on June 25, 2013
This review is from the perspective of a long time Nikon DSLR user. My regular camera is a Nikon D300s with the battery grip and several lenses. I have been looking for an easily portable camera to carry when I don't need or want the heavy gear. My goal was to reproduce the functions of the DSLR in a small package and do it for under $400. This review looks at my five most important DSLR functions and explains how they are reproduced in the S110.
Shooting in Camera Raw
I always shoot my DSLR in RAW mode and custom crop and process every image. It sounds like a pain, but thanks to automated features in programs like Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, it isn't a big deal and the results are worth it. If this is new for you, the difference between capturing a picture in JPEG and RAW is in the ability to further manipulate the images later. For example, assume you have set your camera to use: 1) Auto White Balance, 2) No Exposure Compensation, 3) Medium Sharpening, and 4) produce the image in JPEG format. The camera takes the picture, applies your settings and records it as a JPEG file. If you shoot the same picture in RAW with the same settings, the camera notes your settings and may apply them to the thumbnail that it shows you, but what you download from the camera is the data collected from the sensor without the settings applied. This is why pictures from a cheap point-and-shoot (P&S) camera may look better out of the camera than pictures from a DSLR or advanced P&S. But, the trouble comes when your JPEG settings don't give you what you expected. Suppose you get the pictures on your computer and they have a green cast from the lighting, they are under-exposed and under-sharpened. If you shot them in JPEG, you may be out of luck without doing extensive fiddling. If you shot them in RAW, you use your processing software's RAW converter and change the settings to what they should have been to give you the shot you wanted. Basically, you adjust RAW images on your computer like your camera produces JPEG images in the camera. The computer gives you more processing power, more sophisticated processing software, and the ability to change the settings until you get the image you want. Combine this with the fact that JPEG compression will hurt image quality and RAW images come out of the camera uncompressed and you can see why shooting in RAW mode is more work, but can provide a much better outcome. The primary reason for selecting any of the cameras in this class of advanced point-and-shoots is the ability to record images in RAW format. If you plan to leave the camera in JPEG mode, you can save yourself some money, get a good camera, and get very nice pictures by choosing a different camera that takes only JPEGs.
Front Control Ring
You can assign 8 preprogrammed functions to the front ring. I use the control ring to change the lens zoom settings. The focal length changes in fixed steps of the standard prime lenses from 24mm to 120mm. I find the control ring works much faster than trying to frame with the zoom lever on the top of the camera. After using a range finder and SLR cameras for years, it is natural to have this control on the front of the camera and I love the ability to program it with the push of a button. I have been surprised by how this one feature simplifies shooting with the S110.
I don't know if I will ever get used to framing on the screen of a P&S. I prefer the "real" optical viewfinder of a SLR. But, none of the cameras in this class have an optical viewfinder, to get that feature you will pay another $100 and get a larger camera. The S110's display gives me all of the information I get when using my DSLR and more. When framing the shot, I see the battery level, shooting mode (e.g. RAW), the exposures remaining on my SD card, the length of video I could shoot, the flash setting, horizontal level, exposure compensation, f-stop, and ISO. When I press the shutter button, the display clears at the top and then shows me the information on that shot along the bottom of the display: exposure meter mode, horizontal level, f stop (in aperture priority), exposure compensation, and ISO setting.
Aperture Priority Mode
Cameras in this class will allow you to choose Aperture, Shutter, and Manual mode in addition to a bazillion scene settings. Like my DSLR, I keep the S110 in aperture priority nearly all the time and use the back thumb wheel to change the aperture. If you have read the reviews for this camera and the others in this class you know that you lose a lot of aperture range as you extend the zoom. For example, the aperture range is f 2.0 to f 8.0 at 24mm and at 50mm the aperture range is f4 to f8. The relatively fast lens helps get good pictures in low light situations. The problem is that the relatively small sensor gives little control over the depth of field, again an issue with this class of cameras that is not unique to the S110.
The camera's meter is always a good place to start. But, I often find that I need to increase or decrease the exposure to accurately capture the mood of the scene. The exposure compensation process is simple with the S110; press the top of the rear control dial and rotate the dial to select the exposure increase or decrease. The display then previews the shot with the new setting.
If you have read the other reviews, you know that it is a good idea to buy a second battery. I own at least two batteries for all my cameras, so I was not surprised or disappointed by the battery life.
The S110 is not intended to replace your DSLR. But, Canon has taken the DSLR's controls and wrapped them around a point and shoot sensor to give photographers a great small camera that they can carry virtually everywhere.
on October 21, 2012
As we all know, Canon's S90 - S100 models have pretty much set the bar in The Advanced Point And Shoot market for the last 4 1/2 yrs... Until recently ( With the advent of The Sony RX100). Canon sales more cameras than almost all other brands combined, this does not indicate, however; that they are the best in all categories, but that they are either the best over all, or at least in the top 5 for most classes of cameras.
I have owned many Canon Cameras and printers over the years, and I have been very happy with most of them, but I also place a lot of stock in fellow Amazon customer's reviews. For many months, I noticed that every other review, or updated one, for The Powershot S100 indicated a nasty lens error. That said, this time around researching advanced P&S's, I decided to see what other Brands such as: Nikon, Fuji, Panny and Sony were offering... What I found was this, Other brands have really took notice of The Canon S and SX line's success and or offering very stiff competition!
Sony has, IMHO, set the New Standard with the almost perfect Advanced P&S, The RX100. My coworker owns one, and it stomps all others in this now crowded class! Only problem is that it cost over $650.00, but the image quality, and low light rendering are truely amazing! Needless to say, Sony discounts its products about as often as Apple discounts its products... NEVER! The Panny Lumix LX5 and LX7, Nikon P300 and P310 and Fuji X10, are all now offering very good to excellent image quality in this class. You saw correct! I did include The Nikon Coolpix P310! Nikon has really stepped their game up with The Coolpix Line, in fact; this was the only model that came close to The Canon S100 and S110's Bang-For-Your-Buck. Price, it is $200 less than Canon S110, $450 less than The Sony RX100, while offering excellent I.Q., pocketabillity, low light performance and manual controls... Sans Raw mode. Came so close to getting The Nikon P310, before you judge me, just take a gander at the online sample shots of this camera!
In the end, I came back to The Canon S110. Chose The newer S110 over The S100 in the hopes of avoiding The Lens Error (Fingers Crossed). So happy with this camera! The S110 looks identical to The S100, but let me tell you, Canon has made some huge improvements with The 110. Canon has improved upon the sensor and auto focus speed of this model, added usable ISO, WiFi and touchscreen functionallity. Low light performance is a lot like that of The S95 and S100 combined. Allow me to explain. Sometimes The S100's colors would be a little off in low light, casting an orangish hue... as if shot in sepia. The Powershot S95 rendered sharp, detailed and very accurate colors in lowlight, but the lens was a bit slow under these conditions. I don't know what Canon did, but there is almost zero lag in AF, despite others claim that this is a slower lens or sensor than its predecessors. Color, contrast and sharpness are spot on! I predict that the next S model will have a larger sensor to be competitive with The Sony RX100's lowlight performance, but until then, I have to say that the S110 is very close in low light image quallity and will surpass the Sony, although at the cost of a higher price point and perhaps a larger form factor because of the larger sensor.
Battery life has never been an issue with me, because I rarely took over 100 pictures in a day and never used GPS tagging or logging. I also rarely shoot video clips longer than 10 min. in a day,also buy cheap aftermarket Batt.s as back-up. Canon's addition of WiFi to The S-Line is really cool and useful; I use it way more than I thought I would! It is implemented very well with this camera, much smoother and faster than using Eye-Fi's top of the line card... That's an $80 dollar value right there! Lol Also, I already own a Canon SX-230HS and many extra batteries. The S110 uses the same battery ( NBL-5) as The SX-230. Yes! Winning! WiFi connection with your smartphone or iPhone is almost instantaneous, once the App. is opened on the device, or printer turned on. GPS functions are combined with these WiFi transmissions between your phone and camera, and they are thus also instantanious.
The WiFi operates very efficently, and a cool, bright, blue LED lights up on the top of the camera when it is connected. It flashes when busy. The Camera asks if you would like to geotag or log your location while connected to your phone or computer. It is a 2 second affair, so GPS no longer drains your battery. Built-in GPS and Eye-Fi cards do not work nearly as seemless as this! I had issues when first setting this connection up, because I thought I could bypass the step where you connect the Camera to a computer via USB cable and run software CD... You have to do this step! I think you may have to also Register your S110 for it to properly set up initial WiFi.
Touchscreen: Very Responsive, and can be adjusted.... Nuff said on that.
CONS: The things I don't like about The Canon Powershot S110 are pretty much all ergonomically based. These things are true of the entire S series, and perhaps the indicative of the entire Class of these type cameras. They are not easily handled or operated... even on Auto! EXAMPLE: A friend, family memb., or pedestrian says, "Hey, YOUR NAME HERE, I noticed you are taking everyone else's picture, would you like me to take yours with the group?" You have to explain that this really tiny, hard to press button turns the camera ON. When it turns on be careful, because the flash is going to come up over here. If you want to zoom in it's the tiny switch here next to the shutter button. Now, you only want to press the shutter button halfway to compose the shot... it'll beep when ready, then you push it all the way down to take the shot. See? Some ergonomic issues have gotten better with this version of The "S".... others the same or worse. 1. Front grip is gone. 2. As on all The S Models, power button is way too small and recessed. 3.Mode wheel blocks index finger from shutter button. 4.Flash makes camera hard to handle with left hand. 5. if touchscreen shutter is on, camera will take picture if finger contacts screen before you are ready. I guess some things have to be sacrificed for a small form factor, but I feel comfortable giving anyone my Canon Elph 300HS and it is the smallest P&S ever produced!
There is no loud knocking noise when zooming in video, but there is a slight wherling sound when I zoom in video. Hard to notice and can only be heard when passage is very quiet during playback, but it's there... none the less. Wish Canon would get that worked out. All and all EXCELLENT IMAGE QUALITY and cool added features, deffinately recommended! The White is very cool looking and although glossy does not show prints as much as I had anticipated. The Black/Mat is sleek and modern looking like a stealth plane.... was a hard decision to make! UPDATE: Have now taken close to 400 shots. Still going strong! There are a few points that I should add to my review. Some I forgot, and some are new discoveries.
1. Wifi connection.: I own a Huawi Glory/Mercury Android smartphone which is still running Gingerbread. The S110 connects flawlessly with this phone, but what I found out is, you must be near an open WiFi network or hot spot for it to work. The Camera's Wifi will not work over 3G or tethered to your phones mobile hotspot. Also, The S110's WiFi will not connect wirelessly to Windows7 Basic,Starter or any OS older, such as XP or Vista. It won't work on Macs older than OSX 10 or whatever Apple's answer for Windows 7 was. I was told by a Canon Rep. that it works well with full versions of Windows 7, and extremely well with Windows 8. We will see. Waiting for Black Fri. to snag a Windows8 computer.
2. Touchscreen Shutter: Amazingly, the touchscreen functionallity of The S110
has really impressed my friends and family. It really comes in handy when I
give The S-110 to someone, in order to get in the picture myself or for
some one to swipe through the pictures, using their finger to preview.
3. Price Point: I purchased The Powershot S110 for $390 used, and it came
new, in box with all contents still sealed in plastic. Nice! The main reason
I purchased the S110 over the S100 was it was only $38 dollars more at that
time, and I felt that was a small Diff. to pay to hopefully avoid The Lens
Error. I really am happy with this little camera. The functions and menues
are very easy and quick to access with the lens ring and touchscreen. Before
I was using Auto way too much... Now, I am truely learning, in a fun easy way
about F-stops, apperature, ISO, white balance, shutter speed, etc. Things
that I already kinda knew about with my Eos T3 and even my S95, but seemed
to much trouble or laborious, are now fun and easily implemented to play
around with. I am having, "A Ha moments," where I think aaah, that's why
out good or bad with my DSLR... The S-110 is the perfect learning tool to
whip out of your pocket, purse, or Camera Case and start learning and capt-
uring. I also played around with The Canon G15 and G1X. Salesman at camera
store told me that G15 used pretty much the same sensor,lens and processor
as The Canon S100 and S110. The Powershot G1X really impressed me with its
image quality though; seemingly better than even the more expensive, Sony RX
100! I understood why when he told me it had an SLR sized sensor. The G1X is
a beast, though! Holding it, it felt the size and weight of my T3 without the
lens! Way too large, but may be Canon's answer to The New Sony, Panny, Fuji
and Olympias in this class. He offered it to me at the same price as the G15
$550 plus Uncle Sam's cut (Tax), but it still was more than I could afford.
So here I am. A happy S110 owner. Lol
on December 5, 2012
The Canon Powershot S110 brings some key performance improvements as well as the touchscreen which makes this 4th generation S series camera probably the best yet.
The photo quality from this camera is impressive considering its sensor size. If I was to be really nit-picky I would say that the sharpening in the JPEGs appears a little crude at times and the colors aren't as punchy or contrasty by default as they were in the S100. But color performance is still pretty good (I like the colors better than the ones from the Sony RX100), detail capture is very good, and ISO performance is excellent. At ISO 800 the camera does a very nice job balancing out detail retention and noise reduction and even ISO1600 photos look good as long as you're not blowing them up to huge sizes. Shooting RAW will help you wring out even more detail. Dynamic range is also quite good. The camera tends to overexpose in bright conditions and blow out highlights. Which is pretty typical for this class of camera. Taking everything into account though, I would say the S110 probably has the best overall image quality of any of the S-series cameras so far.
Canon uses the same 5x F2-F5.9 lens as they did in the S100. It's unfortunate they haven't taken the opportunity to put a faster lens in this model because most of the competitors have much faster lenses on their cameras. That said, the lens is fairly sharp. It also zooms in and out fairly quickly.
Sadly, the camera has lost the little indent on the front which helped give you a more secure grip. However, the surfaced is textured in such a way where you can still get a decent grip, and it's not slippery like the Sony RX100. The LCD screen is 460k dots, and while it's pretty decent, I think Canon should have taken the opportunity to upgrade the resolution with this model. The big update this year with the LCD is that it is now a touch screen. To be honest, it's not very practical for adjusting camera settings but does work extremely well for touch focus and touch shutter. It's a much better setup than having to go into the menu to adjust the focus area. The touchscreen overall, though, is very responsive and works well.
The control ring up front remains on this model and is still excellent to use. With decisive clicks everytime you adjust something. You can of course customize the control ring up front to adjust a number of settings.
As far as performance goes, shot to shot times are about the same as the S100 but autofocus performance has improved on this model. I wouldn't say the camera has blazing fast autofocus but it should be plenty quick enough in most shooting situations.
As for the video, it is surprisingly good for such a small camera but is most suitable for short clips.
This model has since been replaced by the newer S120. The S120 is a faster camera overall and has better video capabilities. Plus it has a slightly faster lens but still F5.7 on the telephoto end. I have also heard some say that the S120 is worse at high ISO but it appears about the same to me. If you're a still shooter who doesn't dabble into serious video shooting or need the extra burst performance, you can get the same photo quality and still respectable performance from the S110 at a much cheaper price.
on October 26, 2012
Been using my new white S110 for a few days now and my initial impressions are:
Build Quality - Very good, nicely finished has the look and feel of a quality product
Features: Touch screen is responsive, AF is speedy even in low light, knurled front ring makes adjustments easy and fast, typically good, easy-to-follow menu system and initial setup. LCD is bright and visible even in Florida sunlight. Auto white balance seems pretty good. The Auto function works surprisingly well choosing a scene mode and applying image parameters. With the Auto mode, I have not witnessed any unexpected blown-out highlights and shadow detail is pretty good. Image stabilization appears to work very well, perhaps 3 stops worth. Conversely, wireless setup is a monster nightmare that involves Canon Gateway, registering, modifying your network settings and then just maybe it will work. After almost 30 minutes of tinkering, I was able to transfer 16 photos to my laptop but it took almost 15 minutes to accomplish the transfer. Much easier to just use a card reader and then upload photos to social media sites, email, etc. Canon has not made this feature user-friendly. I will not be using the wireless capability.
Image Quality: Very good up to 800 ISO - little noise, good detail, and color. 1600 is still good. 3200 perhaps for small prints only.
Overall: Good camera; however, Canon's engineers made the wireless curse-worthy. Build quality, image quality, handling, ergonomics are all above average. My only caveat involves the price...kind of pricey for a couple of features over the S100. If you can find an S100 with a serial number above 42xxx (infamous lens error problem), you'll have basically the same camera as the S110 sans the touch screen and the wireless features at a much less expensive cost. I plan to keep my S110 since it is so very pocket-able, fast, and puts out very decent images especially at lower ISO levels. Canon states that the S110 has a newly designed lens. I am just hoping they have rectified the frequent lens error problem of the S100. Time will tell.