Ease of Use: 4 / 5
Pricing: 2.5 / 5
Video Quality: 3 / 5
Photo Quality: 4 / 5
Features: 4 / 100
The Canon S100 is a premium compact camera that comes with a premium price tag. For R4300 you can get a Canon 1100D + a lens. For a mere R300 less you can get the Canon S100. So why would you rather buy a compact camera than a DSLR?
On the outside:
The Canon S100 is a solid camera that feels very well built. It has some weight in your hand and feels like it has more substance than most compact cameras out there. It is not a flashy camera and doesn’t have any unnecessary bells and whistles. But what it does do, it does well.
The camera has a good 3.0” LCD screen that has good contrast, proper colour rendition and a lot of detail.
The camera has the buttons you’d expect at the back, with an added rubber pad at the top right, to help you hold the camera more steadily. There’s also a dedicated record button for videos.
The most interesting thing about the camera is the dial around the lens. Unlike most compact cameras this dial actually fulfils a purpose apart from just being ornamental. This dial helps with the manual focus function, and worked very well and smoothly changed focus.
The one thing I did not like, was the placement of the flash. The usual way of holding compact cameras, usually has the left index finger on top of the camera body. Unfortunately that’s also where the flash pops up to. There’s not a lot of room on a compact camera for different flash placement, especially due to the large focus ring around the lens. This is unfortunate, but not a deal-breaker.
On the inside:
The menu system is very “Canon” as you’d expect, but with only the necessary functions. If you’ve ever worked with a Canon camera before the menu system will be familiar with no weird surprizes. Even if you haven’t worked with a Canon camera before, the menu system should still be quite easy to get around. As most frilly bits have been stripped out of the camera, it’s easy to navigate and find your way around, even through just messing around in the menu.
The photos are good quality. There’s a decent amount of detail and colour show up accurately. Metering on the camera was fantastic handling various situations without a hitch. Along with the good metering the white balance was very accurate throughout a variety of situations. Even shooting straight at the sun didn’t faze this camera’s metering system.
The sensor was noisier than expected, with noise showing up in shadowy areas, even at ISO 80. At around ISO 400, shadow started to get a bit mushy. At ISO 800 some of the detail overall has gotten lost.
The photos showed some sharpening by default and this might also account for some of the noise showing up in photos.
The camera has a good lens with distortions handled as well as I’ve seen in a compact camera. It’s not perfect, but all distortions were within reasonable amounts.
The macro function of the camera performed very well and together with the manual focus, worked a charm. Results were accurate and sharp.
The camera worked really well in manual mode, with everything set to manual, including the focus.
The video was decent. Video data rate was very high, at over 30Mbps, yet it didn’t show the amount of details you’d expect from such high data rate. Details got very muddled with fast camera movements, which should be a characteristic of low data throughput. This might be due to the format and codec video is saved to.
Exposure throughout video recording was rather smooth, but not as smooth as I’ve seen.
Overall video performance was the most disappointing part of this camera.
This is by no means a cheap camera, with pricing very close to matching DSLRs. That then begs the question whether this camera is worth the cash outlay. This camera has a few flaws and that is what makes this question harder to answer.
If you look purely at the photo side of things, then this is a very good camera. The camera works very well, is very solid and responsive. Super-zoom bridge cameras aside, you won’t get a much better compact camera today. Photo quality is not quite DSLR level and there’s a bit too much noise for my taste.
If you are comparing this camera to an entry level DSLR, stop. Buy the DSLR. If you already have a DSLR and are looking for a second/compact camera for convenience sake, then this is a good camera. It has the manual functions you’d need and want in a camera and gives good results.
This isn’t a perfect camera, as the video shows, but will deliver very high quality photos and smooth operation.
Here’s a sample gallery of photos taken with the Canon S100:
And a sample video of footage taken with the Canon S100: