Product Details
Canon PowerShot S90 10MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD

Canon PowerShot S90 10MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD
From Canon

Price: $539.90

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by Pavilion Electronics

20 new or used available from $105.99

Average customer review:
(323 customer reviews)
PowerShot S90 gives powerful everyday shooting. Get superior low-light performance with a high-sensitivity 10.0 MP CCD

Product Description

By combining a 10 megapixel CCD sensor and Canon's advanced DIGIC 4 Image Processor, the PowerShot S90 offers dramatic low light sensitivity with minimal noise. Impressive ISO 3200 capability reduces blur and subject movement for crisp photos with spectacular sharpness and clarity. The S90 boasts an incredibly slim profile and lightweight body for true pocket-sized convenience. For the photographer that never wants to miss an opportunity, the S90 the high quality camera that you can carry every day. With an equivalent zoom range of 28-105mm, Canon's 3.8x Optical Zoom Lens captures everything from sweeping landscapes to telephoto action shots with ease. An impressive f/2.0 aperture allows you to create dramatic portraits by emphasizing your subject's face and blurring the background with a soft, shallow depth-of-field.


Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1234 in Camera & Photo
  • Brand: Canon
  • Model: S90IS
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 1.22" h x 2.30" w x 3.94" l, .39 pounds

Features

  • New 10-megapixel High Sensitivity System; DIGIC 4 Image Processor
  • Improved low-light image performance, plus a Low Light scene mode for ISO settings up to 12,800
  • Customizable control ring for easy access and operation of manual or other creative shooting settings
  • Wide-angle 3.8x optical zoom with Canon's Optical Image Stabilizer; bright f/2.0 lens
  • RAW + JPEG shooting and recording modes; capture images to SD/SDHC memory cards (not included)

Editorial Reviews

From the Manufacturer

Canon’s storied S Series gets a revitalized new leader in the slimmer, lighter, new PowerShot S90, the perfect everyday camera for people who are serious about great photography. Image quality is superb thanks to the new High Sensitivity System and higher ISO speeds, plus an exceptionally bright f/2.0 lens that makes portraits and low-light shots come to life. Photography enthusiasts will love the new control ring at the base of the lens barrel, designed for intuitive, pro-style manual control.
Canon PowerShot S90 highlights


PowerShot S90 Highlights

New 10-megapixel sensor coupled with Canon’s DIGIC 4 Image Processor
The PowerShot S90 employs a newly developed, 10-megapixel High Sensitivity System by combining a powerful CCD sensor and Canon’s DIGIC 4 Image Processor. Thanks to this technological advancement, the S90 is dramatically more sensitive than cameras with identical megapixel counts, and delivers spectacular images with minimal noise. Increased sensitivity demands a higher ISO speed, and the PowerShot S90 delivers with a new maximum setting of ISO 3,200. Blur and camera shake are notably reduced for the ultimate in sharpness and clarity.

In addition, a new Low Light mode lets you capture images in an astonishing range of conditions. The camera automatically adjusts the ISO speed from ISO 320 to ISO 12,800 in relation to ambient brightness, subject movement and camera shake.

Compact and pocket-sized camera for everyday use for the advanced amateur
Serious photography buffs never want to miss a shooting opportunity, and that means keeping a high-quality camera on hand at all times. With a robust feature set that meets an advanced amateur’s exacting standards, the compact PowerShot S90 fits the bill. The S90 boasts an incredibly slim profile and lightweight body for pocket-sized convenience, yet packs in advanced capabilities that make every image memorable. It’s the perfect take-along complement to your camera collection.

Canon PowerShot S90 highlights
Bright f/2.0 lens, great for shooting in low light conditions or using a shallow depth-of-field
The S90 sports an f/2.0 aperture, perfect for creating enticing portraits, by drawing attention to the face and blurring the background with its impressively shallow depth-of-field. The Macro setting lets you get even closer. The large aperture also does more. It lets you capture more nuances in low light shooting by using more of the available light. You’ll be ready for anything with a lens aperture larger than even many professional sizes.

Customizable control ring for easy access and operation of manual settings
Focus, Exposure, ISO, Step Zoom, or White Balance can now be adjusted more precisely than ever with the S90’s new control ring. It’s even more intuitive and quicker than the usual 2-button control and the S90 lets you decide which function the ring will adjust.

Canon PowerShot S90 highlights
3.8x optical zoom in action
Wide-angle 3.8x optical zoom (equivalent to 28-105mm) with Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer
The PowerShot S90 features Canon's precision 28mm Wide-Angle Lens that allows you to shoot any scene from wide-angle to telephoto. It lets you capture more in every frame, so everyone fits in a family gathering shot. When it's time to take a closer look, a 3.8x optical zoom (35mm equivalent 28-105mm) greatly minimizes camera shake and maximizes the brilliance of every detail. The camera uses a USM (Ultrasonic Motor) for high-speed, quiet, energy-efficient lens movement with precise control. Focal length is conveniently indicated on the lens barrel.

Full range of shooting and recording modes including RAW + JPEG
The PowerShot S90's RAW mode lets you shoot images without JPEG compression. It gives you clearer images and complete creative control in editing. RAW images are transferred directly to the computer where they can then be edited using image adjustment software or a processing application to adjust your images as you please. The camera can also be set to allow the simultaneous recording of both RAW and JPEG images while shooting.

Also, with 25 Shooting Modes including 17 Special Scene Modes, you're ready for whatever shot comes your way.

Canon PowerShot S90 highlights
Large, 3.0-inch PureColor System LCD
Large 3.0-inch PureColor System LCD
With a high resolution stemming 461,000 dots, a high contrast ratio and a wide viewing angle, the PowerShot S90 captures the more subtle variations of color in a scene to make all your images truer to the real thing. The LCD’s multiple coatings prevent visual interference from dust, scratches and reflection.

What's in the Box

  • PowerShot S90 Body
  • NB-6L Battery Pack
  • Battery Charger CB-2LY
  • Neck Strap WS-DC9
  • Digital Camera Solution CD-ROM
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • AV Cable AVC-DC400


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

446 of 464 people found the following review helpful.
5My Powershot S90 Has Arrived, and It's Fantastic!
By Ray
Early Impressions

I was delighted to have finally received my Powershot S90, and without further adieu, let me say that this is one heck of a camera. It's not perfect -- you can take truly terrible pictures with it just like you can take terrible pictures with a D700 -- but when used properly, the camera turns out remarkable shots that make us find it hard to accept the images are coming from a camera that fits in your pants pocket.

What struck me first upon using it? First, it's size. This thing is small, and it's light, too. It's a bit smaller than my Panasonic TZ3 and TZ5, and it's lighter, too. (The camera uses a front and back metal construction with plastic on the top and bottom, but the Panasonic's, while also using metal, use a thicker gauge steel which adds a feel of sturdiness but also adds some weight, as well). The camera also has a high-quality feel to it. The buttons click and depress well (although the rear wheel is a bit too easy to turn, in my opinion). It has a rounded shape, so it feels comfortable in the hands, and when you stick it in your pocket, it will slide right in and out without snagging. The screen on this thing is simply gorgeous: why can't every camera have a screen like this? It's large, bright, and pretty high in resolution (461,000 pixels). You can't help but admire the camera's design once you get looking at it and using it.

Next, the camera seems to perform well in terms of speed and overall operational use. The screen has the typical lag when taking shots, but you can adjust this somewhat in the menu system to speed things up, and quite frankly, every small camera I've ever owned exhibits this behavior. It is easy to use most of the camera's functions, and you may have heard about the programmable control ring around the lens on the front of the camera. It's operation is easy, solid (the ring "clicks" with detents at different positions), and, to boot, there is the standard programmable "S" button that the Powershots "S" cameras have typically had.

But of course, I'm interested in high ISO operation, and so I immediately took it into the livingroom where it was quite dark, and just started shooting. I was quite surprised at the results. You are not going to necessarily submit these to win any contests, but for the most part, the camera took nice shots even in that bad shooting environment, and the vast majority of the photos came out quite well (I will post a few with this review). The camera is the first (along with the Powershot G11) to deploy Sony's new ICX685CQZ sensor, a 9.31mm diagonal sensor with high performance specifications. With a little post processing, many of them look quite good. As the ISO crept into the very high ranges (800 and above) some sensor noise became apparent, but this is certainly the best low-light performance I've seen in a non-DSLR so far. (See my explanations, below, to see why this is possible). Surprisingly, some shots as high as 1600 ISO seemed to be acceptable as long as you are not a "pixel peeper." I was quite surprised when I discovered that a few of the shots had been taken at this high ISO 1600 level -- I've never had this experience before with a point and shoot camera.

Outdoor operation is fantastic. My outdoor shots for the most part have come out very well, with rich color, great detail, and little sensor noise. Like most Canon portables, these images seem to respond well to post-processing (you can sharpen them quite easily, and Canon now uses a standard meta-data tagging format that is readable by virtually all photo editor programs.) I even turned the EV down -2/3 while outside, and the sensitivity of the camera is so good that, even with this reduction in EV, my shots came out sharp and clear. Again, I will post a few shots with this review.

The camera TRULY excels at macro photography. The macro shots I've taken thus far are clear, sharp, and have great depth of field. In a word, they are superb: this camera is a macro shooter's delight. (A nice touch, too, is that in AUTO mode the camera automatically shifts into macro mode, without having to press any buttons!) The functionality just begs us to keep shooting macros over and over again. I've been able to take macro shots that I only dreamed of before, and the camera makes it easy to do so.

And although this is not an objective measure, the camera is just plain fun to use. It works smoothly, is light, has a beautiful screen, and seems to keep cranking out one nice shot after another. Wow.

Early Pro's and Cons

-- PROS --
1. Exceptionally small and lightweight (100 x 58 x 31 mm and 175 g)
2. Increased sensor size for a portable with a lower megapixel count (Sony's new ICX685CQZ sensor, 9.31mm diagonal)
3. Reasonably large zoom factor (28-105mm, approximately 3.8X zoom)
4. Wide end is very wide for landscape shots, vistas, group photos (28mm)
5. Fast f/2 lens permits high levels of light passage in low light situations
6. f/2 lens makes shallow depth of field shots incredibly effective - this camera is a macro shooter's delight
7. Two types of highly effective shake reduction technologies
8. Design makes lens cap unnecessary
9. Extremely high image quality for a pocket sized camera
10. HUGE 3 inch LCD screen with 461,000 pixel resolution and 100% coverage of the shot you wish to take
11. RAW mode allows for highest image quality and post processing
12. Virtually every camera setting is user adjustable (ISO, shutter speed, aperture, EV, white balance, etc.)
13. Ring-based control implementation one of the best on ANY current camera
14. Reasonable cost for a camera of this ability (but watch the prices climb as the camera stays in and out of stock)
16. Metadata being properly written to the file so they can be read by photo editing software (a problem with earlier Canons and some other brands)
17. SDHC flash card is highly standardized, and is coming in larger and faster formats (necessary if you are taking many RAW shots)
18. Extremely attractive physical design
19. High quality construction apparent on first use
20. Reasonably good battery life - most people are reporting about 300 shots (without flash) between charges

-- CONS --
1. Zoom ends at 108mm (3.8X zoom), which may be a deal breaker for some
2. Does not take HD videos (but does shoot 640 x 480 at full 30fps)
3. LCD screen not at the highest current resolution as seen in some DSLR's (but is great, anyway)
4. Proprietary battery is an expensive proposition, as two or three are needed for daylong trips
5. Camera case not included, and is expensive to purchase afterword
6. No prices below retail due to the high demand of the device
7. May be difficult to initially acquire due to high demand
8. Still no "universal standard" RAW mode file format - the camera manufacturers need to address this soon!
9. Mechanical noise when setting focus and moving between bright and dimply lit areas - this is the aperture being adjusted, but it can be annoying

Some Other Things I Can Tell You about this Camera (and the Powershot Line in general)

Canon's reinstatement of the venerable "S" series within the Powershot line is a welcome move to thousands of photographic enthusiasts. Although the S90 announcement a few months ago caught the photographic community by surprise, the announcement was greeted with overwhelmingly positive reactions. As a person who had been greatly impressed by my older Powershot S80, a phenomenal camera for its time and a pleasure to use, I was one of them.

Read the online posts of virtually any photography forum, and you'll quickly see there is no shortage of individuals, many of them longtime professional photographers, who have tired of carrying around anywhere from four to ten pounds of photographic equipment simply to get a few shots while out on a trip. (I think it may have been Scott Kelby who said, and I paraphrase, "The best shot is the one you take," and if the weight and size of your equipment makes it so that you end up not bringing your camera with you, you won't take any photos at all! This is a corollary to one famous photographer`s statement that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of photos you take and the amount of equipment you bring.) The problem has generally been, however, that the smaller you make the camera, the worse the image quality of the photos the device can produce. This has set up a tradeoff between image quality and camera size, and, more specially, image quality and sensor size, which for years has forced photographers to take a stand with one side of the equation or the other, and then defend to the community why they made such a choice.

Without going into too much detail here, the problem in manufacturing a compact camera that takes excellent images under a wide range of environments essentially boils down to the sensor, the electronic device that takes the place of film in older cameras. The larger the sensor, the more surface area for light to fall, and the higher the density of the sensor (in megapixels) the higher the sensor's resolution. Camera manufacturers have excelled at developing ever higher densities in sensors of the same physical dimensions -- many 12 and 14 mexapixel cameras are using sensors sized no larger than those on previous cameras possessing only 3 or 4 mexapixels -- but where they have fallen flat on their faces is in the development of sensors that have good resolution AND low noise. And the most direct impact of increasing mexapixel count on a sensor that remains static in size is the increase of electronic "noise" (also known as the "signal to noise ratio," a term used for describing all electrical circuits, whether photographic in nature, or not), resulting in photos that have a grain like appearance with miniscule spots of white and color spread throughout the entire image, spoiling the photo's clarity and diminishing its overall appearance.

The problem is that when more reactive pixels are crammed into a sensor of a fixed size, the size of the pixels themselves must be decreased to accommodate more of them within the same sensor size. But as pixels are made smaller, they also tend to emit more unwanted electrical emissions (called "noise") along with the desired output (called "signal"). As consumers have somehow mistakenly equated megapixels with quality (and the camera manufacturers have done little, if anything, to dispel this misunderstanding), camera manufacturers have released successive waves of new cameras with higher and higher resolution, but with essentially the same sized sensors. These "upgrades" have driven noise levels higher, and have resulted in more cameras capable to taking "good" photos only in full sunlight where the signal from the sensor easily overpowers its noise. (This phenomenon is best seen when taking a picture in a low light setting, say inside a building, and the photo, if it comes out blur free at all, is laden with noise spots, making the photo generally unappealing in appearance and lacking in detail and clarity.)

The approach to this problem has typically been to apply "noise reduction" processing algorithms to the image before it is written to the flash card, similar to techniques used by computer software image editing programs. And although this "after the fact" noise reduction approach can help, the truth is that, for most situations, there simply is no way to repair a photo so laden with noise: you can remove the noise, but the cost is a loss of detail, making such photos appear slightly soft and blurry, with little detail. Some cameras produce so much noise that noise reduction algorithms appear in all photos, not just low light shots, where even full sunlight shots present noise reduction artifacts in the resulting picture.

That preamble may have been a bit longer than was expected, but it is an important background to the Powershot S90, a camera that attempts to tackle the problem of low light image quality in a manner few manufacturers have generally attempted:

1. increasing the physical size of the sensor to a size larger than most point and shoot cameras
2. reducing the noise generation inherent in the hardware sensor pixels
3. increasing pixel size by reducing the number of pixels on the sensor
4. using a "fast, bright" lens with a very wide aperture (f/2 at its widest zoom level) that allows a great deal of light to pass through to the sensor

When these four approaches are employed, the result can be a portable camera that, under some conditions, can rival the performance of most entry level DSLRS, and do so in format that fits in your shirt pocket.

The Powershot S90 has just now been released, and most all initial reviews seem to be extremely positive, including my own here. Functionality on the camera is praised, particularly with Canon's implementation of a very old, but generally discarded control mechanism: a ring around the diameter of the lens element serves as a selector for variety of user-defined functions in conjunction with a small function button on the top of the camera. The unit itself is diminutive in size and weight (100 x 58 x 31 mm and 175 g , respectively) and makes use of a matte black finish with smooth curved edges that maintains the generally rectangular shape.

What is the price we pay for such performance? The primary one (and this may be a deal breaker for many) is that the camera zooms only from 28 105mm, making it effectively a 3.8x zoom, too little to be able to compare with compacts such as Panasonic's DMC-TZ5, which starts at this same wide end but (incredibly) zooms to 10x. But if we understand what the S90 is designed to do, which is to take high quality images even in less than desirable lighting conditions (at dusk, inside a cathedral, in museums, etc.), we can see Canon's strategy: don't worry about a lens that zooms across the football field and concentrate on developing a fast lens that transmits lots of light and excels at the wide end. In fact, the S90 is marketed as a camera that is particularly well suited to depth of field shots, where only one item in the frame is in focus, and the rest blurred, and in macro shots where the subject is less than 2 inches away. In this sense, we can say the camera's zoom is not a deficit in the design, but a strategy that helps the camera achieve its goals.

My Canon Powershot S80, a camera I purchased many years ago, took pictures of startling clarity and quality. While possessing similar lens characteristics to the new S90, the S80 had no anti-shake technology, could hold only up to a 2Gb SD card, and had an optical viewfinder that wasn't too accurate. But none of that mattered: the photos that came out of the camera were some of the best I took in those years, and, to boot, the camera was constructed in a quality manner that distinguished itself from all other portables at the time, and was simply a pleasure to use. Early reviewers of the S90 are reporting these very same qualities, but now with a camera that is designed to push the boundaries of portable cameras into a new standard.

COMPARE
Canon Powershot S80 8MP Digital Camera with 3.6x Wide Angle Optical Zoom

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5K 9MP Digital Camera with 10x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Black)

125 of 128 people found the following review helpful.
4Camera Geek Alert: Right Camera - If it's the right job...
By surfbum
Be warned, I am a self professed camera geek. I believe cameras are like surfboards; you need a quiver of surfboards/cameras for the right wave/job.

The Canon S90 is - by far - my new "go to" pocket camera and the one I will always carry with me in my flight bag. I have been using it for just about a month now and after a couple thousand shots, only now am I getting comfortable with its functionality. This is NOT the camera to buy your mother-in-law for Christmas. She will never speak to you again.

My other cameras are:

Canon 7D - with 'L' series lenses.
Pentax W60 (waterproof) - for surfing, sailing, biking, hiking, skiing and handing to the kids to beat each other with over the head.
Canon SD980 - which was my *quality* pocket camera but will now be relegated purely to U/W scuba photography (since I own the U/W case anyway and would live in fear that my S90 meets the same fate as my S80 and gets flooded shark diving in Tahiti).

Here's the deal with the new Canon S90: If you are willing to delve into the sub menus and experiment it will become a very, very powerful camera in your arsenal. It can do anything the G11 can do but because of the size you might have to work a little harder initially to figure out the functionality curve. It's like flying. Once your familiar with the controls (which takes awhile) the interface becomes transparent and you can make it do just about anything you want. But it will take a lot of tinkering. No lie.

I'll leave the critique on picture quality for the professional sites but will just offer this: the results are very good for the size of the camera. The low light performance is best in class, period; and I've tried them all including the LX3 (which is also darn good but noisier - love that 24mm lens though).

Bottom line, if you want SLR quality go buy an SLR. You're not going to get the same results with the S90. Duh. If you don't like small cameras or have large fingers then maybe you should look at something like the G11. The S90 is *too small* for all of its functionality but that's the dichotomy, isn't it? The functionality is all there but by design is forced into a sometimes frustratingly cramped interface. That said, this camera is very good at what it is: a pocket camera with a wide fast lens that can shoot in RAW.

Let's talk about size. I'll agree that the build quality initially seems *cheaper* than what you would expect. That said, the case, dials, and shutter are all solid in real life day to day use. Especially the shutter. To be honest, it's a bit strange but you can't deny the light weight and I love that it's smooth and flat and easily fits into your jeans. It's as small as any compact with the exception of the lens ring/bulge and while I wish the bulge weren't there, it is what it is and the functionality of that ring is surprisingly awesome. It's definitely more pocketable than the LX3. The screen is gorgeous and I don't miss the viewfinder at all.

The power up/down flash is irritating and I pray it doesn't break but I got to admit there is less red-eye than most cameras (which is supposedly why they went with the design). As long as the motor doesn't give out because I'm inadvertently holding the flash down when it tries to pop up I'll live with it and tip my hat to Canon's engineers.

The control ring functionality is awesome and the Ring Function button is very, very functional and remains customized for each "mode" you select. In this way you can set up your camera for high speed Av photography different than for say Tv photography. Nice.

On that functionality, making this camera do what you want really boils down to getting to know the camera. After a month, I can finally adjust aperture, shutter speed, and the four directional manual white balance without thinking about it. ISO, exposure bracketing, flash intensity, metering, and continuous shooting are just a button/spin/button/spin away. Once you've memorized the function layout, exposure adjustments are fairly quick and painless. And of course you've got the outer control ring and function ring give you instant access to two of your major settings wether that be ISO, exposure metering, manual focus, white balance, zoom, aperture, or shutter speed. You're really wasting the power of this camera if you just leave it in Av so you can shoot "fast".

Whew. Exhausted yet? If you are then maybe this camera isn't for you. ;) No, seriously.

However, if you are willing to commit yourself Canon has given you the tools to get the shot you want. Or I suppose you could just leave it in AUTO.

I'll see if I can figure out how to upload some sample shots but here are some real life experiences I've had. Day shots of the NYC skyline are beautiful. A little soft compared to a Canon 7D with an 'L' series lens, but like I said before, duh. The same shot at night can be accomplished without a tripod at about 1/60 of a second. No blur. At an English Beat concert the other night I was snapping away at f2.0 (wide) and 1/100 of a second. Not always fast enough but about five times what I could do with my SD980. Stepping it down from ISO100 to 800 sped it up and while a little noisier, fit the concert like feel. Ice skating at night at Rockefeller Center (well lit) I was taking photos without the flash as if it were daytime. In summary, this camera rocks.

UPDATE: Low light photos uploaded to Amazon. Look for NYC skyline and adjacent concert pics. Unfortunately Amazon resolution is limited but you'll get the idea of what you can get away with.

The one thing I don't get is the 640X480 movie mode. I ask why, why, why knowing full well that there is an engineering answer that hasn't found its way on to the Interwebs yet. Somewhere in the software/hardware mix there must be an answer because not including HD video is inexplicable to me. On the other hand, most video I take with this kind of camera just gets uploaded to YouTube anyway so 640X480 is fine. That's what I've got a dedicated HD camcorder for. One thing I will add, the sound quality is noticeably better than any other mono point and shoot I've used. I'm not sure what's up with that but it's noticeably clearer with deeper base. Kind of a nice surprise, really.

At the end of the day this is a great camera and a very worthy successor to my beloved (and flooded) Canon S80. If you want the smallest *quality* camera you can currently buy the S90 is it. There are a few issues but that beautiful fast lens makes them bearable. If you want an SLR like interface and are willing to sacrifice the size, then you should take a serious look at the G11 (or similar). This camera is too small for that kind of interface and while the top level functions are intuitive (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) you'll have to commit yourself a little to go any deeper. The beauty is, you can!

Bottom line: If I lost this camera today I'd buy another tomorrow. From a camera geek that travels the world, that says a lot.

166 of 174 people found the following review helpful.
4Lightweight, low profile compact with great low light capability
By Enche Tjin
Canon S90 IS is one of Canon high-end / advanced Canon Powershot compact camera. Its unique characteristics are slim, low profile body with great noise control in high ISO plus 28-105mm f/2-f/4.9 bright zoom lens. The other advantage is the camera is very pocket able. It fits in your jeans' pocket.

IMAGE QUALITY AND ISO

Canon S90 IS has 1/1.7' sensor size which is slighty smaller compare to its main competitor, Panasonic LX3 (1/1.63"). From my test, S90 IS image quality is very good across focal length but dynamic range (the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image) is limited . This is also a problem most of digital camera out there, but S90 is slightly worse compared to competitors.

However, regarding noise control and handling, S90 IS is excellent. The new algorithm works very well to reduce or erase most (if not all) chroma-noises which degrade image quality significantly. Image shot at ISO 1600 is very usable for regular print and web.

BODY & HANDLING

Canon S90 IS has a slim, low profile look, so it is very good for street photography. It does not attract attention like digital SLR camera.

For control, it has two main dials, both of them are round. One is located in the lens, and the back of the camera. The back dials also function as four way buttons. This design is similar to Samsung WB1000 design.

Front ring dial can be customized for several options: adjust aperture/shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, manual focus, white balance or zoom. The front dial is not like zoom barrel in the lens, it is not smooth, instead, it has several stops point. There will be a "click" sound to let you know if you hit the stop.

I usually use the lens dial to zoom. There are five stops in the dial: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm. All of them are popular focal lengths. I found this is much better way to zoom rather than traditional way (pull a lever on the shutter). It is faster, less noise and accurate. It is great for learning how focal length affect perspective and distortion too.

Mode dial is harder to change because they have put some resistant to it. It is to prevent accidental switch.

There is also a shortcut dial which you can customized to many function such as AF servo, intelligent contrast, face detection and many more.

Canon S90 has 3' 4:3 ratio LCD screen with 460k resolution. It is similar to Panasonic LX3, but better than typical compact camera. It is worse than Samsung WB1000 which has AMOLED screen (over 1 million resolution).

However, build quality is not up to par with leading advanced cameras such as Canon G11 and Panasonic LX3. It made by metal but it feels plasticky. I have a sweaty hand and it registers my fingerprint! Also because of its flat design, there is no place to secure your grip. But overall ergonomic is not bad.

OPERATION & AUTO FOCUS

Start up and turn off time is fast. It only takes around 1.5 seconds for each. Compare to LX3: around 1.75 seconds, Ricoh GRD3 : 2 seconds respectively. Auto focus is typical compact., around .75 second, will take more time if you point to low contrast subject. Camera operation is very fast and very responsive upon instruction.

COMPETITORS

Panasonic DMC-LX3K 10.1MP Digital Camera with 2.5x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Black)
Panasonic LX3 is an arch-rival of Canon S90 IS. It shares same concept of bright and wide zoom lens. However, there are many differences between the two such as the focal length, build quality, image quality and handling, please read Panasonic LX3 vs Canon S90 IS for complete comparison.

Samsung TL320 12MP Digital Camera with 5x Schneider Wide Angle Dual Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0 inch OLED Screen (Black)
Samsung best advanced camera is similar with S90 in one way, they are both compact and has great handling. Samsung WB1000 has AMOLED LCD screen which is a lot clearer, Samsung also has wider and longer zoom. However, Canon S90 IS is better in low light condition.

Canon PowerShot G11 10MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Stabilized Zoom and 2.8-inch articulating LCD
G11 is a big brother to Canon S90 IS, it has superior control and body handling, but it is much bigger in size.

CONCLUSION

Canon S90 IS is a great choice for photographer who like a lightweight, pocket able compact but doesn't want to skim on image quality and control. It has very good operational speed and have some great customizable options. I especially like the zoom ring dial on the lens, which has Digital SLR like control. S90 IS is also superior in low light situation. However, Canon S90 Is also has a downside, such as below average build quality (relative to competitors) and limited dynamic range.

Subjective rating compared to other advanced compacts in 2009

* Image quality 4/5
* Body handling 4/5
* Performance 5/5
* Features 3/5
* Value 5/5

Please check my website for image sample, ISO comparison and more reviews.

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