Field Review: Canon PowerShot S95 (Day 3)

An overcast day in midtown let me put the S95‘s mid-level sensitivity and high-speed shooting through its paces. The camera performs much better under clouds than under the sun. The less intense and more neutral lighting lets the S95 metering produce a more accurate exposure. These shots were taken in JPEG, with no post-processing done.

Two midtown delicatessens gave the Canon PowerShot S95a chance to show off its color capabilities in overcast lighting. Even with the gray sky, the garish neon storefronts of Lindy’s and the Carnegie Deli looked bright. Halos were much less apparent on contrasting edges, and even the noise at ISO 400 looked consistent and manageable. Small details like the reflections in the Carnegie Deli window and the tiny spot of pink from a flower in a second floor window box in the corner of the frame came through.

The Carnegie Deli storefront (opening photo) from 10 feet away looks very sharp at F/4 at a wide angle, with the picture softening further back, towards the door. The Lindy’s storefront from across 7th avenue, on the other hand, looks markedly softer, even without anything remotely close for the lens to lock onto. The Carnegie Deli shot was taken at the S95’s wide angle, while the Lindy’s shot was taken at a medium focal length within the zoom range.

The Canon PowerShot S95fares decently at higher speeds. These fountains at Rockefeller Center were shot at F/2.8 and F/3.5 at 1/500th shutter speed and ISO 800. While a slightly higher shutter speed would have improved the shots, they look good enough for most users of this camera. The texture of the water as it falls into the pool is clearly visible, as are the petals of the flowers surrounding the fountains. The male fountain shot was slightly overexposed and produced crisp detail in both the water and the flowers, but details where the waterfall hit the pool were blown out, because the camera metered on the stream in the center and just slightly overexposed the white water. The female fountain shot was slightly underexposed and shows off the bubbles formed by the waterfall hitting the pool, but the flowers are much, much softer. At F/3.5, the S95 couldn’t keep all aspects of the shot in focus, despite them being on similar planes. This is a testament to the larger sensor.

The mail fountain shot was taken at the S95‘s wide angle, while the female fountain shot was taken at its medium focal length. The logical conclusion would be that the S95 gets softer the more it zooms in. However, this picture of a pigeon was shot at the camera’s longest focal length, and the fine textures of the bird’s feathers, the smooth sidewalk, and the rough street, all look quite sharp. The camera seems to be at its sharpest at the extreme ends of its lens, and softest in the middle.

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