 Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic LX5
10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.7-inch) 12.2-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor (1/2.3-inch) 10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.63-inch) 10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.63-inch)
3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 610,000-dot OLED 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD
3.8x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle 4.2x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle 4x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle 3.8x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle
HD video (H.264, 720p, 24fps) Full HD video (H.264, 1080p, 30fps) HD video (Motion JPEG, 720p, 30fps) HD video (AVCHD Lite, 720p, 30fps)
Pop-up flash Pop-up flash Pop-up flash Pop-up flash

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Olympus XZ-11.41.11.90.3
  • Nikon Coolpix P3001.520.6
  • Panasonic Lumix LX52.21.42.60.3
  • Canon PowerShot S952.42.22.50.4

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Olympus XZ-12.1
  • Nikon Coolpix P3005
  • Panasonic Lumix LX52.6
  • Canon PowerShot S951.9

Canon rates the battery of the S95 at 200 shots, 20 less than the S90.

Image quality

The S90's big strength was its image quality, and the S95 consistently matches it beat-for-beat. Colour rendition is accurate with particularly strong blues and greens. The camera seems to cope well with difficult exposures even in automatic mode, choosing to under- or overexpose using the exposure compensation accordingly.

Images are clean and mostly noise-free up to ISO 400, though there is some digital processing visible on JPEG shots. The image stabilisation system does do well at slow shutter speeds, but it can't compensate entirely for shaky hands or low-light use without a tripod.

Like the S90, the S95 is very competent with macro shots and the lens sharpness is very impressive, capturing clear detail across the frame.

S95 sharpness

Consistent sharpness from the S95's lens. 100 per cent crop inset. (Credit: CBSi)

Video quality is really very impressive for a compact of this class. They're stored as MOV files in H.264 and while there's no external mic input, the sound quality is up there with the best we've seen on this type of camera. There is no optical zoom during filming, though.

Image samples

Click each image below for JPEGs straight from the S95. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.

Exposure: 1/100, f/4, ISO 160

Exposure: 1/125, f/3.2, ISO 250

Exposure: 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 80, -0.7EV

Exposure: 1/800, f/4, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 500

Exposure: 1/30, f/2, ISO 800

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The PowerShot S95 is an excellent compact camera that will complement any photographer's arsenal, provided you don't need super-fast performance specs.

Previous Story

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX9

Digital Cameras
Next Story

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX5



Add Your Review 10


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
JasonH4 Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Best compact DC in the market"

JasonH4 posted a review   

The Good:Great image quality, photo editing and control buttons, most importantly the size

The Bad:Did not offer the features that suits it's price range. (Zoom, Macro, Full HD, F1.8, high res screen. etc)

I bought a second hand one and it works great for my holiday trip, however to some extent the camera was a bit disappointment such as taking a really close photo using macro, doesn't have optical zooming while recording videos.

The features can be better for how much it cost, was comparing the S95 with Nikon P300, I played on both, P300 can not focus well when it zoomed in and the feeling of the camera just doesn't feel as good as s95.

Overall this camera works great for a beginner and it does takes very good quality photos in the DC range.

The Lord
10
Rating
 

The Lord posted a review   

The Good:Awesome little camera with XLNT all round image quality

The Bad:Wish i had brought one sooner

After many digital cameras & SLR's over many years i have finally found a camera i cannot fault. This compact camera still amazes me with it's quality images and host of features easily understood within a few hours. I had read reviews as everyone does before a purchase & with an abundance of good reviews i am glad i went with my instinct. Previous to this selection i had purchased a Panasonic FZ100 with the intentions of selling my FZ50 which i had been very happy with but felt maybe the FZ100 was a better camera. I was a bit confused with the new addition of the CMOS sensor over the CCD. I was very dissapointed with the FZ100 & wouldn't have anything good to say about it was over priced for average quality images i have been a dedicated phototgrapher for many years so i know it is not lack of knowledge. Anyway i ended up keeping the FZ50 instead and decided to purchase a smaller convenient compact and the Canon S95 is by far the best decision i have made in my many camera purchases, WELL DONE CANON.

Scotian
9
Rating
 

Scotian posted a review   

The Good:Loaded with features that you ACTUALLY use, extremely flexible, awesome IS, sweet F2.0 and obviously, pocketable

The Bad:AF a bit slow sometimes, only F4.9 at full zoom

The best camera I've ever had. Not the best in absolute term, but the best in fitting what I was looking for, in the sense that I was looking for small and most of its limitations are a direct consequence of its size. Apart from that, none of its other flaws is really major to me :
- limited video - I don't shoot much video anyway
- smaller zoom than some / less wide angle than some - but, still,28-105 is quite sensible.
- only 5 cm min macro range - being picky...
- slow continuous shooting mode - don't give a damn...
- only one "C" custom mode - more would be nice
- no viewfinder - I found myself using viewfinders less and less. And where would you have put it ?

Honestly, I don't really see how a truly pocketable camera could be much better today at this price...

Hugh
10
Rating
 

Hugh posted a review   

The Good:For a camera such as this everything

The Bad:For a camera such as this nothing

The only bad thing I can say about this camera is all the dust forming on my big clumky DSLR.

Adam
9
Rating
 

Adam posted a review   

The Good:Fantastic image quality, RAW shooting, full manual control

The Bad:Slower than it should be at this price point

I wanted the best compact camera available to take with me everywhere. After many hours of testing and reading up on other cameras, I decided that the S95 was the camera I was after. Now that I have had it for about three weeks, I am not dissapointed AT ALL. This camera has been a pleasure to take photo's with. It consistently achieves higher than average image quality results, whilst at the same time being small enough to slip into your pocket. I would recommend this camera over the Panasonic LX-5 purely because of size. I am one happy Canon user.

 

Ethan posted a comment   

Adding to my review: I'm loving this camera more than my d90. This camera has forced me to worry about composition more than any other- the simplicity has let me focus on what really matters. Call me a biased Ken Rockwell fan, but I see what he means now.

Ethan
9
Rating
 

Ethan posted a review   

The Good:great flexibilty in a very portable device

The Bad:... it comes with a lousy strap?

Great camera, BUT... consider, that for the same price or a little more, you could get a very decent DSLR. If you are used to a dslr's versatility or quality, don't expect the same here, or in any compact camera- no matter how expensive for that matter. But then again, the portability makes this a far better choice if you cant be bothered carrying around a kilo of kit. Also, people aren't scared off if you point it at them.

 

syxt9r posted a reply   

seriously, does anybody ever expect dslr pic quality from a compact point & shoot camera?

 

Ziggy posted a comment   

The Good:The whole works..It does what Canon claims

The Bad:Waited too long to buy one

I am 70 years old....do not remember how many cameras I've had. All I need these days is top shirt pocket versatile camera. Even my wife is able to take great shots. Teenagers grasp manual control functions in abou 30 seconds.(Grandson). Better than latest Lumix ( again refer to my Grandson) Best travel Camera I could possibly imagine. 'It's cool' (again refer my tech wiz Grandson)
Do not serch or research the market if this is the type of camera you want.Just buy one!.RRP means nothing..competative market.Well done Canon

Ziggy

bumper947
9
Rating
 

bumper947 posted a review   

The Good:Wonderful flexibility

The Bad:Zoom is a bit limited

I bought this camera because of the manual controls available. I did not want an automatic but wanted an automatic option available. The quality of the pics I have taken is absolutely superb.....I am over the moon with them. Compared to my older Casio point and shoot its like comparing chalk and cheese. The camera is really quite easy to use, it took me a couple of days of playing around with it to appreciate the finer aspects and capabilities. All I can say is that this camera is a little beauty!!




Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Canon PowerShot S95

  • JasonH4

    JasonH4

    Rating10

    "I bought a second hand one and it works great for my holiday trip, however to some extent the camera was a bit disappointment such as taking a really close photo using macro, doesn't have optical z..."

  • The Lord

    The Lord

    Rating10

    "After many digital cameras & SLR's over many years i have finally found a camera i cannot fault. This compact camera still amazes me with it's quality images and host of features easily understood ..."

  • Scotian

    Scotian

    Rating9

    "The best camera I've ever had. Not the best in absolute term, but the best in fitting what I was looking for, in the sense that I was looking for small and most of its limitations are a direct cons..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products