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911 of 924 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2007
I had been eyeing this camera since it was first announced. I was looking for a decent camera, a step above the compact point-and-shoots, and a step below the DSLRs. This camera seemed to fit the bill, and it was at my price point also. I bought the camera with the idea that this would be the be-all-end-all of non-DSLR digital cameras for the next couple years, and I bought it before the review sites had their reviews up.
Anyway, I've used the camera for a couple days now and taken about 400 shots with it. It is pretty good, although I want to share my thoughts on a couple things that other reviews have brought up.


Very quick.
This camera focuses extremely quick (and beeps to let you know it's in focus), and when it can't focus it lets you know. I use it in the 'P' setting mostly, and if it can't focus (due to low light or no contrast) it just doesn't beep. It is very quick to turn on and extend it's lens.

The amount of features on this thing are truly spectacular, even the creature comforts are nice (such as the histogram and over-exposure detect). The rotating LCD screen is awesome. It enables shots that otherwise wouldn't be possible. You won't find another ultra-zoom on the market at this price range that offers more in this area.

This camera feels nice. It feels solid (as long as the lens cap is off). The rotating LCD doesn't feel loose or cheap. The on/off button is nicely located. It makes it fun to use. The zoom is silent too.

There have been a lot of complaints about the battery door being too flimsy. I think this is a little overblown. It's not as nice as some other cameras, but it's not that bad really. As for the batteries being in the same slot as the memory card, I can see why for some people that would be an issue, but for 90% of the users I don't really see it as that much of a problem. I think of it as only having a battery door since I rarely take the memory card out of my cameras anyway ( I just use the supplied cable to transfer the images and a very large memory card).


Noise present.
There is an unpleasant amount of noise at the 8 MP setting, especially in ISO 200 or above. This seems to be the trend, cram as many pixels as we can into this thing because the market dictates this. Noise is comparable to the FZ8 in my opinion, however, the noise reduction is not so aggressive.
This being said, I prefer some noise way more than an aggressive noise-reduction system's effects. However, if I wanted a camera that delivers the quality of a 5 megapixel camera I would've bought one. They are much cheaper.

Lens cap flimsy.
The lens cap is somewhat flimsy, falling off easily if you bump it, or even set it on a table too hard. This is obviously so you don't jam the motor by turning it on without removing the cap (which you're bound to do eventually). I'm used to the self-contained lens caps which retract automatically, but I understand this is tough on a camera with a lens this long. I had a camera once that when powered up would detect that the cap was still on and beep, letting you know to take the cap off. That's probably too much to ask these days.

The redeye reduction is not great on this camera (it doesn't pre-fire the flash, it just illuminates an LED on the front), so I find myself using the red-eye removal tool that is in the camera. The results of this were only so-so for me. I've had mixed results. Sometimes it works wonders, others it did indeed detect and remove the red-eye, only to replace the red with an unnatural looking black (it's hard to explain, but think of what the photo touchup machine at Target would do). If you wanna see this, e-mail me. This is OK if you're just creating small prints, although if you look at it on your computer display at full-res you clearly see this effect. If your subject is looking directly at the camera, the detection can remove the red-eye from both eyes. However, if your subject is not directly at the camera, sometimes the red-eye removal only catches one of the eyes. This is somewhat of a minor issue due to the amount of aftermarket red-eye reduction software available (CS3 anyone?).

Chromatic Abberation/Blurry Corners
This seems to be a bit of a problem with this camera. Not more so than some other cameras in this range, but it is annoying. I don't know what exactly causes it, but I have taken shots in my backyard during daylight, and whenever light is reflecting off of something with anything dark in the background, I see this red/magenta outlines. Some cameras remove this in processing the JPEG image(e.g. Lumix), which is something that would be nice to have. I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it than it really is. I've seen much worse in some of the competition. Blurry corners seem to be a problem as well. If you take an outdoor scene shot, you'll notice that the four corners are a little blurry and distorted. Some people wouldn't see this being that much of a problem, but I love taking outdoor scenic shots where details like that are important.

Zoom Control.
This aspect is really annoying. The zoom control is somewhat cheap feeling and over-sensitive. It is one of those that changes zoom speed based on how hard you press the lever. It has a slow speed and a fast speed. However, the slow speed doesn't have enough hysteresis. It is difficult to get the zoom speed just right. I have a feeling the slow speed will wear out and only the fast will remain. I actually used a S3 with this worn out zoom controller and it was quite annoying, as you could only zoom fast.

If I weren't so picky I would LOVE this camera, however the less-than-outstanding image quality make it 4 stars instead of 5. As it is, it's not perfect for indoor nor outdoor shots. If anyone wants to see any examples of stuff I've talked about, please e-mail me and i'll get you some examples.
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162 of 164 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2007
I'm very happy with the S5 I bought to replace an S3 -- except, as noted elesewhere, I hate that the SD card is now in the battery compartment. The hot shoe (external flash socket) is a HUGE help, since the builtin flash on these cameras is pretty wimpy. The camera takes unbelievably good pictures and has excellent first shot and shot-to-shot times (it helps if you use the Energizer e2 Lithium Batteries). Although the S5 weighs about 4 oz more than the S3 (About 20 oz vs 16 oz inclding batteries), its construction "feels more rugged."

BTW, I don't know that you need to wait for larger cards for bigger movies, etc. I use an 8gb SDHC card now. Be careful, though, which SDHC cards you get. Even with Sandisk's attempt to standardize the speeds, I found that an A-Data "class 6" SDHC card was about 25-35% of the speed of my Transcend class 6 card. Also, remember that you need an SDHC card reader (I got mine from meritline for $5).
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176 of 179 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2007
Is anyone else as flummoxed by the negative consumer and expert reviews of this camera as I am? If I were paranoid, I'd think a conspiracy existed to drive down the cost of this remarkable camera.

The range of controls is very broad, their setup is intuitive, and the camera's performance is exemplary. Not only am I pleased with how the camera handles and what it will do, but I'm WAY pleased with the images it produces. I've had my camera for a week now; I've played with all the shooting modes and have taken pictures in all sorts of lighting. As long as the camera is set correctly for the shot, images are consistently superb. The ones that have been anything less than stellar were caused by my own hastiness or error.

Movies also are awesome, and stereo sound is a huge plus.

Maybe I just lucked out and got a good copy. Maybe it isn't really the fantastic piece of photographic wizardry I believe it is. But I am a long-in-the-tooth advanced amateur with perfectionistic tendencies. And in my estimation the S5 IS is an amazing tool.

Minor issues inherent in a camera of this sensor size and lens zoom range do exist. According to the many expert camera reviews, there presently is not a mega-zoom on the market that is completely free of chromatic aberration and some noise at higher ISOs. If you're planning to print poster-sized images, get a 35mm digital SLR and some very expensive lenses--you'll be pleased with nothing less. But if you're looking for a go-anywhere camera that bridges the gap between that big D-SLR and the teensy little super-compact in your photo bag, if most of your prints are average size, and you do the majority of your viewing on a computer, look no further. You can't go wrong with the S5 IS.

PS. Oh, yeah, one more thing. It's just plain FUN!
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404 of 421 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2007
After buying the S5 to replace my S3 I was very disappointed with the image noise as noted on another review here. This is not a Canon only problem and it's becoming a troubling trend as megapixels are added at the expense of image quality.

It's not a matter of the S5 being better than the Sony H7 or H9, it's a matter of any of these cameras being able to equal their own previous generation model with regard to noise. The megapixel war is simply marketing nonsense unless you plan on printing wall posters or drastically cropping images. The fact is that only so many pixels can be put on the same size image sensor before the noise level becomes a problem and anti-noise electronic counter measures simply trade one problem for another.

My S5 went back to the store and I'll continue to use my S3. I'll miss the hot shoe and the new LCD viewing screen, but for me photography is more about images that camera features. Eventually the companies will probably come around, but until then you may want to regard ever higher megapixal ratings with suspicion.
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105 of 107 people found the following review helpful
The S5 is a great camera, and everything that I said in my review of the S3 goes for this one as well. However, the difference between 8 MP and 6 isn't that great if the largest prints you want at 11x14 or 8x10. I can't see the difference and I've got a fairly critical eye. (I also disagree with a review in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning that said that the S5 (and S3) "can't shake the digital look."

I've been taking pictures since 1948 (a Kodak Brownie, what else?), and color since 1960. I've used three SLRs professionally, and I'll match the 6 and 8 MP with any 35mm I've used. How can a camera be rated as having a "high quality lens" have less than high quality pictures and still have a digital look ... although there is more noise with the S5 than the S3 IS.

Five stars because it deserves it. The price of the S3 is/was much better, and I really don't have a preference because both have the 12x stabilized zoom, the feature I use most often. And the larger LCD is nice, but I use the viewfinder on both, the first I've had that works well with glasses.

Neither camera is a point-and-shoot even in the auto setting. I do not recommend the camera to those who think they can pick it up and take pictures right away such as those that I and other experiences photo buffs have. If most of your pictures of people are missing heads or feet and you can't center anything on purpose, got to an Elph or Sony or a lower end Kodak. This is not a professional's camera, but it's not for rank amateurs either. Nothing personal: just don't waste money on a hundred features you may never use.
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112 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2007
I owned the S3 for three months - I bought it at a very reputable national retailer that had a very generous return policy. THe S3 is a wonderful camera and if you are cash strapped, you'll be hard pressed to find a better camera under $300 than the S3. However, I did look at the Canon S5 and found it worth the $200 upgrade for me. I buy cameras about every 4-5 years and I think the larger and higher resolution LCD makes the S5 a superior camera to the S3. They both take great pics and I don't particularly care that the S5 has 8 Megapixels. The best camera I ever owned was a Nikon Coolpix 950 - I'd put it's pics up against any and it was only 2.1 Megapixels. Megapixels is for marketing purposes, but after you acheive a certain level of resolution, it's pointless beyond that. Anyway, the S5 has some nice upgrades including, I think, a better battery door, better buttons - they're recessed and softer and have a better feel. Also is a metal tripod mount, hot shoe, Digic III image processing, and a larger, higher resolution LCD. The video mode allows for larger file sizes as well, which means you can record for more than 1 GB before having to start a new file. The S3 is a great camera and the S5 is the S3 with a few nice refinements. If you are one to upgrade every year or two, get the S3 - it's a great camera. If, on the other hand, you upgrade every 3-5 yearas and you want the best you can get for your money right now and you can afford another $150-$200, get the S5.
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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
I was seriously considering a digital SLR until I had a chance to try it out using a relative's. I was so impressed that I bought it and haven't been disappointed. Takes a while to learn all the whistles and bells. Movie quality rivals my digital movie camera. When you read all the reviews talking about spherical aberration, etc. you have to think about what your realistic use will be. If you merely want to take higher quality pix without lugging around heavy lenses, I think this is a fine choice at about 1/3 the price of a digital SLR kit.
You will read about the lens cap...yes, it falls off easily - also pops off when you turn the camera on, avoiding damage. A reasonable trade off. The high end rechargable batteries seem to be a must as it eats up the standard ones. Again, if you want convenience of being able to keep shooting when you are in the outback away from a recharger, but close to a kiosk, it is a reasonable trade off. My previous Canon elph is ~ 5 years old and still going. The image quality on this model is worth the upgrade for me and it is just more fun. The image stabilization is remarkable - shots of buildings a mile away and being able to read the sale signs in the windows is just plain amazing.
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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2007
In a sentence, this is a great camera and I am thrilled with it.

Most everything has been covered in the other reviews, so I will stick to some items that stood out for me.

The Good:

All of the automation makes it a great point and shoot camera for "standard" pictures. Set it to auto mode and have at it. The results are great. What is nice, is all the optional settings available for "special" situations when you are so inclined.

I use the view finder most of the time and it is nice and bright. I wasn't that excited about the vari-angle display before getting the camera, but now I am happy to have it. I like the idea that I can keep it "closed" to protect the screen from scratches and dirt during most of my shooting when using the view finder, yet use it for reviewing pictures and making menu changes. I also like the large size and the quality of the display.

The biggest surprise was the quality of the sound when using the movie mode. It takes a nice quality video and is so simple to use. Just push the dedicated button to start, then again to stop. (I have not found a way to "pause" the video, so each cycle created a new file.) A big plus for the Canon is the ability to zoom while capturing the video. This was the main selling point for me when trying do decide between the Canon and Panasonic.

Finally, the camera has a good overall feel. The button layout makes sense for the most part, and considering the complexity, it is fairly intuitive.

Not so Good:

This is one of the worst manuals for any product I have ever owned. It is poor physically and poor in content. The print is small and the icon images blur into the cheap paper. The manual will instruct you to push a button by showing the button icon rather than naming the button. Because of the poor print quality, it is hard to make out the image of the button. Additionally, the starter guide booklet defines many of the button icons, but Cannon decided to save on a couple of sheets of paper and did not include this information in the main manual. As for content, it is lacking. The instructions basically show a setting, but there is little or no explanation as to what is happening or the cost associated with a particular option. Much of the manual consists of poorly laid out charts that are hard to understand. Basically, the manual does not define terms and do not introduce concepts. Anyone new to photography will have to find other sources that explain what is being discussed in the manual. The saving grace is that the actual camera is well designed and relatively intuitive. Use the manual as a starting guide, then experiment with the settings. Film is cheap with a digital! The software CD does not include a PDF file of the manual, but you can down load it from the Canon web site.

The only problem I have had so far is that the date/time function has reset itself to zeroes on three occasions. It appears to happen after I remove the SD card to transfer the files to my computer via a card reader. What is strange is it does not happen all of the time. I am trying to figure out the pattern.

Other Comments:

You can remove the trim ring off the front of the lens and add an adaptor tube for a teleconverter, wide angle, or filter lens. Canon only shows 58mm accessories, but 52mm also works. I went with the after market Lensmate Online adaptor in 52mm to keep the size down. (If I weren't interested in small size and low weight, I would have bought a DSLR.)

I sent Canon Support an e-mail question before buying. They responded within a few hours. They actually read my note in detail, then directly answered the question. Amazing! I called Panasonic with a simple product question, but they could not answer it. They took my phone number with a promise to call back soon. I am still waiting ........

Many have complained about the battery cover and using this cover for the SD card storage. I agree it is a dumb design, but I didn't find it to be a significant problem.

What to buy???? Keep in mind that other manufacturers are coming out with 18X zoom factor cameras. Olympus has the SP-550 (poor reviews) and announced the SP-560. Panasonic announced the FZ18. I suspect Canon will have to respond. It will be interesting to see if they replace the S5 in the near future or add an 18X zoom model in addition to the S5. After some thought I decided the S5 12X met my needs and decided not to wait. (I also considered a potential downside of a larger size lens, more weight, and lens design compromises.)

As pointed out in many of the professional reviews, the downside of a super zoom point and shoot like the S5, compared to a DSLR, is more "noise" in low light situations, slower lens (f stop setting), and lack of optional lens. However for most of us taking pictures of vacations, birthdays, camping trips, etc, these are non issues. The S5 will meet most all of our requirements without the size, weight and cost of a DSLR. Don't get lost in the details of the reviews.

In conclusion, I really like this camera!
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
The Canon S5 is a very capable camera, but there is one major caveat: You should NOT use the AUTO mode when shooting under dim light. This is beacuse the camera may automatically selects the highest 'film speed' of ISO=800. This will produce extremely noisy, grainy, or pixelated images. The same problem occurs in Sports mode as well.

To avoid this problem, you should manually set ISO=200 or lower, then shoot in 'P' (Programmed mode) instead. Of course, now the exposure time is increased by 4x, so camera shake may be a problem even with image stabilization.

If image quality under low light condition is critical to you, your best choice is to upgrade to a digital SLR.

[The following section is for geeks only]:

In order to explain the root cause of noisy images at high ISO, I have to tell you a secret: the so called 'film speed' for digital camera is a big scam. Unlike film camera world (where a film with higher ISO number means it has higher light sensitivity), the digital camera's optical sensor has a fixed sensitiviity. The signal amplitude from each pixel is proportional to the integral of light intensity and exposure time. To simulate a higher 'film speed' (from 200 to 400, for example), a digital camera simply reduces the exposure time by half (which means the signal amplitude from sensor is reduced by half), then crank up the gain by 2x afterwards. But since noise level from the sensor is fixed, the new signal-to-noise ratio is reduced by half. That is why images always become 'noisier' at higher ISO number.

The problem with noisy images is made worse by the "mega-pixel arms race", where camera makers continue to cram more pixels onto the same sensor area. The old S1 has 3.2 mega-pixel on its 10mm by 7.5mm sensor. The new S5 has 8MP (2.5x more) in the same area. So the amount of light falling on each S5 pixel is only 40% that for the S1. The S1 can produce reasonably noise-free images at ISO=200. For the S5 sensor to produce the same signal strength, it needs 2.5X longer exposure time, which means ISO=80. That is why when you shoot the S5 at ISO=800, the noise problem is 10X worse compared to shooting the S1 at ISO=200.

The only reliable way to improve signal-to-noise ratio is to increase sensor area. Professional DSLR typically have full-frame sensors (36x24mm, or 10x larger than the sensor in S5). Those can operate up to ISO=1600 or even 3200 and still produce almost noise-free images. Pro-sumer DSLR such as the Rebel XT have samller APS-C sensor (22.5x15mm, or 4x larger than the sensor in S5). So those can only operate satisfactorily up to ISO=800.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2007
In short, we really love this camera. I would give it 4.5 stars if I could. I will point out the pros and cons, but in sum, this is an excellent camera. We have three toddlers and we take lots of pictures and video. I am probably more than an average consumer with my picture and video editing, but I do not really think of myself as a hobbyist. I just use Photoshop Elements (the consumer version of Photoshop) and Studio by Pinnacle for video.

We purchased this camera to replace an almost 3 year old Canon Powershot A80. It is an excellent camera and we decided to keep it as a backup. The picture quality in the A80 is quite good, but we were looking for a larger zoom, some extra pixels for the occasional enlargements we do (I am no expert, but from all of the reviews I have learned that too many pixels can be a problem--plus our A80 only has 4 mega pixels and takes great pictures), and DVD quality video. Any image improvements would only be a plus, since the A80 produces great pictures.

Build Quality
I read a lot of reviews and played with the camera at some local stores. It feels nice, is substantial without being too heavy or big (though, it really is too big to be considered a "point and shoot;" it is too big for most pockets), and seems well built. I read reviews on the Canon S3, which is very similar to the S5, but even though it was available at a good price since it is an earlier version, the layout of the buttons and the ease at which a button could be hit inadvertently (and thus ruin an image), plus the smaller video file capacity on the S3 led us to the S5.

One of the big things for us was the ability to take DVD quality video with decent sound. We really wanted to only have to carry one camera with us. The S5 consistently was reviewed as excelling at this and I think the reviews were about right. The video definitely is DVD quality and the sound is excellent, but our dedicated Panasonic digital video recorder takes a little better quality video. I think to some extent, though, this is kind of like comparing two stereos or televisions at a store. If you took either home you would be happy and probably forget the differences you saw or heard at the store. What are the differences? Basically, the S5 is a little more vulnerable to lower light video (like in a home or on a cloudy day). Also, sometimes nearer objects may appear dimmer than farther away objects that have more light on them--like someone facing you, but not directly illuminated. The dedicated digital video camera we have appears a little brighter in lower light situations. The difference, though, is not that much. And, you can work around it to some extent by being a bit more mindful of setting up your shot. Also, moving the camera (i.e., panning from side to side) produces just noticeable choppiness compared with our Panasonic digital video camera. Again, you can work around this by zooming out a bit and/or not quickly panning the camera around. The zoom, by the way, is great and very quiet. It works perfectly in video mode and I have not been able to hear any zoom motor in the videos we have made. In the end, these are really fairly minor complaints re the video quality. Technology is so powerful today that the differences between newer models of computers and cameras often is more nuanced than significant. For our family of 3 young boys, the video is great and the ability to record straight to a flash card, which I then can zip right into our computer is super convenient (I use a cable and not a card reader--so the issue of the battery compartment holding the batteries and card is not an issue for us).

Picture Quality
The picture quality is excellent, though so was our A80, so there was not much of an improvement, but that is really more of a compliment to how good Cannon optics are. Plus, at this price level to be able to have a 12x optical zoom with image stabilization (i.e., more complicated electronics and glass) take such great pictures really is amazing.

Lens cap
The lens cap issue is real (it falls off far too easily). This is one of those annoying design flaws that makes you scratch your head and wonder why such a great camera has to have an annoying fault. Kind of like every rose has its thorn. The issue can be corrected, though, with an extension adapter. This allows you to add a UV lens (which really is just a lens protector) and later add a wide angle lens or additional zoom lens if you want to. Like others, I chose the Lensmate adapter (52mm). Lensmate was great to work with. I ordered the adapter and a matching lens cap and it works perfectly (just note, when you receive the adapter and lens cap from Lensmate, it comes with no instructions or even receipt; luckily, the Cannon manual basically covers things--it assumes you purchased the Canon version of the adapter).

The manual is not the best, but I was familiar with the A80 and the operation of the S5 is similar. Plus, the camera is pretty intuitive to use.

Battery Life
Our first batch of pictures used the included batteries from Canon. They lasted for approximately 20 minutes of video, a little bit of playing around with the camera, and maybe 75 or so shots. I now use rechargeable AAs and battery life is better than with the alkaline batteries, plus I can just recharge when I need to and always have the convenience of being able to get AA batteries pretty much anywhere.

All in all, we are very happy. I thought 5 stars was too much given the slight video issues I talked about and the lens cap annoyance. 4.5 seems about right. We purchased from Amazon (though, Beach Camera actually supplied the camera). The service was great, as usual. [...].

Good luck.
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