Canon PowerShot S90

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It’s been a while since the launch of the PowerShot S80 – 5 years to be precise. The PowerShot S90 is more than just a redesigned version of its predecessor – the S80. The camera offers functionality and usability that hasn’t quite been implemented in any other S-series camera. Read on to find out as to what makes the PowerShot S90 so different.

The PowerShot S90 looks like any other compact camcorder but comes with a few minor but helpful changes. The camera measures in at 100 x 58.4 x 30.9 mm which makes it a little bulky for it to be carried around in your pocket; more so due to its protruding lens. Also it also weighs quite a bit at 180 g. Now that’s not exactly a kind of weight you would like to carry around with you in your pocket, would you? The button placements are typical of any Canon camera currently in the market.

While everything fits in almost perfectly the only aspect that I wasn’t too comfortable with was the jog dial that was found to be just too smooth. And with the thumb getting in the way something or the other would definitely change when shooting.

The S90 comes with a 3-inch LCD display that works fine under normal lighting conditions but doesn’t quite do well under broad daylight. The S90 comes with an effective CCD sensor of 10 MP along with a decent 3.8x of optical zoom. Moreover, the camera also comes fit with an image stabilizer that does a neat job of eliminating camera shakes. While it would have been much appreciated had the S90 come with a 24 mm wide angle lens, the 28 mm lens is just as good if not better.

Now coming back to the changes, the S90 comes with a control ring that fits around the lens. The control ring can be used to zoom in and zoom out in increments of 28, 35, 50, 85 and 105 mm equivalent focal lengths. Moreover other functions such as ISO, Exposure value, Focus, White balance and the already mentioned Zoom feature can be assigned to the focus ring.

On the other hand the flash sits neatly tucked away within the camera and only pops out when required. And with a range of 6 meters the flash is powerful and will need to be adjusted when taking close-up shots.

The PowerShot S90 comes with a total of 25 shooting modes where the special scene mode comprises of a decent 17 preset scenes. Here you will find two new modes such as “Low Light” and “Nostalgic”. In low light mode though, the resolution is limited to 2.5 MP and ISO levels touch an insane 12,500. The only aspect that can be changed here is the burst mode and picture quality size; everything else is automatic.

Just like most recent cameras the S90 also comes with an Intelligent Auto mode that basically chooses the most appropriate shooting mode depending on the scene. But for those who want to go beyond the auto mode and feel the need to experiment, there is always the manual mode. Moreover the camera also allows you to shoot in RAW as well as JPEG.
Sadly even though there is an HDMI port the S90 features no HD video recording and is only limited to record at 640 by 480 VGA. This totally eliminates the need to have an HDMI port in the first place since what you will be watching even on an HD TV will be limited to a resolution of 640 by 480. Nevertheless the camera does a neat job of capturing videos.

Just like all digital cameras the S90 proved to be no different. As you can see from the image shown below the camera does tend to liven up the colors a bit. But nevertheless it doesn’t go overboard with it either. Color fringing is also visible when scaled to 100 percent and holds true especially for blues and yellows.

As always, at first look the overall image might look good but tends to get quite blur when zoomed in. For instance, the number plates on the cars don’t even come close to readable.

Due to unknown reasons the S90 refused to take night shots beyond ISO 80 making the image look mostly dark. So we gave the Low Light mode a shot and got some astounding results. The image below was taken with the ISO auto set to 5000. There is a visible amount of noise but being able to capture such an image at ISO 5000 doesn’t need an explanation.

The S90 surely doesn’t have one of the best macro ranges since its focusing range comes in at 3cm. Kind of disappointing but nevertheless an acceptable range.

The Canon PowerShot S90 is no SLR alternative but is just another compact camera with a few extra features. While it does come with a decently high price tag of Rs. 26,995 its overall feature set and good low light image quality is what makes the S90 stand apart.

Published Date: Mar 09, 2010 09:59 am | Updated Date: Mar 09, 2010 09:59 am