Serious amateur photographers today are reluctant to accept bulky long zoom digicams (with slow maximum apertures) or auto-exposure-only compact point-and-shoot digital cameras that limit creativity. Many photography enthusiasts prefer compact P&S digicams with fast maximum zoom apertures and manual exposure options; cameras capable of consistently capturing opulently detailed images with vibrant colors. Canon’s prosumer “S” series digicams have been very popular with consumers because they are designed especially for photography enthusiasts who don’t want to lug around a heavy DSLR. The Canon Powershot S110 (which replaces the S100) is the latest incarnation of this legendary series of advanced prosumer P&S digicams.
Most of what made the S100 the most popular “S” model to date has been retained by the S110. Like its predecessor, the S110 is built around a short (5X) relatively fast f2.0-f5.9/5.2mm-26.0mm (24mm-120mm – 35mm equivalent) zoom lens. Most P&S digicams offer zooms with maximum apertures of between f/2.8 and f3.5. The S110’s f/2.0 maximum aperture lets in twice as much light as an f2.8 aperture, which allows for faster shutter speeds in low light and marginally shallower depth of field. The S110’s super-stabilized wide-angle to short telephoto zoom covers the focal length range most often used by “Straight Shooters” who tend to work in fairly close. The S110’s minimum f5.9 aperture is dead slow for a 120mm (equivalent) focal length optic — which limits the long end of the zoom to pretty much outdoor duty only. The S110 will also come up a bit short for those who wish to shoot team sports or wildlife.
The S110 (like most currently available P&S models) lacks an optical viewfinder, but makes up for that omission somewhat by providing a wide-viewing angle 3.0 inch LCD with 461K resolution. The S110’s TFT LCD screen is bright, hue accurate, fluid, automatically boosts gain in dim/low light, and covers approximately100% of the image frame. The user-enabled grid display combined with the exposure histogram is a very useful option for serious shooters. The S110 features touchscreen controls. The screen is capacitative rather than resistive, which means the S110’s touchscreen functions like a smartphone touchscreen – it’s sensitive to contact rather than pressure – resulting in a user experience that smartphone users will find very familiar. The DIGIC V driven S110 features the same 12 megapixel 1/1.7″ Canon-made High Sensitivity CMOS’ sensor for reduced noise and better low light performance. Other salient features include a 1080p HD video mode and integrated WiFi connectivity that allows users to upload still pictures and video clips directly to social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube. However, the S100’s GPS receiver didn’t make the cut.
I’ve only had the S110 for a few days, but this camera was clearly designed by photographers for photographers. I’ve been a photographer my entire adult life and I was impressed with the S30, liked the S45, and loved the S70. I really liked the S80, I loved the S95, and I adored the S100 – so it was almost preordained that I would like the S110. In my opinion the S110 is the best “S” yet. Watch for our full review of the Canon Powershot S110, coming soon.