It looks like the wider zoom range of its tiny lens still has serious sharpness problems. This is disappointing, and may be a result of Canon trying to design the impossible.
Just Posted: Our review of the Canon PowerShot S100. The S100 is the latest in Canon’s range of pocketable photographer’s compacts, building on the success of the popular S90 and S95. This most recent model offers a more ambitious 24-120mm equivalent, f2.0-5.9 zoom in front of a Canon-made 12MP 1/1.7″ type CMOS sensor, marking a much bigger advance than in the last update. Is it another step towards the perfect pocket shooter or has the camera giant over-reached itself? Find out in our review.
Overall Image Quality/Specifics
Canon’s new purpose-built CMOS sensor in the S100 is capable of capturing images that are detailed, nicely saturated and very clean, especially at the lower end of the camera’s ISO scale. The new CMOS sensor gives slightly better image quality than the previous-generation 10MP CCD – an improvement that is subtle but noticeable, especially at higher ISO settings. While the 2MP increase in sensor resolution over the S95 is modest in terms of the additional detail that the camera can capture, the 20% increase in total pixel count does help to offset the effect of noise at a given display size/magnification.
Although the S100 has a broader (24mm – 120mm) zoom range than its predecessor the S95, we’ve found that the new lens is not as uniformly sharp across the frame. We’ve tried no fewer than five sample cameras for our studio testing, and in the worst cases significant decentering of the lens causes one side of the frame to be noticeably out of focus in our studio scene (shot at a subject distance of approximately 1 meter). In all cases, moderate to strong softening occurs at the edges of the frame. This is very apparent in our studio comparison tool, where it is easy to spot any visual discrepancies at a pixel level. However, this does not tell the whole story, in our real-world sample shots decentering has been much less of an issue and most of our shots are not overtly blurred by the lens (take a look at the ‘lens’ page of this review for more detail).