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Canon S90
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Canon S90 on 01/19/2010 16:16:18 MST Print View

ExecSum: This is a really fun camera. It makes taking pictures really easy.

Background: Those unfamiliar should peruse a website (such as this one: and get familiar with the features.

Evidence: These videos (, were both made with my S90.

-Small, fits comfortably in a pants pocket
-Intuitive features and access to them. The dual rings rock.
-Fast lens. (f2!)
-Big, sharp screen.
-Very nice video. The mic is shockingly sensitive.
-Intelligent auto-focus (except at short distances).

-At distances of less than 8" the focus is very fickle. (even on manual)
-Cycling between shots is slow.
-A bit slick to hold.
-Secondary (screen-side) function ring is small enough that manipulating it with gloves is very delicate at best. It's easy to inadvertently trigger functions in certain modes.
-Lens ring could be more responsive (ie, twists should change settings faster)

Most of my use of this camera was on a two week trip to Egypt earlier this month (see video, above). For most of the trip, I kept the S90 in the front right pocket of my pants. With a combination of easy access and discrete appearance, I got countless shots and video clips that I wouldn't have otherwise. A big camera stuffed in a bag is hard to grab quickly, and looking like a tourist causes people to act like you are. Both are to be avoided. The same things obviously hold true in the backcountry.

Being able to set and forget the ring functions makes the camera extremely user-friendly. 95% of the time I shot in aperture priority, with the lens ring set for manual focus, and the screen-side ring controlling the aperture. It takes little practice to manipulate both simultaneously.

I think I'll have a bunch of fun with this in the woods.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Canon S90 on 01/19/2010 19:08:03 MST Print View

-A bit slick to hold.

In case someone missed this, this aftermarket grip is made by Richard Franiec, and is user-installable.

s90 Grip 3

Edited by greg23 on 01/19/2010 19:13:10 MST.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Canon S90 on 01/20/2010 17:03:06 MST Print View

More on that here;

Carter Young
(kidcobalt) - M

Locale: Western Montana
Fantastic Images at ISO 80 on 01/21/2010 12:50:38 MST Print View

I'll second the recommendation for the add-on grip. What really impresses me is the fine detail that can be resolved at ISO 80 from such a small camera.

Open the following at original size and you can clearly see a group of skiers about a half mile away:

Or check out the lettering on the beer bottle (which of course wasn't the focus point of the photo):

One limitation of the small size is that the on/off button and the shutter release are almost impossible to manipulate while wearing anything more than the tightest and thinnest liner gloves.

Edited by kidcobalt on 01/21/2010 12:51:16 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
compact cameras like that on 01/21/2010 13:15:46 MST Print View

The weakness of a compact camera like that is relative lack of depth of field control. Non-photographers don't know what that is and don't care.

Greyson Howard

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: Canon S90 on 01/21/2010 13:41:15 MST Print View

Thanks for the review of the S90 - it seems like a great little package overall.
But you mention video in the pro section, while most reviews dislike that it doesn't have HD quality video (either 1080 or 720), like most modern point and shoots, including much less expensive ones (I haven't done the legwork to see what inexpensive cameras have HD video, just repeating what I've read).
Still, it seems like a good camera overall, and the Canon-branded underwater housings are a steal compared to aftermarket options, making for a small camera with good raw quality that isn't to insanely expensive to take under water.

Carter Young
(kidcobalt) - M

Locale: Western Montana
Depth of Field on 01/21/2010 13:57:56 MST Print View

The well-known fact that a small sensor size produces increased depth of field is actually an advantage for people who are taking scenic or macro photos. But for taking portraits with blurred backgrounds, compact cameras obviously are at a disadvantage compared to a full-sized sensor and a 85 1.8 lens shot wide open.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
update on 03/18/2010 15:13:24 MDT Print View

I still really like this camera. It gets used a lot, which is the best compliment I can give it.

Greyson, about the video: I'm not an especially discerning user, but the resolution seems good to me.