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Customer Review

825 of 872 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot more to be wanted, October 20, 2010
This review is from: Canon PowerShot S95 10 MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Camera)
This is my 5th Canon (G2, S30, A530, XSi) and is supposedly Canon's best ever P&S. I bought this for its compactness, low light performance, and image quality. In these regards I would say it is excellent! But for its price I would expect something that is top of the line on most aspect which I found out not true.

What I don't like and wish the Canon Guy take note (most serious come first):

1. Most people complained about the flash design which is true and very very annoying. I have gone through 2 trips and 3000 photos. I still get surprised whenever the flash turns active and push my left index finger out. The camera has safeguard measure so that whenever it detects that the flash movement is blocked it will stop and issue a warning signal. The only way to reset it is to switch the camera OFF and then ON again. I have gone through this procedure around 10 times a day during my trips. Because of this I expect the first thing to fail for my S95 would be the flash. And I would not expect it to last as long as my G2 (9 years and still going strong). CANON GUY, PLEASE MAKE THE CAMERA A LITTLE TALLER AND PUT THE FLASH FIXED IN YOUR NEXT VERSION !!!

2. The internal micro-processor is too slow and the firmware design cannot handle real time event. In layman terms, S95 responded too slow in every aspect. One example is after I finished a shot and then quickly turn the front wheel to change exposure compensation and prepare taking another shot, I found out the camera did not respond to my front wheel adjustment at all. It had to wait until it finished rounding up the previous job (and it took a while to finish!) before it has time to register any change on the wheels and buttons. So if you acted too soon it will totally disregard it. The killing part is the processing usually take long. So beware user: don't think you can shoot like a professional fast and quick between photos, you have to pace yourself and make sure u don't press buttons and adjust wheels too fast. CANON FIRMWARE GUYS: PLEASE SET UP AN EVENT QUEUE AND USE INTERRUPT TRIGGER TO RECORD ALL USER'S INPUT, SO THAT THEY CAN BE PROCESSED LATER, MY PANASONIC ELECTRONIC RICE COOKER DO A BETTER JOB THAN S95 IN THIS REGARD!!!

3. This one is the deal breaker. It cannot auto focus during video recording! This make the video feature seriously handicapped. Althought S95 has small lens and a deep depth of field, you still find the video constantly out of focus when your kids are running around you while u r shooting them. I thought I would have spent $400 and get something that can at least do good photos and video. Well, it can only do half of it and I guess I have to wait for something better in the near future. Just for reference my $100 Samsung can autofocus during video recording!!!

4. WB and some other adjustments not allowed to work in most SCN modes, which make the SCN shooting modes seriously handicapped.

5. My favorite Stitch Assist Mode (for taking panoramic-view picture) works only in landscape, not portrait mode.

6. The rear dial is much improved over the S90 (not as loose) but still easy to turn by mistake. I have many occasions of changing the ISO from AUTO to 3200 by mistake. When I find out it is already too late and I got a dozen grainy photos!

7. Battery last only 100-150 photos in practical use and so need at least 2 batteries for a day's photo. If you are doing video, expect to bring half a dozen !!!

8. The image stabilization (IS) is not very effective. I closely examined the LCD screen images when IS is both engaged and not engaged. The difference is very subtle and nothing compared with Rebel XSi (SLR) in which the image motion is obviously smooth out and slowed down. The salesperson told me don't expect any serious IS capability from P&S' I wonder if that's true.

9. The lens is fast (F2.0) at wide end only. But at zoom end it is very slow (F4.9). My G2 has F2-F2.5 throughout the whole zoom range. I can understand it's a limitation imposed by the size of the lens, not Canon's fault. Coupled with an ineffective IS, I got a lot of blurry pictures at max zoom under cloudy sky outdoor. I have very steady hands and I hold my breath when I press shutter, and my wife could do much worse. I wish Canon would put a better but little bigger lens in the next version. F2.0-3.5 would be a good compromize.

In summary, you would think the S95 is wonderful when you play with it shortly at Best Buy. The picture quality and LCD's display quality are superb too. But when you bought it home and put it to use in real life, you will find out a lot more to be wanted and that it's too far from being perfect at all. Some shortcomings like the video focusing are in my opinion a design fault, others are inconvenience and annoyance. The Canon Guys should have done much more than just a touch-up of S90. I waited a long time and paid $400 for a camera like S95 and thought this would be the ultimate pocket P&S that will last me a long long time. Well definitely it is not simply for reason like the half-cooked video recording capability. FORTUNATELY OR UNFORTUNATELY, ALTHOUGH WITH ALL THOSE SHORTCOMINGS, IT IS STILL THE BEST POCKET P&S ON MARKET, NO OTHER BETTER CHOICE YET.

In my opinion Canon still makes the best digital P&S and I might stay a Canon buyer in the future. But my advise to Canon is to stop abusing loyalty of fans like me. And make products that really live up to its name. For those who already got a decent P&S, I would recommend hold your purchase until S99, S100 or whatever which at least solve the flash and video fault.

Update 8/1/2011
After 10 months and 5800 shoots, the lens stuck midway while power on. Manufacturer replaced the optical module. This is my first Canon that needed service within 1st year of purchase. A little disappointed and worried.
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Showing 1-10 of 72 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2010 5:47:30 PM PDT
J. Paulsonn says:
Excellent review! I'm glad somebody played devil's advocate in these reviews.

Posted on Oct 29, 2010 11:10:40 PM PDT
PandaCat says:
Thanks for this great, through review and pointing out the real-life issues. I've had my eyes on this to replace my 870 but now will think a little more.

Posted on Oct 30, 2010 10:49:54 AM PDT
Good review--really informative.

Posted on Oct 30, 2010 2:09:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2010 2:05:22 PM PST
Roger James says:
The reviewer is clearly very annoyed with his camera and looked maybe unfairly, negatively at things which are typical of the best subcompacts out there now. Each new camera version improves upon the previous version, that is why most of us keep buying a new camera every year or so. The S95 blows away other small subcompacts that I own but it has it serious quirks. The one most people complain about is the flash. I've had the same problem and can't find a good hold to avoid the flash. It's really a poor design flaw. Each camera has its compromises and this one is no exception. To my knowledge there is no better subcompact camera available today with better low light specs. I like my ZS6 more than the S95 because it's nicer to hold but has poor low light capability. If you look at all the reviews most people are very happy with their very inexpensive P & S cameras because they all take nice snaps. The bottom line is the S95 is a great camera compared to the competition but it should be tried out first if you can before purchasing. The most important thing is that this is not a dSLR and many compromises were made to make this camera possible.

Posted on Oct 31, 2010 8:10:48 AM PDT
JJ says:
why should canon listen when you stated you will still and always be a canon fan. They have no incentive to do so if there is no fear of loosing customers.

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 1:44:55 PM PST
Presko says:
Better that the "deal breaker" is something to do with video and not photography, since this is first and foremost a device for taking pictures, C.B.

Posted on Nov 12, 2010 8:27:51 AM PST
I read through your review and it occurs to me that the (rather more expensive) Canon Powershot SD990IS has many fewer of the issues you have described. I own this camera and the flash is fixed in place, I think it is probably a little faster in processing, but does seem slow to me sometimes. I am not sure about auto focus during video, I suspect it does as I don't recall ever noticing an issue. I guess the main thing that caught my attention is I don't perceive the S95 as Canon's top of the line point and shoot, since the SD990IS is also a point and shoot.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2010 5:07:43 PM PST
Roger James says:
The S95 is a different series compact camera. The SD990 was a top of the line sd model circa 2008. I would be proud to own that camera however it does have some issues. The S95 with its F2 lens at wide angle and larger sensor allows better low light capability than SD models. I just returned from a cruise where I used the S95 for indoor no flash pictures. I documented most of the dishes served as well as written documentation without flash. The camera focused almost instantly and with very careful holding it was possible to position, focus and snap within 1 second. This is impossible with any other digital camera I own including G11, T1i, ZS6 and sx10. The S95 pop up flash is a major design flaw. I always must think about the flash when I do use it. I don't expect that hand held pictures with exposures up to 1/5 second will be always sharp but most are. The superior IS system has allowed me to take some 1 second snaps that were soft but very clear which was impressive.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2010 6:01:09 PM PST
Roger James says:
Your correct. All camcorders take great video and lousy digital pictures and all digital cameras take great digital pictures and lousy video. Each camera has the correct ergonomics for that medium. The best bet is to take a camcorder and digital camera on trips. Most people prefer the compact digital camera for a reason, just don't expect quality video for any of them even the $3000 camera. A $400 camcorder will beat them all, all the time. That is why there are camcorders and digital cameras. Blending them makes them mediocre in performance at best. All my digital cameras do HD video but my older HD camcorder is vastly superior, like 10X better taking video.

Posted on Nov 14, 2010 6:11:43 PM PST
Firestar says:
Good review! Really useful.
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