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Camera Reviews > Canon PowerShot S1
Canon PowerShot S1 IS Review
Date: Dec 4, 2004
to Serious Amateur
HANDLING & FEEL
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
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.