Canon Powershot S100 Review

Advanced Digital Cameras

12 Megapixels    5x Zoom

Dimensions: 98.9 x 59.8 x 26.7 mm    Weight: 198g

Good Points: Picture quality, features, compact size, build quality

Bad Points: Slow response with flash

Canon Powershot S100 Shutter Lag Rating fast Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating


The Canon Powershot S100 is a small, but feature packed digital camera. It will fit into a good sized pocket, yet brings you a set of features that would be equally at home on a Digital SLR. The camera appears to be well made with an impressive build quality.

The Powershot S100 is likely to appeal to you if you see photography as a hobby and are prepared to pay that bit more for extra all round quality. Cameras like this one also appeal to people who own a Digital SLR, but like the idea of a smaller camera to carry with them ready for unplanned photo opportunities.

Compared with other digital cameras at this price point the Powershot S100 has the following:

Plus Points

  • Full HD Movies with Stereo Sound
  • RAW Mode
  • Image Stabilisation
  • Movie Image Stabilisation
  • Manual Exposure Controls
  • GPS
  • F/2 Maximum Aperture
  • 9.6 Frames Per Second Burst Mode
  • Manual Focus
  • Custom Mode

Why Buy the Canon Powershot S100

If you are looking for a small camera offering extra all round quality this could well be the camera for you.


Megapixels and Zoom

The Powershot S100 has 12 megapixels and a 5x zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 24 - 120mm in 35mm format. The big attraction of the lens is the large f/2 maximum aperture. This allows you to use faster shutter speeds. Faster shutter speeds can be a big help when you are taking photos in fading light.

Memory Cards

You can use SD, SDHC and SDXC cards to store your images.


Power is supplied by a lithium ion battery. Canon supply a battery and charger as standard. They estimate you should be able to take in the region of 200 shots in between charges.

Movie Mode

You can shoot full High Definition movies. These have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a top recording speed of 24 frames per second. You can record stereo sound with a movie. Other movie options include the ability to shoot 30 second slow motion movies.

Image stabilisation is available when shooting a movie to give your movies a smoother look.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen is 3 inches in size.

Manual Exposure and Focusing

For the more experienced photographer there is the option to switch to manual exposure. As well as fully manual there are settings for aperture priority and shutter priority. You can also store your favourite settings in a custom mode. Manual focusing is available too. Focus bracketing is also available.

Shooting Modes

In addition to the manual exposure modes there are a set of predefined scene modes. These are Portrait, Landscape, Kids & Pets, Smart Shutter(Smile, Wink Self-Timer, FaceSelf-Timer), High-speed Burst HQ, Handheld Night Scene, Beach, Underwater, Foliage, Snow, Fireworks, Stitch Assist, High Dynamic Range, Nostalgic, Fish-eye Effect, Miniature Effect, Toy Camera Effect, Monochrome, Super Vivid, Poster Effect, Color Accent and Color Swap.

Macro Mode

For close up work the Powershot S100 can focus from 3cm away from your subject.


If you are travelling you can tag your photos with your location so that you can see exactly where you were in the world at the time you look a photo.

RAW Mode

As well as being able to save your photos as a standard Jpeg file you can opt to save your images as a RAW file. The advantage of this comes if you wish to post process your images later on using software packages such Photoshop.

Burst Mode

To help you photograph fast action, Canon have equipped the Powershot S100 with a burst mode that can capture images at a maximum speed of 9.6 frames per second for a maximum of 8 frames.

Image Quality

Picture Quality Summary

Buying this type of digital camera more or less guarantees you good quality photographs. The Powershot S100 displays no obvious weaknesses. Compared to cheaper digital cameras the pictures are much sharper, noise levels much lower and the definition is simply that much better. This allows you to make extra large prints safe in the knowledge that your pictures will still look pin sharp.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

The Powershot S100 handles the contrast in this scene very well. The level of detail showing on the boats is inline with some of the best digital cameras. Sharpness is another plus point with minimal fall off as you move away from the centre.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

For a digital camera with such a wide angle lens the Powershot S100 produces a shot with very impressive levels of sharpness even as you move out towards the edges of the photo. This shot more than any other underlines the quality of this camera and what you get if you pay that bit more.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

Quality is maintained when the lens is zoomed into its maximum capacity. Once again sharpness is retained across the photo. The level of detail showing on the boats and on the roof tiles in the scene mark this camera out as top quality.

Outdoor Building

Using mid zoom produces a shot with excellent definition. You can make out every brick on the building. Once again sharpness is retained as you move out towards the edges. The camera is also free of purple fringing that can sometimes be seen in this test.

Outdoor Portrait

Moving much closer into the subject poses no problems for the Powershot S100. Maybe a little more colour in the skin tones would have been even better, but this is down to personal taste. If you do decide to boost colours for this type of shot it is easy to adjust the white balance setting and add a little warmth.

Indoor Portrait With Flash

Using flash helps to fill in the shadows. The Powershot manages to pack plenty of colour into the skin tones. This is another plus point as it means the camera is very good at controlling the amount of light the flash unit kicks out. In this case it produces the optimum amount of light to distribute brightness across the picture.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

Compared to the shot taken using flash this photo is lighter in colour. The level of definition for a photo taken indoors without flash is very good. This is where the large aperture comes into play. It helps to pull that much more light into the shot. This helps to keep noise levels to a minimum.


Close up photography is another area where the Powershot S100 performs well. It is able to focus from 3cm away from your subject. This gives you a lot of scope for photographing a range of subjects. Detail levels are very impressive and the camera is able to throw the background out of focus.


Colours pack a punch without dominating the photos. Canon digital cameras use light well. This gives you bright colourful shots.


Noise levels are generally much lower with this type of digital camera than with more basic models. This shows up quite clearly in the shady areas in the first test shot. With most digital cameras noise shows up quite clearly in the shady areas around the names of the boats. That is not the case here and suggests you will be able to work in much more challenging lighting situations before noise becomes an issue.

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Panasonic DMC LX5 Rating 91/100

This camera is one of the very best I have ever reviewed. Picture quality is excellent and I love the small size of the camera. It is packed with advanced features and I found it was able to handle a variety of different shooting conditions without a problem.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC LX5 Review

Related Pages

Canon Powershot S100 Specification

Canon Powershot S100 Sample Images

Digital Camera Reviews

Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: April 2012


The Canon Powershot S100 is an excellent digital camera. If you are looking for a camera to carry everywhere you go with plenty of features then this could be the camera for you. It is hard to find fault and the Powershot S100 compares very well with digital cameras with a similar set of features and body size.


Ease of Use:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:


Photo Quality:
Value for Money:




Main Features

LCD Screen:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:

3 inches
98.9 x 59.8 x 26.7 mm
Lithium-ion Rechargeable

Shutter Lag Times

Single Shot:
Five Shots:
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:

0.25 seconds
10.08 seconds
1.61 seconds
16.83 seconds
2.72 seconds

Shutter Lag Table


General Handling

Despite all the features this camera has buttons and dials are kept to a minimum. The upside of this is that it gives you room to get a good hold of the camera. The downside is that you may find yourself diving into the menu system on a regular basis to fine tune settings.

Flash Positioning

The flash unit pops up on the top of the camera. This does mean that the flash unit is right where you would normally place a finger, but it is something you get used to.

LCD Screen Quality

You should have no problems viewing the LCD screen even on sunny days. As with other elements of the build quality Canon have come up with a very impressive LCD screen. The resolution of the screen is twice that of more basic digital cameras and the extra quality certainly shows.

Turn on Time and Shutter Delay

The Powershot S100 performed well when it came to shutter response without flash. The times were 0.25 seconds for a single photo and 10.08 seconds for five. With flash turned in times were noticeably slower. They were 1.61 seconds for a single photo and 16.83 seconds for five. It took 2.72 seconds to turn the camera on and take the first picture. This is a standard time.

Design, Build Quality and Finish

As mentioned above this is a small digital camera with a great build quality. It is available in black and silver. Instead of the usual shiny finish this camera has a rougher feel to it. This helps make it feel more secure in your hand and less likely to slip.

Camera Controls

On the top of the camera are the on / off button and a ring for zooming in and out. The shutter button sits inside the zoom ring. The main control dial is also on the top of the camera. This is used for selecting the shooting mode.

There is a selection ring around the lens on the front of the camera. This gives you fast access to change a setting of your choice. You nominate a specific feature to be controlled by the ring. Features you can nominate include shutter speed, aperture size, focusing and ISO. You assign your choice of feature via a button on the back of the camera.

Also on the back of the camera is a button for movie recording. There are also buttons for accessing the menu system and reviewing images. In addition there is a main control area. This houses controls for exposure compensation, rotating images, setting flash, changing the LCD screen display, accessing manual focus and activating macro mode. In the centre there is a button that is used to access the main functions and to confirm a selection.

Product Shots

Front View

Canon Powershot S100 Front View

Back View

Canon Powershot S100 Back View

Top View

Canon Powershot S100 Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

menu 3 menu 4