DigitalCameraReview.com
Users Speak Out About the Canon Powershot S3 IS Digital Camera
by Ben Stafford -  2/7/2007

Welcome to another installment of "Users speak out..." This time, we're going to take a look at the Canon Powershot S3 IS. The opinions are chosen based on the value of the information (in our opinion) to our readers. We won't necessarily pick only the "positive" opinions or only the "negative" opinions. We'll pick the opinions that we think will be most helpful to you as you shop for and compare cameras. To see all opinions, click through to the product detail, and click the "View Opinions" link.

 

The Canon Powershot S3 IS was announced last February as the replacement to the Powershot S2 IS. This S series from Canon is their ultra-zoom series, featuring 12x optical zoom lenses with optical image stabilization. The S3 IS increased the resolution and screen size from its successor with a 6 megapixel sensor and a 2 inch flip-out, rotating LCD. The camera has made a name for itself with excellent image and movie quality. The camera is powered by 4 AA batteries and has memory card slot that can handle SD, MMC, and SDHC media. The S3 IS is a perfect camera for someone who wants an ultra-zoom and doesn't mind carrying a larger camera to get some great pics.

Below are the user-submitted opinions for the S3. Here is our full review of the Canon Powershot S3 IS.

Thumbs UpGreat camera for some purposes

Rating: 9/10

Pros: My evaluation of this camera comes from two different perspectives, each posed by two different requirements:
1.) Is this my last camera?
2.) How well does this camera perform the function for which it was purchased?

First though, I want to state that I’ve only had the S3 for ten weeks and have enjoyed both its use and the photos it’s taken. The following are my observations based upon about 2500 images I’ve captured.
• The manual focus is clunky and hard to use unless you have three thumbs or a right thumb that is only one inch long.
• Uses SD media, subsequently I was not able to leverage existing compact flash media. This increased the cost of ownership.
• Speed of image capture, buffering and recording on SD media is fast. (WOW!)
• Uses affordable AA batteries.
• Image quality is good, but not great.
• Manuals are readable and useful and come in basic and advanced “flavors”.
• Great photo capture features!
• I’m impressed with the (camera) application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) programmed features.
• Capture settings contains opportunities for customization.
• Menus are intuitive.

In summary: For me, cameras serve two functions; to record history and to capture fine art. Sometimes these occur concurrently. I see the S3 as an affordable way to record history with some occasional (concurrent) capture of fine art, for example macro flower art images. I do not see its strength as a fine art camera. (Check with me 10,000 images in the future!) The S3 camera is affordable. This means that I can afford to take it to hazardous environments, loan it to my employees and even my teenager and not worry about it. I would not be devastated by the loss as I would some of my other cameras that I cost me much more than the S3. I bought this camera as a “holiday” camera to take on a three week sailing trip from San Diego, USA to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on a 33 foot boat.

Cons: My "Cons" are wrapped in my "Pro" discussion. This is stupid division of intellect!

Thumbs UpTremendous value and quality.

Pros: Great handling, quality feel, quick access to manual controls, histogram, low noise, excellent video

Cons: manual focusing awkward, autofocus in low light not great, video file time limited to 10 mins [Editors note: movies are limited to 1GB file size]

Thumbs UpProbably the last camera most will ever need

Rating: 10/10

Pros: Too many to list. Extremely reliable. Regardless of shake, it consistently takes great pictures. It will make you look like a professional photographer even if you're not!

Cons: perhaps a slightly larger view finder.

Thumbs UpTough decision S3 vs. A640 / A630

Rating: 9/10

Pros: My number one reason for purchasing a new camera was dead pixels on my G2. I’ve had it for four successful years, but got tired of photoshoping all my pics to conceal the dead spots. The second reason was size. The G2 is a great camera, but kind of a brick. And since I travel a lot, I was looking to reduce the bulk in my travel bags. However, I did not want to lose the full-feature manual controls of the G2. Although I’ve read good reviews of Sony, Panasonic, Nikon, etc., I love the G2 photo quality, and so to make life easier and narrow the search, I decided right off the bat to stick with Canon. I began my research in the PowerShot A series. My next requirement was the swivel LCD. This is such a useful tool for me, especially in crowds where you can raise up the camera and still frame a good shot. Also with kids, you can lower the camera to your knees and compose without bending over backwards or getting in the dirt. With my primary requirements being swivel LCD, full-feature manual controls, and size constraints, it came down to the A640 and A630. I read all the reviews, and was simply trying to decide between the 10M with black housing (very slick!) or the 8M which is plenty for me and my 5x7 or 8x10 prints. I thought that noise would a problem for the 10M A640. However, the test shots on Digital Camera Resource http://dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_a630_a640-review/index.shtml looked like the A640 slightly outperforms at 400 ISO. Maybe Canon is test-marketing a new noise reduction system in the camera? In any case, I really liked the less conspicuous black, and decided on the A640. I went to the camera store (yes, I still prefer to buy from the local shop vs. online) and was disappointed that they don’t keep the A640 in stock. No worries, how about the A630 then. But while handling the A630, I noticed the S3 IS right there with its sleek black housing, and incredible 12x optical zoom.

Cons: Always have to compromise somewhere right? For me, it was the size. But, that's only because I was comparing it to the A640 / A630. Compared to others in its class, size is not an issue.

Thumbs UpBest Buy for the money, Crisp pictures, EXCELLENT zoom range

Pros: large zoom range, OIS, 6.2mp, stereo audio, great movie quality, fast, flash range, manual controls, shutter speeds, specs

Cons: No hood included, smallish LCD

Thumbs UpExcellent Camera - great pic & great Quality!!! Amazing Zoom and Super Macro is excellent!

Rating: 9/10

Pros: This camera has all the advancements from beginner to pro shots and as you learn more the camera's abilities continue to allow the photographer to grow in skills. It is very easy to use and super pics. The ability to take digital video is excellent as an option and a new technology. You must have a 1 gb memory card to take 9 minutes of video so that is a high requirement given the promise that video is unlimited. Recommnend at least a 2 gb card for video. If pics mainly are your focus any memory card will do. With a basic 516 mb card there is room for hundreds of pics even at a high quality setting. Snap photos and continual photo clicks are great with this camera as the process time between pics is low.

Cons: Video takes up huge memory card space though the quality is strong. Internal memory is low so a card is a must as it is with most cameras. The one/off switch is also used to review pics and it is ackward. Being that it is a main button used on the camera it is a shame that it was not designed to be easier to use. This is the main down feature on this camera. Also all the options when you first start out can be confusing but the auto setting is very helpful. I bought this camera just before my daughter's graduation and I got some great pics but I was pretty nervous about that given the fact I had 1 week prior to the event to learn all of its features to ensure good quality pics. I am still playing with those features. This camera takes excellent SUPER MACRO shots!!!Pics of flowers close up are in detail and fabulous quality. There are few cameras that I found when looking to buy that could do this kind of detail work on a regular basis.

Thumbs UpGreat all around choice

Pros: Live histogram, grid mode for alignment, camcorder quality video, good zoom without extra lenses, faster shutter lag, smallish size / weight, image stablilizaton (duh!)

Cons: .JPG only - no RAW mode, SD cards only (can't use my CF), no hot shoe

Thumbs Up A mediocre upgrade to the S2 IS. Maybe we can expect more from an S4 IS...?

Pros: It's a black S2 with Live Histogram

Cons: 200px in each direction and black casing is great for new comers, but not enough to upgrade from S2

Thumbs UpGreat multi-use superzoom digital camera

Pros: Optical stabilization, flip out screen, quiet, smooth optical zoom during 30 FPS movies, stereo mic, LIVE HISTOGRAM, framing grids, uses 4AA NiMH, 2.3 FPS burst, full res pic dring mov, and more

Cons: Low res LCD and EVF, plastic tripod mount, flash must be lifted, requires optional adaptor for filter that adds bulk