Review: Canon PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2000
Thursday, June 21, 2001
the editor of this site has it's pluses-- I get to play with a lot
of digital cameras. Almost all of them find their way into my office
at my "real job" in San Francisco. People will usually
stop and check out the latest camera I've brought in, but nothing
could prepare me for the day when the Digital ELPH arrived. It was
love. No other camera has made so many people say "wow"
as much as the PowerShot
the same body as the popular ELPH2 Advanced Photo System camera,
the "Digital ELPH" is by far the smallest digital camera
-- and it has a real optical zoom to boot. Just how small is this
thing? Take a look at the photos below, which show it next to its
"big brother", the PowerShot S10.
S100 3.4 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches in size, and weighs less than seven
course, being small often means being expensive -- and at around
$600, the Digital ELPH is pretty expensive for a point and shoot
camera -- but heck, size matters!
in the Box?
PowerShot S100 is ready to go out of the box, with everything you
2.1 Mpixel Canon PowerShot S100 camera
lithium-ion battery w/charger
including Canon Digital Camera Solutions and Adobe PhotoDeluxe
for camera and software
was nice to see Canon actually include a rechargeable battery with
this camera. On the PowerShot S10/S20, you are forced to buy a $100
proprietary battery. Here, the very small Li-ion battery you see
above is included, along with a charger you plug right into the
wall. Canon estimates that it will last for 85 photos with LCD on,
or 270 shots with it off.
built-in lens cover means no lens cap worries.
addition to Adobe PhotoDeluxe, the camera comes with Canon's excellent
software, including an image browser and PhotoStitch, for making
panoramas. I've touched on the software before in the PowerShot
S10 review, so you can read more about it there.
already told you that the Digital ELPH is small, so I won't go into
that again. It feels heavy, even though it only weighs 6.7oz (without
a CF card or battery), due to its metal body. While I can't say
for sure if the whole body is metal, most of it is, making it pretty
sturdy. Well, except for the CompactFlash door (photo below), which
got a tiny crack when it got bumped (oops). One thing I also noticed
is that the metal shows wear pretty quickly -- see below as well.
But overall, a very attractive and sturdy camera.
you get the minuscule camera into your hands, you'll find it easy
to hold, and there's plenty of room for your fingers. Let's tour
the S100 now:
back of the camera is where all the action is. This camera doesn't
have many buttons because, well, there just isn't any room for them.
optical viewfinder is pretty small, and lacks diopter correction,
both of which make it hard for folks with glasses. Below that is
a 1.6" LCD display, which is bright and fluid. No matter which
eye you use for the optical viewfinder, your nose will smudge the
that are all the important buttons. From left to right:
- the set button is the OK buttons in the menus; the flash button
needs no explanation.
- Left is for menus; The other two toggle on or off their respective
setting. This camera can shoot at 2 frames/sec in continuous mode.
- Right is for menus; The other two are for focusing;
- enters or exits the menu
- Turns the LCD on and off
hard to see, but at the top right there's a toggle switch-- this
is what you use to switch between play and record mode.
below that is the CompactFlash door, the only major plastic piece
on the camera. It's bent out of shape because I accidentally bumped
it against the wall.
the top of the camera, complete with a the metallic wear I mentioned,
as well as the reflection of my hand (see it?). The on/off button
isn't easy to push -- which is good since it prevents accidents
-- you have to hold it down for a bit. The zoom control is part
of the shutter release button. You can also see the top of the play/record
probably wondering what happened to the usual LCD info display!
Well, the camera is too small -- there's not enough room! So most
of those things are integrated into the main LCD. You can see a
screen shot in the next section.
isn't a really exciting picture, but you can see the I/O port where
you'll plug in that USB or video out cable. There is no serial support
on this camera either... this is becoming a trend.
other side has the CompactFlash slot. No, it doesn't come with a
card this large. This is one of the cameras that can shoot the CF
card across the room, which can be fun. Not surprisingly, this a
Type I slot, so no Microdrive.
didn't take a picture of the bottom of the camera, but I can assure
you that the tripod mount is indeed metal, like most of the camera.
the Canon PowerShot S100
going to cover three areas in this section: Auto record, manual
record, and playback.
S100 is just as fast as any other modern digicam, firing up in around
2 seconds. The 2X zoom mechanism is also responsive, though I wish
it was a little more precise. There is slight lag during auto-focus,
and before the picture is taken, but it's hardly noticeable.
other weird thing on Canon's camera is the "preview" of
the photo after you've taken it: you won't see it unless you hold
down the button when you take the picture.
S100 uses overlay-style menus
don't get much more automatic than in auto mode. You can only shoot
in one quality setting - Fine/Large. You can have the flash on,
or off. Macro and self-timer modes are the only other things available.
camera also has an "AF illuminator", just above the lens.
This will shoot a little light which the camera will focus on, which
is good for low light shots.
mode adds a few more choices, but keep in mind, this camera is point-and-shoot,
and nothing more.
what the LCD shows in manual mode
new options include (in addition to everything in auto mode)
(fill) flash, red-eye flash, and slow-syncho flash
of Super-Fine/Large, Fine/Large, or Fine/Small photos (the latter
being 640 x 480)
the PowerShot S10/S20, there aren't any preset settings, like landscape,
portrait, night scene, etc. You did get a panorama mode, however,
and the excellent PhotoStitch software is a big help.
here's a night shot in manual mode, infinity focus, no flash or
exposure compensation -- it came out pretty well! I should add that
it was quite an adventure to get this picture. The usual spot (Twin
Peaks) was totally fogged in, as was my backup spot. So I ended
up here at City Hall. Anyone who lives in SF knows that the Civic
Center isn't the safest place to be, so I was in and out real quick!
the traditional macro shot... the white balance is pretty decent
in this picture. You can tell from my photos OF the S100 that the
white balance on the CP950 is kind of flaky sometimes.
is the setup menu, where you can change:
Settings (when you turn it off)
photos is easy on the PowerShot S100. You can zoom into photos,
and scroll through them. It's harder to scroll through photos when
you can only move left and right though! The usual slideshow, protection,
and DPOF features are here too.
can delete a photo at a time, or all at once. You can't delete multiple
nice feature is the ability to rotate photos inside the camera,
which (possibly) saves a trip to Photoshop.
the info you can see in play mode. You can see that this was shot
in manual mode with macro and self-timer on, no exposure compensation,
white balance set for incandescent lighting, and Fine/Large quality.
in playback mode is competitive with other digicams.
Does it Compare?
as an ultra-small, point-and-shoot camera, the Canon PowerShot S100
is excellent. It's a bit pricey for the feature-set, but I would
imagine that most consumers buying this camera could care less for
uncompressed TIFFs and aperture priority mode.
photo quality is good in almost all cases, except in some photos
with shadows. See the gallery for lots
of sample photos.
thing is tiny! Just don't lose it!
and rugged design -- except for maybe that CF door
stuff "in the box"
Canon PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH really is in a class by itself
-- there are no cameras even close to it in size. The PowerShot
S20 and Fuji
FinePix 4700 are the closest competitors, but they're "much"
larger (and more expensive) than the ELPH. If you can find one,
go to your local reseller to try it out before you buy! You can't
really go wrong with this tiny wonder - just ask all its fans at
note to our international readers: the Digital ELPH is called the
Digital IXUS in Europe, and the Ixy Digital in Japan (what the heck
do those mean?).
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion? How about a third? Maybe even a fourth?
Digicams review of the PowerShot S100. If that's not enough,
how about Digital Photography Review's look
at it? If you're still stuck, here's the Imaging Resource review!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.