Canon S95 Camera

2 11 2011

Canon S95 front view...

My current camera arsenal consists of a Canon SD870IS and a Canon SD1400IS. I use the 870 for most blog photos. It produces decent images and is small enough to take with me everywhere. It has been beaten and abused, but continues to deliver – although the rear LCD is damaged. I bought the 1400 as a low cost replacement last year when I thought I had lost my 870 [I subsequently found it]. The 1400 is a tiny camera, but doesn’t take as nice photos as the 870 and its small size makes it a challenge [hard to hold and operare with gloves or sweaty fingers] to use during sporting activities. I tend to use it for parties or other occasions where small form factor is more important the image quality.

S95 top view...

I’ve wanted better image quality and more control over my photos than the 870 allows. I tried a Canon DSLR, but it was simply too big for me to take when I left home so it essentially was an expensive product shot camera for my blog. I considered the Canon G12 as a replacement that had more control and offered better images without the bulk of a SLR, but decided a small form factor was paramount if I actually wanted the camera with me when I was doing anything photo worthy. So I decided on the Canon S95. I should have bought it last year instead of the 1400, but the cost turned me off and I figured I needed a small cheap camera no matter what.

Ironically with my income stream next year uncertain at this point I have been spending money on things I figure I need in my professional toolbox to generate some $$$ in 2012. After spending a nice new MTB’s worth of $$$ on some suits and other business clothes, decent briefcase, business cards, etc… I decided I should upgrade my camera gear as well since documenting and reporting on things for a client is a primary function I provide. I reconsidered a DSLR since for business use a larger camera isn’t as much of a liability as it is for MTBing, but went back to the smaller form factor as a priority. A DSLR or one of the mid-sized interchangeable lens cameras may be in my future, but not until I’ve established the need better. As luck would have it my local electronic toy shop had the S95 on sale right now so I scooped one up.

S95 rear view...

It’s too early for me to review this camera, but if you click on any of the images in this post you can read a comprehensive review and comparison by someone who knows what they are talking about. My initial impressions are good. It feels solid and has that quality camera feel none of my other plastic point and shoots do. The controls are easy to use and the first few photos I have taken made me happy.

I’m not a great photographer, but I am prolific and I do need specific shots to illustrate my blog or a report. I’m never going to shoot in full manual mode and edit the life out of RAW image files, but I do need some control for low light shots or for images where I’m trying to get a lot of depth of field. The Canon S95 seems to offer the right amount of control with the automation level I want.

Here’s what I’ll consider success from the S95:

  • I enjoy the form factor
  • easy to operate
  • battery lasts 1 day minimum for typical use
  • excellent low light performance
  • reasonable depth of field control
  • survives 2yrs of hard use

I’ve heard the S95 has mediocre battery life which is a bit of a pain, but the size of spare batteries is so small and I tend to carry a spare on any critical missions since I can’t afford my camera to fail. I also don’t expect a camera the size of a deck of cards to go toe to toe with a DSLR [even a consumer level one]. All I want is a high level of point and shoot quality with better than average controls. As you have undoubtably noticed reading this blog low light photography [ie. BC forest MTBing or interior shots at Seaward] is the bane of my existence at the moment. The S95 promises better low light performance than my 870 and I am going to haul a ultralight tripod with me on low light shoots to improve quality.

You will notice that I’m quite loyal to Canon as a camera brand. It’s true. Canon cameras have treated me well over the years. Their image quality has been reliably better than the competition [that I have tried] and they have fixed my cameras for free even when the damage was my fault and/or the camera was out of warranty. All my Canons use the same SD memory cards. I also know my way around Canon cameras well so it’s easy to operate them when they all share the same control setups. Plus I like rewarding companies that use standard I/O cables [Canon uses a normal mini USB] so I don’t have to buy proprietary cables and I can always bum a cable off someone if I need to DL’d my images unexpectedly. I know this means I’m likely missing out on some great cameras from other manufacturer’s, but that’s okay.

BTW – if anyone from Canon reads this post and wants to sponsor me I think that would be a great idea!…=-)



9 responses

2 11 2011
James Kirby

There are a couple of nice aftermarket upgrades you can get for the S95 from Lensmate. The filter holder lets me use a polarizer or a nd filter and the Richard Franiec’s grip is is big improvement on the ergonomics.

2 11 2011

Thanks – those look like great upgrades!

2 11 2011

Go for it. I’ve had previous model (the S90 which is identical, except it doesn’t take HD movies) for nearly two years and really rate it. The battery life is pretty good and the image quality is easily good enough for both the web and up to A4 prints

2 11 2011

Depending on the deal you got, it’s worth noting that the S100 comes out this very month…

2 11 2011

I don’t need the latest camera gear and I like the fact that the S95 is a well defined quantity – both in terms of pros and cons.

2 11 2011
Micheal Blue

Ken Rockwell calls it (or called it) the best digicam. I was looking for a new digicam just as this one was to be released. However, I also wanted a waterproof one, as my outings sometimes turn wet, and I want to be able to shoot even in rain without worrying about the digicam getting wet. In the end I bought a waterproof Sony one; it can also survive a fall and has some crush resistance. Well, your Canon has a larger sensor and a histogram.
Especially the histogram is important to my shooting and I miss it on the Sony. Too bad we can’t have it all.

2 11 2011

@MB – I’ve never had a waterproof digicam that took great photos. I need a waterproof camera as well so I’ll be buying a new one with my airmiles, but I keep the two jobs separate.

3 11 2011
Greg Smith

I too love my S95. The size is just a bit larger than the Canon SD850 I’ve used for the past few years but the image quality is primo! I can’t normally justify taking one of my Nikon DSLRs along but the S95 comes on every ride. I love the low light setting and second the suggestion of Richard Franiec’s grip.

18 03 2012
Shakedown Ride… « The Lazy Rando Blog…

[…] video for Porcelain Rocket and I got to play around with my new Canon T2i. Between my iPhone, Canon S95 and T2i I really do have a perfect set of photographic tools for just about any occasion. I ended […]

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