I just bought my first new camera in 3.5 years, not counting iPhones. The Canon S95 replaces my old compact, a Canon SD400. It fills a niche between my SLR (Nikon D80) and my camera phone (iPhone 4). It’s a pretty awesome piece of gear, but maybe not for everyone.
Why You Want It
- The build quality is solid, it feels good
- Nice wide angle on the stabilized, 3.8x zoom lens
- Full manual control
- Customizable control wheel around lens and a thumb click wheel on the back
- 1/1.7″ sensor nearly twice the size of SD400′s 1/2.5″ sensor
- LCD screen is big and pretty
- Lighter than its competitors at 195 g (.4 lb)
Basically, it’s the best ‘luxury’ compact camera on the market, just as the S90 was before it. But don’t take my word for it – read the reviews at Ken Rockwell, CNET and an excellent comparison with competing models at Digital Photography Review.
I especially appreciate that it doesn’t try and be like an SLR by including a hot shoe or optical viewfinder. Instead it just tries to be a really nice compact camera, and succeeds.
Why You Don’t Need It
- It’s pocket-able, but not tiny – it’s not the ELPH form factor
- Optical zoom is 3.8x, I wish it zoomed farther
- Macro distance is 5cm, I wish it focused closer
- 10 megapixel images don’t compare to my SLR’s 10 MP images
- Difficult to manipulate controls with one hand
- Battery life is just OK
If you’re not a photo enthusiast and don’t plan on taking ‘artsy’ photos, then this camera is definitely overkill. A smaller, cheaper compact camera will give you plenty of features without the confusing manual controls.
It’s no SLR, so don’t expect it to be. I wish it focused a little closer, was easier to use with one hand and didn’t rely so heavily on a menu-based system for selecting options. I think I’ll come to overlook those issues as I become more comfortable using it – they’re not major complaints.
Comparisons to the SD400
Why I Got It
I bought this camera to mainly serve as a stand-in for my SLR on outings like hikes, parties, bike rides, dinners, day trips, etc. The S95 offers a nice balance of portability and image quality. It offers more creative controls than a typical compact, yet allows the photographer to be discreet. With that in mind, I’m very happy with it.
In contrast, my SLR is much higher-quality and offers more controls but it’s size makes it stick out and it’s quite a pain to carry around in some situations. On the other extreme, my camera phone is always with me, but offers almost no control and is fairly low-resolution.
Mini rant: far too many people buy low-end SLR cameras because they think that’s what you need to get the best photos. A skilled photographer that knows their way around a quality compact will certainly get better results than someone using an SLR as a point-and-shoot. I’d recommend the S95 for any photo enthusiast who likes to tinker but doesn’t have the time, money or commitment to dive into the SLR realm.
Day 1 Photos
And now, without further ado, here are the photos that I took on the first day of owning the S95, mostly from the UCLA campus. For full size images, click through to my SmugMug site where these photos are being pulled from – Canon S95, Day 1. None of these shots have been edited.
Let me know what you think! Peace out.