The Canon PowerShot S95 is an advanced compact camera that offers a fast lens and full manual controls. The PowerShot S95 is the successor to the Canon S90 and it comes with a few minor but worthy upgrades as compared to the older S90. There are a few competitors in the advance compact camera segment like the Panasonic LUMIX LX5 and the Olympus XZ-1 but they are not available in the Indian market yet. So, let's find out what this advance compact can do.
The Canon PowerShot S95 offers a unique control wheel on the front which can be used to assign various settings. This makes the camera easier to use than many other compacts when it comes to changing settings while shooting. Canon incorporates its HS system on the Canon S95 which comprises of the 10 mega pixel sensor found on the Canon PowerShot S90 and the Canon's DIGIC 4 Image processor. The 10 mega pixel count is in line with competition like the Panasonic LUMIX LX5 and the recently launched Olympus XZ-1. The sensor size also remains the same at 1/1.7-inch CCD as in the Canon S90 but it is a few micro-inches larger than the LUMIX LX5 and the Olympus XZ-1 (1/1.63-inch CCD). The camera has the same 3-inch LCD as the S90 with 461k dots resolution. The camera also offers a pop-up flash which has a range of 1.6 to 21ft at wide angle and 3ft to 9.8 ft at tele.
The PowerShot S95 has 3.8x optical zoom lens with aperture size ranging from f/2.1 to f/8.0 at wide angle and from f/4.9 to f/8.0 at tele. The 28mm-105mm focal length range will give sufficient space to take group or landscape pictures but once you compare this to the Panasonic LUMIX LX5's 24mm-90mm lens, the Canon S95's lens seems just ok. Canon's Hybrid IS technology takes care of camera shake (both angular and linear). The shutter speed ranges from 15 seconds to 1/1600 seconds which may seem a bit limited compared to 60 to 1/4000 seconds on the Panasonic LX5 and 60 seconds to 1/2000 seconds on the Olympus XZ-1.
The Canon S95 has full manual controls and there are shooting modes like Auto, Program, Av (Aperture Priority Mode), TV (Shutter Priority Mode) and Manual. Via the Mode dial buttons, it also provides shortcut for scene modes, video and low light shooting mode as well. There are 16 scene modes which include interesting modes like underwater, miniature effect and fish-eye effect among others. Canon has also included High Dynamic Range mode to capture high contrast scenes. There are three metering modes - evaluative, center-weighted average and spot while eight white balance settings are included apart from auto. Exposure bracketing can be incremented f-stop increments in the range of -2 to +2. The camera's focusing system consists of face detection, center and Tracking AF. The camera can shoot RAW, JPEG and RAW+JPEG as well.
One of the most useful improvements in the Canon PowerShot S95 over the S90 is the addition of 720p HD video recording (the S90 only offered VGA recording). The S95 shoots 1280 x 720 pixels video with stereo sound and videos are recorded in .MOV container using H.264 codec. But note here that there is no optical zoom during video recording. On the positive side, different effects like Miniature Effect, Color Swap and Color Accent can be used for video shooting. The camera also supports the new SDXC card apart from SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus and HC MMCplus card. There are connectivity ports for miniHDMI and miniUSB (for AV-out and PC data transfer). The camera comes with a battery, a charger, AV-out cable, 2GB SD card, starter guide and a CD (which contains applications like ZoomBrowser EX, CameraWindow, Digital Photo Professional, PhotoStitch, and PDFs - User Guide and Printing Guide). There is no HDMI-cable though.