Canon Powershot S95 Review

Advanced Digital Cameras

10 Megapixels    3.8x Zoom

Dimensions: 99.8 x 58.4 x 29.5 mm    Weight: 193g

Good Points: General features, picture sharpness, overall picture quality, small size

Bad Points: A jog wheel would round the camera off very nicely

Canon Powershot S95 Shutter Lag Rating slow Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating


The Canon Powershot S95 is a great little camera. Picture quality is spot on and there are not many cameras offering so many features in such a small body. I really like the colours it produces. The sharpness of the photos it delivers is eye catching.

It's small size means you can take the Powershot S95 with you everywhere you go. The manual exposure settings give you extra control over picture taking. This is certainly my type of digital camera!

Why Buy the Canon Powershot S95

There are two types of people that this camera is ideal for. The first type would already own a Digital SLR or large camera, but like the idea of a small compact that has plenty of features and takes high quality photos. The second is for anyone who is looking for a relatively small compact camera and is happy to pay a premium for extra picture quality and features.


Basic features include 10 megapixels and a 3.8x zoom lens. With a minimum focal length equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format the Powershot S95 has wide angle capabilities. The other big attraction of the lens is the fact it has a maximum aperture of f/2. This should help your photography in low light situations. Image stabilisation has been built into the lens to further enhance this camera in lowlight situations.

Tucked inside the small body are a set of manual exposure modes. You have access to fully manual, plus aperture priority and shutter priority. A custom mode is available for you to store your favourite camera set up. Manual focusing is available too.

For composing photos there is a 3 inch LCD screen. There is no viewfinder available. Photos can be captured in RAW format. This increases the control you have if you manipulate your photos with a product such as Photoshop.

As is becoming the norm there is a High Definition movie mode available. The maximum resolution is 720p.

If you like the idea of taking different shaped photographs then the Powershot S95 has a fair few different aspect ratios on offer. You can choose between 4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 1:1 and 4:5.

For close up work there is a 5cm macro mode. As you would expect you have access to ISO settings, white balance and different types of metering. In addition to the standard white balance settings it is easy to fine tune and set your own colour temperature.

For anyone who likes to dive with their camera there is a waterproof case available too.

Image Quality

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

You can see immediately that the Powershot S95 offers superior picture quality when compared to less expensive digital cameras. The level of definition showing in this shot is very impressive. Even with large prints it is more or less impossible to see any grain in the shot. Sharpness is some way above average and the camera handles the low angle of the sun very well.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

The Powershot S95 sails through what can be a tough test for a compact digital camera. The level of sharpness is what really catches the eye with this photo. Colours are striking and there is plenty of power in the blue sky. There is a hint of purple fringing, but this only shows when the shot is blown up to extra large size.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

This is my favourite shot so far. Each boat in the shot shows in detail. As in the first test shot the low angle of the sun is handled well. There are variety of colours in the photo and they all appear to be balanced and accurate.

Outdoor Building

In terms of quality this is a super image. The level of sharpness is about as good as it gets. To my eye I am unable to see any fall off in sharpness as you move out towards the edges. If you blow the shot up to full size it is easy to make out each individual brick on the building.

Outdoor Portrait

I really like the clarity and colour of this shot. Based on my more distant outdoor shots the clarity should come as no surprise, but it is still noticeably sharper than a lot of cameras produce. If you are prepared to experiment a little with white balance settings you should be able to produce portrait shots with colours to perfectly match your own taste.

Indoor Portrait With Flash

One of the big plus points about the majority of Canon digital cameras is their ability to produce just the right amount of light from the flash unit. In this case the lighting is subtle yet manages to spread out to cover the entire photo. This lighter touch means that there is plenty of colour retained in the shot.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

Full marks to the Powershot S95. As with other test shot the level of definition is very impressive. Despite the picture being taken when the light was not perfect noise is more or less non existent.


The Powershot S95 compares well against other compact digital cameras. You can get in close to your subject and take sharp, detailed shots. There is not a lot more you are likely to want for close up photography from a small compact.


One of the biggest differences I notice between this type of more advanced digital camera and more basic models is the way the colours are represented. With the Powershot S95 little is lost in terms of vividness, but the colours also manage to take on a more natural look than some of the less expensive models are capable of producing.


Noise levels are kept as low as possible in all my tests. Even in shady areas noise is minimal.

Picture Quality Summary

If picture quality is a very important part of your decision when buying a digital camera then the Powershot S95 could be the answer. It is a clear step up in quality from cheaper models.

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 S95 Specification

Canon Powershot S95 Sample Images

Panasonic DMC LX5 vs Canon Powershot S95

Digital Camera Reviews

Canon Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: November 2010


Although there is a premium to pay I really like this type of camera. The Canon Powershot S95 is small enough to fit comfortably into a medium sized pocket yet has a good all round set of features. Picture quality is a level above cheaper options. I would certainly be happy carrying the Powershot S95 with me when a Digital SLR was not really practical. Recommended


Ease of Use:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:


Photo Quality:
Value for Money:




Main Features

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

3 inches
99.8 x 58.4 x 29.5 mm
Lithium-ion Rechargeable

Shutter Lag Times

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

0.61 seconds
10.36 seconds
1.19 seconds
15.3 seconds
2.36 seconds

Shutter Lag Table


Compared with a lot of more advanced digital cameras the Powershot S95 handles more like a point and shoot camera. Most of the options are tucked away within the menu system. Another point to note is that compared to other digital cameras offering such a wide range of advanced features the Powershot S95 is very small and will fit into medium sized pockets.

One feature I am not used to seeing is a ring that encompasses the lens. This twists round and gives easy access to change a setting of your choice. For example it can be set to change ISO, exposure compensation, focusing, white balance or zoom. When shooting in manual mode the ring is used to set aperture size.

The function you wish the ring to control is selected by pressing a button on the top of the camera. Also on the top are the on / off button, shutter button, shooting mode dial and zoom ring. The flash unit is also situated on top of the camera and pops up when flash is turned on.

On the back of the camera are buttons to access a shortcut, review photos, change the LCD display and access the menu system. In addition there is the standard circular area for accessing exposure compensation, flash mode, the self timer, plus macro and manual focusing. You will also find a button to access key functions and confirm settings here. Around the circular area is a selection wheel for speeding up choosing your options.

There are 18 menu options, 18 setup options plus 7 main functions including white balance, aspect ratio and continuous shooting.

Product Shots

Front View

Canon Powershot S95 Front View

Back View

Canon Powershot S95 Back View

Top View

Canon Powershot S95 Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

menu 3 menu 4