Skip to main content

Review: Canon S3 IS Digital Camera

Hey guys. This is my first review of a product on this blog- the Canon S3 IS. I will quickly cover the very basics of this camera, as repeating what can be found on other review sites is not my purpose, rather I want to share my long term impressions of this camera that most review sites overlook.

The Canon S3 IS is a 6.0 megapixel digital camera, with a 12x image stabilized optical zoom, ISO 80-800, 2.7 aperature, and a 2" rotatable LCD. The camera is feature rich, such as having a button-controlled manual focus, several useful and quickly selectable photo modes, including manual aperature and exposure settings.

A couple of the more interesting features this camera has that you may not see on a compact camera are the exposure and focus bracketting modes that allow the camera to take multiple photos at different exposures/foci with a single press of the trigger button. Doing so not only gives you the ability to select afterwards the photo that best is exposed from the group without missing the shot trying to manual change exposure modes, but also allows for a really neat merging effect of all the exposures in Photoshop to produce an HDR image. Cool stuff.

The flash on the camera works well. In the auto mode, the flash is operated by the camera pretty intelligently. In manual mode you can control the intensity of the flash; off, low, medium, and high. The highest flash setting is quite bright, but regardless charges up from picture to picture really fast. Since the flash is also raised far up above the lens, red eye is reduced in comparison to most compact cameras.

All the buttons on the camera are intelligently placed, and the menu system is quite standard for a Canon camera. I'm pleased with it, although it might not be for everyone. It takes most induviduals a few minutes just to figure out how to turn it on. Luckily, the lens cap pops off without a problem when the lens extends on power up -- it's very easily forgettable to take off first.

At first the camera seemed like it might actually be a bit too small for me to comfortable use, but it turned out to be quite fine. The camera is smaller than any SLR I have seen and is definitly lighter. I've dropped the camera quite a bit so far and it has held up so far fine. It feels like a solid camera and looks really rather professional and attractive. I do get compliments about it quite a bit.

Video modes and zooming work great, even in conjunction. Just really great. :) The file sizes though are massive, so make sure you have a large memory card!

The battery life is awesome. I never worry about the battery dying on me as it can last me for weeks of regular shooting. Definitly good battery life.

The LCD folds out and rotates around. It was one of my main reasons for choosing this camera in the first place for my own use and I remain glad i had. There are often shots that would simply be too hard to get without being able to rotate the LCD upwards or downwards to me. When shooting videos with this camera, it's nice to be able to hold the camera more like a camcorder, away and below my face, which is only possible with the LCD flipped out. When the camera is not in use, or when using the electronic viewfinder instead ( which works great and is very usable ) , you can flip the LCD inwards to the camera to protect the screen. I feel much more comfortable carrying this camera around with me knowing that I would accidently scratch or crush the screen. I have killed the LCD screen of two compact cameras in the past and I was wishing to avoid that with this camera. The only downside I see with the LCD is it isn't very bright. In direct sunlight it's nearly unusable, forcing me to use the EVF instead. It's fine, but it can be annoying I guess. It might also be nicer to have the screen size a bit bigger, but in the newest version of this model, the Canon S5 IS, they fix that issue.

Other downsides to this camera is that the ISO only goes to 800. It is better than most compact cameras, which only go to 400, but it feels a bit disappointing still. In usability, the ISO 400 and 800 modes on this camera are so noisey that I try to avoid using them nearly in every situation. They do turn out fine when printed at 4"x6" though, so they are usable I guess. The Canon S5 IS fixes this issue a bit and increases the max ISO to 1600. Not bad.

The camera can't take photos in RAW format. It really isn't a big deal to most people, but if you plan on doing a lot of heavy photoshopping to your images, you will find that using images saved in RAW format retains more detail in the end. Not critical, but it would of been a simple feature to add that would of pleased the few out there that use it.

The sound recording is in stereo and works great. I took the camera to a rock concert though, but unfortunately the loud bass of the music caused some major sound distortion. The video mode was also not able to pick up enough light to give the scene much detail. The photos came out great though, especially thanks to the strong flash, zoom, and rotatable LCD.

The auto focusing worked well overall, but it had a LOT of trouble focusing properly in dark lighting, and especially when using the zoom in that case too. Using the manual focus you can get around that issue, but it's frustrating when it occurs. Setting the aperature to ~8.0 seemed to help the auto focus out a bit for some reason though?

I noticed that when looking close at my images, there are times you can see a purple fringe at edges defined by a lot of contrast. An example would be around the edges of a branch against the sky. This is definitly a reason this camera is not a good idea for professional use; with large prints this defect in the image is noticable. Overall though, it doesn't occur in most my photos, and when resized to smaller sizes you can't notice it at all.

The image stabilization works fine. It is not a miracle worker, but you can notice that ever so slight movements and vibrations are pretty much completely killed off. If you have a steady hand you can get an extra Fstop or two when taking a photo in comparison. After the first week of using the camera, it becomes a feature I completely forget having on, except maybe when I'm really zoomed in on something, I wonder why the image seems so stable. 'oh ya! duh!'

I don't really think 6.0 pixels is enough for professional use of nearly any kind, but for standard sheet sized prints and smaller it does the job quite well. I do feel a bit contrained by it when doing Photoshop work, but I manage still somehow. The Canon S5 IS ups the megapixels to 8.0, which is definitly in the right direction.

As for a conclusion, I find this camera to be EXCELLENT in quality and features. I would definitly recommend this camera to an enthusiast photographer on a tight budget, such as an ambitious college student. Those with an SLR camera already might find this camera to be an excellent secondary camera. It is smaller and lighter than SLRs, yet still remains quite a jack of all traits. A professional photographer would probably be happy to carry this with them when not worried about the optimal quality of their shots. Less serious induviduals who want a good camera with a good zoom would find this camera a great option I would say; maybe a soccer mom? It ain't ultra compact though, so don't expect it to be a full replacement to every camera you own. I wouldn't want to take this to the bar with me... that's what my camera phone is for.

Thanks for reading my little review of this camera. I hope it was useful for you. Bye!


Unknown said…
Thanks for informative review from user's (non-technical) point of view.
You sold me this camera.

Popular posts from this blog

How to login to an expired Windows

Microsoft has a neat little way to prevent software piracy of their Windows operating system. "Windows Genuine Advantage"[edit: I stand corrected, it has nothing to do with WGA] with its "Product Activation" requirement. Essentially, even with a valid product key, you still need to activate your Windows to ensure that only one computer is using that specific product key. If you can't activate your Windows, there being many reasons for this, you are left with a 30 day grace period to change your product key to one that is fully valid or get in contact with Microsoft and plea your case. Once your grace period is up, Windows refuses to let you login anymore. You cannot access your files. You cannot go on the Internet. You cannot do anything, except the thrill of trying to activate Windows. Well, luckily for me I do not have to worry about this issues, as my Windows is valid and activated. However, for those who do not and have been so unfortunate enough to have

ATi Radeon 5770: PCIe x16 vs PCIe x8

In this article I will reveal the differences one should expect from running an ATi Radeon HD 5770 1GB graphics card at full and half PCIe 2.0 bandwidth. This is particularly important data for those considering a dual ATI 5770's Crossfire setup on today's Intel-based P55 motherboards which generally offer only a single PCIe x16 slot or two PCIe x8 slots. Are you better off with a X58 motherboard for Crossfire that offers dual PCIe x16 slots? Would just a more powerful single slot graphics card, such as an ATI 5870, be a better call? I can't tell you that, since you may find Crossfire annoying or you may want the absolute best performance from your rig. What I can show you though is if Crossfire on a P55 motherboard is a viable option, especially for those trying to save a quick buck. Read on! While other reviews of limited PCIe bandwidth have been addressed prior, such as at Tom's Hardware, these looked at either now-out-dated video cards or very expensive graphics

The Hard Drive Capacity Calculator

Curious why when you buy an iPod, computer hard drive, or memory stick there is less memory actually available then what was advertised? For example, you buy a new laptop, advertised having 100GB of hard drive space, actually only seems to have 93GB available? It almost seems as if there is false advertising involved. I'm sorry to say, this isn't the case, rather just a tricky usage of terminology used by memory manufactures. Let me try to explain... You see, digital data is of binary numbers. 1's and 0's, also called bits. A group of eight (8 bits) 1's or/and 0's describe what is known as a byte. There are hence, 256 different values for a byte. ie: 00000000, 00000001, 00000010, 00000011, ... 11111110, 11111111. Digital memory is measured in the number of bytes, although it can also be described in bits. This is where it gets a bit more confusing.... Just as with our decimal number system, when a very large binary number needs to be described, such as 123,456,7

Some features of digital cameras

Most of us already have a digital camera that suits our needs. Quite possibly it's a brand of camera you bought at Walmart on sale that no one has ever heard of before, maybe it's the one integrated into your cell phone, or maybe your camera doesn't suck and you are thinking to yourself, what is the point of this article!? Well, I'm hoping to share a short list of some of the commonly overlooked or new features of digital cameras today that you might be missing out on. You might even find them all just enough of a reason to change what you are hoping for this Christmas. 1. Image Stabilization What was once only found in professional cameras has now found its way to the masses. Image stabilization technologies could very well be the biggest change for digital cameras since the auto-focus. With image stabilization you can take photos or video clips without a tripod that would otherwise be blurry due to an unsteady hand. Even with a steady hand, trying to take a photo whi

Intel Core i7 860: Stock Cooler and Power Usage

I'm just throwing this out there for anyone else running into similar problems as I have been having with my Intel Core i7 860 system. I'm noticing that a lot of heat is being produced from these chips when at full load and especially when overclocked, to the point that I feel the stock CPU cooler from Intel is simply inadequate. The included heatsink/fan included with the Intel Core i7 860 has a low-profile design that is smaller than previous Intel coolers, which seems a bit strange in my opinion considering that these chips are rated at 95W TDP. Anyways, I bought two Core i7 860 systems, one featuring a Gigabyte P55M-UD4 motherboard and another one using a Gigabyte P55A-UD4P motherboard (primary board used in this review). Using the stock Intel cooler, I could effortlessly overclock these systems to 3.5GHz using stock voltages. While the systems were stable for all intensive purposes, running Prime95 would cause the core CPU temperatures to shoot up quickly to 100*C (usin

Review of the New Dell Studio 15 (1555) Notebook

Hi everyone, welcome to my review of the new Dell Studio 15 (1555) notebook. I have had the notebook in my possession for just a few days as of this writing, so the review at this time will focus mostly on my first impressions of the device. I will update this article as I gain more experience using this system, so check back soon for added information or send me your questions via email for a prompt reply. The system under review has the following specifications: Processors Intel® Core™ 2 Duo P8600 (2.4GHz/1066Mhz FSB/3MB cache) Memory 4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 800MHz Keyboard

Review: Lenovo Bluetooth Laser Mouse

In an attempt to give back to the community a bit, I am going to giving a review of my experience with Lenovo Canada and two new products I have recently ordered from it online. The two products are the Lenovo T400 14-inch notebook and a Lenovo Bluetooth Laser Mouse. Purchasing I ordered online both the T400 and the mouse late Monday night, from Lenovo .com. The total price, after tax, was about $1,250. Before tax, the T400 cost me $1070, while the mouse cost me $27 (regular $45). Shipping was free. I scored a bit of a deal on the purchase thanks to some e-coupon codes that were mentioned over at Redflagdeals .ca. These e-coupons saved me a lot of money, but it still took about a month of constant checking before Lenovo had what I wanted in stock and at a decently low price. Shopping at Lenovo .com is a bit like playing the stock market; there are ups and downs. One day the LED back-lighting feature would cost $370, the next day it would be just $30. In the rare case, it

Lenovo T400 Review

So, let my review of the Lenovo T400 begin. Configuration under review Lenovo T400 14.1-inch LED 1440x900 display Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 CPU (2.4 GHz, 3 MB L2 Cache, 25 W TDP) 3 GB of DDR3-1066 MHz RAM Switchable graphics: Intel GMA X4500MHD or ATI Mobility 3470 /w 256 MB Bluetooth Intel 5300 WiFi 80 GB 5400 HDD Webcam Media Card Reader Windows Vista Home Basic 9-cell extended battery Price: $1070 CAD (Ordered November 24th, Delivered December 4th) Also ordered a Lenovo Bluetooth laser mouse. Price: $33 (Delivered in 1.5 days) Prices were substaintially discounted, thanks to a friends of employees discount and an addition e-coupon code. CPU Performance: 1M on SuperPI Mod 1.5 scored about 21 seconds. For comparison, my 3 year old AMD Sempron 3000+ overclocked to 2.4 GHz scored 50 seconds and my brother's 2 year old Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 overclocked to 3.0 GHz scored 19 seconds. The processor is very efficient in both terms of clock cycles and power savings, but compared to modern-d

Google's Web Toolkit 1.3 RC1 now out

Not everyone knows what AJAX is, not everyone will care, but for those who do and don't know this already, check out Google's Web Toolkit . As a hobbyist web developer, I know just how frustrating it can be to design a website with really neat functionality and layout. I have been really amazed at how Google creates their many websites, having them all lack that rudimentary feel most older websites today have. Google has really gone above and beyond by releasing the same tools to the public, for free, that they have used to make their very own websites. To top it off, they even have now released the source code for this Web Toolkit of theirs. The toolkit simplifies the programming process by converting easy-to-write Java code into the painfully tricky to perfect AJAX stylings. What does this mean to anyone who doesn't speak Geek? Well, expect fancier, more powerful, and more intuitive websites to start showing up on Internet that don't have multimillion dollar developer

Logitech LX 500 Review

So after a recent incident with my old keyboard involving a kitten and a bottle of diet coke, it was time for a new keyboard. Enter the Logitech LX 500. I found the keyboard for sale at my local computer shop as a weekend door crasher special for 15$ - strange how they still had plenty in stock despite it being Sunday afternoon. It fit my price range and included a decent mouse, so... :$: Cha Ching :$: The keyboard and mouse unboxed The 800 dpi wireless optical mouse is a dark blue and black in colour, with two main buttons, a horizontally and vertically scrolling capable clicking scroll wheel, and a smallish button underneath it for tabbing between windows. The tabbing button does not function without the included software being installed, but the basic mouse functions were working right away. A pair of regular Duracell batteries were included with it. Overall, my impression of the mouse is good for what it is. It feels nice and, even for it not being a very large mouse, it still fit