PowerShot S60 ($499) is the replacement to
last year's popular PowerShot S50 model. Just by
looking at the model number, you'd think that Canon
just stuffed a 6 Megapixel sensor into the same
old camera, as some other manufacturers have done.
That's not the case here -- the S60 is a 5 Megapixel
camera, just like its predecessor. Here's a list
comparing the two cameras:
- 105 mm
- 100 mm
- 1/1500 sec
- 1/2000 sec
+ JPEG mode
used / energy
/ 4.2 Wh
/ 5.3 Wh
x 2.3 x 1.7 in.
x 2.2 x 1.5 in.
are the major differences between the two. There
are a few more that I'll touch on later in the review.
And with that, let's begin our look at this new camera!
in the Box?
PowerShot S60 has an excellent bundle. Inside the
box, you'll find:
5.0 effective Megapixel Canon PowerShot S60 camera
featuring Canon Digital Camera Solutions, ArcSoft
Camera Suite, and drivers
manual + software manual (both printed)
includes a 32MB CompactFlash card with the camera,
which is a good starting point, but you'll want a
larger card right away. I'd suggest 256MB as a good
place to start. The included card is marked as "high
speed", and from my own experiences I think
it would be considered 8X. The S60 can use Type I
or Type II cards, including the Microdrive, and it
supports the FAT32 format for cards larger than 2GB.
S60 uses a higher capacity version of the NB-2L battery
that was used by the S50 -- this one's known as the
NB-2LH. Where the old battery had 4.2 Wh of energy,
the new battery has 5.3 Wh -- a 25% improvement.
Canon estimates that you can take about 395 photos
with 50% LCD use (which is up from 335 on the S50),
or spend 3.5 hours in playback mode (compare with
3 hours on the S50).
usual complaints about proprietary batteries apply
here. They're expensive ($45 a pop), and you can't
put in a set of alkalines to get you through the
rest of the day like you could with an AA-based camera.
it's time to recharge, just drop the battery into
the included charger. This is my favorite style of
charger -- it plugs right into the wall (yes, I know
some don't like this). It takes about ninety minutes
to fully charge the battery.
sliding metal cover protects the S60's lens and doubles
as the power switch. It is pretty easy to accidentally
bump the door and shut the camera off, though. As
you can see, the camera is fairly wide.
S60 has quite a few accessories available, including
conversion lenses (unlike the S50). Here's what options
you want it
focal distance by 2X, up to 200 mm; requires
LA-DC10 conversion lens adapter
for conversion lenses
pictures and replay them wirelessly
your camera up to 40 meters underwater
the camera without wasting your batteries
your batteries using your car
your easily-scratchable metal camera
should add that the conversion lens adapter will
let you use 37 mm filters.
ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)
ZoomBrowser (Windows XP)
includes version 18 (!) of their excellent Digital
Camera Solutions software with the S60. Included
in this package are ZoomBrowser (for Windows) or
ImageBrowser (for Mac), PhotoStitch (for making panoramic
photos), plus TWAIN and WIA drivers for Windows.
Zoom/ImageBrowser can be used for downloading images
from your camera, basic editing of your photos, and
Image Task (Mac OS X)
you shoot in RAW mode, then you'll probably be using
the RAW conversion tool built into Zoom/ImageBrowser
to manipulate those images. For those who don't know
about RAW, it's a lossless format that lets you manipulate
various properties of your image -- a kind of virtual
reshoot. Botch the white balance? Just change it
in the RAW file, and it's just like you took the
photo again. You can also adjust the saturation,
sharpness, contrast, tone curve, and more.
(Mac OS X)
built-in to the "Browser" software is RemoteCapture,
which you can use to control your camera over the
USB connection. Images are saved directly to your
ArcSoft PhotoImpression for
Mac OS X
camera suite 2.1 is also included with the S60. Although
it has a quirky interface, there's a lot of tools
in this easy-to-use software.
Canon camera manuals have been more complex than
earlier ones, but they're still above average. The
S60's manual is complete, but expect lots of "notes" and
PowerShot S60 has gotten a bit of a facelift since
its predecessor. Let's take a look:
the front of the S60, things have been moved around
since the S50, and there's a brand new lens too.
The differences that matter more in terms of usability
can be found on the back. For example, the annoying
four-way controller that's been on the S-series for
years is gone. More on all this below.
S60 is a midsize camera, fitting in somewhere between
the A75 and G3 in terms of size. It's not Digital
ELPH size -- not even close. Still, you'll find that
it fits in most of your pockets. The camera is made
almost entirely of metal, and it feels very solid.
The important controls are easy to reach, and the
camera is easier to operate than its predecessor.
dimensions of the S60 are 114.0 x 56.5 x 38.8 mm
/ 4.5 x 2.2 x 1.5 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions),
and it weighs 230 grams / 8.1 ounces empty. The numbers
for the S50 were 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.7 inches and 260 grams,
find out how Canon got the S60 to "thin down" in
our tour, which starts now!
took this shot from a higher angle than normal since
that mirrored panel on the right just reflects my
camera and tripod.
PowerShot S60 has a totally new lens design, which
is what allowed Canon to make the S60 thinner while
adding more zoom power. This new lens uses something
called "UA", which stands for ultra-high
refractive index, aspherical (say that three times
fast). Regardless of the technical explanation behind
the name, the bottom line is that UA allowed for
a compact lens covering 28 - 100 mm, instead of 35
- 105 mm like on the S50. The focal range of the
lens in digital terms is 5.8 - 20.7 mm, and the maximum
aperture is F2.8 - F5.3, with the latter being a
bit slow. As I mentioned in the previous section,
the camera supports 37 mm filters as well as a 2X
teleconverter through the use of the conversion lens
the upper-right of the lens is the built-in flash.
The flash has a working range of 0.55 - 4.2 at wide-angle
and 0.55 - 2.0 m at telephoto, a little worse than
on the S50. You cannot attach an external flash to
below the flash is the receiver for the optional
remote control, plus the microphone. To the left
of the flash (next to the optical viewfinder) is
the AF-assist lamp, a useful feature which has been
found on nearly all Canon cameras for years.
back of the camera has changed for the better. One
thing that hasn't changed is the LCD -- it's still
1.8" in size, with 118,000 pixels. Images on
the screen are sharp and motion is fluid. You can
adjust the brightness of the screen in the setup
menu, though it's just normal or bright. Low light
visibility is good but not great.
the LCD is the S60's optical viewfinder, which is
good-sized for a fairly compact camera. It shows
80% of the frame. The viewfinder lacks a diopter
correction feature, which is used to bring things
the left of the viewfinder are two buttons:
setting (Auto, fill flash, flash off) - redeye
reduction is turned on in the record menu
mode (on/off) - more on this later
the tour, there are three buttons to see directly
to the left of the LCD:
- opens the function menu; see below
focus (see below) / Delete photo
(Evaluative, center-weighted, spot) / Voice recording
(add up to 60 sec voice clips to an image in playback
the func button brings up -- get this -- the function
menu! Here's what it includes:
compensation (-2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent,
fluorescent H, flash, underwater, custom) - the
underwater option is new to the S60
(Single shot, continuous, high speed continuous,
10 sec self-timer, 2 sec self-timer, remote) -
speed (Auto, 50, 100, 200, 400)
effect (Off, vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia,
black & white, custom effect)
(Off, AE, focus) - see below
adjust (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
strength (1/3, 2/3, full) - only shown in manual
(see chart later in review)
(see chart later in review)
S60 has a custom white balance option, which lets
you shoot a white or gray card to get perfect color
in any lighting.
are two continuous shooting options on the S60. Standard
mode recorded 7 shots at around 1.3 frames/second
(based on my experience at the Large/Superfine setting).
High speed mode took 8 shots at 1.9 frames/second,
though the images will not be shown on the LCD while
you're taking them (which kind of defeats the purpose).
photo effect feature lets you quickly change the
color of your image, or turn down the sharpness.
For more control choose the custom effect option,
which lets you adjust the contrast, sharpness, and
saturation in three steps.
are two types of bracketing on the S60. The first
is the usual AE bracketing, which takes three shots
in a row, each with a different exposure value (in
1/3EV increments). Focus bracketing is the same idea,
except it's used in manual focus mode (which I'll
discuss in just a second). The camera takes a shot
at the chosen focus setting, plus one closer, and
one further away.
Manual focus (enlargement feature
focus mode lets you use the four-way controller to
set the focus you desire (you must hold the MF button
down first). A guide is shown on the LCD/EVF, giving
you the approximate focus distance. The center of
the frame is enlarged so you can make sure that your
subject is in-focus. After using manual focus, you
can press the "set" button on the four-way
controller to have the autofocus see if it can improve
on what you came up with.
on the other side of the LCD there are four buttons
plus the four-way controller. I'll cover the four
buttons first -- they are:
- you can hit this to turn on the camera for replaying
photos without opening the lens cover
- see below
- turns LCD on and off and also what is shown on
what's the deal with the Print/Share button? When
connected to a Direct Print or PictBridge-enabled
printer, pressing this button will let you print
your photos. When connected to a Windows PC, the
following screen will be shown on the LCD:
you can see, you can transfer all images, new images,
images that you've DPOF marked, or you can manually
select some. The wallpaper option sets the chosen
image as the background picture on your PC.
four-way controller is used for menu navigation,
choosing manual settings, and operating the FlexiZone
focus system. This lets you position a cursor almost
anywhere in the frame for the camera to focus on
(there's margin around the edges which you cannot
select). This comes in handy when the camera is on
a tripod. The controller is a vast improvement over
the horrible one that was on the S30/40/45/50.
final item on the back of the camera is the zoom
controller, which is located at the top-right of
the photo. It moves the lens from the wide-angle
to telephoto position in about 1.9 seconds. There
are nine steps in the zoom range.
the top of the S60 you'll find the speaker, mode
dial, and shutter release button. The mode dial has
the following options:
on this later
help making panoramic shots
portraits, believe it or not
mode, many options are locked
chooses shutter speed and aperture. All menu
options are unlocked.
choose the shutter speed and the camera picks
the correct aperture. You can choose from
a number of speeds ranging from 15 sec -
1/2000 sec. The 1/2000 shutter speed is only
available above F4.0 at wide-angle and F8
pick the aperture, the camera picks the appropriate
shutter speed. The choices range from F2.8
- F8 and will vary depending on the focal
pick the aperture and shutter speed. See
above for values.
favorite settings, easy to access.
custom option is a handy one. Pick your favorite
settings and access them anytime just by selecting
the "C" option on the mode dial.
only thing to see on this side of the S60 is the
I/O ports, which are under that rubber cover. The
ports include USB (1.1) and A/V out.
from the hole for the DC coupler cable (for the AC
adapter), there's nothing to see on this side of
end our tour with a look at the bottom of the camera.
Here you'll find the battery compartment, memory
card slot, and metal tripod mount. The plastic door
covering the two slots feels as if it could break
off if forced.
tripod mount, located off to one side of the camera,
is where you'll attach the conversion lens adapter.
the Canon PowerShot S60
S60 takes 2.8 seconds to extend the lens and "warm
up" before you can start shooting.
No histogram to be found
S60 was able to lock focus in about half a second
in most situations. If the camera had to hunt a bit,
expect a slightly longer delay. Thanks to its AF-assist
lamp, the camera focused well in low light conditions.
lag was not a problem, even at slower shutter speeds.
speed is very good on the S60. You will wait for
just 1.5 seconds before you can take another shot
(even in RAW mode, until the buffer fills up), assuming
that you've turned off the post-shot review feature.
can delete a picture as it's been saved to the memory
card by pressing the delete photo button. If you
really meant to take the photo in RAW mode, just
press the function button, and the camera asks if
you'd prefer to save the image in that format instead.
here's a look at the image size and quality choices
available on the S60:
Images on 32MB card
(2592 x 1944)
(2048 x 1536)
(1600 x 1200)
(640 x 480)
explained the RAW format at the beginning of the
review. The camera embeds a JPEG thumbnail in the
RAW files which speeds up the viewing of the image
later. More on this in a second.
are named IMG_xxxx.JPG, where x = 0001 - 9999. The
file numbering is maintained even if you replace
and/or format memory cards.
onto the menus!
S60's menus have received a minor facelift since
the S50. They're still basically the same, just with
a more modern look. The items found in the record
sync (1st, 2nd-curtain) - when the flash fires
when taking slow sync shots
delay (0, 2, 10 sec) - delay before picture is
taken when optional remote control is used
AE point (Center, AF point) - what part of the
frame is used to judge exposure while in spot metering
shift (on/off) - described below
zoom (on/off) - turns on focus point enlargement
feature in manual focus mode
zoom (on/off) - using this will reduce photo quality
(Off, 2-10 sec)
+ JPEG recording (Small, Medium 1, Medium 2, Large)
- see below
- see below
settings (to the C position on the mode dial)
safety shift feature allows the camera to adjust
the shutter speed or aperture in Tv or Av mode if
necessary, to get a good exposure.
RAW + JPEG option isn't what it sounds like. The
camera doesn't save a separate JPEG image along with
the RAW file like Canon's SLR cameras. Rather, it
embeds a JPEG thumbnail that allows for the zoom
and scroll (AKA playback zoom) feature and image
playback on the camera or the PC. Why would you want
to use a larger thumbnail? The answer is, to check
the detail in the image. If you use the zoom and
scroll feature a lot, a higher resolution thumbnail
will let you see more detail when zoomed in.
Intervalometer tool lets you use the S60 for time
lapse photography. You select the interval between
shots (1-60 minutes) and the total number of shots
to be taken (2-100). Using the optional AC adapter
is strongly recommended.
is also a setup menu on the S60, so let's take a
look at that now. Here's what you'll find in the
(on/off) - turn off those annoying beep sounds!
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
volume (Off, 1-5)
brightness (Normal, bright)
power down (on/off)
off (10, 20, 30 sec, 1-3 min)
number reset (on/off) - maintain file numbering
rotate (on/off) - camera will automatically rotate
portrait photos on the LCD
units (m/cm, ft/in)
(English, Deutsch, Français, Nederlands,
Dansk, Suomi, Italiano, Norsk, Svenska, Español,
system (NTSC, PAL)
additional "My Camera'" menu allows you
to customize the startup screen, beeps, and phony
shutter sounds that your camera makes. If these bother
you, you can also turn them off.
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
S60 produced a very "smooth" copy of our
3 inch tall macro subject. Colors are accurate and
there's enough detail to pick out dust on Mickey's
ears. The minimum distance to the subject is 4 cm
at wide-angle and 30 cm at telephoto. The minimum
recordable area (at wide-angle) is 64 x 47 mm.
PowerShot S60 did a fine job with our usual nightshot,
though I could've exposed it for a bit longer! Noise
and purple fringing levels are both low, and the
buildings look pretty sharp. With full manual controls
you can easily take shots like this -- just don't
forget your tripod!
that same scene, let's take a look at how adjusting
the ISO sensitivity affects the noise levels in images:
you can see, noise levels start to rise a bit at
ISO 100, but they don't become really nasty until
you'd expect on a lens this wide, there's a fair
amount of barrel distortion. Something else I noticed
is blurriness in the corners, which you can see in
several photos in the gallery as
area in which the S60 did not fare well is in the
redeye test. As you can see, there's quite lot of
it. With the flash and lens so close together, this
result isn't entirely surprising. What can you do
about it? Take the picture twice (all that flashing
shrinks the pupils), add more light to the room,
or just remove it later in software.
from the couple of flaws that I already mentioned,
the S60's photo quality is very good. Those flaws,
again, are redeye and some softness in the corners.
Images have the same smooth quality to them that
the S50 did, with low noise levels. Colors and exposure
were both accurate. I did see some purple fringing
pop up, but for the most part it was not an issue.
always, don't just take my word for it. Have a look
at the gallery and see
if the photo quality meets your expectations. You
are encouraged to print the photos if that's what
you intend to do with the S60!
S60's movie mode is nothing to write home about.
While you'll get VGA resolution (640 x 480), you'll
have a 30 second limit regardless of the size of
your memory card, and a glacial frame rate of just
10 fps to boot. Lower resolutions are available too:
you can record up to 3 minutes at 320 x 240 and 160
x 120, with a frame rate of 15 frames/second. Sound
is recorded at all of those resolutions.
cannot use the zoom during filming.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a sample movie for you, recorded at the 640 x 480
Click to play movie (11.3MB,
640 x 480, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
S60 has the same, excellent playback mode as seen
on other Canon cameras. Everything is very snappy.
camera has all the basic playback features that you'd
expect. That includes slide shows, DPOF print marking,
image protection, thumbnail mode, image rotation,
and zoom and scroll. Playback mode is also the place
to print photos when connected to a compatible Canon
or PictBridge-enabled photo printer.
zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge the picture
up to 10X, and then scroll around in the zoomed-in
area. It's nice and fast!
pressing the metering/sound recording button on the
back of the camera, you can add voice clips of up
to 60 seconds per photo.
you've recorded a movie, an editing function lets
you trim unwanted frames from the beginning or end
default, the S60 doesn't give you much info about
your photos. But press the display button and you'll
get plenty of details, as well as a histogram.
camera moves between photos at a good clip, with
about a 0.8 second delay between high res photos.
Does it Compare?
Canon PowerShot S60 is a nice camera for those looking
for a high resolution camera with a wide-angle lens,
full manual controls, and a fairly compact body.
Most compact digicams have lenses that start at 35
- 39 mm, but the S60's lens starts at 28 mm -- great
for indoor shots. If the 100 mm telephoto end isn't
enough for you, then Canon offers a teleconverter
which attaches to the tripod mount. The S60's body
is fairly small, but it's huge compared to things
like the Digital ELPH. It's not a pocket camera,
but it's small enough to carry around for the day.
Build quality is good for the most part, though the
plastic battery/memory card cover leaves something
to be desired.
quality on the S60 is very good, though there are
a few issues worth mentioning, namely above average
redeye and softness in the corners. There's a bit
of purple fringing too. Aside from that, the S60
will take pictures suitable for large prints or web
photos. In terms of features, this camera has a whole
bunch. It has full manual controls, including focus
and white balance. There are plenty of scene modes
for more automatic operation, as well. Those who
like to keep their favorite settings accessible will
be happy to see that the S60 can save them to the "C" position
on the mode dial. Folks who want don't mind post-processing
all their photos will like the S60's RAW mode --
and there's no performance hit when you use it.
is quite good in all respects. The camera starts
up and shoots quickly, and viewing photos in playback
mode is snappy. In low light situations, the AF-assist
lamp helped the camera focus where other cameras
would throw up their arms and give up.
from the image quality issues and plastic battery/memory
card door, I have just two other complaints about
the S60. While it's nice to see a VGA movie mode
on the camera, the limited recording time and choppy
frame rate are disappointing. The other disappointment
is the lack of a live histogram in record mode.
though, I'm more than happy to recommend this camera
to anyone who wants a wide-angle camera. The S60
is more than that, though -- it's a great camera
for everyday shooting.
good photo quality (though see issues below)
starts at 28 mm
lens and underwater case
battery life for a camera of this size
save favorite settings to spot on mode dial
image format supported (unlike most of the competition)
I didn't care for:
softness in corners of photos
plastic door over memory card / battery compartment
much telephoto power (but a conversion lens is
live histogram in record mode
mode limited to 30 secs, 10 frames/sec at highest
wide-angle cameras worth considering include the Nikon
Coolpix 5400, Olympus
C-5060WZ, and the Panasonic
Lumix DMC-LC1 (larger and much more expensive).
Most of the 8 Megapixel cameras also have lenses
that start at 28 mm, but they're not exactly compact.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller
to try out the PowerShot S60 and its competitors
before you buy!
how the photos
turned out in our gallery!
Feedback & Discussion
you have a question about this review, please send
them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail
me asking for a personal recommendation.
discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please
visit our forums.