Miami Product Photographer

Canon Powershot S90 Digital Camera Brief Hands-On Review



The Canon PowerShot S90 is Canon’s best high end S-Series compact point and shoot digital camera.  Using the exact same sensor as Canon’s top of the line point & shoot, the PowerShot G11, the S90 delivers incredibly usable results in higher ISO (up to 3200) segment where most other point and shoot cameras would simply fail.  Canon achieves better noise control through both hardware (larger than usual  1/1.7″ CCD sensor with 24MP pixel density) and software means (Digic 4 Processor and Canon’s DPP image editing software).

I’ll try to sum up some pros and cons of this camera after using it for a few days.

Start with Pros:

Excellent noise control, usable images up to ISO 3200; resolution below iso 1600 comparable to a DSLR.
Compact – will slip into your jean pocket, but don’t sit with it.
Digic 4 Engine automatically corrects for lens distortion in JPG RAW(only by using DPP) and Movie Recording.
Useful front rotating dial, accompanied with the control dial on the back of the camera, allows control of 2 variable factors (ie. F stop & Shutter Speed, or ISO & Scene Selection) easily.
Plenty of manual control, as well as a handful of fully automatic modes and scenery recognition system.
Useful face recognition, great for parties and get togethers, not so good for selective focus.
Plastic LCD front protective glass, less likely to crack, but respectable to scratches.
Highly customizable white balance settings.
Ability to shoot RAW data

Despite been a very capable camera, the S90 falls short in a few areas:

Incredibly short battery life – less than 180 shots in cold weather. about 200 in normal temp.  You’ll want to have at least one backup battery with you.
No HD Movie recording capability – most entry level P&S cameras got HD, why not this one?
No autofocus or zooming during movie recording, basically renders movie recording useless.
Back control dial is easily moved around by accident when holding the camera, resulting in unwanted exposure adjustments.
On/Off button in an awkward position (right in middle of top cover), hard to reach for.
Automatic popup flash will almost always get into your way, based on the way we hold our cameras.
At telephoto end of zoom, aperture drops to F4.9 wide open, and max out at F8, very slow indeed.
Noticeable shutter lag, autofocus may not lock when subject is moving.
Lens distortion is not automatically corrected in RAW if not using Canon Supplied image editing program (DPP)

It may seem like the cons are overwhelming the pros, but you should not be discouraged, this is by far the best compact point and shoot I have used.

Sample Gallery (snapshots made using this camera)

Camera Gallery