Canon PowerShot S100: Test and review

Friday December 09 2011

Camera Review
Canon PowerShot S100: Test and review

In the high-end compact section of the Canon portfolio, the Canon PowerShot S100 succeeds the Canon PowerShot S90 and Canon PowerShot S95. Let's take a closer look at its image quality.

Four years ago, Canon launched a 15-Mpix compact sensor for the Canon PowerShot G10, but the RAW image quality was quite disappointing. A year later, the Canon PowerShot G11, successor to the PowerShot G10, featured a 10 MPix sensor which was much better in low-light conditions that its predecessor.

Since then and until this year, Canon's high-end compacts (Canon PowerShot S90 and Canon PowerShot S95) didn’t push their resolution any further.

But today, with a 13 MPix sensor, the new Canon PowerShot S100 is a new milestone for Canon, much better this time.

Indeed, even with a 3 Mpix higher resolution, Canon manages to keep an acceptable low-light performance for a compact camera.

Canon PowerShot S100 vs its predecessors

To verify that, let’s first compare the Canon PowerShot S100 with the Canon PowerShot G10 PowerShot G11 on one hand and the Canon PowerShot S100 vs Canon PowerShot S95 on another hand.

Compared to the older G10 and G11, and to the product the S100 replacing, the S95, the PowerShot S100 doesn’t show any weakness in term of Low-Light performance, and offers close but better Color Depth and Dynamic Range results. As we already mentioned, the S100 offers this equivalent image quality, but with 3 million more pixels.

Canon vs Nikon

If we now look at how the S100 compares with its closest competitor, the Nikon Coolpix P7100, we see that S100 wins this comparison,  thanks especially to its better Color Depth and Dynamic Range.

But it is worth having a broader look at the competition. So let’s take into account the new arrival of interchangeable-lens compact cameras, and compare the Canon Powershot S100 with the Nikon 1 J1 and Nikon 1 V1. Here, the Nikon 1 cameras win in term of image quality, but also in term of versatility, given their capacity use a variety of lenses.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the PowerShot S100 is among the best, if not the best high-end compact camera on the market. But the bigger question is whether the category itself will succumb to the arrival of the interchangeable-lens compact cameras. The price difference will definitely be the main criteria in the decision.