Canon Powershot S5 IS Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

Canon Powershot S5 IS Ease of Use 6
Features 9
Movie Mode 9
Build Quality9
Colours 9
Photo Quality 8
Style 8
Lowlight 9
Macro 8
Value for Money 8
8 Megapixels
12x Zoom
2.5 inch LCD Screen
117 x 80 x 77.7 mm


The Canon Powershot S5 IS is the most high spec super zoom camera I have tested. As well as manual exposure controls it offers more options that its rivals in a number of other areas. These include flash, colour effects and focusing. You will also find a pull out and twist LCD screen and a viewfinder you can focus to suit your own eyesight. The Powershot S5 IS is an 8 megapixel digital camera with a 12x zoom lens and image stabilisation.

Main Features

LCD Screen:

2.5 inches
117 x 80 x 77.7 mm

HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Memory Cards:


Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

The first outdoor shot gets my tests off to a good start. Strong colours, sharp focusing and any glare from the sun is handled well.

Another good effort. There is plenty of strong colour. This is especially noticeable in the sky. The Powershot S5 IS also produces a sharper focus then most other digital cameras manage with the lens zoomed right out.

This is a surprisingly disappointing photo. With the lens zoomed in to its maximum capacity there is a clear loss of sharpness towards the edges of the photo. There is also lot of reddish fringing. This is where a reddish line is added to the edges of objects where they are caught by the sun. Although the fringing is a problem with most super zoom cameras, the problems with this photo are important as one of the main reasons for buying this type of camera is its ability to zoom in from distance.


This is one of the better outdoor portraits I have taken. The photo is sharply focused and I like the colours and the lighting.

Indoor Portrait This is another photo where I think the Powershot S5 IS does exceptionally well. Again the colours are spot on, difficult lighting is handled very well and focusing is very sharp. Although the camera has a manual red eye correction facility red eye is not likely to be a big issue with this camera as the flash pops up away from the lens reducing the possibility of red eye occurring.

The lowlight test is another where the Powershot S5 IS does very well. The power of the flash lights the scene well without blasting out all the detail from the shot. Focusing is very good once more.

Macro, Colours and Noise

For close up photography the Powershot S5 IS is able to produce a very clear shot. There is a slight hint of purple fringing where the light source hits the edges of the watch face. This could pose a problem if you wish to produce high quality jewelry photos, but is unlikely to cause too much concern elsewhere.

The colours throughout all the photos are excellent. They are well balanced, strong without being overpowering and give the scenes a lively feel.

Quality begins to fall away at ISO 400. Noise starts to show up in photos to a level where larger prints are likely to show the drop in quality. Wow! The quality has disappeared at this level. Luckily you are unlikely to want to use this setting for the vast majority of your shots and it is quite possible you will never get around to using it.


On the whole the Powershot S5 IS does very well. As with most digital cameras shooting at higher ISO levels causes a definite reduction in picture quality. The loss of sharpness away from the centre of the photo when taking a shot with the zoom fully extended is a much bigger worry though. This is especially the case when you consider the main attraction of the camera is its long lens.

See sample images link arrow


Built like a mini SLR camera it has a good, solid feel in the hand.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Fast

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash

0.25 seconds
8.22 seconds
0.48 seconds
13.14 seconds

Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Hard The main reason why the Powershot S5 IS is difficult to use is because of all the features the camera has. It can be used as a more straightforward point and shoot camera, but then you will be paying for a lot of extra features you may not need.

Points I Like

Pull out and twist LCD screen - Fast reacting lens - Focusable viewfinder - Range of features

Where it Could Improve

Loss of sharpness towards edge of photo when full zoom used


The Canon Powershot S5 IS has more features than any similar, super zoom digital camera. It is also one of the more expensive models. On the whole picture quality is very good, but it is a concern that my full zoom test showed a noticeable fall off in sharpness away from the centre of the photo.

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

playback functions

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Panasonic DMC FZ48 Rating 87/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ48 is very hard to beat. It is up against some stiff competition, but the combination of features, image quality and pricing makes it the outstanding model in its category. When it comes to picture quality it has few weaknesses and its length of lens means it can cope with more or less any photo opportunity.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FZ48 Review

Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Rating 86/100

The Fuji Finepix HS30EXR does offer a number of differences to rival Super Zoom or Bridge digital cameras. The main difference is the twisting lens barrel, but there are other handling aspects that make it that bit closer to a Digital SLR experience. In terms of features Fuji have packed in just about everything they can think of. Picture quality compares well against rival cameras and shutter response times are also impressive. This makes this camera a very attractive proposition if you are looking for a fully featured camera with a great deal of zoom power.

Read Review: Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Review

Nikon Coolpix L810 Rating 79/100

The Nikon Coolpix L810 offers something different as it gives you the power of an extra long lens, but with the simplicity of a point and shoot digital camera. This helps to make it somewhat cheaper than the more fully featured models with similar zoom power. Picture quality does not match up to the more expensive models in this category, but it is only if you are planning to make extra large prints that you are likely to see much difference between photos taken with this camera and those that give you that bit of extra quality. This camera is a good choice if you are looking for simple operation and a powerful lens.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix L810 Review

Related Pages

Canon Powershot S5 IS Review Canon Powershot S5 IS Specification Canon Powershot S5 IS Sample Images Canon Powershot S5 IS Features Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

September 2007

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