The S90 delivers absolutely flawless photo quality with impressive noise characteristics, even at high ISO speeds. Apart from some mild luminance noise and softening of detail at the highest end, the level of noise favourably compares to some of the best entry-level DSLRs and is far above any other point-and-shoot or compact cameras. Colour quality was pretty accurate too, if a little bit on the cool side. Also, exposure and white balance were, in line with Canon’s tradition, generally first-class from the S90.
Excellent images, but at a price
With this backdrop of image quality excellence, it was rather disappointing that camera handling was not matched by a similar performance. The S90 is a slow shooter with one frame per second in continuous shooting and a significant shutter lag delay, half a second to focus and shoot in normal light conditions. This could be a real disadvantage, as it makes an otherwise brilliant and versatile camera totally unsuitable for fast moving subjects.
Another disappointment was battery life. The already diminutive 220 shots turned out to be far less during testing, to a level that is not quite acceptable considering that most compact cameras have double the battery life span of the S90. Finally some users might be put off by the Movie mode with its maximum VGA-quality, and at a time when HD video recording starts to make an appearance on mobile phones.
Using the S90, the combination of user-friendly technology, small size and sheer DSLR power is quite addictive. With this new S-series model Canon has raised the bar on compact camera technology, but there's more to a camera than circuitry and some handling issues need to be addressed. Yet, despite some design flaws and slow performance, you can't help but love this camera. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
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Canon Powershot S90
Holy crap, you unfortunate British-dwellers are getting ripped off on this one; it's $429 plus tax (so about $500) in the States - hell, even in Canada we only get ripped off an extra hundred bucks ($529). I love mine but I'm not sure I'd have paid nearly $1,000 for it.
If you want a viewfinder and a grip (and a flash hotshoe), then you want the closely-related G11 - http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/canon_powershot_g11_review/ . The S90 is for those of us who want top-class image quality but don't want the bulk and weight those features add.
For those talking about shutter lag - it's pretty decent on this camera, not SLR level, but good. And against all the shots you may miss on a compact due to shutter lag, I place all the shots you may miss on a DSLR due to not being able to fit it in your pocket. Which, for me, would be all of 'em. This isn't meant to replace a DSLR, it's meant to be the best camera you can get for the situations where you don't have a DSLR (or micro 4/3) with you (or for people who don't want a DSLR at all as they know they'd never take it anywhere).
re: Pics or it didn't happen
I think you will find there's a court injunction preventing publication of those tiger "photos"...
Pics or it didn't happen
I'm so ashamed.
Why did they kill the Powershot Pro?
I love my Powershot Pro1 - a totally awesome camera that still embarrasses DSLR's, four years or more on! Professional level lens, full on manual, and all. Now *that* is what Canon need to do again, not a quirky retro compact like this one!
...is the one thing I could never reconcile myself to with compacts which is why I bought an SLR a couple of years ago and never looked back. So many missed shots with compacts and their shutter lag :( I got used to the bulk and weight of an SLR very quickly so when there's a compact with SLR-like focus speed and shutter delay, that'll be news. Until then, this is just another compact with the failings thereof. RAW, face recognition, low-noise at high ISO are meaningless unless you get the shot.