Canon expanded its PowerShot line of digital cameras on Monday with two new models, the PowerShot S5 IS and PowerShot SD850 IS ELPH. While they share many features, the cameras will likely appeal to different segments of the photography market. The S5 is geared toward amateur photography enthusiasts with its mini-SLR look and heavy feature set, while the SD850 targets casual photographers with its one-inch-wide design and point-and-click feature set.
Chief among the shared features is Canon’s new DIGIC III image processor. Canon says it provides faster start up, faster autofocus and quicker shutter response times, along with improved image quality and more efficient power consumption. Both cameras use it to capture images of up to 8 megapixels.
Face detection also comes standard on both models. Canon’s face detection technology can find up to nine faces in a shot and prioritize focus, exposure and flash settings for them, which Canon says should eliminate the common problem of blurry, overexposed faces common with automatic settings.
To compensate for hand-held shake in long-range zoom shots, Canon also includes optical image stabilization (OIS) for both cameras. Unlike electronic image stabilization systems that compensate for shake with software, Canon’s OIS physically shifts the lenses to compensate for unwanted motion.
From here, the cameras part ways in terms of features. The S5 gets a 12x zoom lens with a 36 – 432 mm (35mm film equivalent) focal length, placing it firmly in mini-SLR territory. It also uses the same ultrasonic motors found in Canon’s high-end SLRs to autofocus the lens silently. Other SLR trappings are the hot shoe for accommodating Canon EX-series Speedlite flashes and optional converters for wide or telescopic shots.
The flip-out LCDs of days past also makes an appearance on the S5, in the form of Canon’s Vari-Angle 2.5-inch LCD, designed for shooting over crowds or taking self-portraits. Not wanting to skimp on control, Canon offers 22 different shooting modes in the S5, from full automatic to fully manual, including some that allow users to instantly jump into taking movies instead of still photographs at the touch of a dedicated button. It runs on four AA batteries.
The SD850 sports a more compact lens that still manages to provide 4x optical zoom. Users also get the S5’s 2.5-inch LCD, but without flip-out capability. A lithium-ion battery helps save on weight, making the SD850 weigh in at 5.62 ounces to the S5’s hulking 16 ounces.
Canon says the SD850 will find its way into retail stores by mid-June and retail for about $399.99, while consumers will have to wait until early July and pay $499.99 for the S5 model.
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