The Canon PowerShot S95is a rare specimen of a no-nonsense compact camera. It isn’t streamlined. It isn’t full of cutesey features like a front-facing screen for portraits. It isn’t super-thin or super-light. Instead, it packs a ton of useful features and controls into its chunky matte black body.
Day 1 – Introduction to the camera
Day 2 – Shooting at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market
Day 3 – Lens and Speed Analysis in Midtown
Day 4 – Trying out the onboard HDR near the Hudson River
Day 5 – High ISO shots at The Ginger Man
RAW samples – after the Lightroom Update
The S95is designed with access to settings in mind. While DSLRs still offer better access, with rooms for multiple dials and buttons, the S95‘s two adjustment rings make it one of the easiest compacts for quickly changing aperture/shutter settings or adjusting manual focus. The lens ring should become a standard design component for high-end, feature-rich compacts.
Autofocus is generally fairly quick, though it can often slow down in low light. Manual focus with the lens ring is useful, but it’s harder to manually focus through an LCD than through a viewfinder.
Details tend to soften around the lens’ middle focal length, but at the wide angle and telephoto positions the S95 captures very crisp, vivid images. It handles colors very well, which is useful since its RAW format isn’t yet supported in Lightroom or Photoshop. The in-camera HDR mode can produce striking pictures in awkward lighting, but you need a tripod and the timer enabled to get a remotely usable shot.
For a compact camera, the S95handles very well in low light. While ISO 1600 and 3200 shots get very noisy, it’s a consistent noise that leaves snapshots usable, without the super-grainy, “sandy” effect of other cameras’ high ISO settings. Its automatic night mode works surprisingly well in dark, poorly lit scenes like bars and restaurants.
With its great controls, solid image quality and surprisingly good high ISO performance, the Canon PowerShot S95 is a great second camera for photography enthusiasts. It can’t replace a DSLR, but it packs plenty of useful settings and features into its relatively small, light frame. If you keep a small tripod with you, its built-in HDR mode can produce some great pics you can’t capture on other compacts without post-processing.
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