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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot S1

Canon Digital Cameras


Canon PowerShot S1 IS Review

Review Date: Dec 4, 2004

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Canon PowerShot S1 IS


Store Mannequins: 1/10 sec., F3.5 and ISO 50
10.9mm, Program AE, Evaluative, 1/1000sec., F4.5 and ISO 50

The Canon PowerShot S1 IS comes in an elegant and lightweight plastic body with solid feel and construction (no loose jiggle or cheap feeling). It is compact by ultra zoom standards with dimensions of 111.0 x 78.0 x 66.1mm (4.37 x 3.07 x 2.60 in.) and weighs 370g (13.1oz).

Right off the bat, I try the EVF. The EVF has a large rubber border which makes it very comfortable for those wearing eyeglasses. There is a diopter adjustment wheel on the left side of the EVF and it works very well. As far as the diopter adjustment is concerned, it's worth mentioning that the wheel is the only control I find that works well; and, the left side is the correct side to put it so you can peer into the viewfinder and still find enough finger space to rotate the wheel. It's a small thing but there are a number of these small things on the Canon S1 that makes it an enjoyable digital camera to use.

At 1.5 in., the LCD monitor is clear though it does seem a bit on the small side now that ultra compacts are sporting 2.5 in. LCDs. But, the LCD monitor swivels, rotates and flips, and I find this Vari-Angle type extremely functional, especially for macro shots. When the LCD monitor is closed so it is facing inward (i.e. protected), the display automatically routes to the EVF. You use the DISPLAY button to switch between LCD no info, LCD with info, and EVF. The LCD has two brightness levels (Normal and Bright), adjustable via the Set up Menu.

There are enough dedicated control buttons on the back, top of the camera body and on the side of the lens barrel so you don't need to go to the menu. Exposure Compensation is the first option when you press the FUNC button and then you use the arrow keys to select an adjustment. There is a "S" (for Shortcut) button that defaults to Image Resolution but that you can change to ISO, WB, and a number of other functions. I set it to WB.

The control buttons are precise to the touch and mostly placed appropriately, but at first I have problems with 3 controls: the IS and MF buttons are on the left side of the lens barrel, which is a good and natural place for them to be, except that I find it is too easy to press one of them everytime my left hand goes around the lens barrel to steady the camera. So, at first, the camera keeps switching back and forth to IS on, IS off, MF on, and MF off -- and I don't have a clue that is happening (and, no, I don't pay too much attention to all the icons in the EVF, except for the shutter speed and aperture). It is only on reviewing the EXIF info that I realize what had happened.

I also find that the Omni Selector (4 way controller) is in the way of my thumb. This is usually not a problem because the Omni Selector is inactive until the FUNC key is pressed. But when Exposure Compensation is on, then it does matter. I believe the Omni Selector could be moved down below and to the left of the SET and MENU buttons. This would give more space for the thumb to get a good grip on the camera.

To turn the camera on, you switch the Mode Lever to the right (Shooting Mode). Switch it to the left to go into Playback Mode. A very tiny Release Button is embedded in the Mode Lever and you naturally press it as you switch the Mode Lever. Unless this Release Button is pressed, the Mode Lever will not accidentally switch to one or the other mode. To turn off the camera, press the OFF Button in the middle depression of the Mode Lever.

The Zoom Lever around the shutter release button, the Mode Lever around the Power OFF button, and the placement of the Omni Selector throw me off at first: I zoom when I mean to turn the camera on, I press the Omni Selector when I mean to zoom, and I switch to Display mode when I mean to turn the camera off. But I get used to it all after a few days' use.

One thing with the Zoom Lever is that it would have been nice if it has more intermediate steps; as it is now, it can be difficult to stop just where you exactly want it.

Start up is about 3 sec. for the lens to extend and the image to display on the EVF or LCD monitor. Be careful not to hold the lens with the left hand because it does need to move a bit when you zoom in and out. The lens extends 2.5 cm (< 1 in.) at wide-angle. At full telephoto, the lens extends a bit further, about 2.8 cm (> 1 in.).

The flash has a nice rounded design. If you set Flash Pop-up to Yes in the Menu, then it will automatically pop up and fire everytime it is required. I prefer to set Flash Pop-up to No and manually pop it up when I need it by pressing the Flash button situated on the left side of the viewfinder (viewed from the back).

The lens cap fits well (not too snug as earlier models seemed to have it) and will ride with the lens if you turn the camera on and forget to remove the lens cap -- at least on my review model. It is recommended to always remove the lens cap before turning on the camera.

The feel and construction of the Canon PowerShot S1 IS is excellent despite its plastic body, and the camera handles very well.

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