Canon PowerShot 110 HS: Performance

April 4, 2012 by Howard Creech Reads (11,780)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 6
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


The 110 HS doesn’t allow much user input into the image capture process and that lack of input limits this camera’s potential usefulness for more serious shooters. Overall, the PowerShot 110 HS’s performance is a bit better than average for cameras in this class and 110 HS users should have no difficulty capturing the decisive moment in most lighting situations.

Shooting Performance
I found the 110 HS to consistently and dependably be very quick when acquiring focus, even in low light proving the efficacy of Canon’s relatively new HS (High Sensitivity) system. AF acquisition (the time between pressing the shutter half-way and when the camera locks focus on your subject) was 0.19 seconds, the fastest in the 110 HS’s sample group.

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Canon PowerShot 110 HS 0.19
Panasonic Lumix FX90 0.24
Sony Cyber-shot TX100 0.32
Nikon Coolpix AW100 0.50

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Sony Cyber-shot TX100 10 11.4 fps
Nikon Coolpix AW100 3 8.5 fps
Panasonic Lumix FX90 7 3.0 fps
Canon PowerShot 110 HS 1.9 fps

*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

110 HS features the same TTL Contrast Detection 10-point AiAF (Advanced intelligent Auto Focus) plus 1-point center system as its predecessor. In all exposure modes the camera analyzes the scene in front of the lens and then calculates camera to subject distance to determine which of the AF points is closest to the primary subject (closest subject priority) and then locks focus on that AF point. Users can also opt for the 1 point (center) AF for classic portraits or traditional landscapes. In low light, a focus assist beam helps illuminate the subject for more accurate focusing.

Shutter lag shouldn’t be a problem in most shooting scenarios likely to be tackled by this camera’s target audience, however the 110 HS didn’t do particularly well at capturing skateboarders in mid-air (my sole action test with this camera) unless you were able to anticipate the decisive moment and trip the shutter about ½ a second before the decisive moment occurred. The 110 HS features a slightly improved version of the same Intelligent IS image stabilization system first seen on the 300 HS, which provides six distinct IS modes to cover different shooting scenarios like handheld macro shots, panning to follow the action as it unfolds, and shooting with the camera mounted on a tripod.

Improvements seem to be limited mostly to the greater range of correction when shooting video. The 110 HS’s optical image stabilization system reduces blur by rapidly and precisely shifting a lens element in the 5x zoom to compensate for involuntary camera movement. Image stabilization allows users to shoot at faster shutter speeds than would have been possible without IS. Image stabilization can also be useful when shooting in dimly lit indoor venues where flash is prohibited or inappropriate.

The 110 HS’s tiny built-in flash provides only four settings – Auto, on, slo-synch, and off. In Auto mode the flash system automatically controls selection of Smart Flash Exposure. The Smart Flash Exposure mode automatically adjusts flash exposure to balance flash output and the ambient light on the subject – to avoid dark facial shadows in outdoor portraits and provide more even lighting coverage in macro shooting. Maximum flash range (according to Canon) is just over 11 feet. Flash recycle times are between 3.0 and 4.0 seconds.

The 110 HS is powered by a proprietary Canon NB-4L lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Canon says a fully charged NB4L is good for approximately 220 exposures. I rarely track numbers – since I do a lot of shoot, review, delete, and re-shoot, but that number seems fairly accurate based on my experiences with the camera. I used the camera heavily for just over two weeks and only charged the battery twice. I shot around 400 exposures and half a dozen short video clips with the camera during the course of my tests. The included charger needs about two hours to fully charge the battery. This is about average battery life for an ultra-compact P&S digicam. Heavy users should seriously consider whether it would be worth investing in a backup battery.

Lens Performance
The 110 HS’s 5x f2.7-f5.9 optical zoom provides a (35mm-equivalent) range of 24mm-120mm and is the same wide-angle to a short telephoto optic that graced its predecessor. Compact zoom lenses generally start at around (the equivalent of) 28mm, so a true wide angle (great for group shots in tight indoor venues and also for expansive landscapes) point of view gives the 110 HS a slight edge over some of its competition. Although corners are slightly soft at the wide angle end of the zoom they are appreciably sharper at the telephoto end of the range.

The 110 HS’s f/2.7 maximum aperture (at the wide end of the zoom) is fast enough for just about anything this camera’s target audience is likely to shoot – outdoors or in, but the f/5.9 maximum aperture at the long end of the zoom range is pretty slow. Even with the 110 HS’s High Sensitivity capabilities, shooting at maximum telephoto indoors is going to produce some rather muddy looking and fairly noisy images. They may be a bit less noisy than similar images generated by earlier ELPH models, but the difference is marginal at best. Zoom operation is fast, smooth, and fairly precise, but the lens motor seems a bit noisier than average. The PowerShot 110 HS’s zoom exhibits noticeable barrel distortion (straight lines bow out from the center) at the wide-angle end of the zoom and very minor pin cushioning (straight lines bow in toward the center) at the telephoto end of the zoom range. Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is slightly higher than average, but very well controlled. Native (default) contrast is a bit on the flat side.

Video Quality
Digicams today must not only be competent still picture takers, they must also be competent video cameras. The 110 HS’s HD video mode is about as good as it gets at this point in time – and that is pretty impressive when you consider that a camera small enough to be dropped in a shirt pocket is capable of shooting High Definition video that rivals a dedicated camcorder.

The 110 HS may be small in stature, but it doesn’t skimp on large scale usability. Like its predecessor, the 110 HS can record video at up to Full HD (1920 x 1080p at 24fps) resolution with stereo audio and the ability to use the 5x optical zoom during video capture. In addition, for those who want to document their photographic adventures, the 110 HS features an upgraded version of Canon’s nifty Movie Digest function, which automatically saves a short video clip (up to four seconds) from just before the shooter snaps each picture. The 110 HS automatically combines those short clips to create a sequential video record of the days shooting. Video digest clips are limited to 720p resolution, but that is a substantial improvement over the VGA movie digest clips captured by the 300 HS. The sample video clip nicely demonstrates just how versatile the 110 HS is in HD video capture mode.

Image Quality
Image files generated by Canon’s point-and-shoots have always been optimized for the sharp focus, bold bright hues, and the slightly flat contrast that some veteran shooters refer to as “the Canon look” and the new 110 HS doesn’t stray from that formula. Native colors (default color interpolation) are bright, hue accurate, and natural-looking, but visibly over-saturated. Reds are a bit warm, blues are a little bright and greens/yellows are more vibrant than those seen by the naked eye. Consumers seem to like bright oversaturated images with relatively flat contrast so most casual shooters won’t consider these minor color anomalies as faults.

Although there is a very slight tendency toward overexposure – outdoors in good light the 110 HS produces dependably well-exposed and almost noise-free images. Chromatic aberration is well controlled, but some minor color fringing is present, especially in the color transition areas between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds. Canon’s new CMOS sensor driven HS (High Sensitivity) system consistently produces very good to excellent images with impressively low noise levels. I doubt Canon’s claim that HS system cameras produce 60% less noise than earlier (non HS) models, but low light performance has been improved and there is less visible noise. The differences are subtle, but noticeable.

The 110 HS’s dependable and very accurate White Balance system is identical to the one used in the 300 HS, featuring user selected WB settings for auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, two types of fluorescent lighting and a custom mode. I primarily used the auto white balance setting for my tests with the camera with reliably very good to excellent results.

Canon 110 HS Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The 110 HS’s sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to a maximum of ISO 3200, unchanged from the 300 HS. Detail capture is excellent at ISO 100, and despite some very minor softening is also quite good at ISO 400.

Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 100
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 200
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 400
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 800
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 1600
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 3200
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop

More visible softening begins at ISO 800. Chroma (color) noise is controlled very nicely, but luminance noise and the camera’s built-in noise suppression efforts noticeably increase the loss of fine details from ISO 800 up.

Additional Sample Images

Canon 110 HS Sample Image
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
Canon 110 HS Sample Image
Canon 110 HS Sample Image

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