Canon PowerShot S95 Review

Canon’s S95 packs extensive manual control and amazing low-light performance into a pocket-size point-and-shoot camera.
Canon’s S95 packs extensive manual control and amazing low-light performance into a pocket-size point-and-shoot camera.
Canon’s S95 packs extensive manual control and amazing low-light performance into a pocket-size point-and-shoot camera.

Highs

  • Excellent low-light shooter
  • Better than usual Canon point-and-shoot photos
  • Extensive photo adjustments via control dials
  • Excellent LCD screen

Lows

  • Button placement takes getting used to
  • Slow fps; not a camera for action shooters
  • Low battery life

Introduction

Last year, Canon introduced the S90, one of the best point-and-shoots we’ve ever tested. Rather than go crazy with megapixels, the camera featured a 10-megapixel imaging sensor with larger (rather than more) pixels and a very fast f/2.0 lens. The result was a camera that took extremely high-quality stills, even in low light. It wasn’t the perfect camera, because it’s rather slow like almost all point-and-shoots, but it was definitely good enough for an Editor’s Choice designation. Now Canon has enhanced the S90, unveiling the S95 at a lower list price. Let’s see if this one is a slam-dunk Editor’s Choice as well.

Features and Design

“Minimalist” is the best way to describe the Canon PowerShot S95. Practically all black with a muted finish, the only thing that pops is the white Canon logo on the front and a few decals on various rear controls. It’s city-slick, unlike the zillions of silver-bodied digicams available. Very compact with rounded edges, the S95 is barely a fraction smaller and lighter than its predecessor. It measures 3.93 inches wide, 2.3 tall and 1.16 deep, tipping the scales at 8 ounces fully loaded.

canon powershot s95 reviewThe front has the same 3.8x zoom as the S90, with a nice 28-105mm focal range. Of course we’d like more on the telephoto side, but it’s similar to the new Panasonic Lumix LX5 ($499), another 10MP digicam targeted to enthusiasts. As mentioned, the S95 had an f/2.0 wide aperture lens, a critical spec for taking quality shots in low light; the LX5 has this as well.

Surrounding the S95’s lens is a clicking control ring, a feature we loved on the S90. What it adjusts depends on the mode you’re in, or the function you designate. In auto, you can click between focal lengths (28, 35, 50, 85 or 105mm). In Program AE it manually adjusts the focus or the function you’d like such as ISO. This is linked to the control dial surrounding the standard four-way controller on the back. In other words, between the two you have loads of adjustments at your fingertips, something rarely found on compact point-and-shoots. If you want to go beyond just plain auto — and you should — this compact camera lets you do just that.

Other than a pinhole stereo mic and an AF Assist lamp, the rest of the front is clean as a whistle.

The top of the camera has a pop-up flash, the power switch, a ring function key, the shutter button surrounded by the zoom toggle, and the mode dial. The dial has PASM and custom options, along with SCN for access to 18 scene modes, as well as a movie option. This camera has HD video recording, unlike last year’s edition, which captured 640 x 480 pixel SD footage. It’s 720p, not full HD, but at least it’s high-def. The scene modes are the usual, such as portrait and fireworks, but there are several unusual ones, such as fish-eye and miniature. One brand new option is HDR, for high-dynamic range. Here the camera takes three shots in a row, then combines them for a wider dynamic range. You must use a tripod, because even the improved optical image stabilization won’t keep the camera steady enough to pull this trick off. There’s also a low light option for shooting candle-lit scenes. Here, ISO ranges 3200 and 12,800, but resolution drops to 2.5 megapixels.

canon powershot s95 review

The rear is dominated by a quality 3-inch LCD rated a fine 461K pixels, the tops for point-and-shoots (DSLRs hit 921K and more). To the right of the screen are shortcut, playback, display and menu keys along with the four-way controller with a center function button surrounded by a control dial. There’s also a tiny speaker. On the right are compartments for USB and mini HDMI outputs, while on the bottom is the tripod mount and slot for the battery and SD card. The battery is rated 200 shots per CIPA, a pretty weak number, so you should consider picking up a spare if you plan to shoot all day.

Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Photography

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.
Photography

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Photography

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.
Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.
Mobile

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Photography

Canon holiday sale features the Rebel T6 2-lens kit for just $449

If you have a budding photographer in your life in need of a real camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 could make the perfect gift. Canon is currently offering the camera in a two-lens bundle for just $449 through December 29.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Social Media

Instagram’s 2018 year in review shines a light on where our hearts are

What did Instagram users share the most in 2018? A lot of heart emojis, heart face filters, and heart GIFs. The platform recently shared the year's top trends, including hashtags like #fortnite and #metoo along with a few surprises.
Deals

Want a fun, affordable instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S is just $49

Instant cameras have had a surprising resurgence of late, and no brand is better recognized in the instant photo space today than Fujifilm Instax. Walmart is currently offering the Instax Mini 7S for just $49.
Photography

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.