Inch for inch and ounce for ounce, Canon's PowerShot S200 Digital Elph packs more power into less space than virtually any other digital camera, stuffing a feature-packed, 2-megapixel camera with 2x optical zoom into a diminutive brushed-metal case that slips easily into a purse or pocket.
Like last year's S110, the S200 features a 2-megapixel sensor for sharp prints at sizes up to 8 by 10 inches. With cameras of up to 5 megapixels now on the market, some enthusiasts were hoping the Elph would make the jump to 3 megapixels, but it appears that Canon still believes 2 megapixels remains the best balance between performance and price for most consumers. We tend to agree. If you regularly print your photos at sizes larger than 8 by 10 inches, you'll probably want a camera with higher resolution and more manual controls than the Elph offers--we recommend Canon's 3-megapixel S30 or 4-megapixel S40.
A 2x optical zoom lens (35-70mm equivalent) aids in photo composition, and an additional 2.5x digital zoom (5x total) further magnifies your image. Remember, however, that digital zoom reduces the sharpness and detail of your image, so it's best used sparingly. Two systems help ensure your pictures will be perfectly focused, even in challenging conditions: a multizone autofocus works even when the subject of your photo isn't in the center of the scene, and in low-light situations (a particular weakness of many digital cameras), a focus-assist lamp sends out a small patterned beam to help the camera accurately determine distance. If you're hoping for a more powerful zoom, the S330 Elph has a 3x zoom and slightly larger dimensions but is otherwise nearly identical.
Though it's primarily designed as a point-and-shoot, the S200 includes several advanced features for photographers who want more creative control, including exposure compensation, low-light manual shutter speeds, manual ISO and white balance, and stitch assist, plus black-and-white, sepia, vivid, and neutral modes.
A movie mode captures video clips with sound. Depending upon resolution, these clips can last from 2 to 60 seconds. The limited length and resolution of these clips guarantees that this feature won't replace your camcorder, but it's perfect for when you just want to capture a quick movie and e-mail it to a friend or relative. In addition, you can add up to 60 seconds of audio to each still picture you take.
The S200 uses a proprietary lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and both the battery and the charger are included. Though the new NB-1LH looks identical to (and is interchangeable with) the NB-1L batteries shipped with previous Elph models, the new battery holds 840 mAh of energy, a 23 percent increase. Because the battery is unique to the Elph cameras and can be nearly impossible to find when on the road, we strongly recommend getting a spare if you're planning to take the camera on extended outings.
Storage and Transfer
Images are stored on standard Type I CompactFlash cards. Consider the included 8 MB card a starter capacity, since its 12-picture limit means you'll need to return to your computer often to transfer images and free up the card for more pictures. A 128 MB card is a great size for this camera, storing around 200 images. To transfer images to your computer, simply attach the included USB cable between your PC and your camera. Your computer should automatically recognize your camera and let you move the pictures to your hard drive.
Canon has introduced a series of printers designed to work directly with the S200. Using these printers, no computer is required--simply connect the camera to the printer and start printing. The CP-10 produces credit-card-sized prints, and the CP-100 makes 4-by-6-inch prints. Both use continuous-tone technology for results that are indistinguishable from traditional photos. Of course, photos from your Elph can also be printed on any home computer system with an inkjet printer, sent off for online processing, or simply enjoyed on your computer screen.
At just 3.4 by 2.2 by 1.1 inches and 6.3 ounces, the S200 is even smaller than its predecessor, making it one of the smallest zoom digital cameras on the market.
Contents and Recommended Accessories
The package includes the S200 camera, NB-1LH battery with CB-2LS charger, AV and USB cables, wrist strap, software suite, and 8 MB memory card.
Everything you need to get started is included in the box, but we strongly recommend the addition of a larger memory card (a 128 MB card holds around 200 images), a spare NB-1L battery, and a compact carrying case (to protect the brushed-metal finish and keep pocket lint out of the viewfinder). --Shane Burnett
- Ultraportable size makes it easy to bring along
- Picture quality is excellent, even in low-light situations
- New features, a better battery, and slightly smaller size are improvements over last year's S110
- 2-megapixel sensor is adequate for most users but starting to look low by today's standards
- 8 MB card is too small for more than occasional use