Customer Reviews: Canon PowerShot Pro Series S5 IS 8.0MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (OLD MODEL)
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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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on September 16, 2007
I upgraded from the S1, which I bought 4 years ago and which still works perfectly (gave it to my daughter). The S1 was only 3.2 megapixels, but the optical zoom capability gave it better clarity than similar products. This version is astonishing -- I took it on a beach vacation and the photos are unbelievable.

I am not a terribly talented amateur photographer. I bought this camera because I wanted to be able to get close up photos of my daughter when she's in the rear line at the school concert. The 12x digital zoom permits me to do this without standing up in front of all the other parents. Despite my limitations, every picture I've taken looks suitable for framing. The autofocus function works exceptionally well, the portrait mode is a breeze, the stability control function helps control for shake and the extra large LCD screen is a huge bonus. Though there are still understandable complaints about low-light performance, this version at least tells you when to use the flash. Overall, I found the low-light performance a gigantic step up from the S1, though still wanting.

More serious photographers will enjoy the ability to set ISO speeds manually, etc. Me, I'm satisfied taking exceptional pictures with autofocus ease. Can't be disappointed.
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on September 13, 2007
I have owned several high end digital SLR cameras including the Canon XT and XTi. I have also owned several point and shoot cameras including the Canon G7 and the Panasonic TZ3. This camera is a blend that combines the performance of the DSLRs and the ease of use of the point and shoot.

The camera features the ultrasonic focusing motor of the Canon DSLR lens which makes it focus faster than most point and shoot cameras. Along with that speed comes a focusing accuracy similar to a DSLR. The 12x zoom range has an amazing reach, equivalent to 36mm to 432mm (in a 35mm film camera).

The controls on the camera are well laid out. It is evident that Canon has learned from all previous models and they finally have things about right. With the additional adapters it is possible to add ND filters or a tele-converter to give a top end of 950mm or more (Raynox 2020).

For me the DSLR equipment load was just too much. If your camera and lens cost so much you can't take them on vacation, they are worthless no matter how good the pictures might be. With the S5 IS you get great pictures AND a camera you can afford to replace if it gets stolen or damaged.
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VINE VOICEon March 27, 2008
I bought this camera a month ago and just got back from an extensive trip to China. I took 4 gigs of photos on my trip in every setting imaginable.

I'll start with my only two gripes. First, this camera has THE WORSE lens cover I've ever seen. It pops off if it is barely touched. I have resorted to keeping it on with a rubber band. Second, the battery cover seems cheap and feels like it might break any minute. I open and close it VERRRRY carefully. So far, so good, but I'm amazed that a camera this great could have flaws as stupid as lens cap and battery door.

WHAT I LOVE: This is my fourth digital camera. GREAT clarity, even at huge distances. I took a couple hundred photos w/o flash or tripod at a choir concert, from at least 100 feet away. I got BEAUTIFUL close-ups of the people, no problem. Yes, it is a bit grainy, BUT SO IS HIGH SPEED FILM! Gosh, I can't believe the gripes in these reviews re: graininess at high ISO. The quality and clarity of these high digital ISO shots are far superior to anything I shot with film.

GREAT CLOSE-UPS. This has macro and super-macro. I do a lot of plant photography. FABULOUS macro.

FACE DETECTION: I didn't think I'd use this much but I love it.

CHOICE OF SETTINGS: I use the "Custom" setting and can mess with it to my heart's desire, then save the settings. Wow. I love that. If you are an AUTO photographer I think you'll be happy with the auto setting too.

GOOD MENUS: Menus are easy to use and intuitive. I especially like the +/- exposure access and the white balance settings.

HEFTY FEEL: This feels like a substantial camera. It is easy to hold steady for a long shot or low-light shot.

GOOD FLASH: I don't use flash much, but this is a good built-in one. I bought the Speedlite 220EX to go with it and found I don't really need it.

AA BATTERIES: I bought a set of Sony AA rechargeables to go with this camera. I shot all day and never once ran out of juice with those batteries. I carried a spare set of single-use alkaline batteries and never used them.

IMAGE STABILIZATION is incredible. At the last minute I decided against taking my tripod to China. Didn't ever need it, even in very low light. Even though the "camera shake" warning came on, I could still get good photos without blur if I held my breath!

VIEWFINDER: I was SOOO glad to get away from having to look at a TV screen to frame my shots. This viewfinder is digital, but it looks like an SLR one, has adjustable diopter, and best of all, is great for bright situations when a little TV screen just doesn't show you what you need to see. I don't think I took a single photo using the viewscreen, but for editing and trashing at the end of the day, the big screen was a plus. The slideshow setting is a nice bonus.

VIDEO: This isn't a video camera but in a pinch the video is fabulous! If I'd had bigger memory cards I would definitely have shot some video.

If you want more than a point-and-shoot, love bells and whistles, and are willing to hassle with the lens cap, this is a great choice. I'm very happy with my purchase and expect to shoot thousands of great images with this camera.
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on June 26, 2007
The longer I use it the happier I get. Unlike the S3 this is a real update of the S series camera. So many little changes were made that you are relearning things but overall made it a better camera.

First thoughts after buying;
1) The new lens cap is even worse. It seems like it pops off a lot easier then the S3.
2) While the batteries are now easy to get in and out it is now harder to close the battery door.
3) It is now heavy on the battery side. There must be more plastic this time, making it noticeably heavy when you hold it for the first time.
4) The increased body size is enough that you will have to hold the S5 with your right hand differently form the S2 or S3.
5) The button layout is easier to reach but are soft to push. There is not sensitive so you have to push hard to get a result.
6) The menus have changed some, the ISO now comes up as a pop up menu you can go back and forth with so you do not have to cycle through the whole list to get the setting you want. Overall it is streamlined.

The camera has had a overhaul. It is much more fitting the category of a prosumer camera then the versions that came before with the hot shoe and 2.5 LCD a long awaited addition. It still holds true to being a point and shoot by being simple to use and figure out. Two of its best selling points, AA batteries and a flip LCD are still there. More few more options have been added without taking away any of the previous ones.

For S2 and S3 users who own the lens and batteries already and still want more out of their camera this is a great buy. The upgrade from the S3 is noticeable and more then the casual user will most likely make it worth the money.
For a new user to the S series the 500 dollar starting price it is probably not be the best buy for you that amount of money. Once it drops in price then it would be in the right price range. Particularity for those who want the ability to choose their own settings and do not want the hassle of owning a SLR and multiple lenses.

With the Panasonic FZ50 and Sony H9, Canon really should have done more to make the S5 standout from the competition and worth its high price tag. The S5 is now where the S series should be, features, settings and a hot shoe.
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on June 23, 2007
In terms of digital cameras this one is very nice. Our old camera was a canon powershot S50. So we're comparing it to something 3+ years old. I took some pictures at a graduation today; the distance that the camera can take quality pictures is limited just like any other digital camera. I prefer my film camera for pictures that will be further than 15 feet away. For close up shots I think it's a very nice camera. I'm still playing around with the white-balance feature. Most of the time on auto mode, it does well, but other times the photos looks slightly washed out. This is easily fixed by setting your white-balance.

The only big flaw that I've found out so far, is that while recording a movie, you can take pictures...well the movie is interrupted to take a picture. You will be recording the movie, and when you click the button to take the picture, it stills the image, and makes a clicking sound from taking the picture. So you have a movie with pauses in it and clicking sounds for each still picture you've taken while shooting a movie. I was lead to believe that taking still images while recording, that there would be no pause in your movie. Maybe I don't know how to use this feature fully yet, or maybe it's just not possible to have non-interrupted movies and take pictures...

As with my other canon camera and reading reviews of other people with canon cameras, the exposure level sometimes needs adjusted to get quality photos. You can't adjust the exposure settings while in auto mode which my wife would like. It doesn't bother me though because I'm usually in a custom mode.

We haven't tried the hot shoe yet, but it was one of the reasons we got this camera as opposed to the S3. The face finder works great, and auto-focus seems to be very quick and accurate.

I'm sorry for my thought jumping around from feature to feature, but I tried to hit all of out points of like and dislike without being too wordy...ENJOY!
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on October 23, 2007
I first want to say the camera is great and takes awesome pictures. However, both the first camera and replacement camera I received had a defective sensor that would cause a small dark spot on the upper right quandrant of the picture in certain conditions. Those conditions were whenever the aperture was in the range of f6 - f8 (small aperture). This aperture setting would usually occur under bright conditions (auto) or manually set. The spot looks like a dried water spot on the lens. If you have this camera, check your pictures for this and test it yourself. The spot may not be in the same area as mine, so look at the whole picture. The easiest way to test yours is to point your camera against a light background, such as a blue sky, set the dial to Av, and set your f-stop to f-8.0. Depress the shutter button half-way and look for a spot on your LCD. Take a picture also, to confirm it shows up on the picture too. In both cases my lens was completely clean. I suspect that either there was a bad batch of sensors on the assembly line or these cameras that Amazon are selling were refurbished to some extent. That might explain the $[...] rebate that Amazon is able to offer. I hope that this is not the case as I have enjoyed doing business with them on many occasions in the past.
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on June 16, 2008
With over 700 reviews on this camera, there is little I can add. I read MANY of these reviews before purchasing, both on amazon and other sites. I also read reviews on other cameras. I finally made my purchase decision for the Cannon S5IS and I have no complaints. I read the chatter about pixel noise and this and that. And I'm sure that at the upper end of photography this is very important. But I'm your basic dad looking for good vacation and family photos. I'm looking for above average performance and flexibility with good value. This camera provides all of that. The price point can't be beat considering all the features. And the photos are great. They look awesome on my 20" monitor and superb in 4x6 prints. Color rendition is excellent. My previous (cheaper) point & shoot cameras required virtually every picture to be color adjusted. This Canon looks great every time. I don't use any in-camera editing features as I find editing software sooo much easier. But even there I haven't needed to do much editing (except maybe to crop out my brother-in-law when he stuck his head into my shot of the Grand Canyon, but I digress).

Features I like are the ease of going from full auto to full manual or anything in between. Manual controls are intuitive. I like the smart-rotation feature and flexible LCD screen. I love the 12x optical zoom, though I will agree that at the "slow" zoom speed it is a bit touchy and hard to get precise.

All the complaints about the lens cap falling off are over-rated. Yes, it is not very secure, but I can't tell you how many times I turned it on with lens cap on. You will too. So I'm glad it pops off easy and doesn't strain the motor. In normal use and carrying around, I did not find a problem the cap spontaneously falling off. A few times. No big.

I was a little concerned about 4AA battery life. I use rechargeables and I can report I got several hundred pictures before batteries died. So two sets, one in camera and one charging, should be all you need. I will say one thing, the camera does not give much warning when batteries are nearly exhausted. The low-bat warning came on and like 2 shots later the camera turned off. So do keep those spares handy.

Overall I am VERY happy with this camera. I tried several models out at a store, Sony, Nikon, etc. This one offered the most, cost the least and had the nicest feel. Overall I am very happy with it and don't hesitate to recommend it for great family photos, vacations, or random shots of the dog playing with your little niece.
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on August 11, 2007
I use this camera as a secondary to my Canon 5D.. when I have the wrong lens on and need something quick.. or want to go out and not carry a lot of weight.
I have been getting great results with in.. not only for macro and flower pictures but also for Landscapes. I have not had the chance to take many people pictures.. so I cannot comment on that area.
I do find the auto focus sometimes wants to focus on something other than what I want it to focus on. But have found if I am patient... I can get it to see what I am seeing. (This is the reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5)
For the money and the zoom range, it is well worth the money.
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on June 30, 2008
If you're looking for high-quality photos that you'll love straight out of the box with this camera, you're not going to get it. However, if you take the time to experiment with different ISO settings and modes, you will learn what works to deliver absolutely amazing photos.

Some hints:

Auto settings will fail you unless you're taking shots in broad daylight with nothing to correct for. I never use auto mode.

Experiment. Though it might seem counterintuitive, you can get great indoor moving shots with flash and an ISO of 100 to 200. Want to get a great shot of your kids or pets indoors without blur? I recommend shooting in AV mode with flash and an ISO setting of 100. You will be pleased with the result. Trying the same shot in auto will likely have you packing your S5 back into the box for return. Like I said, it's not a great out-of-the-box camera, but it will delight the patient user.

The color swap and color accent modes are amazing, they work in just about any setting, and you'll love the results. It's a very fun feature to play with, especially if you're just starting out.

Be patient with your S5. It really is a fabulous camera if you take the time to get to know it. It truly is worth looking through the instruction manual or checking out a how-to on YouTube.

I've seen reviews debate whether the S5 is a good bridge between your typical point and shoot and an SLR. You'll find conflicting opinions, but personally, I think it's great. To use this camera, you'll have to learn about settings, ISOs and so forth, and this can only serve you well with the SLR later on when you decide you're ready.

One of my favorite features is the one-touch video. You won't miss a great clip because you're fumbling with settings, you merely push a button and it begins recording! When you're done, you can go right back to snapping photos. I think Canon really knew what they were doing here.

More megapixels on a point and shoot camera doesn't deliver better image quality. To accomplish this, the camera would also need a bigger sensor. Too many megapixels can equate to noisy or grainy images without a corresponding larger sensor. Don't be fooled. Unless you're printing photos larger than an 8x10, a 6MP will do everything you need it to. And frankly, without an SLR, most enlargements beyond 8x10 are going to look noisy anyhow.

If you're deciding between the S3 and the S5, don't let the megapixels decide for you. The only real difference in my opinion is the larger LCD screen on the S5. It's pretty huge as far as digital camera LCDs go, which gives you a better idea of how the photo will print, so it's nice for that reason. Still, the S3 has a decent size display for this purpose and it's a lot cheaper. Really it depends on how much a big LCD means to you.

It is a pretty solid camera. Some people think it's bulky and prefer a lighter, thinner camera. Personally, when I'm holding a camera, I want to feel like I'm holding a good piece of equipment, and the S5 delivers.


With a vast array of shooting modes and ISO settings, you can get some absolutely amazing photos out of this camera.

Startup time from "ON" to capture is very fast.

Photo capture responds very fast.

With features like color swap and color accent, you can be really creative and create beautiful professional-looking photos right out of your camera.

One-click video recording.

Uses SD cards - cheaper and easier to find than XD.

Uses four AA batteries and you can get a LOT of life out of these. Nice thing about AAs is that if you run out or forget yours, you can get a pack anywhere. The S5 uses FOUR of them, but they do last a good long while.

Video clarity is great, even in settings where bright light is not available. With my previous digital camera, indoor videos were mostly impossible without direct blazing sunlight coming through a window.


Not a good out-of-the-box camera, requires knowledge of ISO and modes.

High ISO = image noise and grainy photos.

If you don't learn your settings, you can end up with some seriously blurred images.

The batteries and SD card share a space, which I'm not so thrilled about. Mostly this is because the door is a bit flimsy and awkward to open and close.

Lens cap pops off and is prone to getting lost unless you attach it to the camera.

Bottom line, there are really only two reasons you would be disappointed with the S5 and they are:

1. You're looking for the kind of quality that only a professional DSLR can offer (in which case I would recommend the Nikon D60) or

2. You want a camera that you don't have to do anything with in terms of learning about shooting modes and ISO settings. This camera will not produce great shots in Auto mode.

A note on Canon's software - it is HUGE, and you probably won't use most of it, especially if you already have a photo editing program.
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